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Securing Khabari Crossing in Kuwait

The 513th Movement Control Team established crossing procedures and initially operated the Khabari border crossing between Kuwait and Iraq.

In July 2006, the 513th Movement Control Team (MCT), an Army Reserve unit from Victorville, California, deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Its mission was to provide in-transit visibility of convoys traveling across the Iraq-Kuwait border; facilitate reception, staging, and onward movement of all ground forces redeploying into Kuwait; and perform container management functions. Its most significant accomplishment was helping to open the Khabari-Alawazem Crossing (called the Khabari Crossing).

Border Operations Before Khabari Crossing

When the 513th MCT first arrived in Kuwait, it was responsible for facilitating operations at the Navistar Border Crossing. Camp Navistar, located near the Kuwait-Iraq border, was the last node in Kuwait for processing convoy movements between Kuwait and Iraq. From there, the 513th MCT, along with KBR, managed northbound and southbound operations simultaneously.

It was the 513th MCT’s responsibility to facilitate traffic flow along the main supply route for southbound convoys returning to Kuwait from Iraq. The MCT, along with interpreters assigned to the unit, worked with the Kuwaiti border security and customs officials when vehicles returning from Iraq with cargo or battle-damaged equipment were detained. Once the southbound convoys had been inspected by the Kuwaiti border security, all third country national (TCN) drivers proceeded to the entry control point to have their passports stamped for reentry into Kuwait. A representative from each convoy brought all documentation required for verification by the 513th MCT for the drivers to cross the border.

After the TCN passports were stamped, the drivers would enter the southbound lanes, where the contractor-operated sustainment trucks were inspected using a Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (MVACIS). [MVACIS is a truck-mounted, gamma-ray scanning system that captures an image, similar to an x ray, of a truck’s contents.] Military common user land transporters and coalition convoy assets were inspected by Navy customs.

In preparation for the anticipated opening of the new coalition crossing, the 513th MCT, along with KBR and the 39th Movement Control Battalion, conducted rock drills for units in Kuwait and Iraq, sustainment truck vendors, and incoming units during their leaders’ reconnaissance missions.

Transitioning to Khabari Crossing

When the 513th MCT arrived in Kuwait and assumed operation of Navistar Crossing, the new border crossing at Khabari was under construction. Once Khabari Crossing was complete and Navistar Crossing was ready to close, the 513th MCT’s mission was to help establish the Khabari Crossing operation.

After it was established, the Khabari Crossing, unlike Navistar, would operate as a throughput for convoys, not a staging yard. Staging would take place at other bases before heading for Khabari Crossing. At the new crossing, the previous convoy receptions, inspections, and consent procedures would no longer be used. Instead, civilian transporters would be issued a coalition crossing card—a plastic photo identification card with a bar code containing information linked to the Kuwaiti immigration and customs databases.

Another improvement included changes to the movement matrix. What was once a simple listing of civilian and military vehicles scheduled to go to Iraq each day became a very important document projecting all movement authorized to cross the military border on a given day. Every company and coalition force unit sending its convoys north coordinated with the movement control battalion to get on the movement list; otherwise, they could not cross the border. The improved movement matrix allowed for the total visibility of all vehicles crossing into Iraq and allowed vendors to prescreen their cargo to ensure clearance.

After coordinating and implementing the new procedures, the 513th MCT conducted many rock drills to provide information to key leaders and vendors about Khabari Crossing and its operational differences from Navistar Crossing.

The First Test Run

The 513th MCT ensured that all communications lines were functioning and that everyone was aware of the anticipated time of arrival for the first incoming convoy. On 15 May 2007, the 513th MCT Soldier at the Iraq-Kuwait border radioed that he could see a southbound convoy coming to Khabari. Finally, after 2½ to 3 years of planning, the new coalition crossing received its first convoy. Everyone was excited to see the U.S. convoy and responded with sighs of relief and then with cheers and hugs. After the planning, rock drills, and coordination, the 513th MCT successfully opened what may be the largest coalition crossing.

Khabari Crossing had been under construction for several years. Its concept was developed with the intent of replacing Navistar Coalition Crossing while retaining the basic task of controlling all civilian, military, and coalition traffic going into or coming back from Iraq. The 513th MCT had the responsibility and the satisfaction of bringing the vision to fruition. The border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait is now more efficient and more effective.

Major Demetria S. Walker, USAR, is the Quartermaster and Transportation career management field officer for the Army Reserve Command G–7. She served as a mobility officer and executive officer for the 513th Movement Control Team at Camp Navistar and Khabari Crossing, Kuwait. She has B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State University and is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, the Transportation Officer Advanced Course, and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.