Tactical Logistics Supporting the Warfighter for OIF
Section 1: Quartermaster Commentary: Joint and Expeditionary Fuel Logistics in Northern Iraq CPT Jamie L. Krump
Section 2: A Quartermaster Unit's Success: Flexible and Capable CPT James J. Zacchino Jr.
Section 4: Forward Logistics Element Officer in Charge Lessons Learned CPT Juliana E. Ledgisterv
Section 5: Tracking Materiel from Warehouse to Warfighter Lt. Col. Joseph P. Granata, USMC
Section 6: Improved Air Cargo Operations SFC Lupe G. Galvan
Section 7: 3D Platoon Takes on Triple Mission CPT Sonise Lumbaca
Section 1: Quartermaster Commentary: Joint and Expeditionary Fuel Logistics in Northern Iraq
CPT Jamie L. Krump
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2004 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
Today's Army is revamping to meet the design of a Joint and Expeditionary Force, a lighter force that is more quickly deployable. Within the next few years, Army Transformation will yield a force that can be tailored to combat any enemy force worldwide. The effectiveness of this revolutionary concept was displayed, and its fundamentals reinforced, when the 173d Airborne Brigade, Southern European Task Force (SETAF), and Task Force 1-63 Heavy Reaction Company (HRC) and Medium Reaction Company (MRC) from the 1st Infantry Division deployed completely by air into northern Iraq in Spring 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. This successful deployment supported the concept of "joint and expeditionary"; before this was commonplace. This deployment confirmed the ability to deploy and sustain both light and heavy assets in an austere, isolated environment for an extended time.
In March 2003, the Turkish Parliament voted to deny the use of Turkey's borders to United States troops to provide a northern axis for the march toward Baghdad, Iraq. This denied the passage of the 4th Infantry Division into northern Iraq via Turkey and forced the United States to develop an alternate plan to place significant combat forces in the north. The solution was to air drop the 173d Airborne Brigade just 30 miles south of the Turkish border. Fifteen C-17 aircraft dropped 1,000 paratroopers and their equipment 26 Mar 03 near Bashur Airfield, Iraq, as a show of force in order to stabilize the region and deny the option of northern routes for retreat by Saddam Hussein's regime. In the next 96 hours, 48 C-17s air-landed 2,200 troops and 400 pieces of rolling stock at Bashur Kirkuk Airfield to complete the 173d insertion. The 100 percent aerial deployment of this brigade was complete on 30 Mar 03. Within days, conditions were ready for Task Force 1-63 HRC and MRC to land at the airfield.
In itself, this mission was a first because a light airborne brigade augmented with heavy mechanized assets was inserted by air into northern Iraq while under the operational control of Joint Special Operations TaskForce-North (JSOTF-N). The heavy forces consisted of the HRC and the MRC. The HRC and the MRC equated to a battalion with more than 200 personnel, 5 M181 tanks, 5 M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicles, 10M 113 armored personnel carriers, 4 M1064 mortar carriers, 1M88 tank recovery vehicle, a scout platoon, a Military Police platoon, and a combat service support force enhancement module (CSSFEM). These heavy forces were critical to back up the light infantry operations in northern Iraq.
All sustainment for the forces on the airfield came by delivery from C-17 and C-130 aircraft. Soldiers built up 10 days of supply (DOS) in almost every class of supply relatively quickly, with the exception of bulk fuel. To bring in the heavy assets, Quartermasters needed to meet the conditions set at 22,000 gallons of fuel on the ground. Quartermasters initially established a 30,000-gallon fuel system supply point (FSSP) with one 20,000-gallon collapsible fabric tank and one 10,000-gallon collapsible fuel tank. This provided the storage capacity, but not the fuel. Eventually, this FSSP grew for fuel storage of 80,000 gallons that proved quite a challenge to empty and move.
Local Fuel Purchase
Local purchase of diesel fuel was the first effort at getting the required fuel because all Army vehicles could operate on diesel fuel or JP8 fuel. This was not a big issue because converting from JP8 to diesel does not require any filter changes. However, returning to the use of JP8 is hard because all fuel filters then need changing. We coordinated with the 173d contracting officer for the purchase of 22,000 gallons of diesel fuel. We assumed that since we were in Iraq, fuel should be somewhat easy to come by. However, this was not at all the case in northern Iraq.
Northern Iraq had been cut off from resupply for many years, and the only way to get fuel was from southern Iraq and Turkey. A gas station in northern Iraq consisted of a man sitting by a fuel pump that did not work, with five-gallon cans of fuel. The 173d contracting officer initially contracted for 15,000 liters of diesel fuel to see how well the process worked. We waited a few days for delivery and never received the fuel. Finally, contractors did drive north with a couple of hundred gallons in drums loaded in the back of a nonmilitary pickup truck. Obviously, this purchasing system was not going to work.
The next method we tried was to fill up the FSSP collapsible fabric fuel tanks by using C-17s and C-l30s. This proved a poor system for many reasons. First, the airplanes never seemed to stay on the ground long enough to issue large quantities of fuel. Because of the size of the airfield at Bashur and the threat to the aircraft, the planes were not scheduled to spend more than 45 minutes on the ground. Also, all flights were at night. Fuel operations from an airplane require more time during the hours of darkness. Finally, we never really had an accurate aircraft schedule of when the "bladder"; and "wetwing birds"; were due with fuel deliveries, which made it hard to have fuelers on standby.
Only One Way
This left us with only one way to get enough fuel on the ground in order to call forward the HRC and the MRC. We had to establish ground lines of communication (LOC). We were cut off from forces in southern Iraq, so a northern ground LOC was necessary. Through outstanding negotiations by the Army Forces-Turkey (ARFOR-T), the Turks agreed to allow fuel flow across the border of Turkey into northern Iraq. We had to send escorts to the Turkish border to pick up the Turkish tankers as they crossed into Iraq. These escorts were critical to ensure that the fuel arrived at the right place. The first convoy from northern Iraq made sure that we had the fuel assets on the ground to call forward the HRC and the MRC. We were finally going to get the heavy forces on the ground to support the 173d.
Just as we were getting fuel systems in place to solidly support the 173d, we were told to take over the forecast and management of all supplies in northern Iraq. The supply and services officer, 201st Forward Support Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade assumed the mission. While we were providing a daily Logistics Status Report (LOGSTAR) to the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC), we were not forecasting fuel for the other US units in northern Iraq.
We began to include the forecasts for the Air Force on Bashur Airfield, JSOTF-N in Irbil, and the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in Mosul. This proved a very difficult task, but one quickly mastered. We established a reporting chain from these elements that allowed a proper forecast for all units in northern Iraq. However, forecasting proved to be a constant challenge. There was a constant influx of units from all branches of the service into the region following the siege of Baghdad. Since missions were constantly changing and units were rapidly advancing, we had no accurate way of forecasting their arrivals. Each day a new unit would show up and request fuel support.
Concurrently, the city of Kirkuk, Iraq, became destabilized. The combat forces departed Bashur in order to stabilize Kirkuk and seize the city's airfield. While the 173d headed south, the logistics hub remained at Bashur with all the support personnel. Fortunately, it only took a couple of weeks to open the airfield in Kirkuk because the separation of the combat forces from the logistical hub was a huge challenge. Fifty civilian trucks had to be contracted to support the movement of the supplies and troops from Bashur to Kirkuk.
