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The 377th Theater Sustainment Command Deployment/Redeployment Coordination Cell in Haiti

Transporting military units from Haiti once their services are no longer needed requires careful coordination. The 377th Theater Sustainment Command is responsible for ensuring that all U.S. military units that deploy to Haiti return quickly and safely.

Following the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, U.S. forces deployed there as part of Oper ation Unified Response to help meet the needs of the Haitian people. The Joint Logistics Command- Haiti (JLC–H), manned by Soldiers of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, was tasked with overseeing the “right-sizing” of the military forces serving in Haiti in support of the operation. This mission was accomplished by the deployment/redeployment coordination cell (DRCC).

The recovery plan for Haiti involves the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and numerous multilateral, nongovernmental organizations. This conglomerate of aid givers works with the governments of Haiti and other countries to assist the people of Haiti. U.S. military forces are serving in a support role to these organizations. They supply capabilities that the aid organizations did not have in place. As the situation changes and these organizations bring their capabilities on line, the matching military capabilities are no longer needed.

Right-sizing the force involves sending units back to their home stations when their capabilities are no longer needed in the Haiti theater. This may seem like a simple task: put the unit on a plane and its equipment on a ship, and send them northwest. However, in reality, a unit cannot just pick up and go. The process involves many tasks that must be accomplished through an intricate network of military offices stretching from Haiti to the continental United States (CONUS).

Release Procedures

First a unit needs an official release. Joint Task Force-Haiti (JTF–H) is the organization that the U.S. Southern Command has put in charge of military operations in Haiti. This task force coordinates with the aid organizations to determine when a particular military capability can be decreased or eliminated. Based on this information, JTF–H issues a fragmentary order releasing units with capabilities that are no longer needed.

The DRCC has an orders section that watches for these releases to be issued. The unit can then come to the JLC–H DRCC in the joint operations center to meet with a liaison officer for the Transportation Coordination Automated Information for Movement System II (TC–AIMS II) to begin the redeployment process. [TC–AIMS II is a tool for establishing and tracking movements of military deployment transportation by land, air, and sea.]

The redeploying unit’s movement officer must create a unit deployment list (UDL) in TC–AIMS II. The UDL details all personnel and equipment being redeployed. Once the UDL is created, the DRCC’s mobility section approves it and forwards it to U.S. Army South, where it is used to establish unit line numbers. The list of unit line numbers is forwarded to the U.S. Southern Command for validation and then sent to the U.S. Transportation Command for allocation of the necessary transportation.

The type of movement used depends on what is being moved and where it is going. For example, most equipment leaves Haiti by ship, but personnel and lighter equipment leave by air. Once back in CONUS, equipment may need ground transport to inland destinations, while personnel will travel by domestic air or bus.

The U.S. Transportation Command will issue an available-to-load date (ALD) for the unit to move and for its equipment to be shipped. These dates are used by the unit and the DRCC to prepare a plan to get the unit ready for movement by the ALD. With the UDL, accuracy is the key to not having something left behind because if something does not have a unit line number, it does not ship.

Ground Transportation

The next step is for unit planners to meet with the ground transportation cell. The redeploying unit, with the aid of the DRCC, will determine its transportation needs, including the number of containers needed for shipping its equipment. How the unit will transport its equipment to the seaport and its people and baggage to the airport is also addressed.

Empty containers must then be delivered to the unit’s location. The unit is responsible for the packing process. The final packing must be done in coordination with customs (the DRCC has embedded customs liaison officers), which will have a representative present to inspect packed items and seal the container once the packing is complete. The unit is now ready to move.

Sea Transportation Preparations

While at the DRCC, the unit movement officer also coordinates with the washrack operations cell. Once the amount of time needed to complete the packing process is determined, a schedule can be set for getting the unit’s equipment to the seaport, where it will go through washrack procedures to clean it before it is returned to CONUS. Seven to 10 days before the unit’s departure date, ground transportation will arrange for the movement of the equipment to the seaport and arrange for the materials-handling equipment needed to download it.

Once the equipment is clean and cleared by customs, it will be secured in the holding yard. The DRCC’s sea mobility cell tracks inbound and outbound ships. This cell will arrange for the transport of the unit’s equipment by ship. When the ship arrives in Haiti (2 to 4 days before the ALD), the DRCC will issue a “call forward” message for the equipment, which will then be brought from the holding area and loaded on the ship.

Air Transportation Preparations

Two days before the ALD, the ground transportation cell ensures that buses and cargo trucks are available for the unit’s personnel and personal equipment. Twenty-four hours out, the DRCC issues the call-forward message for the unit personnel and arranges for customs to inspect the personal equipment being flown back with the personnel.

The air mobility cell tracks inbound and outbound airplanes and identifies the aircraft on which the unit will depart. Nine hours out, the ground transportation cell sends the buses and cargo trucks to pick up the unit and get it to the airport no later than 6 hours before the flight. The unit will have a manifest of personnel and gear flying and a certification of the customs check.

The DRCC has an airport liaison officer who ensures that the airplane arrives, the unit boards, and the airplane departs. When it receives the airport liaison officer’s report that the plane has taken off, the DRCC will issue a wheels-up report though the JLC–H J–3 to JTF–H. The DRCC will track the airplane and issue a wheels-down report after receiving confirmation that the plane has landed.

This may seem like a relatively simple process. When you consider that many of these tasks are taking place simultaneously, that multiple variables affect sea and air travel (the biggest being weather), and that several units are exiting during the same time period, it is apparent the DRCC must go the extra mile to ensure that servicemembers in Haiti are returned home safely.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Perez is the public affairs officer for the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola University of New Orleans and is a graduate of the Signal Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and the Intermediate Level Education Course.

 
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