During Operation Iraqi Freedom II, thousands
of vehicles traveled over the dangerous roads of Iraq daily
to transport supplies to more than 20,000 soldiers at 28 forward
operating bases (FOBs). These FOBs were geographically dispersed
over an area of 146,000 square kilometers in the 1st Infantry
Division (Mechanized) area of operations (AO). The 1st Infantry
Division movement control cell planned and synchronized the
movement of thousands of vehicles in one of Iraq’s largest
division sectors, escorted commercial trucks to FOBs, and gained
in-transit visibility of all moving vehicles in its effort
to provide efficient transportation. Meticulous planning, the
use of automated systems, and the development of effective
techniques and procedures resulted in the timely delivery of
critical supplies and equipment to the division.
Movement Control Cell Structure
The 1st Infantry Division’s movement control cell was located at the division
rear command post and was made up of well-trained, experienced soldiers from
the division support command (DISCOM) movement control office (MCO) and the G–4
division transportation office (DTO). These soldiers planned and synchronized
the daily transport of commodities to their final destinations. They also worked
closely with the division rear G–3 and G–2 to adjust missions when
they received fragmentary orders and intellgence information that affected movements.
Although the DISCOM support operations office (SPO) was not located with the
movement control cell, it oversaw MCO operations and worked directly with MCO
personnel to coordinate requirements and sustainment combat logistics patrols
(CLPs). [The term “combat logistics patrol” (CLP—pronounced “clip”)
was used by the 1st Infantry Division to represent all logistics convoys because
all convoys on Iraq’s nonlinear battlefield of necessity are combat patrols.
CLPs are susceptible to attack by improvised explosive devices, small arms fire,
and complex ambushes every time they leave their operating bases. Instilling
the combat soldier mentality into soldiers conducting logistics movements is
the key to survival in the dangerous Iraqi environment.]
The DTO developed and executed highway regulation plans, policies, procedures,
and programs and provided route analysis and main and alternate supply route
status within the division AO. DTO personnel advised and provided technical assistance
to division commanders and staff. They also assisted in daily MCO operations
by tracking, monitoring, and processing movement requests.
The MCO coordinated transportation support and had tasking authority over the
transportation assets of the main support battalion’s transportation motor
transport (TMT) company. MCO analyzed customer transportation requests and balanced
them against the TMT company’s capabilities. To do this, the MCO had to
be aware of the company’s maintenance status and mission load. If the company
did not have the assets available to conduct a mission, the MCO coordinated with
the area movement control team (MCT) to obtain transportation assets from the
corps support group (CSG). The MCO linked planners and tactical commanders with
the transportation operators, and it monitored all transportation assets in the
division AO until each transportation mission was complete.
|A gun truck
conducts overwatch during a convoy.
On any given day, over a thousand vehicles, managed by several
different units, transported essential materiel within the
1st Infantry Division’s AO. Concise
planning and scheduling were needed to manage movement control operations and
expedite the delivery of critical items.
Transportation movement control meetings were held daily to coordinate commercial
truck escorts, transportation movement requests (TMRs), and sustainment CLPs.
Representatives from the MCO, CSG, MCT, DISCOM SPO, main support battalion,
aviation support battalion, forward support battalions, Halliburton Kellogg
Brown & Root
(KBR), and PWC Logistics (a commercial provider of warehouse facilities and
transportation services) attended each meeting. These meetings were important
because they brought
all of the movement planners to one place to discuss and plan future movement
operations. During the meetings, representatives scheduled all CLPs 96 hours
out. The attendees reviewed all open TMRs and discussed when they would be
executed. They also discussed how to execute pending missions efficiently with
A TMR was used to request movement of a vehicle or equipment from one destination
to another. The unit had to submit the request through its brigade S–4
or forward support battalion SPO to the MCO 72 hours before the requested movement
date so that the transporting units would have enough time to plan and schedule
their missions. The TMR also gave the brigade combat teams (BCTs) a projection
of what transportation assets would be driven through their AOs so that they
could schedule route reconnaissance and route clearance patrols to make travel
through the area safer.
After receiving the TMR, the MCO reviewed and validated the request and identified
the TMT assets needed to fulfill the mission. If the assets were available, the
MCO verified the movement timeline with a company representative and tasked the
company to complete the mission. If the TMT company could not provide the needed
assets, the request was sent to the MCT, which checked with the CSG to see if
the corps could provide them. If the CSG had assets available, it would be tasked
to complete the mission; if not, the request was submitted to the corps movement
control battalion, which tasked other units from the corps support command. If
a TMR was received that had to be executed in less than 72 hours, the process
remained the same; however, after transportation assets had been tasked to complete
the mission, the movement had to be approved by a colonel or higher ranking officer.
