By Sgt. Gregory WilliamsSeptember 28, 2012
HAIRATAN, Afghanistan (Sept. 28, 2012) -- With the drawdown of U.S. forces already in full swing, the importance of cargo movement throughout Afghanistan is at an all time high. Units redeploying to the U.S. must be able to track their cargo, whether it's in or out of country.
At the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border, one Army unit is working to prove how effective the northern distribution system could be.
This system could possibly give the Army more options during the redeployment process.
The 276th Transportation Detachment (Automated Cargo Documentation) uses a radio-frequency identification interrogator system to track cargo within the northern Afghanistan area.
The interrogator provides in-transit visibility of cargo and is used to formulate daily transportation reports to Joint Sustainment Command - Afghanistan.
Sgt. Robert A. Hamilton, a movement noncommissioned officer with the 276th ACCD, said transportation Soldiers are usually confined to offices and he's happy his unit was given this unique mission.
"One of the most rewarding parts of the mission is to have the opportunity to get Soldiers out on the road and out of the office," Hamilton said. "Most transportation coordinators work out of an office so it's a good to give these Soldiers road experience."
Soldiers with the 276th ACDD not only gain experience outside the wire, but have the opportunity to show there are more redeployment options besidesthe Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication, or GLOC.
"There is a lot of potential at Hairatan border that could help with the redeployment process and drawdown," Hamilton said. "The interrogator by the border is mission critical, so it's important for Soldiers to make sure it's always operational."
Spc. Joseph D. Mannis, a transportation coordinator with the 276th ACDD, has worked with interrogators in the past and said the system is not only an important asset to transportation missions, but is also easy to set up.
"Setting up the system can take two to three Soldiers if they know what they're doing, which is good because a unit won't have to waste unnecessary manpower,'" Mannis said. "All the Soldiers need to do is set up a pole, boot up the system and plug it into a power source."
Mannis said maintaining the interrogators operational readiness doesn't take much effort and even if it did, the unit would do whatever it took to keep the system running because they know other units depend on the data it collects.
"It's important that we keep track of containers coming in the country through the Uzbekistan border because we help other units save time when they do inventory," Mannis said. "Cargo is moving all the time so we can see if it came through this checkpoint or not."
As the Afghan National Army guards the check point and interrogator, Hamilton said the 276th ACDD expects to collect more data from the system as the drawdown continues.
"Once the larger elements start to drawdown we expect to track more cargo," Hamilton said. "In the future we also hope to facilitate the movement of frustrated cargo as well so the busier we are, the better because it will make the Soldiers happier."
The 276th ACDD is hoping to show the Army there is a golden opportunity to the north of Afghanistan.
Hamilton said an opportunity that if it is revised could be more than tracking cargo, but moving it out at a faster rate, which would help everyone go home just a little bit quicker.