No matter how many trucks we contracted or how many workers we hired, we simply did not have the assets or the manpower to receive, break down and distribute the quantity of supplies required. During the culmination of support, we were supporting more than 7,000 Soldiers in four locations spread over an area spanning hundreds of kilometers. Not only were the numbers great in quantity, but also the diversity was overwhelming. The forward support company (FSC) was supporting heavy mechanized units, aviation assets, special operations groups, the US Air m Force, the US Marines and anyone else who passed through the northern half of the theater in Iraq.
Once the ground LOC from Turkey opened, we had to receive the trucks with Class I (rations) and the fuel tankers at the Harbur Gate on the border of Turkey and Iraq, escort all trucks to Bashur Airfield, on to Mosul for the MEU, then to Irbil for JSOTF-N, finally ending up in Kirkuk. This required extensive coordination and forecasting to prevent fuel tankers from being on the ground too long without being emptied. The supply support activity (SSA) also had to break down all Class I trucks for redistribution to the various other forward operating bases.
To lessen the manpower drainage, we created "the mother of all distribution plans."; This plan broke down the commodities by unit loads on trucks. The 200th Materiel Management Center (MMC) in Turkey forwarded us the bumper number and driver listing for each truck and the corresponding unit for which the truck was loaded, according to our distribution plan. We would simply send unit requirements by location, such as Mosul and Irbil; and the personnel in Turkey would verify the appropriate pallet configuration on individual trucks. When our escorts reached the border, they would merely call out the listed names and bumper numbers and then drop trucks off to each unit at separate locations on their way to back to Kirkuk. This procedure stopped the depletion of resources in the SSA and allowed us to operate much more efficiently.
Logistics in northern Iraq was complicated in Spring 2003 and the Joint and Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom was a new concept to all of us, but we worked "outside the box"; and thrived. Initial forces in northern Iraq were successful for one reason: teamwork. There were no Air Force, Special Operations Forces, Marine or specific Army units, strictly speaking. We were all one allied team doing what was necessary for mission success in an austere, isolated environment. If a unit needed food, fuel or equipment, we did what we had to do to support each other, regardless of uniform or insignia.
Various units separated by tremendous distances pulled together to provide each other with supplies that the normal supply channels could not seem to provide. While at times it seemed we could barely support our own units with fuel, for example, everyone still gave all they had to keep the other units functioning. We were forced by our circumstances to become a joint team. In the end, we were very successful.
Section 2: A Quartermaster Unit's Success: Flexible and Capable
CPT James J. Zacchino Jr.
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2006 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
In synchronization with the transforming asymmetric battlefield, it is imperative that logistical support adapt and provide flexible sustainment to joint war fighting. An expeditionary maneuver concept cannot maintain prolonged and asymmetric fighting with archaic linear supply doctrine and limited assets. In recent Operation Iraqi Freedom deployments, units have proven the adaptability and flexible capability necessary to execute non-conventional support. As joint and combined combat forces engage the enemy, service support Soldiers are operating as multifunctional while maintaining functional skills. Army forces no longer operate to strict pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) and military occupational specialty (MOS) descriptions. The 109th Quartermaster Company, a 49th quartermaster Group theater asset based at Fort Lee, Virginia, reflects a logistics enabler that operated outside its doctrinal mission and adapted to meet resource requirements in a joint environment.
As one of the only two active duty petroleum pipeline and terminal operating (PPTO) companies in the US Army, the 109th Quartermaster Company doctrinally operates 90 miles of the Inland Petroleum Distribution System (IPDS) tactical pipeline, six pump stations along the pipeline, and a 3.6 million-gallon tactical petroleum terminal (TPT). Petroleum received at the beach head from the US Navy is distributed inland by the IPDS to a TPT supporting corps and theater units in the communications zone. Operating as a PPTO unit, the 109th Quartermaster Company was successful in 2003 as the unit played a crucial role in bulk petroleum supply and distribution enabling the 3d Army combat forces to defeat the Iraqi Army and posture bulk petroleum for subsequent operations in Iraq. In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom V-VII in 2005, combat demands required the 109th Quartermaster Company to operate as an in-lieu of medium truck company assigned to a corps support battalion (CSB) subordinate to the 1st Corps Support Command (COSCOM). The 109th Quartermaster Company, subsequently under the 3d COSCOM, was tasked to transport petroleum by tanker truck in the Marine Corps' area of responsibility in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. Several field artillery and other non-transportation corps units across the Army were also relied upon to meet increased transportation requirements throughout the Iraqi area of operations.
Operating as a medium truck company was just the beginning of the unit's non-doctrinal and direct support experience. As combat operations evolved in Iraq's western sector and the insurgents changed strategy, the sustainment demands required of coalition forces changed. The fundamentals of mission, enemy, terrain, weather, time available, troops, and civil considerations remained in effect for logistics planning and execution. What changed was the allocation of resources and resources are limited. Units are limited by a lack of Soldiers with certain skill sets and the amount and type of equipment. In accordance with basic economic principles and in order to maintain freedom of maneuver, combatant commanders must have the warfighter's demands met by a dependable and flexible logistics system. Maneuver commanders drive the logistics demand. Logistics commanders must allocate and maximize limited resources to effectively meet demand-driven combat operations. At the company level, the 109th Quartermaster Company represents a resource with an outstanding multiplier that enabled maneuver commanders to effectively conduct combat operations and logistics commanders to maintain the supply chain with flexibility.
The 109th Quartermaster Company Soldiers' skill sets were primarily comprised of 92F (Petroleum Specialist), 92G (Food Service Specialist), 25C (Radio Operator-Maintainer), 52D (Generator Mechanic), 63J (Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer) and 63B (Light-Wheel Vehicle Mechanic). Due to the medium truck mission, the company was reorganized from a petroleum-terminal platoon and a petroleum-pipeline platoon, to mirror three truck platoons of a medium truck company MTOE. Other than the light-wheel vehicle mechanics, Soldiers served as 88Ms (Motor Transport Operators). Based on MOS, reorganization, and additional requirements outside the transportation mission, the 109th Quartermaster Company severely lacked platoon and squad leadership. The requirement is for three 88M40s (E7 Motor Transport Operators), one per truck platoon. The 109th Quartermaster Company had none. The 109th Quartermaster Company filled two of the required six positions with 92F30s (E6 Petroleum Specialists) and four with 92F20s (E5 Petroleum Specialists). Eventually, changing battlefield requirements led to constant reallocation of leadership and platoon organization. Initially, a skill level 92F40 (E7 Petroleum Specialist) served as the unit's truckmaster, which is one of the most demanding positions during a deployment. Due to additional requirements, 92G40s (E7 Food Service Specialists) served the majority of their time as truckmasters. Despite the personnel shuffles to meet various requirements and taskings, the 109th Quartermaster Company's assigned CSB primarily viewed the 109th Quartermaster Company Soldiers as multifunctional and capable of serving as motor transport operators, petroleum specialists, and radio operators.
As an in-lieu-of medium truck company, 109th Quartermaster Company Soldiers transported petroleum by tanker truck throughout Iraq's western sector. The battle space included more than 17,500 square miles from Al Taqaddum west to the Syrian border. On 4 June 2006, after nine months of combat service, the 109th Quartermaster Company had conducted 286 combat logistics patrols (CLPs), driven more than 200,000 miles, and delivered over 3.2 million gallons of JP8 fuel, motor gasoline, and diesel fuel. These quantities do not depict the full picture. A typical mission from Al Asad to Al Qaim was a mere 95 miles in distance. However, a CLP took an average of six hours each way. Poor road conditions and a constant hostile threat restricted speed and ease of movement in the battle space. Including preparation and recovery, a mission to Al Qaim in support of the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) was a two-day mission. The direct and general support customers were primarily comprised of MEF units and attachments.
