GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – To help expedite the movement of more than 5,000 Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 vehicles and equipment pieces, the 405th Army Field Support Brigade has teamed up with movement control and transportation experts from the 1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, and a new prototype modular ramp system is being used for the first time to load equipment onto transport trucks in support of real-world operations.
The Rapidly Available Interface for trans-Loading, or RAIL, is a modular ramp system that can be quickly assembled anywhere. The RAIL system is part of a joint research and development program between U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.
According to an information paper from U.S. Transportation Command the RAIL system’s modular, flexible and air-expeditionary capability provides a critical modality for the transportation of heavy platforms in multiple theaters and has emerging potential.
Mainly developed for railhead operations, particularly in forward areas constrained by limited availability of railhead facilities, the RAIL system can also be used to load equipment onto heavy transporters and semi-trailer trucks. It’s comprised of interchangeable components that can be rapidly constructed in various configurations based on mission requirements, making it highly versatile.
The RAIL system arrived at Grafenwoehr later than expected so there’s only been a few opportunities to use it, thus far, said Maj. Sherita Young, Army Field Support Battalion-Germany support operations officer, 405th AFSB.
“But for those instances, it’s proved useful in loading equipment onto trucks not equipped with their own ramps,” Young said, “and we still have a lot of equipment to load, so there’s still time to make greater use of the ramp.”
This is the first operational implementation of the RAIL system in Europe, stated the 1st ICTC, 39th Trans. Bn., on its social media page. The cargo transfer company is supporting the 405th AFSB by using the new modular ramp system to expedite equipment upload for turn-in back to the 405th AFSB’s APS-2 worksite in Mannheim, Germany.
About a dozen Soldiers from the 1st ICTC tested the new RAIL system in May at the Mannheim APS-2 site. Following the testing, two RAIL systems stayed with 1st ICTC so those Soldiers could train all the Soldiers in the company on how to use the new ramp system. In addition, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command procured funds for eight additional RAIL systems.
The RAIL system creates operational flexibility and provides deterrence through logistical capability. Operators can upload up to 170,000 pounds directly to a rail car anywhere along the train using the RAIL system. Previously, rail cars typically had to be uploaded starting at the end of the train. The RAIL system also provides flexibility when offloading, and it has three rail configurations in addition to the truck trailer configuration being used now to upload equipment onto transport trucks bound for the Mannheim APS-2 site.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st TSC, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.
(Portions of this article came from an article written by Capt. Andrew Paulin, 21st TSC public affairs, published May 11, 2022)