49th Transportation Battalion keeps supplies moving in Iraq

By Sgt. Ann Venturato
13th Corps Support Command Public Affairs Office

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Back in the U.S. the latest traffic information would be a touch of the radio dial away, but here in Iraq the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) keeps Soldiers informed about the latest traffic information before they leave for their next destination.

With its 31 Movement Control Teams spread throughout Iraq, the 49th MCB controls all ground, rail, and air movement in country.

With MCT's that range anywhere in size from division support teams that have seven people to a port movement control team that has 18 people, the 49th MCB has more than 400 personnel spread out in Iraq to help control the movement in theater.

"They are located in every major node in Iraq," said Capt. Sarah Oden, 49th MCB battle captain. Oden's job is to help keep track of all the movements. "The MCT's are located at every border entry where we have people coming in from other countries, all the convoy support centers and the major forward operating bases."

The 49th MCB has MCT's as far South as Um Qasr, far north as the Turkish border, and as far west as the Jordanian border.

They track about 250 convoys a day across theater, which equals about 3,000 vehicles a day.

The MCT's mission is to track convoys coming in and out of their area. They are also responsible for moving equipment in and out of their area.

There are different types of movement control teams including port movement teams, air movement teams, cargo movement teams as well as highway regulating teams.

The 386th MCT in Baghdad has the mission to track the flow of all personnel who come in and out of Baghdad International Airport.

Because of the air movement success over the last seven months, more than 6,000 trucks have been off the roads which has also kept more than 34,000 Soldiers off the roads.

The 49th MCB controls the air movement of C-130's, C-141's, C-23's, C-17's and C-5's throughout Iraq. It has an air movement operation called "Spearhead Aviation" which involves the transportation of Soldiers and supplies on C-23's.

"We get more than 600 requests per month for Sherpa support," said Chief Warrant Officer Veronica Marshall, 49th MCB mobility warrant officer.

More than a million pounds of cargo has been moved by using the Sherpas, Marshall said.

Besides air movement, MCT's also control rail movement.

The rail is run by Iraqi Rail System but it is supported by the MCTs to control the movement of supplies in their area, said Lt. Col. Susan Davidson, 49th MCB commander.

Our success in rail movement has varied in past months because of bridges being blown out, she said.

"We have had rail movement success in the Marine Expeditionary Force area around Baghdad," Davidson added.

Whether rail, air, or land, the 49th MCB has made a success of controlling supplies.

"It has been great for me. Back in garrison we don't do a whole lot of movement control because of the freedom of movement there," Davidson said. "Here it is a different story because everything has to be controlled, as well as monitored."

The highway traffic section is the hub that helps control the various combat logistical patrols on the roads. With the use of technology, the section keeps up with the latest road conditions so convoys going out and those on the highways know about any changes that might affect their travel.

Their job is to let combat logistical patrols know which routes they should be taking for safest travel.

"We know how something that has happened is going to affect a convoy getting ready to roll out," Davidson said.

The status of the highway conditions is very important for the combat logistic patrols out on the roads.

"We communicate with every convoy that is out there," said Sgt. 1st. Class Rodger Flicek, S-3 NCOIC, 49th MCB. "There have been times when we have had to find alternate routes for the convoys on the roads because bridges have been blown out."

The 49th MCB keeps track of all traffic routes throughout theater. The constant monitoring allows them to keep track of what supplies are moving and where the supplies are at.

"We have to make sure that we have visibility on it so the warfighters out there are actually getting their supplies when they need them," Flicek said. "If the convoys don't get there then the mission has failed."

By controlling the movement of the combat logistic patrols in a safe and timely manner, it helps ensure that the mission will be accomplished.

"We are always completing a mission," Flicek said. "Sometime we aren't the most well liked organization because we do control very tightly what is moving on the highways, but we are very professional at what we do."

"Our concern is not only making sure that commodities get there but to also make sure that the truck drivers out on the roads get from point A to point B in the safest manner they can," Flicek said.

"We measure success not only by the commodities that get there but knowing that no one was injured in the process,"Flicek added.

Communication is the key to the mission success. The MCT's provide combat logistic patrols with an accurate picture of what is happening in theater.

"We try to keep up with everything but sometimes it can get hectic," Flicek said.

There is always something moving in theater that needs to be tracked by 49th MCB Soldiers. The Soldiers work long hours to keep track of all the movement going on in Iraq.

"Our mission here will never stop until we go home," Davidson said, echoing the battalion's motto, "We never stop."

Editor's Note: Sgt. Venturato is a member of the 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office at LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq.


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A Soldier from the 258th Movement Control Team helps load a C-23 with supplies for transportation in Al Taqaddum, Iraq in April. The Sherpa is used to transport Soldiers and supplies throughout Iraq.

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Spc. Amanda Fisher, Capt. Craig Macina and Spc. Antonio Gayton, Soldiers with the 133rd Movement Control Team, check on incoming and outgoing supplies at the port operations at Umm Qasr, Iraq in March.