In addition to fuel distribution, the 109th Quartermaster Company participated in dry cargo operations. As the Iraqi population prepared to vote for their constitution in October 2005, the need to secure polling sites dictated 109th Quartermaster Company's mission. The requirement to assist Marine Corps units in support of Operation Liberty Express I to provide barriers to various polling sites in Al Anbar resulted in the 109th Quartermaster Company augmenting an Army transportation company in transporting concrete barriers on flatbed trailers. The successful accomplishment led the 109th Quartermaster Company to shift assets and skills to augment transportation needs on two more occasions. The Quartermaster unit once again supported Marine requirements by transporting barriers to secure various polling sites for the secure voting of the Iraqi parliament in December 2005 (Operation Liberty Express II). The 109th Quartermaster Company also transported vehicles on M872 flatbed trailers to support 3504th Parachute Infantry Regiment operations in Ramadi.
As the unit provided direct support to maneuver elements, the 109th Quartermaster Company received two M1117 armored security vehicles (ASV) and trained four three-man crews. The trained crews were extremely flexible and able to operate as fuelers, radio operator maintainers, transporters, and ASV gun-truck crews. Based on mission, the ASVs crews augmented a guntruck company performing convoy security and escort throughout the western sector. The 109th Quartermaster Company maintained control of the ASVs for several months until they were transferred to a gun-truck company. The ASVs supported nine CLPs and trained ten crews from the gun-truck company.
Interoperable flexibility is the key to a modular concept. The 109th Quartermaster Company was able to increase logistical capabilities as demand elsewhere on the battlefield changed. Although not a modular template unit, the 109th Quartermaster Company was tasked to provide tailored packages. The plug-and-play packages included a truck platoon, forward logistics element (FLE), a fuel system supply point (FSSP) team, and logistics task forces (LTF).
Personnel and truck assets were routinely reallocated. Increased fuel transport requirements at Al Taqaddum resulted in the 109th Quartermaster Company shifting a platoon-size element comprised of M915 trucks, M1062 tankers, and an M987 wrecker to meet the distribution surge for three weeks. The platoon conducted CLPs to Fallujah and as far south as Tallil. Further, the 109th Quartermaster Company platoon trained elements of a transportation unit on tactics, techniques, and procedures learned in the 109th Quartermaster Company's sector.
The 109th Quartermaster Company led a multifunctional FLE at Combat Out Post (COP) Rawah and provided direct support through command and control (C2), property accountability, fuel transport, and a FSSP team. The C2 element also led teams from various Army combat service support units based at Al Asad to provide maintenance, Class I receipt and storage, and water purification in support of the 4-14th Cavalry and Iraqi Army forces. Within six months, the C2 and property accountability requirements for the 109th Quartermaster Company decreased at COP Rawah as further requirements in the western sector increased. The FSSP team continued to store, receive, issue, and transport JP8, diesel, and motor gasoline fuels. The FLE became permanent and assumed the structure of a LTF.
Due to the ever changing battlefield, the 109th Quartermaster Company led three LTFs during its tour. In support of the 4-14th Cavalry elements operating from COP Rawah to the Syrian border, the 109th Quartermaster Company led a LTF that provided C2 and fuel support over desert terrain north of the Euphrates River. Additionally, the 109th Quartermaster Company was augmented for approximately 60 days with two transportation platoons to perform dry cargo palletized load system (PLS) transport missions. The LTF missions strictly required off-road capable vehicles.
Another LTF at COP North supported a 414th Cavalry troop-size element and Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Iraqi and Syrian border north of the Euphrates River. Before the end of 2005, the 109th Quartermaster Company established a LTF at COP North and provided C2, water transport, and fuel capabilities (storage, issue, and transport). The C2 element also led teams from various units that provided maintenance, water support, and dry-cargo transport. The LTF at COP North became a permanent 109th Quartermaster Company mission requirement. The 109th Quartermaster Company Soldiers operating at the COP conducted numerous CLPs for resupply from Army and Marine Corps hubs. The third LTF operated in a joint capacity.
As the II MEF conducted combat operations in support of Operation Steel Curtain along the Iraqi and Syrian border south of the Euphrates River, the retail JP8 fuel requirements in cross country terrain had to be met. In order to support the 3-6th Marines, the 109th Quartermaster Company was resourced from the CSB to lead a LTF comprised of C2, fuelers, transporters, heavy expanded mobile tactical trucks (HEMTT), and PLS trucks. The LTF was operationally controlled by Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 7 of the II MEF. The joint and forward support operation was successful. They were commended for the quality of direct support the Marines received during combat engagements. The LTF based at Al Qaim returned to Al Asad by the end of 2005 and resumed the bulk fuel transport mission.
In addition to conducting throughput CLPs under Army gun-truck escort and control, bulk petroleum transport missions were also under Marine Corps and Navy control. Gun-truck escort and control depended on the route and convoy composition. The 109th Quartermaster Company conducted CLPs under the operational control of CLB 2, CLB 7, and Navy Seabees. Additional joint missions included direct support to maneuver Marines operating in the vicinity of Camp Korean Village. This mission required two crews of M1088 tractors and M969 tankers to support tracked vehicles. The fuel team was operationally controlled by the Marines.
Other than an operationally controlled relationship, the operating environment required daily interaction with Marines. Not only did the 109th Quartermaster Company deliver petroleum products to Marine Corps operating bases, some of the bases provided 109th Quartermaster Company LTFs with petroleum resupply. To assist CSB operations in support of CLB 7, 109th Quartermaster Company provided a liaison noncommissioned officer (NCO). The liaison NCO provided better visibility and coordination between three nodes. Daily company maintenance and supply activities were also conducted with various Marine elements in Al Asad.
The 109th Quartermaster Company overcame some significant obstacles in becoming efficient in all of their operational missions. They became experts in vehicle operations, communications, property accountability, and leadership. Each of these areas were confronted directly by the 109th Quartermaster Company, enabling them to sustain maneuver units.
The 109th Quartermaster Company was introduced to transportation and petroleum equipment not organic to the MTOE. With regards to maintenance, experience in identifying faults and repairing various tankers and trucks was extremely limited. Leadership, research, daily lessons learned, and motivated mechanics were key to the unit being able to maintain the readiness of the 109th Quartermaster Company's 128-vehicle fleet of petroleum and transportation assets. The ten days of truck operator training during pre-deployment did not prepare Soldiers to additionally operate HEMTT tankers, trucks, tankers, and flatbed trailers. Research and an experienced HEMTT NCO were essential in the development of a training program for operating the assigned line-haul and cross-country capable trucks and tankers.
