By Jason KuceraMarch 30, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas -- When the 297th Inland Cargo Transfer Company was conducting operations in Afghanistan, part of the unit's mission was running a shipping and distribution point in theater. They are taking on a similar mission at Fort Hood; a mission that also presents new challenges and training opportunities.
Soldiers of the 297th ICTC are in the process of taking over the Fort Hood Central Receiving Shipping Point. By having Soldiers perform the majority of the tasks at the yard, the unit projects to save the post approximately $383,000 annually.
While this is a familiar mission for the "Kings of the Road", it takes a precise and complex system to insure units on Fort Hood and across the Army receive the correct cargo.
"By March 31, we'll have completely assumed the mission of the CRSP, and I'll feel comfortable our Soldiers will be 100 percent responsible by that time," said Capt. Brett Dunning, 297th ICTC company commander.
He said the unit will be primarily focused on internal shipping to Fort Hood customers.
A very important factor about receiving and distributing cargo throughout Fort Hood is quality control, said Juan Rivera, crane operator supervisor. By having good business practices in place similar to a corporate environment, the customers receive their cargo in a strict timely manner.
Over the past several years at the Fort Hood CRSP yard, Department of Defense employees have been running an efficient program. The 297th ICTC went through a 3 week train-up phase, shadowing civilian employee counterparts.
Rivera said the Soldiers will use the same Automatic Manifest System the civilian employees have been using.
As cargo comes into the receiving point of the warehouse, the receiving team first scans it into the system. The team then reads through bills of lading using the AMS to populate the exact destination of that particular cargo. As the shipment is sorted out, depending if it has come in grouped in a multipack box or individually, it is scanned once again before being moved over to the shipping side of the warehouse. Soldiers then figure out customer destinations, grouping the cargo again to head out the door no more than 72 hours later. Along the way, they produce identification and shipping labels, categorizing cargo, Soldiers make phone calls to units to either arrange for shipment or delivery to their location, said Rivera.
Soldiers of 297th ICTC will deliver these goods to Supply Support Activity (SSA) or throughout the installation using flat-bed trucks.
Besides the physical aspect of moving and shipping cargo, a lot of the mission is dependent on administrative procedures being mistake free, said Spc. Edward Daniels, a Cargo Specialist from El Paso, Texas. He has spent the vast majority of his time making sure Department of Defense Activity Address Codes (DODAAC) are correct for the varying units receiving the shipments.
The officer in charge of the yard, 2nd Lt. John Watson, 297th ICTC, feels his Soldiers are very receptive to the job. He said part of mission success is being sure to have the right personnel selected to work at the yard.
"It's… rewarding to do something different, working out here in a sort of corporate atmosphere," said Watson. He adds, "We're having Soldiers go back to basic soldiering, letting all of these soldiers go back to doing what they were doing before wartime."
Troops will be on 90-day rotations, so most of the company can get trained. This also gives the Soldier a chance to take leave or attend military schools.
"The operation here is (7:30 a.m.) to (4 p.m.) every day of the week with only weekends off," Dunning said. "We need a full crew at all times so the guys won't get a lot of time for much else outside of here."
With an average workload of 1,300 pieces of cargo per month coming through the CRSP, a full working staff is vital. The troops may also handle the cargo that units redeploying from operations overseas bring back with them. Some of these units are National Guard or Army Reserve units, who frequently demobilize through Fort Hood. The only class of supply the yard does not accept is class one products.