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Breaking Paradigms: CENTCOM DDOC’s Revolution in Deployment and Distribution

Although it is a small organization, the CENTCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center packs a huge logistics punch.

A revolution is taking place in the U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM’s) area of responsibility (AOR). This revolution is led by the CENTCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (CDDOC), which is located in Kuwait. With its forward location, the CDDOC always has the warfighters in mind.

CDDOC’s charter is based on a longstanding need for improved integration of strategic and tactical distribution. In January 2004, the answer to that need—the DDOC concept––became a reality with the establishment of CDDOC. Today, every combatant commander enjoys the expertise of units like CDDOC.

CDDOC is staffed by 67 dedicated, highly motivated individuals from the U.S. military services, the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Transportation Command, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and the Army Materiel Command. When compared to the forces surrounding it, CDDOC is not a large organization. However, it still packs a huge logistics punch. CDDOC’s Director, Brigadier General David Kee, describes the unit as “the eyes and ears” of the CENTCOM J–4.

CDDOC brings together the best support that national partners have to offer. However, these partners must have more than functional expertise; they also need a deep understanding of the distribution process. It is imperative that every member of CDDOC understand how a decision made locally can have a ripple effect throughout the whole AOR. Although the CENTCOM AOR is the smallest AOR in geographical signature, it includes operations on three different fronts: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq, and Operation Horn of Africa (HOA). CDDOC has achieved many significant successes since it was created; several of those successes are discussed below. Operation of the CDDOC has revealed the need for changes in doctrine, and, as this article is being written, some of those changes are underway.

Theater Airlift Capability

The CENTCOM AOR has an unceasing need for airlift. Without adequate C–17 Globemaster III and C–130 Hercules aircraft, warfighters cannot sustain combat readiness and simultaneously meet the high demands of a combat theater. Ensuring the availability of sufficient aircraft is a major challenge for the combatant commander. Compounding this challenge is the demand to support other contingencies, such as the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Lebanon in September during the Israeli offensive against Hezbolla.

CENTCOM is meeting this airlift challenge head on by working closely with force providers to maximize the mobilization of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve aircrews. The CDDOC has partnered with the Air Force’s Director of Mobility Forces-Air Mobility Division (DIRMOBFOR–Air) and CENTCOM’s Combined Air Operations Center, to implement a “hub and spoke” concept of airlift to support OIF.

The hub-and-spoke concept uses C–5s and C–17s from the continental United States’ flying “channel,” or direct-delivery flights, to bring passengers and cargo to three central hubs in Kuwait and Iraq. From these three hubs, C–130s then are used to distribute cargo and passengers on regular “spoke” routes to outlying airfields with concentrations of U.S. and coalition troops. This method allows for greater efficiency in the use of aircraft and increases the pace of passenger and cargo throughput. As a result of the efficiencies gained by the hub-and-spoke concept, CENTCOM has achieved an average 44-percent decrease in the amount of cargo waiting to be shipped each month and an average 13-percent reduction in cargo held longer than 72 hours. Indeed, the hub-and-spoke airlift system has significantly enhanced CENTCOM’s theater airlift capability.

Commercial Tender Aircraft

Personnel assigned to CDDOC’s Air and Sustainment Divisions developed an automated system called Commercial Government Air Program (CGAP), which allows the user to calculate the cost to transport a specific type of cargo. The need for this program became evident after examination of historical data on cost per pound and per pallet of cargo moving through the theater. In July, CDDOC sponsored a Commercial Air Tender Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that brought together several companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS); UTI/Continental Airlines; Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (better known as DHL); and National Air Cargo, and gave them opportunities to bid on cargo being moved. Using CGAP, the commercial tender company with the lowest cost can be selected, and the cargo delivered.

It should be noted that CGAP is an automated tool, not a contract with any one commercial tender company. Cargo is moved by nonmilitary aircraft the same way any other company moves its cargo from one location to another. All cargo moved by this method frees up military aircraft for other priority requirements. The CGAP initiative specifically targets low-volume loads at low-service theater airfields. CGAP and the introduction of commercial tenders to the theater provide a way to reduce the number of military aircraft in the theater. Implementation also results in better use of military cargo aircraft, which reduces operating costs in theater. CGAP also expands the presence of commercial airline companies in an area needing economic growth
and assistance.

During the first week of CGAP operation, cost avoidance reached a level of $200,000 a day. As more tenders participate in CGAP, more savings and cost avoidance will be realized. This is truly a win-win initiative.

Multimodal Optimization

CDDOC’s Air, Surface, and Sustainment Divisions proposed a new concept called multimodal optimization. Multimodal optimization promotes efforts to reduce the number of convoys traveling in theater and allows for air and ground cargo to be moved more efficiently and economically. After meeting several times, the division chiefs became aware of the opportunity to take advantage of unused cargo capacity on existing convoy missions. Empty truck beds were not acceptable. The feeling was that, when trucks are on the roads, they should be transporting as much cargo as space permits.

Since this concept was put into effect last June, nearly $1 million in airlift costs have been avoided by using space on trucks that would have been on the road anyway on one-way missions. Multimodal optimization also opens up additional aircraft seats for passengers and provides greater flexibility in delivering time-sensitive cargo.

Director of Mobility Forces-Surface

Recently, surface asset visibility in OIF, OEF, HOA, and Kuwait was combined under the purview of the Director of Mobility Forces-Surface (DIRMOBFOR–S) so that CENTCOM’s Coalition Forces Land Component Commander (CFLCC) can have his finger on the pulse of all available surface transportation assets. Following the principles of DIRMOBFOR–Air, theater-wide surface movement will benefit from integration and coordination using the surface tasking order concept, which is similar to the way air assets are managed under the air tasking order concept.

CDDOC participated with the CFLCC, the U.S. Transportation Command, and other national partners to make the DIRMOBFOR–S a reality. After months of intensive research, dialogue, and development, the concept was approved in June by the CFLCC. Under the CFLCC, DIRMOBFOR–S integrates and synchronizes all surface operational deployment and distribution requirements in theater. Embedded within this initiative is an effort that links transportation requirements using a “single ticket” process. This process allows a piece of cargo to be scheduled for movement from a national depot to a forward operating base under one request (ticket) instead of having to be rebooked at every aerial or sea port of debarkation and then wait for the next transport mission to materialize.

The DIRMOBFOR–S also will set guidance and policies for surface mobility operations, which will permit visibility and priority of all cargo using a movement request system. The DIRMOBFOR–S has been manned using an interim manning document until the joint manning document is approved.

The fact that personnel assigned to CDDOC come to the theater on 4-, 6- or 12-month orders means that new ideas are brought to the table constantly. The talented personnel of the CDDOC are not willing to embrace the “this is the way we have always done it” mentality. CDDOC is a confident organization that continues to challenge all processes and existing paradigms. It constantly “pushes the envelope” to reinforce the warfighter’s confidence in the theater deployment and distribution process. In this joint environment, CDDOC finds itself at the right place at the right time and employing the right people to get the work done right the first time.

Commander Edgardo “Eddie” Montero, USN, is the Full-Time Support Community Manager and Detailer at the Naval Supply Systems Command Detachment Millington, Tennessee. When he wrote this article, he was a U.S. Navy Individual Augmentee assigned to the U.S. Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.