Across the Army, virtually every command is expected
to be able to handle several missions simultaneously. As an
example of its multitasking capability, the Army is fighting
the Global War on Terrorism and, at the same time, it is transforming
In March 2005, the Vicenza, Italy-based Southern European Task Force (SETAF)
transitioned from a peacetime Army organization to one that commanded joint combat
operations in Afghanistan. To support Operation Enduring Freedom, SETAF required
the services of the only movement control battalion (MCB) in Italy—the
14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), or 14th MCB, a subordinate
element of U.S. Army Europe’s (USAREUR’s) 21st Theater Support Command
Major General Bennie E. Williams, commander of the 21st TSC, commenting on the
need to deploy the 14th MCB in support of SETAF, said “Split operations
are . . . necessary and becoming the norm, and I have full confidence that the
14th can support the SETAF downrange while continuing its vital movement missions
in Italy.” Thus, to prepare for the additional mission, the 14th MCB restructured,
reshaped, and retrained its battalion headquarters in order to provide support
simultaneously to the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Central Command.
The deployment of SETAF and the 14th MCB to Afghanistan for a year expanded the
battalion’s mission set dramatically. [“Mission set” refers
to a unit’s mission parameters, which are based on the unit’s mission-essential
task list.] Split operations required an immediate change in the organizational
structure of the MCB’s headquarters.
This was not the first time the 14th MCB had restruct-ured its headquarters.
In the summer of 2003, the battalion transitioned its headquarters to meet difficult
mission requirements in support of Joint Task Force (JTF) Liberia—an unprecedented
mission to provide support to West African military forces conducting peace support
operations in Liberia in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis. From late July
through September of that year, the 14th MCB’s headquarters transformed
from an Army MCB to a JTF joint movement control center in order to support SETAF.
Drawing from the battalion’s experiences during the Liberia crisis, the
battalion staff was able to plan split operations in Afghanistan and southern
A close peacetime relationship with SETAF paid big dividends for the 14th MCB
when the time came to deploy with the task force. “We were fortunate because
of our integration with SETAF during peacetime day-to-day operations, training
exercises, and other real-world contingencies,” said Major Thomas Nelson,
the 14th’s S–2/3. “It paid off for us when it really counted,
making . . . [restructuring] for future operations smoother. Critical relationships
with our [Operation Enduring Freedom] command were already established.”
The 14th MCB is traditionally subordinate to the 21st TSC. Its brigade-level
higher headquarters is the 1st Theater Movement Control Agency, based in Kaiserslautern,
Germany. However, reorganizing the MCB’s headquarters for split operations
created a dual command and control structure (see chart below) in which the 14th’s
forward headquarters element was subordinate to Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)
76 while its rear element continued the traditional command
and control structure.
below shows the battalion’s
mission set before and after restructuring in preparation for deployment to Operation
Enduring Freedom. Note how the number of MCB missions increased
from two to seven.
Restructuring the 14th MCB headquarters naturally led to its reshaping.
This reshaping consisted of five personnel actions—
• Expanding the duties of the GS–12 traffic manager so he would serve
as both battalion traffic manager and battalion S–2/3 in place of the major
who would deploy.
• Hiring 11 temporary Department of the Army (DA) civilians and local nationals
for 1- to 4-year appointments to assume the workloads of soldiers who would deploy.
• Incorporating soldiers from a local Army Reserve unit, the 663d Movement
Control Team (MCT), based in Vicenza, into the battalion’s S–2/3
• Standing up a rear detachment and designating its commander.
• Providing the SETAF J–4 an interim JTF joint transportation officer
(JTO) for a 90-day period in support of CJTF 76 deployment preparations.
The final two positions were filled by the same 14th MCB officer (a major).
Providing the SETAF J–4 with an interim JTF JTO limited the operational
capability of the MCB headquarters for 90 days, but it had a positive effect
on the overall CJTF 76 deployment. The JTO’s most notable accomplishments
• Serving as the 21st TSC lead for CJTF 76 deployment.
• Posturing SETAF for successful deployment.
• Ensuring that the JTO was fully manned, operational, and functioning.
•Publishing USAREUR’s Southern Region plan for deployment to Afghanistan.
The predeployment MCB headquarters organization,
depicted on the chart below, shows the traditional MCB structure
by duty position and grade. The postdeployment rear organization,
indicated on the chart at the top of page 15, details the changes
in structure brought about by reshaping. Nine DA civilian positions
(highlighted in yellow) and two local national employee positions
(highlighted in red) were created to fill vacancies created
when the soldiers occupying them deployed. The incumbents of
the three positions highlighted in green were to “dual-hat,” or
perform two key jobs instead of one.
The postdeployment forward organization chart at the bottom of the page reflects
the design of the battalion headquarters when deployed in support of Operation
In order for the headquarters restructuring and reshaping to be successful, four
personnel had to be retrained. The 14th MCB established a comprehensive professional
development program in which the senior
traffic manager, temporary DA civilian and local national employees, Reserve
component soldiers, and a rear detachment commander would be trained to perform
their new duties. This retraining program consisted of extensive on-the-job and
Senior traffic manager. Soon after the battalion headquarters received a deployment
notification, the commander decided to expand the senior traffic manager’s
job description to include both traffic manager and battalion S–2/3 functions.
The major serving as the S–2/3 was deploying, and his departure would leave
a huge staff void and a training challenge. However, rigorous on-the-job training
by the traffic manager and expansion of his job description to incorporate the
new S–2/3 duties proved both timely and effective.
Civilian employees. Army-sponsored institutional training and on-the-job training
with their battalion counterparts ensured a seamless transition and integration
of the temporary DA civilian and local national personnel. However, hiring was
restricted by both the availability of quality applicants, especially in an overseas
setting, and the complexity of the civilian employee hiring systems.
Reserve component soldiers. Up to five Reserve component soldiers from the 663d
MCT were integrated into the 14th MCB S–2/3 operations section for up to
6 months during critical periods. Incorporating these soldiers into current operations
proved vital to the battalion’s overall success. On-the-job training with
Active component soldiers ensured continuity and mission accomplishment.
Rear detachment commander. According to USAREUR training requirements, deploying
units must have a rear detachment and a rear detachment commander. The battalion
selected a major to serve as rear detachment commander and sent him to the 5-day,
USAREUR-sponsored Rear Detachment Commanders Course at Vilseck, Germany.
Predeployment initiatives that the 14th MCB put
into effect served the battalion well when it deployed to the
Afghanistan theater of operations in late March. The lessons
learned can be useful to other movement control elements that
are tapped to perform multiple missions over great distances.
It goes without saying that these changes require the full
support of the unit’s chain of command, as well as the
necessary funding to hire temporary civilian replacements,
in order to keep operations flowing smoothly and without interruption.
The flexibility granted to the 14th MCB by both SETAF and the
21st TSC allowed the battalion to rise successfully to the
immense challenge of managing operations in two widely separated
regions of the world.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Brown, a Transportation Corps
officer, is the Commander of the 14th Transportation Battalion
(Movement Control) in Vicenza, Italy. The
battalion currently is deployed to Afghanistan to support Combined Joint Task
Force 76. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from the University
of North Carolina-Wilmington and a master’s degree in administration from
Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General