By Frank Chase Jr.November 25, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Al -- From 21 to 31 October, 2019, two members of Redstone Arsenal's Army Airlift Clearance Authority (AACA), conducted a "road show" of its mission, capabilities, and procedures to units involved in moving cargo--especially Class IX repair parts--to and from deployed Army units in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Representing ACAA, which is a subordinate activity of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, were Mr. Jack Dodge and Mr. John Alba. Dodge is the chief of AACA, while Alba is a traffic management specialist located at Dover Air Force Base, DE, which enables him to provide more responsive support to forward-deployed units.
During their trip, Dodge and Alba traveled to the 401st Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB), Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and did site visits with the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, Dover Air Force Base, and the 386th Aerial Port Squadron, Ali Al Salem, Kuwait. At each location, they provided a briefing about ACAA and solicited feedback on ways AACA could better serve its customers.
"The purpose of our trip was to establish communication channels for CONUS and OCONUS for all Army cargo transitioning to and from theater," Alba said. "We sought to broaden familiarity with cargo movement operations in general and AACA procedures more specifically."
ACAA has a unique mission, which is to determine, on the Army's behalf, the most advantageous method for shipping and transporting cargo to and from deployed Army forces. Forward-deployed units identify the cargo they need shipped or transported and ACAA determines how best to get it where it needs to go. The way units notify AACA of what needs to be transported is via a "green" or "purple" sheet, which also enables them to specify the urgency of their request.
A green sheet places an Army shipment above all other Army shipments. "This shipment is first in line for Army cargo," Dodge said. A purple sheet puts a part or item above all other military services' cargo. "This shipment is placed first in line for movement, period," he added.
AACA is responsible for reviewing and validating all green and purple sheet requests. It's AACA that ultimately determines whether specific cargo is expedited through the defense transportation system or not. This means they're continually balancing customer service with efficiency and saving the Army money. A lot of cargo that units identify as urgent can be sent via land and sea, which is considerably cheaper than by air. AACA makes this determination. Last year alone, AACA saved the Army $44.1 million dollars in shipping costs by diverting 11,567 short tons of non-priority cargo to surface transportation.
In addition to vetting all cargo for the appropriate mode or method of shipping, AACA provides real-time customer service to units trying to determine how best to move their cargo. Its goal is to assist units to avoid costly mistakes or delays.
First, AACA assists units deal with what is termed "frustrated" cargo. Frustrated cargo is that which lacks required paperwork or the paperwork is incorrect, has not been properly cleared for hazardous material (MAZMAT), or is incorrectly packed.
Second, AACA helps ensure the Air Force has proper visibility of all Army cargo requiring airlift. "When cargo shows up at aerial ports that's not cleared for airlift, it creates a shipping delay or what's called a 'no-hit,'" Dodge said. "When non-cleared shipments arrive at an aerial port, the paperwork and data are not available for the aerial port's personnel to in-check the cargo; this creates delays for onward movement," he added.
All cargo that is ready for shipment is not treated the same. Figuring out what goes by air and what goes by surface transportation is governed by Army and Department of Defense regulations. Generally, three significant factors determine what goes by air or by land: weight, class of supply, and transportation costs.
"For example, Class IX items that weigh up to 10 thousand pounds will always go by air for air line of communications (ALOC) units," Dodge said. "Units that need to ship cargo contact their installation transportation office, which prepares shipping documents and submits them to AACA for action. If there are issues, an AACA transportation specialist contacts the unit to get more clarification before shipment."
Alba added, "When we traveled to Dover Air Force Base and Ali Al Salem in Kuwait to brief representatives on the AACA mission, our goal was to help them improve their efficiency and effectiveness in the transportation system. We let them know that AACA is there to assist in the movement of cargo to deployed units and advise them on the most advantageous, yet cost-effective method for moving that cargo."
To contact the Army Airlift Clearance Authority, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.