Communications was a challenge throughout the tour. Equipment was extremely limited in an increasing network-centric environment. The unit's hurdles involved communicating from command post to convoy, within a convoy, and from command post to outlying nodes. The Mobile Tracking System (MTS) was the primary means permitting battlefield visibility between command post, convoys, and combat outposts. Single Channel Ground Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) and Motorola hand-held radios provided internal convoy communications. Due to the unit's LTF and CLP requirements, communications resources were positioned at several nodes. In order to communicate between LTFs, each node needed at least one MTS. Each 109th Quartermaster Company CLP mission, regardless of node, had at least one of the three communications systems in each truck. The communications systems were reallocated daily to support missions. Among the trucks, the systems were allocated to facilitate information flow in a convoy during a CLP. Not only were the systems limited in quantities, but they were also limited in reliability. The MTS satellite link was occasionally non-operative. MTS component parts were accumulated during the course of the tour to provide repair parts and build additional systems. The unit's communications team learned to install and trouble shoot the systems through trial and error and contractor assistance.
The limited quantity of SINCGARS allowed the fuel commodity NCO/officer in charge to communicate with the gun-trucks and escorts. Very few trucks had cab mounts or vehicle antennae. SINCGARS were used as manpacks in the vehicle cabs. Their range was limited by being used inside the armored cab. During security halts with personnel inside an armored truck, the Motorola handheld seemed reliable between trucks within 50 meters of each other. Once the convoy moved, distances between trucks fluctuated greater than 50 meters. By incorporating all three systems within a mission, communication resources were maximized to increase battlefield visibility and awareness. Yet the unit always struggled due to a shortage of communication systems. The most difficult communication days involved maintaining communications and visibility of four nodes and three CLPs simultaneously.
Maintaining accountability for over $27 million of organization, installation, and theater provided equipment proved difficult. Property was located at Al Asad and at four forward operating bases. Limited communications and geographic separation made the process extremely challenging. Depending on a personnel or equipment surge elsewhere, either the property or hand receipt holder would relocate shortly after receiving a directive. This caused the documentation trail to be outpaced by the directive's requirement. Having more trucks and tankers than operators proved even more challenging as equipment and personnel were spread across the battlefield. Monthly inventories were conducted with reliance on personnel at other locations and in functioning internet and MTS communications. When lateral transfer directives were received, the search for equipment was an odyssey. The intense efforts in tracking equipment, hand receipts, and lateral transfer paperwork resulted in total accountability for equipment and personnel.
Leadership requirements were a concern due to limited leadership experience and LTF and liaison requirements. Although the unit's tailored packages were logistics enablers in direct support roles across the battlefield, the impact was negative at the command post. Deploying with a lack of E6 and E7 personnel, the additional liaison and C2 requirements limited officer and NCO leadership for the medium truck company mission. With most senior leaders located at various locations, company requirements at Al Asad placed more stress on the limited, available leaders and daily transportation operations. Despite only ten days of driver's training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, a limited number of senior leaders, and operating from at least four locations in the Anbar Province, the 109th Quartermaster Company ensured sustainment success. Untiring efforts and sheer perseverance through the painful challenges ended with mission accomplishment and all Soldiers redeployed home.
Future Sustainment Operations
The 109th Quartermaster Company's story is a striking example of the Army's transformation target: a multifunctional, modular, and joint capable organization. The ultimate sustainment team must perform a myriad of support tasks, understand linear, non-linear, joint roles/responsibilities, and easily operate within/support any organization. These qualities entail smaller and expeditionary logistics enablers that can accomplish more. Despite battlefield, equipment, and personnel challenges, the 109th Quartermaster Company successfully capitalized on resources in joint operations. These agile capabilities allow support units to increase capacity and roles. In turn, maneuver and fire units can accomplish their mission with tailored sustainment. Efficiency will be gained as units are manned according to modular designed templates, Soldiers develop combined skills, service support leaders learn to manage various functions, and units train with interoperable flexibility. With transformation in progress, Soldiers will do the rest. The American Soldier is the outstanding multiplier that will maximize future sustainment operations.
Section 3: Tactical Logistics and Operation Pacific Guardian in An Najaf, Iraq - A Company Command Perspective
CPT John H. Chaffin IV
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2004 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
Over a career, the professional Soldier memorizes list upon list of tenets and principles. These lists seek to capture a tradition of initiative and ingenuity spanning all ranks - from troops with their improvised contraptions of steel teeth and spikes welded to tanks during the invasion of Normandy, to senior leaders harnessing information networks to mass complex effects in time and space. The principles that embody this tradition also enabled the success of the 364th Supply Company (Direct Support), Logistics Task Force Victory, and the 264th Corps Support Battalion (Airborne) during Operation Pacific Guardian in An Najaf, Iraq during August 2004. The three such principles critical for 364th operations were anticipation, unity of command and flexibility.
Before the Battle
Before the battle the initial concerns were command and control (C2), especially the formal relationship between the 364th Supply Company and augmenting support, and building the right support package at each location as we conducted split-base operations. These decisions were heavily influenced by Army and Marine differences in how to deliver logistics support and the availability of contracted support. One measure of success would be how well we were positioned to provide support during the fight.
As the battle began, the 364th Supply Company was headquartered at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Echo, near Diwaniyah, Iraq. A detachment also was operating at FOB Duke near An Najaf. This area of operations was three hours south of battalion headquarters in Baghdad. From the outset, the 364th conducted split-base operations in support of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The company provided potable water from 3,000- gallons per hour reverse osmosis water purification units (ROWPUs), retail JP8, wholesale JP8 distribution using seven 5,000-gallon M969 tankers, direct support (DS) maintenance at FOB Duke with the maintenance support team (MST) from the 659th Ordnance Company attached to the 364th, and field services with the attached shower, laundry and light clothing repair (SLCR) team from the 259th Field Services Company. At the same time, the 364th was establishing its supply support activity at FOB Echo.
Integrating attachments such as maintenance and field services posed no special challenge because corps support battalions often task-organize this way. Reception and integration of small elements was something the 364th Soldiers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) had done before. As the 364th prepared to receive augmentation, most planning revolved around establishing proper command relationships. The battalion commander chose to attach all elements to the battalion and give me, as the company commander, tactical control (TACON). Negotiation and compromise are parts of this process. Failure to consider all implications of the kind of control allowed to the tactical commander leads to problems in execution. By war-gaming the 364th task organization, we ensured a responsive, agile support capability. Clear command structure facilitated responsive logistics.
Company leadership worked hard to ensure a clear C2 plan during split-base operations. Because of the way the battle space was drawn, the 11th MEU was operating across two provinces and five FOBs. The 364th had to ensure support over the same area. The challenges would revolve around the solid integration of 364th capabilities, the organic assets of the MEU, and contracted civilian logistics within the area of operations.
Getting the right mix of capabilities at each location was fundamental. The joint environment in which we operated in Iraq increased the challenge of building the right initial logistics set. We needed to quickly learn how logistics information flowed, and decisions were made, within an MEU. There is no support operations officer synchronizing plans and execution between operators and supporters. Requirements are developed by the MEU S4 (Logistics) and executed by the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG). How the Marines provide support is left up to the MSSG commander. As an Army unit providing capabilities above what the MEU possessed organically, we had to work with both the requirements generation of the S4 and the support execution of the MSSG. We identified broad requirements early, moved the key capabilities into place and refined those capabilities through routine coordination between the MEU S4, MSSG operations officer, and myself or the FOB Duke detachment officer in charge (0lC). This coordination would prove too slow during high-intensity operations.
