|Moving the Army Texas Style
|A Cargo from the 4th Infantry Division
arrives at the Port of Beaumont by rail for movement
Few Americans are aware of the volume
of cargo that is shipped from ports located along the U.S. Gulf
Coast from Brownsville, Texas, to Cape Sable, Florida. Some
of these ports serve as major Department of Defense transportation nodes for
overseas deployment of Army cargo. Two of these nodes are strategic ports located
in Texas—the Port of Beaumont and the Port of Corpus Christi. (Designation
as a strategic port means that the port management will give priority to military
cargo during a contingency.) Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom flows through these two ports.
Although both the Port of Beaumont and the Port of Corpus Christi are container
capable, petroleum and break-bulk products constitute most of the cargo shipped
from those locations. The Port of Beaumont is home to one of the Military Surface
Deployment and Distribution Command’s (SDDC’s) port-handling battalions,
the 842d Transportation Battalion.
|Cargo is prepared for loading onto
the USNS Bob Hope for shipment to Iraq.
A “Hands-On” Job
Part of the 597th Transportation Group in Sunny Point, North
Carolina, the 842d Transportation Battalion is a relatively
small activity composed of 7 military, 24 civilian, and 2
contractor personnel. The 842d acts as the single port manager
for all Gulf Coast port military missions and routinely oversees
missions in Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Gulfport,
Mississippi; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Houston, Texas.
However, most of the action is centered in Beaumont and Corpus
The Commander of the 842d Transportation Battalion acts as
single port manager and works closely with many organizations
to meet the requirements of this large area of responsibility.
The Military Sealift Command, the Pilots Association, and the
port authorities play major roles in vessel operations. The
Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Coast Guard, and local
police provide force protection. The Directorate of Logistics
at Fort Hood, Texas, provides staffing for the Beaumont and
Corpus Christi Port Support Activities, which provide onsite
logistics support at each port. The 842d also works with each
deploying unit’s liaison officer and hundreds of contract
stevedores who handle the cargo, drive the vehicles, and secure
them in the vessels’ cargo holds.
The single port manager at the strategic port of embarkation is the “go-to
guy” for all things related to the cargo deployment phase of a mission,
and he is ultimately accountable to each deploying unit for the success of the
deployment operation. The 842d takes responsibility for cargo once it enters
the port, leaving deploying soldiers free to concentrate on other tasks.
The 842d Transportation Battalion takes a proactive role in ensuring that units
know what they are doing when they deploy. Before a deployment begins, the 842d
visits the units to help them plan and prepare. They conduct seminars and training
and participate in exercises and conferences. They consult with unit commanders,
division transportation officers, unit movement officers, representatives of
installation transportation offices, prospective liaison officers, and port operators
in order to begin the process of matching unit requirements with port capabilities.
The 842d Commander and selected team members also routinely brief in Unit Movement
Officer Courses at Fort Hood and Fort Carson, Colorado.
The battalion has developed a briefing that focuses on the requirements a unit
must meet when preparing its cargo for vessel transport and highlights lessons
learned from previous missions. This briefing often stimulates a two-way information
exchange, which serves as a foundation for planning and minimizes problems later
in the mission. The 842d also has developed a Deployment Handbook, complete with
visual aids, that is small enough to fit into a soldier’s cargo pocket
and contains guidance on preparing cargo for movement to a port.
The 842d has two WARTRACE units—the 1184th Transportation Terminal Battalion
in Mobile, Alabama, and the 1192d Transportation Terminal Brigade, in New Orleans,
Louisiana. (WARTRACE units are Reserve component units that, because of their
not found in the Active component, have been aligned with an Active Army unit.)
Since many of the SDDC’s capabilities are provided by the Reserve components,
these units are essential to the success of the 842d mission and are often called
on for support. As a result, these reservists are fully integrated into the 842d’s
mission at all levels and are
|Cargo from III Corps at Fort Hood,
Texas, arrives at the Port of Beaumont by truck.
an extension of its workforce. For example, the 1192d Transportation
Terminal Brigade acted as single port manager in January 2003
at Corpus Christi when the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
Iraqi Freedom Challenges
When the 842d Transportation Battalion supported the movement
of III Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division to the U.S. Central
Command area of operations, it faced
some unusual challenges. One was to deploy units in force packages. (Deploying
units in force packages means maintaining unit integrity throughout the move.)
This procedure greatly reduces the amount of time the unit must spend in the
assembly area in theater. However, it is a significant departure from the normal
practice of maximizing all available square footage on the vessel by staging
and calling forward cargo from the staging areas based on cargo type, such as
5-ton trucks or high-mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs). With
force package integrity, each unit’s cargo must be called forward and stowed
together, requiring detailed coordination with rail and commercial truck carriers
to ensure specific packages are moved on predesignated ships.
|The USNS Bob Hope awaits loading
at the Port of Beaumont, Texas..
The 842d used a large, medium-speed, roll-on-roll-off
ship (LMSR), the USNS Bob Hope, for the force package movement
of the 1st
Cavalry Division. Although using
the ship did not reduce the planning and coordination required to make the force
package movement work, the ample cargo space of the LMSR made the task easier
|An M1A1 Abrams tank is loaded onto
the USNS Bob Hope using a ramp extension fabricated
by P&O Ports of Texas.
Since the Port of Beaumont is a commercial port, all cargo
at the port must be handled by union labor. Stevedores employed
by P&O Ports of Texas provide
labor and stevedoring services. Their innovative ramp extension not only speeds
loading of equipment such as helicopters but also significantly reduces risk
The contract stevedores at both the Port of Beaumont and the Port of Corpus Christi
demonstrate incredible flexibility in coping with changing mission requirements,
which require actions such as moving commercial vessels to free wharf space for
The Beaumont team has taken the slogan, “The Power of YES,” as
its de facto motto. This motto recognizes that attitude drives the result.
of the most important jobs in the SDDC, the 842d Transportation Battalion is
a linchpin in the logistic train. They will do whatever it takes to remove
as much of the burden as possible from the warfighter and support U.S. forces
the fight. ALOG
The Army Logistician staff thanks Donald J. Japalucci, 842d Transportation Battalion
Public Affairs Officer, for providing information and photos for this article