The experience of Logistics Task Force 548 in
Iraq demonstrated that an inland cargo transfer company is
well suited to run a central receiving and shipping point.
The central receiving and shipping point (CRSP)
at Logistics Support Area (LSA) Anaconda was established to
facilitate rapid onward movement of equipment and containers
deploying to and redeploying from northern and central Iraq.
The idea of a CRSP operating on the battlefield is new, but
the concept is consistent with inland terminal operations and
cargo transfer company (CTC) operations as discussed in Chapter
4 and Appendix C, respectively, of FM 55–1, Transportation
Operations. CRSPs were established throughout Iraq to help
control the flow of deploying and redeploying equipment by
maintaining accountability and in-transit visibility (ITV).
By having a central location where units can turn in equipment
and containers before redeploying, the possibility of losing
cargo during transit to its final destination is minimized.
Mainly, CRSPs help answer the question many units ask: Where’s
Based on the experience of Logistics Task Force 548 at LSA
Anaconda during Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07, a CRSP
yard must consider eight factors in order to be successful:
terrain, container lanes, rolling stock lanes, ramps, lighting,
perimeter security, command and control, and ITV.
The planners of a CRSP must make an assessment that takes into
account the amount of equipment to be throughput that will
be processed in the area of responsibility. They also must
allow for future development and expansion of the CRSP. The
surface characteristics of the CRSP must be taken into account.
The CSRP’s surface must be able to accommodate the weight
of a 120,000-pound piece of equipment, such as a rough-terrain
container handler (RTCH). During the rainy season in Iraq,
it is not uncommon to have a RTCH sink 2 or more feet in the
mud. This becomes dangerous when moving a 50,000-pound container.
To improve the terrain at LSA Anaconda’s CRSP, more than
600 truckloads of gravel were spread over the entire area to
create a hard surface on which to operate. This significantly
improved the capabilities of RTCHs and facilitated all of the
container handler loads a local unit’s container
for delivery to its location.
Central receiving and shipping points have the assets
to support local units when their
containers arrive in theater.
According to the Container Management Support Tool, the U.S.
Government has paid over $500 million in detention fees on
carrier-owned containers since the start of Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. [The Container Management Support
Tool is an integrated, Web-based theater container management
database developed by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution
Command.] Every container moving north from the port in Kuwait
into Iraq eventually must be retrograded south. A detention
fee is charged to the Government for each
carrier-owned container that is not returned to the carrier
within a 10-day grace period. Because the detention fees
charged for retaining carrier-owned containers in Iraq result
in large costs to the Army, units exchange any carrier-owned
and -leased containers they have for Government-owned containers
at the empty container collection point at the CRSP. The CRSP
then sends all carrier-owned or -leased containers to Kuwait,
where they are returned to the company that owns them. This
practice eliminates detention fees.
As units deploy and redeploy, their containers begin or end
their movements at a CRSP. A yard must establish lanes to
identify unit containers. One technique is to establish two
for inbound and one for outbound containers. All containers
that have completed the final leg of their movement or are
to be picked up at that CRSP are staged in the inbound lane.
Containers that will continue their onward movement are staged
in the outbound lane. This creates an organized format that
allows for quick inventory and location of containers when
they are scheduled for pickup or onward movement.
Rolling Stock Lanes
Rolling stock is treated the same as containers, with the
exception that the outbound lane for rolling stock requires
a much larger
area. The vehicles are staged longer in the outbound lane
because of the amount of time it takes for assets to be allocated
onward movement. Vehicles also require more room when they
are staged in lanes. During a brigade combat team relief
in place, a large volume of the unit’s equipment is staged
in the yard while theater transportation assets are allocated.
After the theater transportation assets move the deploying
unit’s equipment north, they will backhaul the redeploying
During the transition of the 3d Infantry Division and the
4th Infantry Division in January 2005, over 4,200 pieces
stock and containers were loaded and unloaded at LSA Anaconda’s
CRSP yard. This demonstrated why it is extremely important
to have a yard large enough to accommodate such large numbers
crane is preparing to load 20
deadlined M932 5-ton trucks that were
designated as excess equipment and part
of the retrograde program in Iraq.