Another challenge in developing initial logistics architecture was the integration of contracted services into the decision-making process. A case in point is field services. A civilian contractor provided shower and laundry support at FOB Echo, but not at FOB Duke. Based on the contracting picture, we determined where to position our field services. This information also influenced how we determined the water production effort. In both cases, we capitalized on the contractor's capability without completely giving away our mission. We recognized, with the civilian contractor, that our organizations had different but complementary capabilities. For example, the 364th ROWPUs can desalinate water; but the contractor's ROWPUs, while bigger, cannot. (Water from wells in southern Iraq is often salty.) Therefore, it was important to meet the contractors, learn their capabilities and limitations, and develop agreements on how we would work together.
During the Battle
On the morning of 4 Aug 04 a Marine UH-l aircraft went down over the city of An Najaf. This event triggered fighting that developed in intensity and complexity during the next three weeks. At its height, the operation involved the equivalent of six battalions of Marine, Army, coalition, Iraqi and aviation assets. The 364th Supply Company was the only direct support logistics unit in this area of operations. As the battle progressed, we would be required to receive attachments that would bring our strength up to 275 Soldiers.
The battle focused on two pieces of interrelated terrain, both of significant cultural importance to the Muslim community: the Najaf Cemetery (the largest cemetery in the world) and the Imam Ali Mosque (the second holiest site in Islam). The complex urban terrain, coupled with the battlefield's cultural and political significance, shaped our logistics operations. The greatest challenge, however, came not from the fight itself, but from the theater logistics architecture.
Within days of the start of combat operations, the 364th Supply Company's greatest enemies were time and distance. In order of priority, the commodities critical to sustaining the fight were fuel, ammunition and water. The lines of communication (LOC) over which we had to operate were defined by the MEU battle space and the theater logistics architecture. Within the MEU battle space, 57 miles of bad road separated FOB Echo from FOB Duke. Our source for bulk JP8 fuel was over 160 miles of even worse road, and a single round-trip fuel mission required Soldiers to drive 320 miles in l30-degree heat. During the battle, the 364th Supply Company would routinely be spread across 220 miles of desert with date palms and mud huts. Because three hours was the best response time we could achieve for an emergency push of supplies from FOB Echo to FOB Duke, accurate estimates were essential.
In the case of bulk fuel, the mission was threefold: to reach back over the LOC with organic and attached fuel tankers from FOB Duke to our source of supply, maintain and operate two fuel farms, and push fuel from FOB Duke to outposts in the edges of An Najaf two to three times a week. This LOC was the longest route in our area of operations. Fuel was the also the most complex mission overall.
As a result, wholesale JP8 distribution commanded most of our attention throughout the fight. Sustaining the steady flow of fuel was vital to the mechanized formations the 364th supported. The most important consideration was keeping crews fit for the 320-mile trip. The G1/G4 Battle Book defines linehaul operations as a round-trip distance that can be traveled twice per day. This LOC was something beyond line-haul. Army doctrine suggests tactical units do not do this sort of mission.
Success would require some creative planning and great NCO leadership. Early in the operation, the 364th received two separate teams of M969 fuel tankers, giving the company 12 tankers we could count on to line-haul fuel. We created two fuel teams, complete with gun truck security elements. We kept these teams together, to include convoy commanders, throughout the operation.
We then built a schedule that had each team on the road for two days, with a "down" day, and then back on the road. A given team would be on the road 4.5 days out of each week. As Soldiers became familiar with the route, safe travel time became about 5.5 hours one way. By using one day per "leg," soldiers got rest in the middle of each mission. The "down" day was then used for maintenance in the morning, then more rest in the afternoon. We thought this rhythm was sustainable for the time we had to execute reach-back for fuel.
This was a sustainable rhythm until two battalions of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived at the start of the second week of fighting. The 364th now had three mechanized elements, plus aviation, in our area of operations. We decided that if we could briefly surge our wholesale distribution capability, we could then revert to our planned rhythm and sustain for the duration of the operation. The single theater push of fuel we received during the battle came earlier than expected. We capitalized on this windfall to delay one fuel mission for one day, which enabled each team to make subsequent back-to-back runs with no "down" day.
It was during this period, about the second week of the fight, that NCO leadership became the key to success. Enforcing rest plans and staying sharp on precombat checks (PCCs) and precombat inspections (PCls) enabled us to surge temporarily in order to keep up with the flow of operations. We did this with no combat losses, no injuries and no days lost to vehicle maintenance or illness.
Because bottled water was abundant before the battle, the supply of bottled water never required a surge or change in rhythm. The concept of water support was a constant. This remained true even as new units continued to pile on. Due to this influx of warfighters, consumption rates and on-hand quantities of water constituted a key piece of information. This information became a transportation enabler.
By not having to react blindly to an imagined shortage of water, we were able to free up ground transportation to move ammunition. This information enabled our support to stay responsive to the warfighter's priorities. Because of the size of the force the 364th Supply Company supported and also the tremendous distances we had to travel to deliver support, knowing exactly what we had and how much of it we would have in a few days constituted essential data throughout the operation.
We moved bottled water with a palletized loading system (PLS) platoon we had received just before Operation Pacific Guardian began. This capability had enabled us to build up a sustainable stock of bottled water. As the fighting intensified, this element was also used to move ammunition. Our visibility of bottled water stocks enabled us to keep two PLS systems reserved for on-call ammunition transport requests from the MEU. Since the bottled water was next to the ammunition supply point for southern Iraq, we integrated these PLSs into the water mission. Seeing an opportunity and being in a position to seize it allowed the 364th to provide a capability that had not even been identified as a requirement before the start of the fight.
As the fight entered its second week and Operation Pacific Guardian approached its culminating point, some critical types of ammunition were running low. The particular ordnance was Marine-specific and could not be moved during our routine water mission using "opportunity" PLS. Again, by keeping careful track of our on-hand commodities, we were able to shift our PLS schedule. We built in an emergency reach-back operation to a Marine ammunition supply point, picked up the necessary ammunition, and got back before the specific rounds were depleted. All 364th ammunition transport missions were only possible because of careful asset visibility. Without this critical information, we would not have been able to develop an ammunition supply plan "on the fly." We would have required further augmentation: additional assets that probably were not available.
Throughout Operation Pacific Guardian, continuing to revise estimates and plan accordingly were the keys to our success. Because of the complex terrain and the political sensitivities involved in fighting around the mosque and the cemetery, the Marines depended on careful planning and resource allocation. It was not feasible to simply blast holes through the city in order to engage insurgent forces. Instead, precision fires - from snipers to laser-guided munitions - were used to limit collateral damage.
This had a tremendous impact on logistics. The relatively small transportation section of the MEU was required to navigate narrow streets with low hanging wires and debris to deliver supplies to widely separated elements. The tactical supply routes tended to radiate through the city like spokes, with few cross-mobility corridors. As a result, the availability of organic lift to conduct resupply operations was extremely limited. Our ability to augment that lift by conducting wholesale supply transportation operations was therefore a very real asset. While most of the wholesale resupply was by air, on at least two occasions our ability to get emergency supplies for the warfighter ensured assets were available for tactical resupply missions.
Before Operation Pacific Guardian, the 364th conducted coordination with the MEU S4 through company command channels. As the fight developed, this proved too cumbersome. Between split-base operations, continuous convoys and multiple logistics capabilities, execution was all-consuming. There was little time to validate new requirements.
This problem was resolved by the addition of a battalion support operations liaison officer (LNO). This LNO was virtually embedded within the MEU S4 and served to gather and complete initial validation of all emerging requirements. This allowed Logistics Task Force Victory to maintain clearer visibility on what was happening in An Najaf, which in turn led to faster and more efficient allocation of resources. Adding an LNO also freed key leaders within the company from spending time on requirements that were clearly beyond the company's capabilities, allowing us to focus on the mission.
