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The Diverse Missions of the Movement Control Team at Camp Cedar II


To support units medically, a logistician relies on his ability to 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 level.

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 Future

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.

ALOG

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.