News: Transportation Motor Pool and Vehicle Operations merge
Story by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - As Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson focuses its mission on consolidating and spending less, merging similar units is inevitable. The Army's Transportation Motor Pool and the Air Force's Vehicle Operations were among the units merged.
It came as a pleasant surprise to Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Steffen three years later when he discovered the benefits of merging the operations. The Transportation Motor Pool was run by Army civilians, who were then absorbed into Vehicle Operations. Scot Halliburton, vehicle operations officer at the shop, was in charge of the TMP.
"I was anti-joint basing," said Steffen, 773d Logistics Readiness Squadron distribution flight chief and native of Littleton, Colo. "But [after] working with Mr. Halliburton, I'm a better man for it."
It just made sense, Halliburton said.
"The civilians did nearly all of the Army support before," the senior civilian said. "A driver is a driver. Bringing everybody under one roof allowed us to operate more efficiently and provide the support that gets done every day anyway."
The military members were able to take advantage of the civilians' experience.
"It's good working with civilians because you get to incorporate all their different ideas into it," said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Barnett, 773d Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations supervisor and native of Council, Idaho. "They've done [the job] more than we have. We wouldn't be able to do our job without our civilian counterparts. We don't know enough about the Army's mission without them. They bridged the gap of the language barrier between the Air Force and the Army."
The merger allowed the Airmen to get some experience with Army terminology, needs and how to get transportation requirements met; and the Airmen gave the Army civilians an education on Air Force processes and language, Halliburton said.
The TMP civilians were working 80-hour work weeks, Steffen said.
"We were able to relieve that, which in turn relieves budget, which in turn relieves a lot of other stuff," he said.
It's also much easier to manage, Halliburton said.
"You don't have unnecessary management and supervision requirements," he said. "We can see, hear and talk all the same things. We're able to provide the daily requirements for JBER, in general, better since we merged."
The overall mission of both units remains the same now that they are combined.
"If it needs to be moved, [vehicle operations] moves it," Steffen said. "We move everything from Soldiers going to Fort Wainwright to air crews and their aircraft."
Vehicle Operations also provides all the cargo and passenger terminal movement for exercises, he said.
"We just had Alaska Shield and Vigilant Guard," he said. "In the last few weeks, we moved 740 passengers on a cargo aircraft with 280 cargo tons from 21 aircraft, including supporting aircrews, that all [came in] in four days."
Exercise support came on top of daily JBER missions with the flying squadrons, including the Air Force Reserve, Alaska National Guard and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, he said.
Between everything related to Alaska Shield and the regular mission, "We moved 2,773 passengers, 555 cargo tons, all in four days," Steffen said.
"I thought it was a great success; we had a very taxing supporting role just by the nature of the exercise," Halliburton said.
Halliburton said he is proud of how their team performs, not just in exercises, but on the regular mission.
Since August 2011, they provided more than 3,390 bus service requests, 714 cargo support requests, moved more than 1.5 million passengers and more than 2.1 million pounds of cargo across Alaska in support of Army movements. They also provided more than 550 forklift movements and more than 550 tractor-trailer movements, hauling more than 3.6 million pounds of cargo.
"The guys do it very well, but it takes quite a work load and quite a physical challenge to do what we do every day," Halliburton said. "We get put on twelves for two or three weeks -- that takes a toll on people. The guys have great attitude and know how to handle business.
"The base just knows work gets done every day; we see how labor-intensive that work is and the impact on our troops. I don't know of anybody who would be more proud of what [our] group does," Halliburton said. "They're super. We're one of the few shops on base that's normally required to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Based on mission requirements, we don't work Monday to Friday and enjoy the weekend, we work days, weekends, holidays; seldom do we get a break. Our guys do it well."