Although several initiatives in the Department
of Defense (DOD) are improving end-to-end supply chain distribution
to support the warfighter, none has been more successful recently
than European Intermodal Distribution (EID), which was adopted
by the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in March 2004.
EUCOM teamed up with each of its service components, such
as U.S. Army Europe, and the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)
to establish the first intermodal distribution system to support
forces stationed in EUCOM’s area of responsibility (AOR)
and EUCOM forces forward-deployed to support the Global War
on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Intermodal” refers
to the transfer of cargo from one mode of transportation to
another (for example, from a ship to a truck).
Intermodal Distribution (EID) cargo arrives at Ramstein
Air Base’s new air freight terminal aboard
military transports and is staged for onward movement
to the 21st Theater Support Command’s 6966th
Transportation Truck Terminal Joint Theater Distribution
Under EID, the joint logistics community has taken advantage
of ways to optimize intermodal operations between military
lift and military and commercial trucks. The results have been
increased distribution effectiveness and efficiency, reduced
delivery times, and decreased operating costs.
The EID concept of support is the product of several EUCOM
Distribution Conferences. The conferences are held quarterly
at locations throughout Europe and are sponsored by each
of EUCOM’s service components. All representatives
of DOD agencies, commands, and service components attending
conferences have agreed that the EID concept, developed by
action officers from three commands in EUCOM, should at least
be given a chance.
Implementing EID was no easy undertaking. Skeptics questioned
if it would actually work and if it would benefit the overall
distribution pipeline. In the beginning, several service component
objections and service-unique
requirements had to be satisfied, but persistence achieved
success. On 4 March 2004, an agreement to conduct a proof of
concept was executed.
The action officers responsible for getting the EID concept
off the ground and running successfully were a Canadian logistics
officer, Major Pat Paquin, assigned to the EUCOM J–4;
a Department of the Army civilian employee, Mike Mamer of the 21st
Theater Support Command (TSC); and an Air Force senior
noncommissioned officer, Senior Master Sergeant John McAllister
of the 723d Air Mobility Squadron.
cargo is consolidated at the JTDC and staged for
movement to its final destination.
Below, EID cargo is loaded onto a 6966th Transportation
Truck Terminal truck for onward movement from Ramstein
Air Base to the JTDC at Kaiserslautern.
More than 4 years ago, Mamer concluded that the theater’s
air cargo clearance process and onward movement of Air Force
463L pallets at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, were slow and unresponsive
to customers’ demands. The reason was that each service
component maintained its individual operations. While intermodal
transportation did exist, a joint effort to optimize and maximize
the capabilities of intermodal transportation to deliver cargo
to customers did not. At the same time, critical Air Force
in-tratheater airlift assets (C–130 transports) were
in high demand to support the Global War on Terrorism. Because
no relief was in sight, Mamer recommended that the Air Force’s
723d Air Mobility Squadron, located at Ramstein, authorize
the 21st TSC to clear and distribute air pallets by surface
transportation after they arrived at the air base. His recommendation
Approximately 2 years later—as TRANSCOM was becoming
the DOD Distribution Process Owner, with the goal of improving
the overall efficiency and interoperability of distribution-related
activities (deployment, sustainment, and redeployment support
during peace and war)—decisionmakers attending a EUCOM
Distribution Conference decided it was time to do an EID proof
of concept. After only 3 months of testing, EID was given the
green light by all DOD service components and commands to
fully execute. The rest is history.
How Does EID Work?
EID is, in the simplest of terms, the shuttling of military
air cargo arriving at Ramstein Air Base, for any destination
that can be reached by surface transportation, to the Joint
Theater Distribution Center (JTDC) located 20 minutes away
at Panzer Kaserne in Kaiserslautern. The cargo is reconciled
and processed through the JTDC in time to arrive at its destination
the following workday during normal hours of operation.
Before March 2004, military cargo airlifted to Ramstein Air
Base was shipped to the customer from one of two major hubs
after arrival. Either cargo was trucked straight to the customer
from Ramstein itself, or it was forwarded to the JTDC and
then trucked to the customer. As a result, cargo often was
delivered to the same destination on two trucks, even if
the cargo arrived on the same plane, with one truck arriving
at the customer from Ramstein and the other arriving from
Loads were not consolidated, inefficiencies abounded, and
the costs of intermodal transportation and distribution-hub
operations were unchecked. At times, even high-priority cargo
awaited transportation and in-transit visibility was lost.
The EID system was implemented to alleviate these problems.
This entire process has been changed. Now, cargo is being
consolidated at the JTDC, where in-transit visibility now
is perpetuated throughout the entire distribution network.
Cargo movement does not depend on priorities: It is all
moved once it arrives at Ramstein. Customers can plan their
daily workloads and train better because they can count on
their cargo being delivered at the same time every day that
they operate. Joint cooperation can benefit all aspects
of supply chain management. A dramatic reduction in the
number of routes used to deliver cargo has meant a reduction
in the assets needed to deliver that cargo. Transportation
and hub-operation costs have been reduced, and cost savings
have been passed on to all service components in Europe.
Every air cargo pallet that arrives at Ramstein, destined
for a customer in EUCOM’s AOR that can be reached by
military or commercial truck, goes directly from the airplane
arriving at the air base onto a 37th Transportation Command
trailer, is shuttled to the JTDC, and is delivered by truck
to the customer by 0900 the next workday. Some cargo is not
delivered the next day for various reasons. Either the customer
is closed for inventory, training, or some other purpose,
or the customer is located outside the regulatory 24-hour
delivery timeframe. (Such locations include Mildenhall,
England; Aviano, Italy; and Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo).
In the first year of operation, approximately $8 million
was saved by operating under the EID concept. The process
has been so effective that Air Force cargo arriving at Ramstein
now is delivered to customers in less than 24 hours, compared
to the previous 5 to 7 days. Port-hold time also has been
reduced dramatically, from 5 days to 1/2 day.
Because of its successes, the EID concept has been expanded
to Sigonella, Italy. Other sites also are being considered.
The EID concept works on a temporary basis as well. Last
year, when Ramstein Air Base was closed for runway repairs,
the EID concept was moved from Ramstein to Mildenhall Air
Base without any interruption of service to customers. This
successful adaptation demonstrates that the EID concept
can be set up at any aerial port of debarkation in the world.
DOD now can logistically support on a global and joint basis.
Combatant commands now not only are fighting the war but
also are being supported by other combatant commands. The
EID brings DOD one step closer to building an efficient and
effective logistics distribution network that gets the
warfighters exactly what they need, on time, in the right
quantities, and configured to best meet their lift, reception,
and onward movement capabilities.
Mark S. Paun is the
Deputy Chief of the Deployment Distribution Management Center
at the 200th Theater Distribution Brigade in Kaiserslautern,
Germany. He also is a retired Transportation Corps major.
He holds a B.S. degree from Montana State University and
attended the Pennsylvania State University Supply Chain Management
Certification Program. He has 28 years of global logistics
trailer is loaded with EID cargo at the 6966th Transportation
Truck Terminal in Kaiserslautern for movement to
its final destination.