Army Reserve Unit Utilizes Innovative Method to Expedite Supply Distribution in Afghanistan
March 18, 2010
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. - When packages are shipped in the United States, customers have a reasonable assumption that whatever they send will reach its destination in a reasonable amount of time. Everything is logged and tracked. Persons are held accountable if something does not get where it is supposed to be when it is supposed to. It is a service that is often taken for granted, especially when on deployment.
Yet, that was the mission for the 484th Joint Movement Control Battalion during their yearlong tour in Afghanistan. The Army Reserve unit, headquartered out of Springfield, Mo., returned from a yearlong deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 25, and is currently demobilizing at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana.
"We were the only battalion level element with a theater-wide mission," said 1st Lt. Matt Eddings, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "We worked 12-to-18-hour days, seven days a week. It was time consuming work."
The 484th JMCB consists of nearly 500 Soldiers, Airmen and civilian contractors. They planned, coordinated, synchronized and executed the distribution of supplies throughout Afghanistan using rotary and fixed wing aircraft, host nation truck movements, container management and movement control operations.
Eddings said that through their efforts, 351,500 tons of materiel was delivered. He said that during his previous deployment to Iraq, the Army moved its material on its own. But in Afghanistan, his unit contracted local Afghan trucking companies to transport supplies in Afghanistan.
"It's entirely different than how we did things in Iraq where we used military convoys to move our assets in theater," said Eddings. "In Afghanistan we developed a system to employ local Afghan truck companies.
"So for example, if you needed to get some supplies to another Forward Operating Base, you would come to our movement control team on your FOB. They would do the paperwork and send it to us, and we would contract a local Afghan trucking company to come pick it up and move it for us. This helps their economy by hiring local drivers with local trucks."
Another difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is infrastructure. Iraq uses a system of paved main supply routes, similar to interstates.
Eddings said that in Afghanistan, the roads were like cow paths, increasing the travel time for resupply missions. To compound matters, some locations were inaccessible by road.
The 484th JMCB embraced the challenge and took their task head on.
"It was a good experience to provide real positive support for the war fighter," said Eddings. "What we do has a direct affect on the mission there."
According to Master Sgt. Eric Gay, operations non-commissioned officer, there were approximately 5000 missions each month that were delivered by these Afghan trucking companies.
"We put a lot of new systems in place," said Gay. "We were like the FedEx of Afghanistan."
To track all that equipment, the Afghan trucks were fitted with [GPS] to provide in-transit visibility to reduce pilferage.
Gay said that they had to develop a sense of accountability among the Afghan contractors. They needed the contractors to know that they were responsible for their employees and subcontractors.
"They started coming around," said Gay. "I think we made some huge strides. We came to a system that was working. It wasn't a traditional mission at all."
Traditional or not, the members of the JMCB accomplished their daunting task at hand; to work as a battalion sized resupply unit providing service to the entire Afghanistan Theatre, using the tools they had available to them to complete their mission.
<i>Originally published on February 26, 2010 by the <a href="http://www.usar.army.mil/arweb/Pages/default.aspx">Army Reserve</a></i>