535th Movement Control Team Goes Into Action
Convoys in this theatre of operations are the soldier's lifeline. Without convoys the supply of food, water, and other basic necessities would dwindle to nothing, not to mention the supplies needed to accomplish the mission. How then are convoys protected? If something were to happen, what protocols are in place to track the action?
At FOB Speicher, Iraq, the 535th Movement Control Team keeps the ever-watchful eye on those essential cargo and transport vehicles. Based out of Manhattan, Kansas, in times of peace this Army Reserve component falls under the 450th Movement Control Battalion; but in this war against terror, the unit finds its self attached with the 64th Corps Support Group.
Working round the clock, the 535th does everything from coordinating and tracking convoys to maintaining flow of traffic. Pictured here is SSG Charlotte Mays, 535th MCT NCOIC, updating the tracking board with inbound clearances. Inbound clearances give the 535th an idea when to expect an incoming convoy at FOB Speicher's gates.
"We use two separate systems to track our vehicles. The MTS [Mobile Terminal System] and the DTRACS [Defense Tracking System]. When all of the necessary information is collected we plug it in to the JDLM [Joint Deployment Logistics Model] and we can find out where a vehicle is right now," said Lt. Douglas Blair, an Orlando, Florida native and 535th OIC. Pictured 1LT Douglas Blair checks the positions of convoys on the road using the JDLM tracking system.
Blair further added that if a convoy was to come under attack, both the MTS and the DTRACS have messaging programs enabling the driver to communicate back to the station.
While the mission may seem simple, running communication from convoy to home base and then having to punch in the stats … imagine having to do that for every convoy leaving the 553rd Corps Support Battalion, the 544th Maintenance Battalion, and the 180th Transportation Battalion.
With all of these extra vehicles through the local communities a new question arises. 'What about traffic control?' It can be assumed that because of the volume of incoming and out going convoys, gridlocks could be a possibility if there were no traffic regulation. According to Blair, March Credits are issued to prevent such occurrences. "March Credits de-conflict highway traffic. [They] are our way of saying you can't move or this is your time to move out. If you miss your slated time you have to submit for another one."
While on the surface the 535th MCT might seem to be just another office with computers, their mission is of great importance. Convoys become exposed to danger every time they exit their gates. But with units such as the 535th monitoring and tracking their every movement, if something were to happen they'd know. And by knowing, the chances of everyone making it out alive, greatly improves.