Soldiers play critical role at world's busiest military airfield
November 18, 2009
- Kandahar Airfield is the busiest military airfield in the world.
- KAF is home to more than 20,000 servicemembers and civilians from 15 different nations.
- The 386th Movement Control Team has processed more than 25,000 cargo trucks through KAF since May.
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Located in Southern Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield is the busiest military airfield in the world. Supplies and equipment arrive daily to sustain the more than 20,000 servicemembers and civilians from 15 different nations. Not all supplies arrive by air. The 386th Movement Control Team has processed more than 25,000 cargo trucks through the airfield since May.
The 386th MCT, an active-duty unit from Vincenza, Italy, deployed here. Responsible for one of the numerous entry control points, the 386th MCT's Soldiers fill a multi-faceted role that includes processing trucks entering and leaving KAF, as well as facilitating logistic units in contracting local trucks for convoys.
"We are the main supply here," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Williams, the detachment noncommissioned officer in charge. "If trucks don't get in the gate, and we don't deliver, nothing's happening."
Arriving cargo ranges from Army and Air Force Exchange Service supplies to disabled vehicles to food. When a truck reaches KAF, it is inspected and screened before entering a holding yard. The 386th MCT then processes paperwork, called transportation movement requests.
With the aid of Slovakian troops, movement control specialists escort drivers to a designated holding area and call the customer to come receive the shipment and driver.
"A lot of people tend to not take notice of movement control teams," said Sgt. Robert Gazaway, a 386th MCT movements NCO. "But we're the guys on the ground, making sure stuff happens."
The truck holding yard is approximately the size of a football field, said Williams. Depending on how troops line up and park vehicles, usually 150 to 200 trucks fit inside the holding yard.
"It's a good feeling knowing you're part of an important picture," said Gazaway. "Our part is to make sure the units get what they need."
Because of the sheer numbers of trucks coming through KAF, customers normally have two hours to pick up their truck before the 386th MCT sends the truck and driver away. Drivers turned away must return the next day. When returning, it can take several hours for them to be searched and screened again and back on KAF.
Williams dislikes turning away drivers and their trucks, but needs to keep a cycle of trucks coming through to deliver goods.
"If you ordered this stuff, come and get it," said Williams. "[The drivers] have families too."
The 386th MCT also collects paperwork as trucks leave KAF. The team sends the gathered paperwork to their higher headquarters, the 484th Joint Movement Control Battalion, an element of the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan.
As an American unit, the 386th MCT holds a unique position since in regards to the holding yard, they answer to the NATO commander of a multi-national airfield, said Capt. Torrance Conner, the detachment commander.
"We show favoritism to no one here," said Williams. "That's the only way we can be."
With large commercial trucks moving through the yard's congested area sometimes at high speeds with unsecure loads, Williams stresses situational awareness and proper personal protection equipment to his troops.
Other dangers can come from the drivers themselves. 386th MCT Soldiers once recognized two drivers as wanted men from posters in the MCT office. They detained and transferred the drivers to the KAF international military police.
"It's a big job out here but an important job," said Gazaway. "I think everyone here is proud of what they do."
As U.S. and world focus turns to Operation Enduring Freedom, the 386th MCT's movement of supplies and equipment through the largest coalition base in Afghanistan remains vital to the sustainment and success of the warfighter.