Most rolling stock arrives at a CRSP on flatbed trailers. The
quickest way to unload rolling stock is by using ramps. One
lesson learned in Iraq is that CRSPs should have ramps with
two different heights. The height of military M871 (30 feet
long) and M872 (40 feet long) trailers can be as much as 10
inches less than that of contractor flatbed trailers. If a
CRSP only has a ramp for military-height trailers, dunnage
can be used to make up the height difference so that vehicles
can be safely loaded onto and unloaded from contractor trailers.
Convoys often move at night, so the ability of CRSPs to
conduct 24-hour operations is critical. When heavy equipment
enter the yard at night—and the tactical situation permits—lights
are used at the ramp area and at the places in the yard
where roll-on/roll-off procedures are used. Roll-on and
are the most dangerous cargo transfer functions occurring
in the yard. Without proper lighting, a risk assessment
conducted to justify the risk of conducting roll-on/roll-off
operations at night.
It is very important to have the capability to secure unit
equipment and containers staged at a CRSP. When equipment
or containers enter the yard, the officer in charge of
is accountable for them. Without some type of system in
place to secure the perimeter, it is possible for equipment
be stolen or stripped for parts. Before a fence was erected
LSA Anaconda’s CRSP, concertina wire and jersey barriers
were placed around the perimeter. This was not the ideal
deterrent, but it helped significantly to improve security.
Another approach to consider is establishing an entry control
point (ECP), where personnel confirm what enters and exits
the yard by communicating with the CRSP operations center by
radio. The ECP also plays an important role in maintaining
accountability and organizing cargo in the yard. When a convoy
enters the CRSP, the ECP notifies the operations center to
send an escort to stage the convoy in the appropriate staging
area. It also stops traffic on the road outside the CRSP when
a convoy leaves, allowing all convoy elements to depart the
yard together. Combining an ECP, fence, and lighting creates
a secure and functional CRSP yard.
Command and Control
A well-established, functional operations center is the
heart of the CRSP and must serve as the hub for all CRSP
activity. All cargo entering and exiting the yard is processed
and accounted for at this central location. The operations
center must be immediately visible to the customer when
he enters the yard. The customer, a unit representative,
or the convoy commander should not have to search the
yard looking for the operations center. The ECP personnel
are responsible for directing everyone entering the yard
to the center.
Most accounting for equipment takes place in the operations
center. A database maintained there lists all loaded and
unloaded equipment. Equipment staged in the yard is verified,
ensuring that it is properly labeled with a transportation
movement request (TMR) and radio frequency identification
(RFID) tags. As a convoy uploads cargo, three copies of
the TMR and manifest are given to the convoy commander.
The information he receives identifies exactly what is
being moved and where it is going. When the convoy arrives
at its final destination, a copy of the documentation is
given to the receiving CRSP’s operations center.
Communication is a must when establishing command and
control. Most CRSP yards are large, and the need for communication
with the yard noncommissioned officer (NCO) in charge
and key personnel is crucial. A CRSP must have communications
equipment for the operations center, the ECP, and yard
personnel. This greatly increases efficiency during uploading
Movement control teams (MCTs) issue and track TMRs for
all equipment moving into and out of Iraq. As CRSP personnel
receive, inventory, and stage equipment, they verify the
accuracy of assigned TMRs. This is the first step in creating
ITV for the customer when he drops off his equipment.
Each CRSP must read and write RFID tags. Every piece of
equipment leaving the CRSP must have an RFID tag. At the
very least, the tag should have license plate data. Not
every unit has the capability or know-how to write RFID
tags; however, having an RFID writing capability in place
at every CRSP yard would allow both the customer and CRSP
personnel to find equipment during transit.
is loaded and ready to depart the central receiving
and shipping point.
