MANNHEIM, Germany – 21st Theater Sustainment Command Soldiers of the 1st Inland Cargo Transport Company trained on a prototype expeditionary rail capability at Coleman Barracks, Germany, May 3 - 10, 2022.
The Rapidly Available Interface for trans-Loading, or RAIL, is a modular ramp system that can be rapidly assembled anywhere allowing for the massing of combat power. RAIL is a joint research and development program between Combat Capabilities Development Center Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. The program is funded by U.S. Transportation Command Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise. The RAIL system eliminates the need for a fixed railhead facility to offload equipment for onward movement.
“For 1st ICTC in particular, the RAIL system allows us to rapidly deploy the system and essentially eliminate the need for any sort of infrastructure at the rail,” said Capt. Nicolas Candelmo, 1st ICTC company commander. “We can set it up relatively quickly in about four hours and we can access a rail car anywhere.”
“The system that they have is actually really, really easy to understand,” said Cpl. Samual Defa Cargo Specialist of 1st ICTC. “It really is just adult Legos. You just kind of set the pieces where they go.”
Part of the 21st TSCs modernization effort, the 13 Soldiers from 1st ICTC learned how to employ the RAIL system and provided feedback to developers for future versions of the system. The two systems used in the training will stay in Europe with 1st ICTC so they can train the other 175 Soldiers in the company.
“We're getting feedback from these Soldiers who conduct cargo loading and unloading from railcars,” said August Johnson, a research mechanical engineer at ERDC. “They provide insights into how they do these types of operations and we incorporate their feedback to make the system better and their job hopefully easier, safer, and more efficient.” Johnson explained that future models will incorporate the unique flexibility requirements for European operations, to include air drop capabilities.
With RAIL, operators can unload a vehicle up to 170,000 pounds directly to a rail car anywhere along the train. Previously, rail cars typically had to be unloaded starting at the end of the train. RAIL gives flexibility to offload on a variety of terrain, and has three rail configurations in addition to truck trailer configuration. A team as small as 16 people can put the system in place by hand.
The 21st TSC has procured funds for eight additional kits. The RAIL kits will create operational flexibility and provide deterrence through logistical capability. Several NATO members have also expressed interest in the kits. Latvia sent two of their Soldiers to participate in the training, and evaluate how to implement the system in future training exercises.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command executes assigned missions, plans contingency operations in the European theater; while also serving as a Joint Security Area Operations. In doing so, the 21st TSC not only ensures a theater capable of supporting routine operations, but also deterrence and contingency operations. The 21st TSC also enables and facilitates the rapid receiving and deploying of military forces to maintain a strong Europe and execute joint security area operations.