Between February and April 2004, an Army-Navy
task force, Task Force 385, supervised the movement of equipment
through the port of Ash Shuaiba, Kuwait, during the transition
from Operation Iraqi Freedom I to Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
This transition, called “the surge,” generated
the largest, most rapid movement of military equipment in modern
history. The Army component of the task force was the 385th
Transportation Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Tacoma,
Washington. The Navy component was Naval Expeditionary Logistics
Support Force (NAVELSF) Forward Alpha, which was made up of
Navy Reservists from Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada,
Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.
Task Force 385 was the first Army-Navy task force to be formed at the tactical
level. The organizations that were involved had to quickly overcome differences
in military culture and language in order to work together. One of the challenges
faced by the task force was the fact that the Navy personnel were working with
Army equipment. To address this situation, NAVELSF personnel trained on Army
equipment at Fort Eustis, Virginia, before deploying to Kuwait.
Task force leaders, soldiers, and sailors often worked 12- to 16-hour days to
marshal, stage, and load vessels. At the peak of the surge, four large, medium-speed,
roll-on-roll-off vessels and one fast sealift ship were berthed at the same time.
This was the first time in history that so many vessels of those types were in
the same port at the same time.
During the surge, Task Force 385 managed the movement of 211,000 pieces of equipment
through the port. The task force loaded 37 of the 95 vessels that berthed there.
By the end of the surge, the task force had moved 8 of 10 Army divisions, 4 coalition
brigades, and 1 Marine expeditionary force.
Individual initiative and commitment were the keys to Task Force 385’s
The Army Logistician staff thanks First
Lieutenant Brian H. Young and Captain Elizabeth D’Ambrosia
of the 385th Transportation Battalion in Tacoma, Washington,
the information and photos for this article.
|At top left,
sailors from NAVELSF Forward Port Alpha prepare a
container to be lifted onto a ship. At top right,
contract employees on an M88 recovery vehicle exit
a large, medium speed, roll-on-roll-off vessel after
towing not-mission-capable equipment aboard. The
photo at center left shows five vessels berthed at
the port of Ash Shuaiba during the height of the
Operation Iraqi Freedom II surge.
are secured on the ramp of a Cape class vessel for
shipment (above). At bottom left, a soldier from
the 251st Cargo Transfer Company rinses a coalition
vehicle in preparation for redeployment. At bottom
right, Task Force 385 stevedores guide a load onto
the weather deck of a vessel at night.