Providers manage traffic flow through Iraq
Story and Photos by Spc. Michael Camacho
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Convoys and logistical patrols are always on the roads of Iraq, delivering sustainment supplies and cargo to units throughout the country and in Kuwait.
The Highway Traffic Division with the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) out of Fort Hood, Texas, coordinates their routes and convoy travel times to reduce possible delays due to traffic congestion.
"We are tasked with managing traffic throughout Iraq," said Capt. Alison Bergstrom, HTD chief with the 49th Trans. Bn. "We essentially manage all (United States Forces – Iraq) convoys."
In January, the HTD began to monitor the upload and download times of convoys at central receiving points throughout Iraq. This has greatly reduced traffic congestion and convoy delays, said Bergstrom, a Harker Heights, Texas, native.
The coordination of traffic flow is important, to ensure cargo reaches its destination in a timely manner and to mitigate possible risks associated with traveling off base, she said.
There are several groups involved in this process, including convoy security companies, sustainment brigades and the 13th SC(E)'s support operations Soldiers.
The movement control teams, under the 49th Trans. Bn., play an important role in the tracking of current and future convoy movements, said Bergstrom. MCTs receive transportation movement requests from units in their area of operation and then the HTD processes those requests.
Every day, the HTD remedies conflicts on routes for all USF-I convoys that belong to the sustainment brigades, brigade combat teams, route clearance teams throughout Iraq and the convoys coming up from Kuwait, Bergstrom said.
"If they end up being on the same route too close together, as far as time goes, then we change their movement times to avoid congestion on routes," she said.
When convoys get congested, they end up on supply routes for hours and could be the target of an attack, said Bergstrom.
"If you avoid that congestion, you keep the Soldier safe," she said.
Their work happens largely behind the scenes, said Capt. Ryan Hulse, HTD chief with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) out of Vicenza, Italy.
"We want to keep all the trucks moving and pushing their products out to the (Iraq Joint Operations Area)," he said.
The 14th Trans. Bn. is slated to replace the 49th in early April and the team is excited about taking on this new mission, said Hulse, a San Antonio native.
The 49th Trans. Bn. has set a standard that serves as a strong example for the incoming unit to build on, he said.
A convoy of Heavy Equipment Transporter systems moves Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles through the roads of Iraq. The Highway Traffic Division, 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) manages the movement times of convoys, to lessen the chance of traffic congestion on the roads and ensure Soldiers' safety. (Courtesy photos)