The other significant challenge for the 364th was the integration of new Soldiers as we continued to expand our capabilities. At its peak, the 364th "Guardian Eagles" numbered 275 soldiers. We were performing tactical fuel distribution; wholesale linehaul of fuel; bulk fuel storage and issue; providing Class II (general supplies), Class III (petroleum, oils and lubricants), Class IV (construction and barrier materiel), Class V (ammunition), Class IX (repair parts) support; PLS medium transportation support; heavy equipment transporter (HET) support; DS maintenance; field services; and potable water production. The 364th operated five out of six tactical logistics functions within one company headquarters.
This would not have been possible without using common sense to integrate short-term augmentation. Our focus was almost entirely on the mission. As far as military discipline, the 364th focused on the basics. The commander or detachment OIC visited each work area every day, and the first sergeant or detachment NCOIC visited living areas every day. We conducted a nightly Battle Update Brief (BUB) and a daily ground movement order. Orderly rooms were very focused on personnel accountability.
Also, short-term (less than 30 days) attachments to the 364th were held accountable only for mission conducted safely, energetically and to standard. The 364th provided additional command support as needed, from providing DSN telephone access to coordinating airlift for a platoon so its Soldiers could attend a memorial service in their parent company.
After the Battle
Logistics is largely a game of numbers. Whether discussing time, distance, quantity received or quantity required, logisticians always are talking about numbers. The success of the 364th Supply Company during the battle of An Najaf is shown by the "Key Assets" and "Productivity" charts of the company's capabilities and productivity, 12-25 Aug 04.
These are only some of the statistics describing the 364th logistics effort required to support Operation Pacific Guardian. The hours spent on materials handling equipment (MHE) missions or operating retail fuel points will never be fully accounted. Of course, the hard work of the 364th Warrior Logisticians is more than simple numbers. Their hard work is a reflection of their pride and professionalism. In the final analysis, supply statistics reflect the commitment of each Soldier on the ground and nothing more, or less.
The 364th began by acknowledging a tradition of creativity and ingenuity, a "can-do" attitude. Based on common sense, our operating principles will assist any logistics company operating far from the flagpole in the complex arena of Iraq.
The most important principle for logistics success in the fighting at An Najaf was anticipation. From our initial logistics set to developing requirements and capabilities in the midst of the battle, the 364th Supply Company maintained its ability to support the warfighter because the company was always looking ahead. This required close coordination with civilian contractors and joint military organizations. It was also necessary to carefully monitor consumption of key commodities. In whatever way at whatever time, we were always trying to see the way ahead.
Another key principle was unity of command and unity of effort. The 364th worked hard to clarify exactly how each element fit into the larger picture. As units and capabilities were added, we developed a simple, easy-to-execute routine for maintaining C2. Leaders remained visible and present throughout operations. All decisions came from or were approved by the company commander. Subordinate leaders understood the importance of not allowing any external organization to task the company without going through the proper channels.
Though other logistics principles were at work, the final significant principle for the 364th was flexibility. We experienced this principle as the ability to act on critical information and seize opportunities as quickly as they arose. We were able to make a significant contribution to the warfighter by assisting with ammunition transportation, for example, and we could do this only because we could accurately visualize our entire operation. Communication within the company was absolutely critical in order for us to rapidly shift assets and missions without falling into chaos. Flexibility was largely the contribution of the NCOs and Soldiers who made the mission happen each and every day during Operation Pacific Guardian.
The 364th Supply Company's support of the battle 5-27 Aug 04 in An Najaf was a success. For achievement, we tackled key objectives before and during the operation. Before combat, the 364th focused on establishing the right mix of capabilities and developing support relationships. During the fight, the 364th focused on providing fuel, ammunition and water to the warfighter. Anticipation, unity of command and flexibility contributed the most directly to mission accomplishment.
Section 4: Forward Logistics Element Officer in Charge Lessons Learned
CPT Juliana E. Ledgisterv
Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2007 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
A supply and services officer of a combat sustainment support battalion (CSSB) is responsible for the management of all classes of supply (minus Class VII and VIII), as well as management of showers, laundry, and clothing repair operations across the battlefield. One CSSB that was located in Al Asad, Iraq, was responsible for all general support and direct support of customers that included Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Special Operations Forces (SOF), and the Iraqi Army multinational forces in the whole west area of operations. That is a very large footprint.
During Operation Sayid and the first Iraqi elections, a small command operating post named Rawah was established near the Syrian border. This was in the CSSB's battle space and the supply organization was charged with setting up and supporting a very small common operations platoon located in a remote and austere location. The CSSB supply and services officer was sent forward to support US military personnel that would be operating in this area. Later another requirement for the same kind of support came for the city of Hit. Again, the CSSB supply officer was relocated to support the Marine Corps and then later Task Force, SOF, and Iraqi Army forces.
This kind of duty can have its own peculiar difficulties, so here are a few tips on some of the things one might face if they find themselves assuming the duties of a forward logistics element (FLE) officer in charge (OIC). Many of the situations discussed are not found in doctrine and Soldiers often found solutions through trial and error. These actions eventually helped the support of customers as well as made life for Soldiers a lot easier.
If you are separated from your flagpole (CSSB), the most important thing to have operating is communication. Success in Iraq depends largely on the daily communication between the battalion and the supply officer. Communication with the battalion and the FLE is not always dedicated. The Marines operated on a different secure internet protocol router network (SIPRNET) than the battalion and it was often difficult to make contact. It is vital that the FLE supply officer have a dedicated line of communication for adequate support. In order to communicate, the supply officer may have to use the movement tracking system as a means of communication. If it is determined that a FLE is needed, it is vital to establish a concrete means of communication prior to sending the element forward. A good recommendation for austere locations is to have a satellite phone available. It can be a great lifeline. Another good recommendation is to have your S6 channels determine what type of line your supported customer has. In one example a Marine customer only had SIPRNET channels. The supply officer supporting the Marines had to establish an account with the Marine Corps unit before being able to communicate with the battalion via SIPRNET. Although it only took a few days to establish an account, it would have been easier to already have one before getting on the ground.
Taking Over a Class I Stockpile
It is not always easy to provide initial support to units once on the ground. An FLE OIC may lack knowledge of what is on hand in the Class I yard or the serviceability of rations. One such Class I yard did not have enough people on hand in order to dedicate the time it took to accurately monitor rations. Class I material would be delivered to the forward operating base (FOB) and unloaded, but not accurately accounted for. Rations were not stored in a secure location, so rations were sometimes pilfered. This in turn caused an inaccurate accounting of rations. When the new FLE team arrived, they inventoried all rations, obtained connexes to secure them in, and maintained an accurate count of what was on hand once the logistics packages were delivered. Initially it was a lot of hard work sorting the rations and figuring what was still usable stock, but once the yard was organized, it was easy to maintain. It helped the operation to have dedicated 92Gs (Food Service Specialists) on hand in order to organize rations and maintain them at the site.
Transporting Bottled Water
Due to rough terrain and poor roads, water would sometimes arrive at austere locations in bad shape. It could not be downloaded with a forklift. Soldiers had to unload multiple pallets of water by hand slowing convoy turn-around time. The battalion tried several different methods of transporting the water and found that transporting water in connexes that were blocked and braced proved to be the best method. It limited the amount of space and number of pallets, but helped solve the problem. Ensuring that pallets were not stacked higher than four high and were topped with black toppers (like those on multi-pack boxes) and ratchet strapping securely when traveling on flatbed or on a palletized load system also prevented problems.
