Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Transportation Policy and Procedures Branch, within the Strategic Business Directorate, takes pride in providing transportation advice to members of the Department of Defense who have requirements to move Arms, Ammunition & Explosives and sensitive cargo within the United States. As a result, the branch has helped the department save more than $5 million in unnecessary transportation charges.

The branch has been tracking cost avoidance for DOD shipping requests since fiscal 2008, saving $5.2 million to date, of which $2.7 million was saved during fiscal 2012 alone.

Each month, the branch receives and reviews 2,500 to 3,000 shipment requests from DOD shippers for AA&E and sensitive cargo movements, of which, about 5 percent require specific guidance. This is where branch members add value with their expertise.

A portion of the branch make up the Freight Routing Team and are dedicated to reviewing shipment requests and providing advice to shippers on the appropriate mode and type of protection required for cargo movement.

"Not all DOD shippers move AA&E or sensitive cargo on a regular basis," said Julia Shenk, branch chief. "Sometimes they may not know what protective services are required. We make sure this type of cargo moving throughout the U.S. has the right level of protection."

When team members receive a shipping request, they consider the origin and destination of the request, which mode of transportation best fits the request and what level of security is required for cargo movements. Team members have it down to a science and most often reply back to the requester within 15 minutes.

"As an example, shippers will send us their request for moving their material," said Andre Johnson, traffic management specialist and member of the Freight Routing Team. "If we find opportunities for cost avoidance without compromising safety and security on shipping modes, we'll contact the customer and give them a rate quote."

Shenk mentioned there is no compromising to achieve cost avoidance because there are certain services that always have to be ordered to protect the cargo. She went on to say the team understands the various configurations, policy changes, equipment types and modes that can be applied to movements. This applied knowledge allows the shipper to make a more informed decision which, in turn, achieves cost avoidance. She said the team is also trained to look at, and recommend if required, available air programs, as well.

For more information, contact SDDC's Policy and Procedures Branch through their general service line at 618- 220-6359.

SDDC's provides timely and accurate support to the Warfighter by leveraging services from the best of U.S. transportation industry to accomplish its missions. In fiscal year 2012, SDDC moved more than 16.4 million measurement tons of cargo in support of U.S. forces worldwide. This equates to about 277,900 standard size trailers full of cargo. Lined end-to-end, these trailers would stretch 2,105 miles, or from New York City to nearly Salt Lake City, Utah.