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SDDC groups observe command shift.

Appropriately, the two officers are seated next to each other

It is logical; the senior representatives of SDDC's 598th ,and 599th Transportation Groups sit 'adjacent in unit numerical order July 16 at the SDDC Commanders, Conference, Williamsburg, Va.

Their group numbers are in sequence.

But this is a new time. It is post 9/11 and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have resulted in the largest military movements in a half-century.

Col. Gary Stanley, of the 598th, and Lt. Col. Reggie Hall, of the 599th, represent one of the most unprecedented actions in SDDC's history: Personnel from the 599th are forming the core leadership of the command's new SDDC Southwest Asia leadership. The Hawaiian staffers will serve for six months beginning July 1 before 598th personnel again take charge.

While the 598th is collocated with a working unit, the 838th Transportation Battalion, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the 599th, of Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, is strictly a headquarters unit.

The 599th commander, Col. Tom Harvey, is currently leading SDDC Southwest Asia.

"Things are going extremely well," said Hall, a U .S. Air Force officer who previously served as the group's operations officer. "The transfer of authority between the groups was executed without a hitch.

"We sent an advance team in early to coordinate with their 598th and Reserve Component counterparts to do some left-seat/right-seat orientation so that we would be fully operational and ready to support the mission on July 1.

"So far, all aspects of the operation am running smoothly," said Hall. Tiffs is the most seamless hand-off between two units I've seen in my career,"

As SDDC moves towards establishing a permanent group in Southwest Asia, the 599th took a long-term view on information management support, said Hall. While the 598th used information support from its Rotterdam headquarters, the 599th team will get its information management support from SDDC Headquarters Alexandria.

Hall arrived in Kuwait on Aug. 2 to augment SDDC Southwest Asia and develop a Container Management Concept of Operations for U.S. Cenwal Command.

"We're ready," said Hall, "Everyone on the team, Soldiers and Department of Army civilians, are trained and prepared to go forward. We worked with the 25th Infantry Division deployment to both Afghanistan and Iraq, so this is really a continuation of our support to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom."

Hall said the loadout of 25th Infantry Division brigade combat teams a few months apart in early 2004 provided 599th staffers with key transportation training.

"We enhanced our skills," said Hall.

Another advantage of the loadouts of the infantry task forces was a close working relationship with two Army Reserve deployment support brigades--the 1394th Deployment Support Brigade, of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the 1190th Deployment Support Brigade, of Baton Rouge, La.

"We achieved great cross training and integration with our reserve counterparts," said Hall. "Little did we know we'd be working side-by-by side with them again in Southwest Asia. It's like a mini-family reunion in the area of operations, many of the same Soldiers from these milts am working in Southwest Asia."

The Hawaii-based transporters face an additional challenge: Management of containers in the theater.

"The command has assembled a Tiger Team to craft SDDC's initial container management concept of operations and I'm excited about the opportunity to chart a course for success in this critical area," said Hall.

Lt. Col. Bob Petrillo, at SDDC Headquarters Alexandria will lead the team composed of personnel from the SDDC Headquarters, Operations Center and groups and battalions."

Hall is ready to go. He has waited a long time for the opportunity. After 19 years in the Air Force, this is his first overseas contingency deployment.

The 598th commander, Stanley, a veteran of numerous Balkan peacekeeping missions, takes it all in calmly. Having just taken command, Stanley has only had time for an initial assessment of his new command.

How am the people who managed Operation Iraqi Freedom for the past two years?

"Tired," said Stanley, of his people who worked 527 vessel operations between December 2002 and this July. In that period, 598th staffers moved the equivalent of 1,036 football fields of military equipment.

While evaluating his people and retraining, Stanley already has his eyes on the horizon.

"The focus has been down range," said Stanley. "There is a whole lot of world out There."

Stanley inherits numerous additional challenges before the command's return to South West Asia on Jan. 1:

* Relocations to more ,secure locations are in order for both his command and the 839th Transportation Battalion, Livorno, Italy.

* A big segment of the permanently staffed Army in Europe will come home to be replaced by "units of action" on short-overseas duty tours.

* The military focus in Europe is moving south and east and the 598th will be involved in working in much smaller ports, with austere facilities, in more distant locations.

"The fume is going to be a lot different," said Stanley. "We need a whole different mind set because Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off ships and Fast Sealift ships are too big to get in available harbors.

"Our focus is on intertheater now and we have to look at intertheater."

A future scenario, suggested Stanley, could involve surface cargo support to a distant African country. In such a situation, cargo might go to Livorno and then be transshipped on a much smaller coastal vessel.

"Teams led by captains and majors, and a few NCOs, am going to make it happen," said Stanley.

In the meantime, in the six-month interval before the European group goes back, Stanley says he will rest his people, retain and greet new replacements.

Then, at the beginning of calendar year 2005, Stanley will take his refurbished team forward again. They will be SDDC's point element again--back in Kuwait.

John Randt, Director, Command Affairs SDDC HQ Alexandria
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Randt, John
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Previous Article:SDDC swaps HQ's group to meet overseas movements tempo.
Next Article:Back home ... some SDDC Reserve units return home from overseas duty.

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