It is critical that material handling equipment (MHE) and rough terrain cargo handlers are available at forward locations for both the FLE and the supported customer. It is also vital that there are dedicated operators for each piece of equipment. There is little time for on-the-job training when you are in the middle of the fight. Have at least one dedicated operator/maintainer on hand for each piece of required MHE, two dedicated operators/maintainers would be ideal in the instance that one piece of equipment goes down. Try having a maintenance support team available. Also, a 63J (Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer) on hand will not only fix equipment but also anything else that breaks down.
Operations run well with an entire mechanic support team (MST) dedicated to the FLE. The MST must be composed of a heavy wheel mechanic, a welder, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, MHE mechanic, and a Unit Level Logistics System-Ground (ULLS-G) operator. Where this is not available there needs to be at least one dedicated mechanic that is knowledgeable on MHE. It is also highly recommended to have a dedicated very small aperture terminal to file transfer protocol from ULLS-G to Standard Army Maintenance System-1 Enhanced to ensure parts are ordered and received in a timely manner.
Finally, outstanding Soldiers who work hard and are dedicated to their mission can accomplish almost anything. Being an S1 and then a supply and services officer during conflict can teach one more in a year than some individuals learn during a whole career. These tips are offered to help make your deployed life a lot easier.
Section 5: Tracking Materiel from Warehouse to Warfighter
Lt. Col. Joseph P. Granata, USMC
Reprinted with permission by Army Logistician Magazine.This article was originally published in January-February 2005 issue of the Army Logistician Professional Bulletin of United States Army Logistics, PB 700-05-05, Volume 37, Issue 5.
New tracking technology enables Marine Corps logisticians to tackle "the last tactical mile."
After-action reports of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) issued early in 2003 heralded the success of radio frequency identification (RFID) systems and networks that profoundly enhanced the ability to track in-transit materiel from the continental United States (CONUS) to the theater. According to the reports, the military, especially the Army, benefited from greater visibility of materiel, reduced inventory, and increased speed in locating critical supplies.
However, those reports and OIF operational experience also showed that, once RFID-tagged shipments were broken down at in-theater ports and airfields for forward movement to the warfighter, accountability for the items in them was soon lost. The truth is that, during both the buildup and execution of OIF, the military did not track supplies to the tip of the spear. The result was the loss of equipment, gear, and other supplies and a lot of reordering. Some units, including Marine Corps units, were not using RFID, which further exacerbated logistics problems.
In the end, Marine Corps logisticians were humbled and embarrassed by some of the "nuts and bolts" logistics problems they encountered. Because of these problems, marines often did not have what they needed. They squandered a great deal of time and treasure worrying about logistics management problems whose solutions were potentially at their fingertips.
My unit, the Marine Corps' Supply Management Unit at Camp Pendleton, California, is the primary supply support unit for the I Marine Expeditionary Force. When we returned from our OIF tour, we understood the imperative to make changes to our supply process-and quickly. We recognized, at least at some level, the role that RFID potentially could play in fundamentally changing the way Marine Corps combat service support groups serve the end users in the foxhole.
We did not waste any time. We knew that tracking materiel to ports or airstrips and then losing it would do little to transform our processes. While we were late in getting into the RFID game, we sought to make up ground quickly by focusing on the so-called "last tactical mile" shortfall still so evident at the far end of the delivery chain. We sought to extend the near-real-time, in-transit visibility (ITV) of the logistics supply chain that we enjoyed at the strategic level down to the tactical level and, in fact, all the way to our final consignees-the warfighters. When the assault on Fallujah, Iraq, took place last fall, we were ready to support the warfighter with what he needed when he needed it.
When the Marine Corps redeployed to Iraq in February 2004 in what might be called "OIF II force sustainment," we used a new RFID concept that quickly moved the Marine Corps to the forefront of emergent military logistics solutions. The concept involved the following-
Tagging to the Bin Level
To address the issue of inadequate in-depth visibility of materiel, we began comprehensive implementation of RFID tagging down to the pallet or reusable tri-wall container level and even to the bin or SKU (stockkeeping unit) level. When supplies for multiple consignees were on the same pallet, we tagged separate bins of materiel on the pallets for the individual consignees. The individual items inside the bins were bar coded, and the bar code data were uploaded to the active tags, which have a capacity of up to 128 kilobytes of data. During the conflict in Fallujah, we were able to track materiel in near-real-time all the way to the edge of the city.
In contrast to the Army's practices, the Marine Corps tags materiel even if we know it will be passing through areas that do not have interrogators. We do this as a matter of policy to institutionalize the proliferation of interrogators in the future so we will be able to tie the data feeds into existing inventory management reports and systems. Tagging materiel so it can be tracked wherever interrogators are available helps us to keep our supplies where they belong and "know what we have where" with a business-like efficiency.
Training As We Fight
The Marine Corps philosophy of "train as you fight" was central to finding a solution to our logistics challenge. In just a few weeks, we implemented a unit-level training program to ensure that new personnel in the unit were competent users of RFID technology. We believe that training personnel to use RFID technology during support operations in the United States helps to promote its use routinely in all operations rather than only during deployments. Currently, this approach to institutionalizing RFID is unique to the Marine Corps. The approach is so successful that the Corps is now providing assistance and training support to deployed Army supply support activities.
Commercial off-the-shelf technology was pivotal to expediting RFID system implementation. Working closely with the Installations and Logistics Department at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, we identified hardware and software early in the process that would help us meet our required nodal visibility objectives.
Within months, we were able to deploy compact, lightweight early-entry deployment support kits and mobile readers in the field along key nodes all the way to the Syrian border. These new mobile RFID stations provided in-theater ITV that showed current events at the container, pallet, and bin levels.
We also extracted "last known location" data from the ITV server and used it to create shipment status information that was posted to the units' standard supply management reports. This provided an audit trail of shipments as they passed through locations in the distribution pipeline (for example, the containerization and consolidation points at New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; and Al Taqaddum, Balad, and Fallujah, Iraq).
Today in Iraq, through the use of a custom interface sbetween the Automated Manifest System-Tactical (for which the Army and the Marine Corps share responsibility) and the Marine Corps supply system, RFID automation allows seamless collection of source data for outbound shipments of reusable tri-wall containers and pallets to marines in the field. With the implementation of the new tracking systems, Marine Corps logisticians are able to use the Joint Deployment and Logistics Model (JDLM), which is also used by the Army, to track shipments as they move forward.
Marines love being "in the know" and never plan to go back to the "good old days." The new tracking capability enables better planning, reduces unnecessary backup orders, and, most importantly, instills greater confidence in logisticians and warfighters alike.
The Payoff: A Shift in the Logistics Paradigm
Today, our new tracking capability provides us with cradle-to-grave status of supplies with unprecedented accuracy and resolution. We have tagged hundreds of containers and thousands of pallets holding tens of thousands of supply items and experienced better than 90-percent read rates in hostile environments throughout the supply chain.
The new RFID process has enhanced the precision and flexibility of our supply operations, and we have gained the ability to locate or redirect "misroutes" as soon as they happen. We can prioritize shipments like never before; for example, critical repair parts for tanks are shipped ahead of pens and paper.
