840th Trans. Bn. Provides door-to-door service for redeploying units
Story and photo by Spc. John Stimac
13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The mission of the 840th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion expanded in May, due to the re-deployment of units in accordance with the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces throughout Iraq in the coming months.
The unit is composed of Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen from units throughout the United States, who change their station of duty to various locations in Jordan, Kuwait and Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Galbusieri, the detachment sergeant with the 840th Transportation Battalion and a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, said the unit received notification in May it would acquire 31 additional personnel—which would require additional workspace.
“We have been working with the Air Force and civilian contractors to construct two new office trailers to house the new personnel, installing electrical lines and ordering new equipment,” said Galbusieri, “and the working relationship has been excellent.”
Lt. Col James Utley, commander of the 840th Trans. Bn., and an Acworth, Ga, native, said the unit’s mission is to coordinate deployment and redeployment support, container management and surface distribution operations.
“We are responsible for three major functions, the biggest one being redeployment support,” said Utley. “We input everything on the transportation coordinators automated information management system, which is the system all units use to process all the equipment through.”
Utley said they will handle all units’ equipment moved out of Iraq, including every brigade combat team in the country. The goal is to take the burden off redeploying units, he said.
“We take care of everything from custom inspections to having all the proper documentation,” he said. “We want to relieve the burden of the unit and allow the bulk of the unit to be able to leave a little earlier.”
Sgt. Maj. Bryan L. Elder, the 840th sergeant major and a Carrollton, Ga., native, said the unit is in charge of three major distribution ports located in Ummqasar, Iraq; Aqaba, Jordan; and Shuwaikh, Kuwait, with a commercial operations support element in Shuaiba, Kuwait.
“What we do is hire civilian contractors to pick up the equipment for a unit that is scheduled to redeploy, wash their equipment and load it on the ship to expedite it back to their home stations,” said Elder. “We are responsible for almost 60 percent of all equipment in Iraq that has to be retrograded back to the states.”
Since March, the unit has moved more than 15,000 containers out of Iraq, Galbusieri said.
Utley said this is part of a relatively new program called door-to-door redeployment.
“Multi National Corps-Iraq assessed that something needed to be done and gave us some instruction and we ran with it,” said Utley. “In the next three months, we will be moving four BCT’s equipment through the port in Aqaba, Jordan.”
Elder said this is a new concept – using civilian contractors to streamline the process of getting equipment out of Iraq and sending units home more quickly.
Utley said the push began roughly a month and a half ago and the unit is preparing to redeploy its first BCT.
“I think we are doing something good here and making history at the same time,” Utley said.
Members of the 840th Deployment and Distribution Support Battalion pause for a unit picture. The personnel assigned to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, include Soldiers, Airman, and Coast Guardsman.