To support units medically, a logistician relies on his ability
assess the situation and rapidly adapt to accomplish the mission.
Camp Cedar II is the largest convoy support center in Iraq.
Maintenance, food, lodging, security, medical support and
exchange, and recreation services are combined in one location
to support the brave men and women who drive the hazardous
supply routes of Iraq—one of the most dangerous jobs
in the theater.
The movement control team (MCT) is the heart of Camp Cedar
II. The mission of the 618th MCT, which is assigned to the
49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) of the 13th
Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), at Camp Cedar II is threefold.
First, it provides highway regulation and in-transit visibility
(ITV) for the main supply route in southern Iraq. Second,
the MCT organizes theater sustainment into convoys according
to Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC–I) priorities. Third,
it assists other units and supports the larger effort as needed.
Highway Regulation and ITV
Camp Cedar II is the sustainment hub for southern Iraq and
serves as the first destination reporting point for theater
sustainment coming from Kuwait into the MNC–I area of
responsibility on the main north-south supply route. Camp
Cedar II also is home to the largest fuel farm in Iraq and
stores millions of gallons of fuel. Four staging yards at
Camp Cedar II accommodate convoys made up of common-user land
transport (CULT), private contractor sustainment, bulk fuel,
and private security vehicles. The MCT must maintain visibility
of these convoys in order to manage the supply route while
meeting MNC–I priorities.
The MCT regularly publishes what is called the “Camp
Cedar II MNC–I Tracker” to keep the corps movement
control battalion and the MCT abreast of the convoys leaving
the camp and the trucks waiting to be pushed forward. Customers
call the MCT on a regular basis wanting to know where their
trucks are and when they will be pushed forward. They also
call to ask for visibility over a truck or a convoy or to
request that their equipment be given a higher priority. Requests
for ITV are usually simple enough, but the MCT does not set
priorities for movement; those priorities are set at the corps
Along with the thousands of trucks that move through Camp
Cedar II come contractors from many different companies. Because
they are dealing with military units, the contractors always
think their cargo is the top priority. They call or visit
the office wanting to know when their trucks are moving because
drivers are paid per push, not by salary. If their cargo is
a low priority, their trucks can sit in the yard for days,
and that hurts their bottom line. Some contractors demand
that their trucks have priority because “the big guys
in Balad” want them to be pushed. Obviously, that is
not the way it works. Although money is a concern, mission
accomplishment and Soldier safety take priority.
Theater Sustainment Convoys
Every day, hundreds of sustainment trucks arrive from the
Kuwait border crossing known as Khabari. These trucks come
organized by classes of supply, not by destination. The MCT
must fuel them, sort them by destination, and then stage them
to move. The MCT also directly contacts various U.S. and coalition
forces and requests convoy protection platforms to support
both onward movement and the retrograde of empty trucks.
After coordinating with the theater security brigade and publishing
the push plan, the MCT prepares lanes for movement. This can
be a daunting task because hundreds of trucks are fueled and
sorted daily. Adding to the complexity of the mission are
all of the “behind the scenes” activities, such
as feeding more than 1,000 contract drivers daily, keeping
the yard free of trash and debris, providing medical support
when needed, and mediating when tensions build from being
on the road for days at a time. KBR employees take the lead
in ensuring that these difficult tasks are completed.
Contracted bulk fuel convoys do not require as much coordination
from the MCT. The corps’ sustainment command publishes
forward operating base fuel requirements, and the supporting
sustainment brigade turns them into requirements for the Camp
Cedar II fuel farm. KBR, in turn, uses the fuel requirements
to plan the appropriate number of bulk fuel convoys on a given
day and stages and uploads the required tankers. The MCT must
assign an appropriate convoy start time and trip ticket.
Military convoys work differently. These convoys usually rest
overnight at Convoy Support Center Scania, but they will stop
at Camp Cedar II for maintenance, route status changes, or
medical evacuation coverage changes. The MCT escorts them
to their fueling and staging lanes, provides intelligence,
issues trip tickets, and assigns start times. Liaisons from
the theater-level transportation group assist the MCT in meeting
the needs of the military convoys.
A Part of the Larger Team
The MCT also must support requirements tasked down by higher
headquarters. For example, the 618th MCT was tasked with helping
Camp Delta establish an air terminal movement control team
(ATMCT). Two Soldiers from the 618th MCT were assigned to
Camp Delta to provide expertise in setting up the ATMCT. The
Soldiers helped Camp Delta establish its ATMCT capability
in just a few months, and they accomplished it with only two
transportation management coordinators and some additional
manpower from the supporting brigade.
Other units are just as quick to assist the Camp Cedar II
MCT. When the number of trucks from Khabari to Camp Cedar
II exceeds the number of trucks that Camp Cedar II can send
north, a backlog is created. These trucks often contain perishables
that must reach their destination quickly. In these cases,
various commands have been able to provide additional escorts
to bases like Logistics Support Area (LSA) Anaconda and Victory
Base Complex, where the bulk of trucks stop before heading
to their final destinations. On occasion, other units have
even provided backhauls or deadheads (security vehicles traveling
from distant locations to escort supply vehicles), which is
a huge help to the MCT.
The surge in U.S. forces in Iraq will bring a greater number of both sustainment
and CULT assets to the theater. This will increase the demand for yard space
as well as the number of escorts required on a daily basis. A surge of 20,000
Soldiers roughly equates to a 16-percent increase in personnel. If there is a
proportional increase in the number of sustainment trucks requiring escorts,
then it is conceivable that many MCTs will receive more trucks than they can
possibly push, creating larger and larger backlogs.
The desire to reduce the number of forward operating bases in Iraq has prompted
Army planners to consider closing Camp Cedar II and integrating its functions
into nearby LSA Adder. Besides the advantages to be gained from eliminating redundant
base support facilities and personnel, the move would streamline the transportation
operations in the area. The move would involve collocating the area MCT (currently
on LSA Adder), the highway regulating MCT (currently the Camp Cedar II MCT),
the sustainment truck marshalling yard, the joint distribution center, and the
fuel farm. The disadvantage is that moving to LSA Adder would require a painstaking
transition and substantial construction there to avoid interrupting the flow
of supplies from Kuwait to destinations throughout Iraq.
Although the 618th MCT is an area MCT by MTOE [modification table of organization
and equipment], it has assumed different roles while serving as the Camp Cedar
II MCT. The duties of highway regulation, ITV, sustainment convoy coordination,
and supporting other units have replaced the standard area MCT duties of issuing
transportation movement requests and committing transportation assets.
The Army is developing a new modular MCT that will be larger and better able
to handle diverse missions. The operating tempo, the vast number of vehicles,
and the flexibility needed at Camp Cedar II demand a more robust and adaptable
team of transporters, making the new modular MCT a perfect fit for the mission
at Camp Cedar II. Although working at airports, sea terminals, and area MCTs
is viewed as the norm, there is a growing need in theater for the convoy support
center mission, which the modular MCT will be ready to accomplish.
Captain Randall W. Newman is the commander of the 618th Movement Control Team,
which deployed with the 49th Transportation Battalion to Camp Cedar II, Iraq.
He is a graduate of the University of Utah, the Transportation Officer Basic
Course, and the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course.
First Lieutenant Paul A. Kahn is assigned to the 618th Movement Control Team.
He has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona
and is a graduate of the Transportation Officer Basic Course.
First Lieutenant Richard F. Rogers III served as a battle captain for the 618th
Movement Control Team at Camp Cedar II. He has a B.S. degree in civil engineering
from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and is a graduate
of the Transportation Officer Basic Course.