The final task before the departure is to ensure
that the convoy commander has all
the proper documentation for the equipment he is
Typical CRSP Operations
Cargo arrival. When a convoy arrives to load or unload cargo, it is escorted
immediately to a designated staging area. At a minimum, the CRSP yard should
be set up to accommodate the staging of three separate 25-vehicle convoys simultaneously.
This does not mean that all three must be worked on simultaneously, but there
must be room to stage them. This is an important factor to consider during the
CRSP planning phase, when a lot large enough for this type of operation must
Documentation. After a convoy is staged and the convoy commander has
reported to the operations center with documentation for the load, a team is
to receive or unload the cargo and direct it, based on the documentation, to
designated areas. This is where the lanes established in the yard come into play.
As each piece is unloaded, an inventory is conducted. The information gathered
includes cargo type, model, serial number, bumper number, container size, container
number, and RFID tag number. This information then is confirmed with the TMR
and manifest accompanying the equipment. After all data are
verified, a signed copy of the TMR is handed over to the convoy commander for
his records. All of the data on the equipment received are then entered into
a database for inventory and tracking purposes. To ensure accuracy, a physical
inventory of the yard is conducted daily to confirm the information in the database.
Cargo loading and departure. When a convoy arrives at the CRSP to upload
cargo, it is processed in the same manner as a convoy downloading cargo. The
is staged, and the convoy commander reports to the operations center with documentation
of the cargo he is moving. After verifying that the cargo is in the yard, a team
is sent out to load the equipment. As the equipment is loaded, another team
conducts an inventory based on the TMR. The team verifies vehicle serial numbers
and container numbers. After the convoy is completely loaded and staged for departure,
the convoy commander is given three copies of the TMR and manifest of the load.
The CRSP representative annotates the convoy’s name, unit, and convoy number
into the database for future reference.
ITV. Every day, a CRSP sends a report to the Highway Traffic Division,
corps support groups, and sustainment brigades to provide them with visibility
of all equipment in the yard. This report is used for planning future convoys
that will move the cargo at the CRSP to its final destinations. The report describes
equipment and containers that entered the yard in the last 24 hours, equipment
in the yard still awaiting transport, and equipment that left the yard in the
last 24 hours. This report also acts as another form of ITV. Units can track
their cargo by the reports sent up to the corps support command (COSCOM) that
are posted on the COSCOM Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) Web
site. Each of the nine CRSP yards in Iraq sends its inventory reports to the
COSCOM daily, which enables customers to track their equipment using current
information. If customers without SIPRNet capabilities are looking for their
equipment, they can go to their CRSP and have them pull up each of the other
CRSPs’ reports to see where it might be.
Another report used by a CRSP is the Container Management Support Tool, which
is used to track containers as they move within the theater. As a container enters
or leaves a CRSP yard, the container number is updated with its current location
or destination on the Container Management Support Tool Web site. This is an
ongoing process since containers are constantly moving.
Training. Properly trained Soldiers and materials-handling equipment (MHE) operators
are essential to conducting successful CRSP operations. In Iraq, some of the
CRSP yards are supported by a CTC platoon, while others are augmented by contractors
and Soldiers with varied military occupational specialties (MOSs). A CTC has
all the muscle and equipment to make this mission run efficiently.
Inland Cargo Transfer Company
Under its current modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE), a
CTC has the ability to conduct both port and inland operations. In fiscal year
2007, the CTC MTOE will change to focus CTC operations away from seaports. This
is where the concept of an inland cargo transfer company (ICTC) originates. CTCs
have Soldiers trained to operate the MHE and ITV equipment needed at a CRSP.
The ICTC will operate only inside a theater of operations.
ICTC suitability for CRSP operations. When the first CRSP in Iraq was
established in December 2004, it was operated by an MCT with contractor support.
