By Staff Sgt. Brent C. Powell, 300th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 15, 2012
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. (July 14, 2012) -- Operation Golden Cargo, a logistical exercise for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who transport truckloads of ammunition across the U.S., has a specialized team of Soldiers that keeps convoys on track.
The team, known as the Movement Control Team, or MCT, is the crucial link that assists military convoys traveling from point to point--along with their precious cargo.
Comprised of nine highly-trained and skilled Soldiers from the 216th Movement Control Team from Fort Bragg, N.C., the unit tracks all of the convoys coming from and leaving Anniston Army Depot within the 828th Transportation Battalion, known as Task Force Hellcat.
"Our mission is to make sure the convoy is ready for the road, control the convoy's movement, and provide in-transit visibility to the commanders," said Sgt. 1st Class Atilya D. Singletary, a transportation management coordinator and noncommissioned officer in charge for the 216th MCT. "It's an important mission because the commanders need to know where the convoys are at all times, and if an incident or issue occurs, immediate action can be taken."
Each day during the operation, the team is responsible for making sure 13 to 18 tractor trailers carrying thousands of pounds of high-explosive 155mm artillery projectiles, as well as convoy support vehicles and accompanying personnel, are able to travel safely during the nearly 500-mile trek from Anniston Army Depot to Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Crane, Ind.
The first step in the process is gathering all of the vehicles together in a designated staging area, where Singletary's team conducts a thorough inspection. They check each of the drivers to ensure they have all the necessary paperwork, including their military and civilian driver's licenses and any additional required documentation.
"Making sure the drivers have everything they need is a very important part of what we do," said Singletary. "It's a huge liability, especially when moving large loads of explosives."
The team also marks each vehicle with the appropriate Department of Transportation numbers to ensure they are in compliance with highway traffic laws. The vehicle numbers allow local authorities to know the vehicles are clear to drive on their specific routes.
Once the vehicles are inspected and marked and the drivers have all their required documents, the team sends them on their way; but their job is far from over.
The team monitors each convoy from beginning to end, and keep a constant check on its progress. If a vehicle experiences mechanical issues or an unforeseen problem arises, the team is informed and notifies the appropriate commander so corrective action and planning can be implemented.
"This has been a new experience for me," said Spc. Robbieann E. Grice, a transportation coordinator from Fort Bragg, assigned to the 216th MCT. "I have really enjoyed being able to meet all the different Soldiers and wish them well as they leave and come back."
By the time the exercise is over, the team will have launched a total of 75 trucks carrying a total of 3 million pounds of ammunition.
"So far everything with the convoy launches has gone smoothly," said Singletary. "Our Soldiers are well trained and fully capable of meeting any challenges along the way, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the mission is successful."