Transportation unit works to remain anonymous

Story and photos by Sgt. David A. Scott
196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq — A busy night of verifying containers and tracking personnel movements is routine at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq.  If all of the personnel and cargo make it to their intended destinations, the unit responsible for making it happen will retain its anonymity for yet another day.

Working throughout the day and well into the night at COB Adder, the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is responsible for expediting, coordinating and monitoring cargo and passenger traffic moving through the transportation network in southern Iraq.

Teams like the 635th MCT are located near centralized, transportation hubs or in remote locations.

The 635th MCT’s most recent deployment began in April and represents the unit’s fourth Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment — serving initially in OIF I and on through the pending shift to Operation New Dawn.

The unit began preparation for its deployment to Iraq in Germany last year, practicing common Soldiering tasks in addition to tasks specific to the transportation corps.

“No matter where you go, you have to train on those skills to make sure that you are efficient and technically and tactically proficient,” said 1st Lt. William Burke, a battle captain with the 635th MCT and a Corvallis, Mont., native.

Every one of the enlisted Soldiers with the 635th MCT is a transportation management coordinator.  These logisticians organize and synchronize the movement of vehicles, personnel and cargo. They are also responsible for scheduling and selecting the appropriate modes of transportation for personnel and equipment, he said.

The latter determination is made by examining what transportation assets are available, most commonly resulting in ground movement, Burke said.

“It (the shipment) will go ground, unless there is an extreme need to have it go air,” he said. “Because there are so many ground assets, it’s easier to push things down there and haul more assets.”

In order to meet the mission requirements of both surface and air demands out of COB Adder, the 635th MCT is divided into both a transportation movement section and an air movement section. The unit is further divided into both day and night shifts, providing a complete continuity of service to units in southern Iraq.

Burke, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the U.S. Army Ranger School, said the most rewarding part of his job is how success in his mission is measured.

“There is a quantitative measurement of what you do,” he said. “You can actually look back and say ‘Hey, I moved 5 million pieces of equipment in a year. I moved x number of trucks.’ You can see where your coordination actually influenced the entire mission. You can see what actually happened.”

Pfc. Kyle Lemanski, a transportation management coordinator with the 635th MCT and a Maryville, Tenn., native said the first two months of the unit’s deployment have been hectic.

“It’s been pretty busy,” he said. “With the (upcoming) responsible drawdown, it will get busier.  I am looking forward to this.”

Lemanski said the 635th MCT is actively engaged in the transition and redeployment of equipment out of theater.

“We’re taking all of the equipment from Joint Base Balad and everywhere in southern Iraq and sending it to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait,” he said. “From there it is going back to the States along with personnel, or it is going to Afghanistan.”

Lemanski said his first deployment has proven to be a learning experience despite his efforts to learn about Iraqi culture and climate before deploying.

Even though he researched Iraq, he still wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  The whole experience has been surprising, taking part in this phase of OIF, he said.

Despite the importance of the unit to the transportation functions at COB Adder, the 635th MCT works in relative obscurity at COB Adder, Burke said.

“One of the most overlooked parts of the whole process is the MCT” he said.  “No one really knows that much about us because we are spread out and in such remote locations.  When there is a problem, however, everyone knows about us.”

Capt. Tasherra Marshall, commander of the 635th Movement Control Team, and a Tacoma, Wash., native, said despite the relative lack of public recognition for her unit’s deeds, she finds satisfaction in seeing cargo and personnel successfully arriving at their anticipated destinations.

“The biggest thrill is when movement goes right and you see everyone has everything they need, from food to shelter,” she said. “Without transportation, none of it can happen.”

 

news photo
Staff Sgt. Nestor D. Cabrera, a transportation movement supervisor with the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, native, prepares to guide the next truck into position May 22 in preparation for convoy out of Combat Support Center Adder, Iraq. The 635th MCT expedites, coordinates and monitors cargo and passenger traffic moving through the Army transportation network in southern Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David A. Scott)

news photo
Pfc. Kyle Lemanski, a transportation management coordinator with the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Maryville, Tenn., native, finishes an inspection of a cargo pallet manifest May 25 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. The 635th MCT organizes and synchronizes the movement of personnel and equipment out of Iraq in preparation for the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David A. Scott)

news photo
Pfc. Kyle Lemanski, a transportation management coordinator with the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Maryville, Tenn., native, performs an accountability inspection of a cargo pallet May 25 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. The 635th MCT out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the fourth time in seven years. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David A. Scott)