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Symposium breakout sessions-lessons learned: reserve equipment shortcomings delay SDDC equipment moves.

When Maj. Curtis Slick was ordered to Fort Bragg, N.C., to oversee training of the 30th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) for Iraq, he encountered an unexpected problem.

As the Army National Guard unit from North Carolina prepared for Operation Iraqi Freedom duty, Slick found equipment shortages delayed mobilization efforts--and ultimately availability for shipment into theater.

"The units get cannibalized," said Slick, a Reservist assigned to a training support battalion, the 2-312th Regiment, Oakdale, Pa. "Then they are short equipment and leadership.

"You have to rebuild the unit."

Slick said armor Soldiers with the 30th had to learn about a brand new weapon, the squad automatic weapon.

"Equipment is the biggest problem without a doubt," said Slick. "They're being asked a lot right now."

The 30th trained at Fort Bragg from Oct. 1-Dec. 20, and subsequently was ordered to a rotation at the Joint Readiness Center, Fort Polk, La. The unit has since deployed to Iraq.

Slick made the comments March 24 during a breakout session of the 2004 SDDC Training Symposium on lessons learned in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The comments from Slick produced an endorsement from Maj. Kevin Landy, U.S. European Command liaison at SDDC Operations Center, Fort Eustis, Va.

"The (Reserve components) did not have the equipment they were supposed to have such as chemical suits," said Landy. "Equipment readiness was a big problem that caused things to slide."

Col. Sandy Sanders, panel leader, identified another shortcoming in the mobilization process.

"Some improvements of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm had a negative impact on Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Sanders, commander, 1192nd Transportation Terminal Brigade, New Orleans.

Big railroad marshalling yard improvements at installations such as Fort Hood, Texas, meant the Army post could ship more railroad cars than domestic ports were able to handle.

"Fort Hood can ship 210 railroad cars a day," said Sanders. "Yet, that does us no good if we can only handle 100 cars at a strategic port such as Corpus Christi."

Sanders suggested a strategic review is in order to identify infrastructure shortages at strategic ports. The 110 Soldiers in Sanders' unit, working at multiple strategic ports around the country, moved half of the 15-million-square feet of cargo SDDC moved in the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Panelist Steve Jackson, of the Maritime Administration, said SDDC used 40 Ready Reserve Force vessels in 2003 and 21 so far this year.

"They were all single voyages," said Jackson, transportation industry analyst, assigned to Norfolk, Va.

The military had greater success with Ready Reserve Force ships in this contingency operation than 14 years ago in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, said Jackson.

Positive lessons learned included more Navy funding to maintain the vessels and liaison officers assisting communications between the two organizations.

"Reduced operating crews are on all the vessels," said Jackson. "These mariners are a wealth of knowledge when the ships are activated."

Jackson had two suggestions to improve the work of SDDC with Ready Reserve Force vessels.

"Unlike Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off vessels, the ships of the Ready Reserve Force come in all different sizes and configurations," he said.

Jackson suggested SDDC schedule routine training operations with Ready Reserve Force ships to better acclimate to the different ship designs.

Additionally, Jackson said SDDC should place more reliance on the chief mate--the veteran mariner who overlooks a ship's reduced operating crew of 9-10 mariners.

"His responsibility includes loading the ship," said Henderson. "You should take advantage of his or her expertise."
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Publication:Translog
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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