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Securing Shelters to 5-Ton Cargo Trucks

Only the authorized method should be used to secure storage and equipment shelters to 5-ton cargo trucks.

During a recent visit to observe training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, I noted that many shelters were incorrectly secured to military 5-ton tactical cargo vehicles. The units were using many types of tiedowns to secure their shelters. “Why is the type of tiedown used important?” you ask. That is a fair question; after all, the items had made their way to the training area without incident. However, there is only one correct way to secure shelters, such as the S–280C/G electrical equipment shelter, to 5-ton cargo vehicles.

Tiedown Requirements

The correct tiedown method is explained in several publications—

  • Military Traffic Management Command Transportation Engineering Agency (MTMCTEA) Pamphlet 55≠20, Tiedown Handbook for Truck Movements.
  • Technical Manual (TM) 10≠5411≠207≠14, Operatorís, Unit, Direct Support, and General Support Maintenance Manual for Shelter, Electrical Equipment S≠280C/G.
  • TM 11≠5411≠216≠14&P, Operator, Unit, Direct Support (DS), and General Support (GS) Maintenance Manual for Electronic Equipment Storage Shelters: S≠744/TSM≠191 and S≠745/TSM≠191.

Each publication calls for the use of a steel, multiple-leg sling assembly, national stock number (NSN) 3940≠00≠805≠5533. This item costs $540. (Please note that the previous NSN for this item was 3940≠00≠846≠9858. This NSN may still appear in some documents; however, only the new NSN should be used when procuring the sling assembly.) This sling assembly is used to lift the shelter onto and off a 5-ton cargo truck and to secure the shelter to the vehicle. It comes with all of the hardware needed for both tasks (including the plate and eyebolt assembly, illustrated at right). For many shelters, the sling assembly is the only basic issue item that comes with them.

Correctly Securing a Shelter

Think back for a moment to Sir Isaac Newton and his first law of motion, often stated as—

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

The sling leg assemblyís tension is an important unbalanced force that will keep the shelter on the back of the truck and will not permit it to shift rearward or forward under rapid acceleration or deceleration.

Although empty shelters weigh approximately 1,400 pounds, they may contain a payload weight of up to 5,000 pounds, resulting in a total shelter weight of 6,400 pounds. You should never use nylon cargo straps to secure a shelter to a 5-ton cargo truck because the shelter and its contents are too heavy. Nylon straps may stretch; steel doesn’t stretch as much. The illustration at left depicts what “right” looks like when securing a shelter.

When securing a shelter to a 5-ton cargo truck, you must ensure that the tension of the tiedowns will keep the shelter in place. Place the turnbuckles low, near the bed of the truck—not at the top of the shelter—so you can reach them. This enables you to ensure that the tiedowns are tight and have the proper tension. Proper tension is applied to each sling leg by hand-tightening the turnbuckle until tight, then turning it an additional half turn using a bar or wrench inserted into the turnbuckle’s opening.

The photographs above depict incorrect assembly. Each photograph shows an actual vehicle in use by a unit in the field. Use these illustrations to learn to recognize what is incorrect so that you can make the necessary changes and get the correct materials to protect your equipment, cargo, and Soldiers. In this instance, “right” does not include the use of other wire rope assemblies, alternate tiedown points on the cargo truck, various combinations of shackles, or the use of nylon cargo straps.

We cannot change the first law of motion that Sir Isaac Newton identified many years ago. However, we can secure our loads safely to protect both our Soldiers and cargo from damage. Reading the appropriate equipment technical manuals and reviewing MTMCTEA Pamphlet 55–20 will help you prepare to secure your heavy shelters correctly and safely on 5-ton cargo vehicles, regardless of driving conditions. Drivers, noncommissioned officers, and commanders have many responsibilities while conducting vehicle operations. Properly securing and checking their loads will remove one important item—shifting loads—from their list of things to worry about.

Colonel Neal H. Bralley, USA (Ret.), is an assistant professor of logistics and force management at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the Naval War College, he served in numerous command and staff positions in Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.