KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The 209th Aviation Support Brigade trained more than 100 soldiers during a Unit Movement Officer Rodeo, Aug. 14, 2012, at Kandahar Airfield.
The movement officer has the responsibility to redeploy cargo such as an up-armored High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, which costs $140,000 or a one container filled with M240B machine guns that can cost up to $400,000.
When a unit is ready to leave Afghanistan, the UMO must put together a load plan that will track and ship equipment that could easily be worth more than $1 million back to the states.
“Let a UMO lose one piece of equipment,” said Sgt. Irene Campos, an automotive logistics noncommissioned officer, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. “I think they would get a field grade Article 15 because that equipment is on the commander’s hand receipt so this training that we’re doing now is very important.”
The key tasks for the rodeo was to teach soldiers how to prepare movement documentation, facilitate container management with in transit visibility, preparing cargo for joint inspection and navigating the Transportation Coordinator Automated Information for Movement System II class.
Joint Sustainment Command – Afghanistan provided trainers to teach soldiers how to prepare air load plans for redeployment, which can make the process of shipping cargo back home much easier and less strenuous.
“It’s important to soldiers and especially for the UMOs to understand the redeployment process so they know what to expect so they have enough time to plan ahead,” said Staff Sgt. Khris L. De La Pena, a transportation management noncommissioned officer with the 822nd Movement Control Detachment.
“UMOs have to know that they only have a certain amount of time to get their equipment ready to be shipped out.”
The redeployment process presents many challenges, which can cost the Army millions of dollars because the movement of cargo is not cheap and careful planning is essential to the success of the process.
“I feel if you have everything that belongs to the unit on a well put together load plan, then a UMO should be good,” Campos said. “If not … well then you’re a ‘SOL’ [soldier out of luck] because not one container can be left behind.”
The rodeo also gave soldiers the chance to gain hands-on experience with conducting inspections and weighing equipment, which is usually a job for an Air Force cargo load team
As the groups entered the training yard, soldiers separated into teams as instructors taught one group to measure and weigh the equipment while the others learned how to prepare packing lists along with special handling cards.
Once the teams were finished with their tasks outside, soldiers headed back inside for more instruction on TC-AIMS II trying to cram as much information as time would allow into the class.
TC-AIMS II is a two-week course offered by the military, but instructors were challenged to teach all the soldiers the basics of the program in two days.
“The class size was a challenge because I’d prefer to teach smaller groups so I could give that individual attention since everyone learns at a different pace,” De La Pena said. “I’d hope that at the very least soldiers know who to contact if they
need help with any part of the process.”
Besides having the chance to learn from a transportation manager, Joint Sustainment Command- Afghanistan also provided a Sustainment Automation Support Management Office instructor to further help the UMO Rodeo participants learn more about the redeployment process.
“I help teach soldiers the air planning applications, which is what the transportation community uses to support the warfighter worldwide,” said David Bowman, a SASMO trainer, Tapestry Solutions Inc. “With this, the soldiers will learn how to not only use TC-AIMS II, but also the Automated Air Load Planning System.”
As the end of the training day approached for the rodeo, Campos let out a sigh and looked like she had been hit by a freight train. Campos said she tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible because systems are always being updated to become more proficient.
“Going into AALPS was good because I have some experience using it manually, but now some of the features are automatic, which is a time saver,” Campos said.”It’s supposed to be a refresher, but I learned a lot more because we went more in detail about the program."
The UMO Rodeo training was meant to not only give soldiers the knowledge about the redeployment process, but also gave the instructors the chance to instill an unwavering confidence in the skills that soldiers have attained.
“I hope the soldiers take away the skill and confidence to redeploy their unit home,” Bowman said. They now have the most accurate information to ensure that all equipment and personnel arrive at their home station safely.”