News: Transportation soldiers man checkpoint, track truck deliveries
Story by Sgt. Gregory Williams
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - As U.S. forces continue to drawdown, Kandahar Airfield remains one of the central hubs for the redeployment process. Cargo from surrounding forward operating bases can take weeks or months to arrive.
Upon arrival, Afghan drivers are processed into a biometric security system and wait in a holding area ran by soldiers with the transportation unit. Sharing security duties with Belgian forces, the unit deals with hundreds of Afghans on a weekly basis.
As the Sustainers make sure drivers are picked up by their escorts, the unit knows that each vehicle means more cargo leaving the country.
The 612th Movement Control Detachment track deliveries at an entry control point on Kandahar Airfield.
“Our system works well because our soldiers know the mission inside and out,” said Sgt. Nikita V. Lewis, an entry control non-commissioned officer with the 612th MCT. “We have great force protection and interpreters, so as the drawdown continues I’m sure we’ll have no problems as more trucks arrive to the base.”
Lewis said that without the unit’s effort, drivers would be waiting for their escorts for days and the goal is to try to get as many drivers in on a daily basis.
“We try not to keep the drivers more than 72 hours and the great part about our mission is that we’re able to send them straight to the CRSP yard,” Lewis said. “Our mission is to help make sure stuff gets out of KAF.”
As the transportation soldiers tackle the ECP, their counterparts provide customer service to carriers and commanders trying to track incoming deliveries.
Spc. Dawnie M. Sievers, an movement control specialist with the 612th MCT, said her job is important because customers rely on the information she gives in order to see if their shipment has arrived.
“I deal with a lot of customers, especially if the cargo is mission essential and it hasn’t come in because this affects a lot of people on base,” Sievers said. “My job is a good way for carriers to make sure deliveries are made.”
Cargo coming from the surrounding FOBs and the Kandahar tracking yard are put onto the unit’s report and can be tracked on the ground area regulation site, which is all tracked by the unit’s battalion.
The report details how many trucks have completed their deliveries and gives Joint Sustainment Command – Afghanistan an idea of how many host nation trucks are completing their missions.
“The report is so important because it combines all the information for entry control points and the KAF tracking yard, which makes sure all numbers match up,” Sievers said. “What we do in this office makes sure contractors, commands, and our soldiers are on the same page.”
The unit does encounter challenges when drivers aren’t able to complete deliveries to the base, which affects their daily report.
“Getting in contact with customers is an issue that we constantly face because a majority of them will provide us with the wrong point of contact,” Lewis said. “If we can’t get the drivers in we’ll give them a gate pass so they can rest for the day until we get their escort. Slowly though this is becoming less of a problem.”
For the past six months, the 612th MCT has processed more than 21,000 drivers through its ECP and Sievers said when their replacements arrive they will learn how the mission contributes to the drawdown process.
“Nothing happens till something moves, which is what we make possible,” Sievers said. “When we first got here our unit picked up the mission very quickly.
Our unit really works well together and when we go home we’ll leave knowing that we did a great job”