As a result of these improvements, we have reduced our overall shipments while pushing materiel to the end user more quickly. Supply personnel know what they have ordered, where it is, and when they can expect to receive it. Allowing logisticians to see progress with their own eyes has increased their confidence in the supply system. As a result, just in-case ordering has decreased substantially.
The Marine Corps has a long way to go to exploit the maximum potential of RFID technology to enhance supply support operations. Our experiences in supplying the 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, for the offensive on Fallujah demonstrated that our forward-leaning approach is battle forged and that the payoffs are real.
Section 6: Improved Air Cargo Operations
SFC Lupe G. Galvan
Reprinted with permission by Army Logistician Magazine. This article was originally published in the May-June 2006 issue of Army Logistician Professional Bulletin of United States Army Logistics, PB 700-06-03, Volume 38, Issue 3.
To reduce the number of coalition vehicles and personnel required to travel Iraqi roads to deliver ground cargo, the Army's 1st Corps Support Command and the Marine Corps' 1st Marine Expeditionary Force worked together to find a way to increase the amount of cargo being flown into the Iraqi theater. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the Joint Air Cargo Operations Team (JACOT). The JACOT, the first interservice team of its kind, coordinates air assets in Iraq.
Before the establishment of JACOT, interservice cooperation was limited. The Marine Corps operated traditional arrival and departure airfield control group (ADACG) operations. It was responsible for loading and unloading passengers and cargo arriving on Marine Corps helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Across the airfield, an Air Force aerial port team and the Army's 3d Platoon, 403d Cargo Transfer Company (CTC), loaded and unloaded all cargo from other fixed-wing military aircraft and commercial carriers. This operation worked, but it was inefficient.
In June 2005, the Marine Corps 2d Force Service Support Group Forward and Combat Logistics Regiment 25 took the lead in transitioning the ADACG and Strategic ADACG into the JACOT. The transformation included collocating the personnel movement side of the operation with the cargo movement side, including the transient billeting area for incoming and outgoing units. The efficiencies gained were vital to the successful deployment and redeployment of Army units in July, when over 8,000 Soldiers passed through the JACOT area of operations.
The JACOT is unique because it involves all four military services. It now consists of an Air Force tactical control element team, the Marines and Sailors of the 1st Force Service Support Group, an Army movement control team, and the cargo handlers of the 403d CTC.
The Air Force tactical control element team brought the much-needed Deployable Global Air Transportation Execution System (DGATES) technology to the operation. DGATES allows the JACOT to track all aircraft that pass through and the amount of cargo and personnel on each.
The division of labor is what sets the JACOT apart. The Air Force tactical control element team schedules flights, tracks incoming air assets, and observes all moving equipment on the airstrip to ensure that it is operated correctly. When an aircraft approaches the field, Marines and Airmen working in the air control tower notify the offload team-consisting of Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen-waiting at the intermediate staging point. When the aircraft ramp is lowered, the joint team offloads the cargo. The average offload time for a full C-17 is about 20 minutes. Once the cargo is staged at the intermediate staging point, the Army team moves the cargo into the cargo yard, where it is sorted into designated lanes by Department of Defense Activity Address Code or Reportable Item Control Code. The cargo then is transported by ground to customer units within 24 hours.
The JACOT concept has proven to be very successful in Iraq. One benefit of having one central air cargo operations team for the Iraqi theater is that it provides a one-stop shop for cargo and passengers. The team has been able to use aircraft more efficiently and, as a result, has maximized air transport of passengers and cargo. Another benefit of the joint team is its ability to share resources, which has reduced manpower and equipment requirements for future operations.
As one JACOT member put it, "We're one team. We're here for one fight. We do the same thing; we help each other out. It's a good feeling."
Section 7: 3D Platoon Takes on Triple Mission
By CPT Sonise Lumbaca
Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2005 issue of Quartermaster Professional Bulletin.
TAQADDUM, Iraq - Thousands of pounds of supplies are flown in via fixed and rotary-wing aircraft or driven in by combat logistics patrols to staging areas each day. The various supplies, which include bottled water, equipment parts, and ammunition, are brought in from various locations and countries to aid u.s. troops in Iraq.
Once all of these supplies arrive, who determines what goes where and when? Members of 3d Platoon, 403d Cargo Transfer Company, 620th Corps Support Battalion, 561st Corps Support Group, an active duty unit from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has the mission of receiving inbound supplies and dispersing them to various units of all services.
The platoon of approximately 40 Soldiers, which arrived in mid January, is responsible for three areas of this operation which operates 24 hours a day: the Joint Air Control Operations Team (JACOT), Central Receiving Shipping Point (CRSP), and the Logistics Support Area (LSA) Operations.
Once called the Air Departure Airfield Control Group, the JACOT mission has evolved into a joint mission involving the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The JACOT is responsible for moving cargo by air. The operation is simple, upload and download Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft, mainly C-17s and C-130s.
The Marines download the rotary-winged Aircraft and we download Air Force pallets and transport them to a cargo yard where the cargo is tracked and facilitated to the correct units. All four branches of the service work together to facilitate the moving of this cargo.
The JACOT was formed in order to mitigate combat logistics patrols. It is the first of its kind in the Iraqi theater. About 12 members of the 3d Platoon operate the ground portion of the JACOT mission which entails operating various equipment including the Air Force 25K and 40K loader and the Army, Marine, and Air Force 10K rough-terrain forklift. K-Loaders are cargo-loading systems used to load pallets onto aircraft.
Soldiers have been cross-trained on this equipment by the other branches. The joint training helps to accomplish the mission without flaws. Soldiers like their job because it is eventful and develops good skills as far as the technical trade goes. The job is challenging and keeps them on their toes.
The CRSP mission, an operation run by 11 Soldiers, is to receive supplies and equipment in a staging yard and distribute the Army cargo from incoming combat logistics patrols to units here and other forward operating bases. The CRSP yard is also a staging area for combat logistics patrols traveling to various other locations in Iraq and Kuwait. The Soldiers that operate the CRSP yard not only are responsible for cargo documentation, but also operating material handling equipment (MHE), which includes container handlers to load and unload 20 and 40 feet containers, and the 10K variable reach forklift that loads 463L Air Force pallets.
A container handler is machinery that can be driven through rough terrain with the capability to load and unload large containers on to flatbed trucks, rail cars, and on the ground.
The unit tracking number is written down, weight, and the day the equipment was picked up in order to keep track of what comes in and out of the yard. There are many different units that get cargo that is sometimes not supposed to be there. It must be tracked down and measures taken to be sure it gets to the right location.
Members of the LSA Operations cell are responsible for providing support throughout the entire camp here. They load up combat logistics patrols and travel throughout Iraq providing support. Additionally, they provide MHE support, which includes the operation of a 40-ton crane to move heavy equipment for units that do not have this type of support. More than 6,000 pieces of equipment and freight were distributed over the past seven months. There are some challenges. The biggest challenge in Iraq is the weather and keeping the equipment mission capable. The sand storms damage the Kalmars and 10Ks in everyday usage.
The unit is able to meet the challenges with experienced Soldiers within the platoon. They have maintenance teams on hand that keep equipment from falling apart and replacement parts are bought ahead of time. So far the unit has not dropped a mission for non mission capable equipment because of the fine job they have been doing. Members of 3d Platoon enjoy their jobs because they are doing what they were trained to do.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012