Logicians of a different caliber
Story by Maj. Jay R. Adams
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
When training for war, the 49th's mission is to provide centralized movement control, highway regulation and in-transit visibility for moving personnel and materiel into, within and out of the Corps area while ensuring effective and efficient use of available transportation capability.
In Louisiana, their mission is very similar but the application is different.
"My guys understand they are here to recommend and advise, they don't make decisions," said Lt. Col. Gust W. Pagonis, the 49th commander.
Their advice is bringing results, said Pagonis.
The 49th has reduced the time it takes for supplies to reach the people who need them.
"Initially it took (as many as) 14 days to download trucks," said Sgt. 1st Class Rodger A. Flicek, a transportation supervisor and operations noncommissioned officer in charge. "Now it takes 3 days to 5 days."
"We are assisting federal, state and local authorities on how to manage and track humanitarian assistance coming into Louisiana," said Flicek.
In a brief presented to Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, 13th COSCOM commander, the unit brought up the following points demonstrating how they improved efficiency in the delivery process.
The 49th increased efficiency of trucks being downloaded at destination and decreased spending on owner/operator trucks from $420,000 to $784,000 per day down to $126,000 to $280,000 per day.
Over 6 days, the end of day on-hand truck count (trucks waiting assignment for delivery) was reduced from an initial count of 285 trucks to 120 trucks, a 58% overall reduction.
In 6 days, enough MREs and water were delivered to supply more than 900,000 people.
According to Pagonis, these improvements increased distribution efficiency to get the proper commodities to the correct destination. It also reduced back orders, excessive ordering, and refused loads at the points of distribution. "The Battalion's true contribution to operations was the distribution of humanitarian assistance, instead of our more traditional role of movement control in support of Title 10 forces," said Pagonis.
Pagonis cites an example, relating how his Soldiers discovered a shipment of 153 trucks of MREs scheduled to be shipped to an already well stocked point of distribution. The 49th was able to stop the shipment, preventing a "refused load."
The 49th uses the Movement Tracking System-Light to maintain in-transit visibility on supplies and the trucks hauling them. MTS-Light uses global-positioning transmitters and receivers to send and receive information on shipments, said Pagonis.
"By having ITV, we can track what is coming in, which enables them (civilian officials) to better project supplies to the parishes that need them," said Flicek.
Before they arrived, civilian officials did not have that level of visibility, said Flicek. "FEMA only knew what was coming when it arrived, same with the state."
The battalion is headquartered in Baton Rouge and initially emplaced Distribution Management Teams in Hammond, La., Camp Beauregard, La. and Harahan, La. In response to Hurricane Rita, the 49th emplaced a team in Lake Charles, La.
In Hammond, the DMT streamlined operations at a humanitarian assistance staging yard according to Warrant Officer Donnet O. Anderson, the Hammond officer in charge.
According to Anderson, the Hammond MCT organized like commodities together, improved the traffic plan, and implemented new tracking sheets.
"There is no doubt that the resident expertise on distribution that resides in the active Army is critical in advising both FEMA and the State on any disaster," said Pagonis. "The cooperation between the three agencies has both reduced the mountains of supplies and increased the coverage to the effected area, to the advantage of both the victims and the taxpayers."
Now that long-term recovery agencies are trained, The 49th and their new teammates from the 4th CMMC are preparing to redeploy back to Fort Hood.
Sgt. 1st Class Rodger A. Flicek, operations NCOIC for the 49th Movement Control Battalion, 13th COSCOM scans current delivery schedule during Hurricane Katrina relief operations. Photo by Major Jay R. Adams, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
Warrant Officer Donnet O. Anderson, 49th Movement Control Battalion briefs 13th COSCOM commander, Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry and COSCOM command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Fountain on relief distribution in Hammond, La. Photo by Major Jay R. Adams, 13th COSCOM PAO