14th Transportation provides transit visibility of equipment

Photos and story by Sgt. Chad Menegay
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — As the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) manages the removal of millions of pieces of equipment from Iraq in support of the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq, its 14 movement control teams work 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to track the cargo.

Lt. Col. James Rupkalvis, commander of the 14th Trans. Bn. and a Mitchell, Neb., native, said this is perhaps the largest movement of troops and equipment executed in such a short time period in military history.

To add to the battalion’s challenge, increasingly fewer troops are available to carry it out.

The 14th Trans. Bn. will go from 14 MCTs to nine, but its concentration on the withdrawal of equipment and Soldiers won’t change, and its workload won’t decrease, said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Runnels, command sergeant major of the 14th Trans. Bn. and a Baton Rouge, La., native.

“We’ve got to move all this equipment that’s built up after eight years of war in a short amount of time,” Runnels said. “We only have a few months left until we have to be down to 50,000 troops. With all those troops, trucks, containerized housing units, containers and all those things we’ve dragged into country with us, we’ve got to push that back out, get it back into the Army inventory and back into units for future operations.”

Soldiers working in the 14th Trans. Bn. headquarters gather requirements through the process of transportation movement releases for the movement of equipment, and requests assets from the sustainment brigades.

“We maximize each piece as we go,” Runnels said, “getting the right piece of equipment with the right cargo, with the right customer, at the right time.”

Soldiers at headquarters then coordinate with their respective MCTs in an effort to optimize efficiency.

“They support us with anything that we need down here at (Contingency Operating Base) Adder to complete our mission,” said Capt. Tasherra Marshall, commander of the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), and a Tacoma, Wash., native. “They provide in-transit visibility of convoys’ cargo equipment moving throughout Kuwait and Iraq. They provide movement trackers and movement plans. They build convoys, allocate assets and provide command and control.”

Rupkalvis referred to COB Adder as the lynchpin hub for moving equipment and troops out of Iraq.

About 75 percent of departing Soldiers and equipment are expected to move through COB Adder, as troops and equipment are pushed south into Kuwait, he said.

Camp Cedar closed recently and its convoy support responsibilities were transferred to COB Adder. Marshall said the 14th Trans. Bn.’s 622nd MCT closed Camp Cedar.

The consolidation of bases will continue as Convoy Support Center Scania is expected to close next month and its operations transferred to COB Kalsu.

“Scania has been a truck stop for years,” Runnels said. “It was established early on in the war as a stopping point for pushing farther north. Most Soldiers were there for less than 24 hours before they moved to another location.”

Runnels called the consolidation efforts significant events.

Leaders with the 14th Trans. Bn. recently travelled to COB Adder, CSC Scania and COB Kalsu “to make sure that the (movement control) teams were prepared and executing a solid system for receiving cargo, both theater and corps cargo and sustainment supplies,” he said.

“The volume has definitely increased,” Marshall said, “but there’s enough space here to receive, stage and move cargo.”

Marshall said units depend on the 21-person MCTs to track their cargo.

“We have a specific job to keep a firm grip and a good eye on where their equipment is at all times,” she said.

 

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Spc. Aminata Toure, a supply specialist with the 40th Quartermaster Company, 110th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 36th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Germantown, Md., native, directs a forklift operator to lower a humvee down to the bed of a semitrailer May 31 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. Members of the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Trans. Battalion (Movement Control) work day and night to track and manage the convoy downloads and uploads at COB Adder. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

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A forklift operator maneuvers a humvee onto a semitrailer May 31 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. Members of the 635th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Trans. Battalion (Movement Control) work day and night to track and manage the convoy downloads and uploads at COB Adder.

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First Lt. Sharia Rodriquez (left), commander of the 80th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Trans. Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Fort Hood, Texas, resident, briefs Lt. Col. James Rupkalvis, commander of the 14th Trans. Bn. and a Mitchell, Neb., native, June 1 at Contingency Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.