By Sgt. Ondirae Hamil AbdullahRobinson (22nd MPAD)December 9, 2016
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- When Allied Soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944, their combat achievements were carefully logged in the annals of world history and have been celebrated since that time. Often forgotten was the logistical push to supply these troops as they made their way into the hedgerows of northern France. Without piers or port facilities available on the beaches, the task of moving equipment from the sea to shore was also monumental.
This endeavor is not forgotten by today's U.S. Army logisticians. These operations are called "joint logistics over the shore," or JLOTS. The word joint means other military services, such as the U.S. Navy, are involved in the operation.
Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade recently completed a JLOTS drill Dec. 5-9 called Resolute Endeavor II that tested the unit's ability to execute a JLOTS mission if called upon.
For several weeks leading up to the JLOTS execution, military planners watched carefully as a plan they had spent months working on came to fruition near Hampton Roads, Va. This plan included the movement of artillery and other military equipment by sea and the establishment of floating piers.
While poor weather and choppy seas initially delayed the operation, equipment was successfully offloaded from ships at sea via the floating piers. The ability to conduct these operations provides the U.S. military with a capacity that other militaries cannot equal.
"This capability allows us to surprise the enemy by exploiting the littoral coastal areas and inland waterways… at a place and time where the enemy wouldn't expect," said Col. Stacy Townsend, brigade commander of the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary).
Townsend further explained that it is often assumed that coastal areas and waterways can act as natural defense barriers. The capabilities tested during this JLOTS exercise are meant to overcome such obstacles.
The Resolute Brigade, the nickname for the 7th Transportation Brigade, touts its ability to move, track and deliver containers, vehicles and cargo in all settings using a variety of delivery methods. During this exercise, the 331st Transportation Company, a subordinate unit within the 7th TB, established a floating pier.
Spc. Rebecca Sheriff, a watercraft operator assigned to the 331st Transportation Company, said the pier is made with the 1,200-foot modular causeway system. This is a system of flat, rectangular sections of floating pier that can be assembled with locking pins into numerous configurations.
After establishing the pier, cargo was loaded and unloaded across the platform. The most impressive feat was the unloading of three 118,000 lbs. RT-240 Kalmar forklifts onto the pier. The pier swayed, bowed and creaked as the behemoth machines drove from the ship to the shore; however, the pier stayed afloat and the task was completed successfully.
"We do this training quite a bit," said Sgt. Jeremy C. Hughes, a watercraft operator with the 1098th Transportation Detachment. "We can bring anything to the fight, anywhere you need it, on a beach, or anywhere in the world."
The next phase of training for some of the Soldiers involved in the JLOTS exercise will take them around the world to the Land of the Morning Calm. In Korea, they plan to further hone their skills with members of South Korea's military and other branches of the U.S. military.
"As we transition to Korea, working with our coalition partners, the Koreans, and working with the Navy as a part of the JLOTS operation, this will be very similar to what will do over there," said Townsend, the brigade commander. "We operated four terminals here. Over there, there will be six with two large terminals."