By Mitch Chandran, Hq. SDDC May 30, 2014
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Logisticians in Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command are all about having "options" available when it comes to supporting Warfighters and getting equipment to them when they need it, wherever they are.
This includes supporting our allies.
Earlier this month, more than 400 Ford Ranger military pickup trucks were awaiting shipment from the Port of Karachi, Pakistan, to Afghanistan in support of a Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Foreign Military Sales mission to help equip the Afghanistan National Security Forces.
Originally, the plan to move the vehicles was simple -- truck them from Karachi along two Pakistani highways northbound up to the northern Pakistan/Afghanistan border of Torkham. From there, move them about 100 miles to Kabul, Afghanistan. This plan became stifled when protestors on the Pakistani side of the border blocked NATO cargo movements for several months. Even after protestors left, the rise of attacks on conveys between the borders and Kabul posed too much of a risk.
Another option logisticians considered was routing the vehicles from Karachi up to the closer southern border gate of Chaman. It was soon apparent this option was cost prohibitive due to security costs associated with the vehicles traversing a much longer route inside Afghanistan.
The solution to this challenge came in the form of a contract.
The Multimodal Contract, managed by U.S. Transportation Command, allowed SDDC logisticians to leverage commercial air capabilities for this mission and alleviate the security risks.
"Our plan was to move the vehicles in batches of 60 from the seaport to a holding area next to the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi," said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Erhardt, chief of the Movement Integration Division for SDDC. From there, we flew them into Bagram (Afghanistan)."
Once in Bagram, the vehicles were moved a short distance by flatbed trucks to Kabul. Between May 5 - 24, a total of 28 flights completed the vehicle moves from Karachi to Kabul.
Erhardt said SDDC's 595th Transportation Brigade in Kuwait, along with the command's liaison assigned to the Office of Defense Representative Pakistan, played a pivotal role with this mission ensuring the proper Pakistani customs approvals and processes were in place and viable.
SDDC provides global surface deployment and distribution services to meet the nation's objectives and deploys/sustains about 90 percent of Department of Defense equipment and supplies by leveraging the capability of commercial industry and other military services.