As the CRSP
developed, it became obvious that an MCT did not have the personnel or muscle
to sustain the requirements demanded by a high operating tempo. While an MCT
is composed predominantly of transportation management coordinators (MOS 88N),
an ICTC has several different types of trained Soldiers, making it the perfect
unit to operate a CRSP. For these reasons, a CTC platoon assumed the operation
of LSA Anaconda’s CRSP in December 2005.
ICTC personnel breakdown. The ICTC consists of two line platoons, one
maintenance platoon, and one headquarters platoon. The line platoons include
three MOSs: 88H, 88M, and 88N. Motor transport operators (MOS 88M) can operate
nearly every piece of rolling stock entering the yard during loading and unloading
procedures. Cargo specialists (MOS 88H) are required to operate forklifts and
RTCHs; they load and unload all containers with RTCHs and use forklifts to transload
small rolling stock and pallets.
The main function of a transportation management coordinator is to communicate
with the MCTs and the Highway Traffic Division. Both agencies identify which
TMRs are loaded on convoys. It is the 88N’s job to ensure that convoys
are loaded with the appropriate TMR and that all documentation is handed over
to the convoy commander. The 88N is accountable for every piece of cargo in the
yard. He also must focus on writing RFID tags for equipment that arrives at
the CRSP without such tags. As the 88Ms and 88Hs are the muscle to operate the
yard, the 88Ns are responsible for the operational functions of the yard. It
is not uncommon to cross-train these personnel to maximize everyone’s potential
ICTC equipment breakdown. The equipment in an ICTC platoon varies slightly
from that in a CTC platoon. The ICTC platoon has eight load-handling systems
and four container-handling units (CHUs), compared to two LHSs and one CHU in
the CTC platoon. Both CTC and ICTC platoons have four RTCHs, but the ICTC platoon
has eight 10,000-pound variable-reach, rough-terrain forklifts compared to the
four in the CTC platoon. Each still has four 4,000-pound forklifts and two yard-dog
trucks. The ICTC has the ability not only to operate the CRSP but also to assist
local units by delivering and picking up their cargo. This minimizes the amount
remaining in the yard for extended periods of time while the owning unit tries
to coordinate for local assets to assist them in moving it.
The significant difference between the two MTOEs is the loss of a 40-ton crane
that the ICTC is no longer authorized. The crane is a valuable asset during CRSP
operations. A considerable amount of rolling stock needs to be downloaded and
uploaded by crane. Because of the threat posed to Army convoys by improvised
explosive devices, many battle-damaged vehicles must be uploaded using a crane.
Removing the 40-ton crane from the ICTC MTOE means that an ICTC must coordinate
with engineer units or contractors to complete its mission. The LSA
Anaconda CRSP moved approximately 20 to 25 pieces of cargo by crane each week;
without a crane on site, the time required to complete uploading and downloading
equipment increased dramatically. Further consideration should be given to the
need for the
40-ton crane before the official MTOE for the ICTC is approved.
The capabilities offered by a CRSP are very important in the overall planning
and establishment of an inland operation. After 3 years in Iraq, the Army’s
leaders are still fine-tuning this concept. With the help of each CRSP officer
and NCO in charge, the lessons learned are helping to develop a plan for the
next operation. Ensuring that an ICTC platoon operates a CRSP yard is the first
step toward ensuring success—getting the right equipment, to the right
unit, at the right location and time. We at the 2d Platoon of the 21st Cargo
Transfer Company experienced great success, and we hope that, by using our template,
others might enjoy the same success
First Lieutenant Bart S. Lajoie is a platoon leader in the 21st Cargo Transfer
Company, 44th Corps Support Battalion, at Fort Lewis, Washington. While deployed
at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, he was the officer in charge of the central
receiving and shipping point from December 2005 to October 2006. He is a graduate
of the Officer Candidate School and the Transportation Officer Basic Course and
currently is enrolled in the degree completion program at the University of
Washington at Tacoma.
and redeploying armor units occupy large portions
of the staging area
while awaiting pickup by a unit or a convoy.