PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade and partners uploaded 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division cargo and equipment onto the USNS Brittin here Aug. 9-11 for shipment to Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
"Divisions normally do not deploy as a single element," said Casey Carr, 599th Transportation Brigade deputy to the commander. "A brigade combat team will be the largest single movement most personnel will either support or observe. It provides both the supporting and supported units with a unique opportunity to exercise and showcase their transportation skills."
In all, the 599th brought in more than 60 Total Force Integration (TFI) partners from Deployment Support Command to facilitate the move.
All cargo is first staged and inspected at the Multifunctional Deployment Facility (MDF) on Wheeler Army Airfield to expedite staging and port operations. When transportation specialists are able inspect cargo and shipping documents before they reach the port, fewer items are frustrated.
The first unit to arrive in Hawaii to support the move was the 1192nd Deployment and Distribution Support Team (DDST) from New Orleans, Louisiana. Some members of the 1192nd had supported the 599th on previous moves, but others came to Hawaii for the first time.
Unlike last year's deployment, the DDST did not inspect vehicles at motor pools before movement to the MDF for staging.
"Not all of the vehicles made it through inspection prior to leaving the motor pools last time, so it ended up being more of a hindrance than a help in the long run," said Sgt. 1st Class Amanda Reilly, 1192nd cargo specialist.
However, the team did go to the motor pools to inspect containers.
During an inspection on July 24, some containers were found to hold used but empty gasoline cans.
"You'll have to take those out and get new gasoline cans," said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Bordelon, 1192nd DDST cargo specialist. "There is no place in Hawaii that can clean and certify used gasoline cans for shipment."
The 1192nd conducted staging operations at the MDF from July 22 to Aug. 1.
"Staging for the move was easy going at first, but when they came down here full force, it became overwhelming," said Bordelon. "As a whole, we needed better communications of what we expected from the units before they came down here for processing.
"If we had a chance to come out before the mission, we could have let everyone know what paperwork they needed. When they are working a long day and have already come out here with the wrong paperwork, it gets frustrating for both them and us. For units getting ready to go, we need to go and talk to all who will actually use the moving documents. People know, but not necessarily the right people. When we were able to go and talk to a unit, we were going to see the next day, it helped us out, and it helped them out."
Toward the end of staging at the MDF, an Expeditionary Terminal Operations Element (ETOE) from the 1398th Deployment and Distribution Support Battalion (DDSB) from Baltimore, Maryland, arrived to conduct forward staging operations at Pearl Harbor.
Once cargo was staged at the port, loading commenced on Aug. 9.
Sgt. Wendi Cookman, cargo specialist with the 301st ETOE in Cranston, Rhode Island, was working the stern ramp during the night shift on Aug. 10.
"Everything has been moving pretty well. We just had one problem earlier. A lowboy got stuck on the ramp and we used dunnage to get it over the difficult part of the ramp," she said.
"This move has been a good loading challenge because we have to manipulate the dimensions of some of the cargo to ensure the lowboys don't scrape the ramp," said Capt. Monday Price, 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "But our engineer operators are good. They are making it happen. One of our big dozers had to back up the ramp. We have some talented operators on there. Operations are slower and more careful at night, but they have been moving at a pretty good pace."
Price said Soldiers would also accompany the cargo on the voyage.
"We'll have 19 supercargo, and probably the same number on the return trip," she said.
Sgt. Devin Fink, cargo specialist attached to the 1398th ETOE, also worked the night shift.
"We are moving efficiently, and maximizing space with the cargo," he said. "We are following the stow plan. It has been a good guideline to go off of, but some of the cargo doesn't come configured the way they had planned, so we had to vary the placement a little on deck."
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Owen, terminal management team night-shift NCOIC, is from the 1173rd DDSB from Brockton, Massachusetts.
"Everyone is working very well together," he said. "The only problem with coordination
was that all of the units' [standing operating procedures] are slightly different, so it takes some time to get used to working with each other."
Lt. Col. Rod Murphy 1184th DDSB commander, assumed command of the unit right before coming to Hawaii.
"It's been a steep learning curve for me; I just took command a week ago today," Murphy said on Aug. 11. "But as a new commander I was able to fall back on my team's experience.
"I expected a challenge because the people working here are all from different teams; we wanted to make sure we all had the same vision. I've been impressed with how knowledgeable everybody was. They had a plan and they executed the plan.
"In spite of using a new computer system the ship loaded in six 12-hour shifts," he added.
"It has been an outstanding performance by our TFI partners," said Lt. Col. Gary Whitacre, 836th Transportation Battalion commander. "We came out here to work with them and provide coaching and mentorship, but the reality is that the coaching occurred on both ends."
A key component of the mission was the testing of a new computer software system, Transportation Management System (TMS), to track and manage cargo. Because the new system was not scanner-capable, all data had to be entered by hand.
Michael Bethany, transportation specialist with SDDC operations was working on the system.
"The reason we are bringing in and testing TMS is that we are trying to make one single system with all the capabilities for all services to include sustainment and unit moves," said Bethany.
"The design for TMS is a commercial, off-the-shelf system," he added. "A military move isn't the same as a commercial move. People always use Walmart as an example: When Walmart moves a box, that box will not change shape, size, or dimensions; but military cargo changes sizes, weights, etcetera, all of the time. They will add a generator onto a truck or put a trailer on. Even just adding a canvas top causes trouble with the system."
During the operation, the 599th Transportation Brigade and its subordinate unit, the
836th Transportation Battalion from Yokohama, Japan, provided oversight. The brigade's TFI partners, the 1184th DDSB from Mobile, Alabama; the 1192nd DDST from New Orleans, Louisiana; 1398th ETOE from Baltimore, Maryland; two terminal management teams from the 1173rd Transportation Battalion in Brockton, Massachusetts; and the 1174th Transportation Battalion in Fort Totten, New York, all came together with Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor and Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 from Williamsburg, Virginia; unit transportation personnel from the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division; 25th ID's Division Transportation Office; 402nd Army Field Support Brigade; and 25th Sustainment Brigade to complete the move.