Task force Lebanon Expeditionary Strike Group logisitcs operations.
By CDR Peter Stamatopoulos, SC, USN Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics (N4) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3
More than 900 personnel ashore and 6,000 personnel afloat performed the Lebanon NonCombat Evacuation (NEO) mission, in what was has been described by the Secretary of Defense as the largest assisted departure of American citizens (14,764) since the Vietnam War.
What follows are highlights of the logistics functions established in support of the mission including first hand articles by some of the logisticians who played key roles. Additional information is available at CTF-59 N4 CAS Web site on SIPRNET.
Operational Logistics Support on Cyprus
Providing support for the Lebanon NEO required adaptations and innovations to help ensure mission success. Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Command Element (ESG-3 CE) learned this truth during this summer's crisis in Lebanon.
ESG-3 CE is a relatively small staff consisting of 24 officers and six enlisted; manned and trained to execute command and control, and planning functions from an LHA or LHD. Following a joint decision by the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant, Marine Corps to forward posture ESG-3 CE in Bahrain for one year, the staff realized the potential for being assigned unique and multifaceted consequence management (CM)/crisis response (CR) missions.
To prepare, ESG-3 CE started developing a notional mix of garrison and field techniques to effectively manage operational and logistics functions during a crisis response. The aim point was to create a sound operational/logistics plan to serve as a foundation upon which contingency operations could be based.
However, before plans were completed the CE received an Execution Order (EXORD) from NAVCENT to respond to the Lebanon crisis. The mission was all encompassing and required the staff to be prepared to support the complete spectrum of NEO operations including establishing intermediate staging bases to provide health and comfort support to displaced American citizens. NAVCENT's plan called for the ESG-3 CE (designated CTF-59) to deploy to the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus and establish a forward operating base at a military air base on the island.
"On Order CTF-59 conducts an assisted departure of designated personnel from AMEMB [American Embassy] Beirut, Lebanon to Intermediate Staging Bases (ISB) in order to support Department of State and safeguard American citizens."
Although the air base had been used for large scale military operations before including emergency medical operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the base had long ago reverted back to being a Mediterranean sleepy hollow with scaled back services.
With the sudden influx of American, British, French, Italian, and Canadian NEO forces (on national tasking) competition for local services and support was keen. A shortage of cargo handling equipment and personnel, vehicles, communications, and billeting was evident, however, would be dealt with swiftly by the NAVCENT logistics team.
NAVCENT N4 played a pivotal role in coordinating logistics requirements with CENTCOM and supporting component commanders. Requirements identified on the ground in Cyprus were forwarded by verbal or e-mail correspondence to CDR Tom Gerstner (NAVCENT N4A) and LCDR Dave Carnal (NAVCENT N43) who generated Requests for Forces (RFF) or material support (MRE, Water, Cots). Once requirements were staffed and coordinated through CENTCOM J4 and DLA, NAVCENT's Logistics Response Cell provided intra-theater transportation support and tracked all incoming and outbound shipments. Utilizing CAS Web sites, e-mail, and voice communications there was a constant exchange of logistics information between NAVCENT, CTF-53, CTF-63 and CTF-59 throughout the operation.
RSOI of NEO Forces
Usually military operations are accomplished in phases beginning with the reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) of forces. At the onset of the NEO operation there was little clarity of what forces or how many personnel were slated to report to CTF-59. The principal player identified to make up the NEO force was USS Iwo Jima ESG who had just begun conducting a 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) back load in Jordan and was not expected to arrive in the Lebanon joint operations area (JOA) for several days. Meanwhile on Cyprus other logistical concerns were unfolding quickly as forces began to arrive July 15.
By the second day of the operation a steady flow of C-17's carrying personnel, equipment, humanitarian supplies, meals, and water were flowing into Cyprus. By the morning of day three more than 400 Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines had reported to CTF-59 for duty with many more in the pipeline. All personnel required check-in, base transportation, billeting, feeding and in-briefs to assimilate into the ongoing operation as quickly as possible.
All together 37 units consisting of 913 personnel reported for duty on Cyprus and Lebanon (187 U.S. Navy, 375 U.S. Marines, 47 U.S. Army, 298 U.S. Air Force, six DoD). Further complicating the situation was the enormous pressure to immediately evacuate American citizens which posed a significant challenge in conducting evacuation operations and an RSOI of forces simultaneously.
After a quick assessment of the situation in Lebanon and on Cyprus, the CTF-59 N4 staff prepared a logistics organizational structure in order to anticipate and prepare for what might lie ahead. The first order of business was for Major Armando Gonzalez (CTF-59 N4A) to establish a "Log Admin" and devise a method to process and account for new military arrivals, transient personnel (376) and manage eight barracks consisting of 400 beds and a tent city consisting of 400 cots. Simple procedures were established to check-in/ check-out personnel, handle VIPs, assign billeting and messing, arrange base transportation (which was scarce) and track and maintain passenger and cargo manifests. Other logistics sections were established including Camp Commandant, Supply Support, Contingency Contracting, Material Handing, and Medical. The logistics organization was a simple, straight-line one which easily permitted expansion and flexibility.
The military base was very supportive throughout the operation providing airfield ramp space, cargo lay down areas, small buildings, barracks and real estate to facilitate CTF-59 operations. Before long CTF-59 occupied 11 sites and was performing pre-arrival site assessments for incoming units.
Originally tasked to set up a 250 man tent camp, LT Raymond Jaszkowski, CEC, USN, (NAVCENT N4 engineer augment to CTF-59) was deputized as Camp Commandant expanding his span of control to include minor construction projects, equipment repair, facilities maintenance and the distribution of fuel, water and MRE's to assigned units.
