News: Commercial Movement Division manages Iraqi transportation companies
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — In the past seven months, the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has aided in the expansion of Al Sequir's Iraqi Transportation Network and other companies that support the movement of equipment and supplies throughout Iraq.
The ITN has become a conduit for business relations between roughly 42 tribes throughout Iraq, said Capt. Christopher Pruitt, commander of the 969th Movement Control Team and the Commercial Movement Division and a St. Louis, native. These tribes are all part of the ITN's $78 million three-year contract with the U.S. military, signed in March 2009, to provide transportation support for U.S. forces stationed in Iraq, he said.
The CMD at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, manages the transportation and security operations of the local trucking companies, including the ITN and Kuwaiti Global Logistics — a branch of Theater Wide Trucking Company — with support from two international private security companies, Hart and ArmorGroup International, said Pruitt.
The CMD operates under the 969th MCT, 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th ESC. In 2008, when the Logistics Management Center at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad dissolved, the CMD at JBB was formed, but remained in the early stages of development until seven months ago, said Pruitt.
The CMD saw an increase in transportation movements in May 2009 and grew accordingly, but remained loosely organized until the 969th MCT took over in August 2009, he said.
Pruitt said success and expansion were the result of cooperation between U.S. military forces and Iraqi truckers, two very different groups.
"The friendships we've developed with our [liaisons] through the subcontractors have improved," he said.
The 969th MCT created a common ground of understanding through standard operating procedures, between it and the civilian organizations it works with, said Pruitt.
A normal MCT uses military assets with similar standard operating procedures, but the CMD faced a challenge in its operations with local civilian groups, he said.
"The CMD here deals with another country," said Pruitt. "We're dealing with their work ethics, their equipment, their scheduling. There are lots more parameters that we have to deal with than what a typical MCT would."
The concept for the Iraq Transportation Network was presented in 2008, in Al Anbar province with the local tribes' shaykhs, said Pruitt.
"The CMD was brought about to bring some sort of economic stimulus to the Iraqi people through transportation and logistics," he said.
KGL, out of Kuwait, is older than the ITN and operates in a smaller area. ITN is Iraq-wide, said Pruitt. KGL transports supplies to JBB, Contingency Operating Base Taji, VBC and the other forward operating bases within that area, he said.
The CMD operates like a movement control team when it receives a transportation movement request from the Highway Traffic Division, 49th Trans. Bn., said Spc. Miranda Mossberger, transportation movement request manager with the 969th MCT CMD.
CMD Soldiers verify points of contact on the TMR, ensure the cargo listed on that TMR is the same cargo being transported, and confirm that the local company is authorized to move that cargo according to its contract, said Mossberger, a St. Charles, Mo., native.
On the other end of the process, the local transportation companies can confirm or deny a mission based on available resources, said Spc. Jessica Stumpe, an Al Sequir scheduling assistant and TMR processor with the 969th MCT CMD and a Belleville, Ill., native.
The ITN has 48 hours to accept a mission, said Kah Ahamd, the senior planner with the Al Sequir CMD liaison office. Once accepted, ITN sends a driver manifest to the CMD with a safe passage memorandum, days prior to the mission start date, he said. Safe pass memos are military-endorsed documents that grant local convoys quick passage through Iraqi Army checkpoints, said Ahamd, a Baghdad native.
"This is to avoid any problems at the Iraqi [army] checkpoints — asking 'What is that? What is this cargo?'" he said.
If any complications occur and a convoy is delayed at a checkpoint, the liaisons verify the convoy information through the proper channels, said Ahamd.
Having the material handling equipment and escorts ready makes the overall missions more efficient, said Randall Witt, the operations planning and development liaison with Al Sequir and an Edgewood, N.M., native.
"Both the offload end and the upload end have to be in sync," said Witt. "They have to know what's coming, when it's coming."
The U.S. works with the local companies in an effort to leave behind a system beneficial to the Iraqi infrastructure after U.S. military forces withdraw from Iraq, said Pruitt. It takes military assets off the road and puts money back into Iraq, he said.