USA — Command’s Relocation Aids ‘Strategic Velocity’

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2010 — Mis­sion: relo­cate a head­quar­ters staff from New Jer­sey and Vir­ginia to Illi­nois, while man­ag­ing sea and land trans­porta­tion of sup­plies and equip­ment for two wars, and mov­ing house­hold goods for all Defense Depart­ment ser­vice­mem­bers and civil­ians.

The Army’s Sur­face Deploy­ment and Dis­tri­b­u­tion Com­mand com­plet­ed that mis­sion this month, con­clud­ing a phased move and estab­lish­ing full mis­sion capa­bil­i­ty at Scott Air Force Base, Illi­nois.

SDDC’s com­man­der, Army Maj. Gen. Kevin A. Leonard, said this week that as the Army com­po­nent for U.S. Trans­porta­tion Com­mand, the com­mand now has bet­ter inte­gra­tion with Transcom, also locat­ed at Scott.

Unit rep­re­sen­ta­tives inte­grate the command’s efforts with oth­er logis­tics ele­ments through Transcom’s oper­a­tions or “fusion” cen­ter, which includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Air Mobil­i­ty Com­mand, Mil­i­tary Sealift Com­mand, Defense Logis­tics Agency, oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies and the State Depart­ment.

SDDC’s 595th Trans­porta­tion Brigade works under a Transcom con­tract] to arrange equip­ment and sup­ply trans­port in the U.S. Cen­tral Command’s area of oper­a­tions, the gen­er­al said. In ship­ping to Afghanistan, the unit moves equip­ment and sup­plies both through Pak­istan from the port of Karachi and through the north­ern dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work, com­posed of com­mer­cial car­ri­ers trav­el­ing through Rus­sia, Cen­tral Asia and the Cau­ca­sus to Afghanistan.

SDDC and Transcom work close­ly with the State Depart­ment for cus­toms, diplo­mat­ic clear­ances and oth­er inter­na­tion­al require­ments for the net­work, the gen­er­al said. The command’s 598th Trans­porta­tion Brigade in Europe man­ages car­go com­ing into sea­ports there until it reach­es the Cent­com the­ater, where the 595th picks it up, he added.

The com­mand has also played a vital role in man­ag­ing the return or trans­fer of equip­ment from Iraq, Leonard said.

“We have a very delib­er­ate process that has veloc­i­ty to it, that can move materiel from the for­ward oper­at­ing bases in Iraq down to Kuwait, and either over to Afghanistan or back to the Unit­ed States,” he said. “It’s hap­pen­ing in a delib­er­ate, thought­ful way that I don’t know we’ve ever been able to achieve before.”

The surge in Afghanistan hap­pened while the com­mand was mov­ing sup­plies and equip­ment out of Iraq.

“We moved that equip­ment rapid­ly to Kuwait, Army Materiel Com­mand assessed it, and if it was in good shape we put it on ships and sent it to Afghanistan,” the gen­er­al said. “About 40 per­cent of the equip­ment require­ments for the new brigades going into Afghanistan were sup­plied from Iraq. It’s unprece­dent­ed in our mil­i­tary his­to­ry. We did­n’t do that between Europe and the Pacif­ic in World War II.”

As forces return home from Iraq and, even­tu­al­ly, from Afghanistan, Leonard said, the chal­lenge for the logis­tics field is main­tain­ing “strate­gic veloc­i­ty.”

“Sim­ply put, if you’re reset­ting the force over a peri­od of two years, that force still has to be ready for any con­tin­gency – Haiti, or some­thing big­ger than Haiti – that might come along,” he explained. “In that process, you must be able to move troops and materiel from Point A to B in the most expe­di­tious fash­ion that you can to achieve what­ev­er effect you want to achieve.

“In a dis­as­ter of glob­al mag­ni­tude,” he con­tin­ued, “you can’t say, ‘Well, we have this won­der­ful capa­bil­i­ty, but it’s going to take us about 30 days to get there.’ It’s unac­cept­able. So SDDC’s chal­lenge, and Transcom’s for the Depart­ment of Defense, is strate­gic veloc­i­ty: the abil­i­ty to move quick­ly between mis­sion require­ment and capa­bil­i­ty. That’s our job.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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