Supply support functions were performed by LT Daryl Wilson (NAVCENT N4 supply augment to CTF-59). The mission of providing basic supplies and services to U.S. forces on Cyprus was crucial to the operation and included managing Husbanding Agent services, Government Purchase Card support, scheduling transportation for medical, and crowd control teams, establishing a local Servmart, tracking financial obligations and acting as port liaison officer for ship visits to Limassol, Cyprus.
Establishing transportation was one of the most challenging support functions to contend with. With Cyprus at the height of its tourist season, rental vehicle and bus services were critically scarce. Operating 12 buses around the clock to move U.S. military personnel on Cyprus and thousands of American citizens, medical, and crowd management teams to and from five safe haven locations was a full time job requiring precise timing and coordination between supporting units, ship movements, Embassy Nicosia, and battle watches.
Recognizing the operation would be reliant on contract support for local supplies and services, NAVCENT arranged for CDR John Couture (Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Sigonella Detachment Bahrain) and LT Michele LaPorte (FISC Sigonella Detachment Naples) to join CTF-59 in Cyprus. In their role as contingency contracting officers they established communications with the American Embassy Nicosia, Cyprus, and began coordinating efforts to outfit and supply safe havens in preparation of American citizen arrivals. The Cyprus Fair Grounds in Nicosia served as an intermediate staging area for American citizens waiting further transportation off Cyprus. At the height of operations the Fair Grounds were a temporary home for 3,000 American citizens per day. Altogether, approximately $600,000 in health and comfort supplies and services were contracted from Cyprus vendors.
Material handling operations was the "center of gravity" and life blood of logistic operations at the air base on Cyprus. LT Owen Morrissey, LT Adam Guthrie (CTF-53 Augments to CTF-59) and AKC Anthony Tullous (NAVCENT N4 Augment to CTF-59) spearheaded airfield operations and material handling functions including: aircraft load operations, material handling equipment, processing passenger/ mail/cargo and humanitarian supplies, hazmat certification, and material tracking. Personnel from the USAF 86th Contingency Response Element joined the operation July 22 bringing material handling and communications equipment which significantly improved cargo throughput and visibility of Air Mobility Command missions.
Altogether more than 700 short tons of material and equipment were handled at the air base on Cyprus including the distribution of more than 750 high priority parts and 150 passengers to nine ships operating in the JOA.
Supply Officers Afloat Iwo Jima, Nashville, Whidbey
Island, Trenton, Gonzalez, Barry, Cole and HSV Swift Supply Department's performed the heavy lifting afloat. Iwo Jima Supply Officer, CDR Kurt Waymire, orchestrated efforts on the water providing health and comfort services to American citizens embarked on U.S. ships during the nine-hour journey from Beirut to Cyprus. Ships served meals and snacks around the clock, provided health care items, racks, blankets, toiletries, showers, and even flight deck entertainment under the Mediterranean stars. All CTF-59 Supply Corps officers and their departments provided outstanding support to the thousands of displaced men, women and children during their stay aboard U.S. Navy ships.
HSV Swift Supply Officer, LT Tanya Cormier, spearheaded the delivery of humanitarian assistance (HA) supplies into Beirut. After supervising the on-load of 20,000 blankets, tarps and emergency medical kits provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Larnaca Cyprus, on the evening of July 28, she then served as the mid-watch junior officer of the deck (JOOD) throughout the Swift's transit across the eastern Mediterranean Sea and piloted Swift into the port of Beirut the following morning. An ideal platform for NEO and HA operations, Swift made two high speed logistics runs between Cyprus and Beirut delivering humanitarian assistance and sustainment supplies to the American Embassy in Beirut.
Although the focus of effort was evacuating American citizens and delivering humanitarian supplies, sustaining CTF-59 ships and the 6,000 Sailors and Marines afloat was no easy under taking. As hundreds of high priority parts and passengers arrived at the air base on Cyprus, CTF-59 worked closely with LCDR Bill Clark, Iwo Jima Assistant Supply Officer, who took charge of coordinating a "last mile" distribution network to deliver passengers and high priority parts to ships operating within the JOA.
CTF 53 and CTF 63
Logisticians are familiar with working in "the seams" so to speak, but it's not often they have a real world opportunity to tactically execute logistics operations across real operational seams.
The Lebanon JOA provided this uncommon situation. Located in Naval Forces, Europe's Eastern Mediterranean, the JOA was designated a NAVCENT area of responsibility under a 5th Fleet command and control structure. With the potential for overlap in roles and responsibilities, CTF-53 and CTF-63 staffs had to work closely together to coordinate their efforts. CTF-53 was the lead Log CTF in orchestrating and promulgating replenishment schedules, however, they relied heavily on CTF-63 for executing day to day operations.
LCDR Colleen Salogna, CTF-53 Replenishment Officer, and LT Elizabeth Travis, CTF-63 Replenishment Officer, scheduled Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships and managed subsistence prime vendor orders across two areas of responsibility for CTF-59 ships demonstrating "logistics has no chop lines." Together they coordinated logistics support for CTF-59 ships using two CLF oilers (USNS Kanahwa and USNS Big Horn) operating from the forward logistic site in Souda Bay, Crete. Eight hundred and sixty two (862) pallets of provisions, ship store material and cargo, along with 3.5 million gallons of fuel were transferred during the operation.
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|Publication:||Navy Supply Corps Newsletter|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
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