Once coordination and planning were completed in the daily
movement control meeting, information from daily TMRs,
sustainment CLPs, and the corps CLP tracker or
in-transit visibility tracker was compiled to produce a daily CLP tracker—a
spreadsheet that tracked CLP assignments. (See chart above.) The CLP tracker
was not a tool found in any field manual, but it was very important because
it provided visibility on all moving assets in the division sector. This
document synchronized movement times and gave BCTs knowledge of CLPs traveling
The CLP tracker displayed names of the transporting units and their higher
headquarters, call signs, supported units, cargo, origins and destinations
of cargo, and departure
and arrival times. Every day, the MCO submitted the CLP tracker to the division
rear battle captain, who forwarded it to the division main battle captain for
enclosure in the 1st Infantry Division Daily Tactical Update, the division’s
daily fragmentary order. The CLP tracker also was briefed daily to the assistant
division commander (support) and the DISCOM commander.
KBR and PWC Logistics are contractors that provide civilian trucks to transport
commodities from Kuwait and Turkey to Iraq—a difficult task. Three factors
that initially impeded the delivery of commodities were insufficient escorts,
poor in-transit visibility, and frustrated vehicles. Hundreds of trucks would
arrive in the 1st Infantry Division AO every day, and it was very difficult
to provide escorts for all of them because there were many more civilian trucks
than gun trucks to provide security.
It was difficult to track the number of vehicles and the commodities that were
in transit. In some cases, the division did not know what the commodities were
or their final destination until the trucks arrived at the DISCOM.
When trucks were delayed, they often arrived at the DISCOM in large numbers,
piled up, and became frustrated. Perishables such as fresh fruits and vegetables
could spoil when trucks were delayed in reaching their destinations.
The MCO overcame these problems by incorporating the contracted trucks into the
main support battalion and CSG sustainment CLPs. At the MCO meeting each day,
KBR and PWC Logistics representatives provided the MCO with the number of arriving
trucks and their final destinations. The MCO prioritized these trucks and tasked
units to escort them to the FOBs.
Main Support Battalion convoy returns from a mission
after reaching 1 million miles on the roads of Iraq
without suffering casualties.
The movement control cell used sophisticated equipment and
manual systems to track all vehicles supporting the 1st
Infantry Division. Automated systems used
to maintain in-transit visibility of the vehicles included the Defense Transportation
Reporting and Control System (DTRACS), Movement Tracking System (MTS), Joint
Deployment Logistics Module (JDLM), and Blue Force Tracker (BFT). DTRACS and
MTS are satellite tracking systems that are installed in vehicles. Either system
can be used to send and receive text messages to provide important tracking
information to the JDLM, which provides visibility of vehicles
using DTRACS and MTS. The
BFT is a satellite tracking system installed in vehicles to give vehicle commanders
real-time imagery of other vehicles on a screen. It also provides base stations
and vehicle commanders the ability to send text messages. Together, these systems
served as commanders’ eyes and ears throughout the division, providing
continuous visibility of all assets.
Sometimes the computer systems lost power or broke down. In those cases, FM
radio transmissions and phone calls to MCTs and brigades were used to gain
FM radio range was limited, so the convoy commanders had a list of the frequencies
of units in each brigade sector. When a CLP needed to pass information to the
MCO, the convoy commander called the brigade in that sector and had it relay
the information to the MCO.
When a convoy departed an installation, the convoy commander provided the MCT
with a trip ticket—a document that indicated the number of vehicles and
personnel in the convoy, sensitive items that the convoy was transporting,
and the convoy destination. The MCT used trip tickets to track all departure
arrival times of CLPs. Once a convoy arrived at another installation, the convoy
commander provided the trip ticket to the receiving MCT, which recorded the
document to validate the arrival of the CLP.
In the fast-paced, high-stress environment of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, soldiers
of the 1st Infantry Division helped provide stability and security to millions
of people in Iraq. Detailed planning and tools such as TMRs and CLP trackers
provided fast, reliable transportation as far forward as possible. Manual tracking
systems and automated systems, such as JDLM, DTRACS, MTS, and BFT, provided
commanders situational awareness at all times so that they could make sound
kept forces ready to fight.
On the rapidly changing battlefield, the movement control cell improved response
times and transportation asset flexibility daily. With meticulous planning
and sophisticated equipment, the movement control cell provided uninterrupted
of personnel, supplies, and services to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The movement
control cell and the soldiers who executed the transportation missions gave
the ability to move logistics assets effectively and gave field commanders
the ability to mass combat power in the right place at the right time.
Captain Henry C. Brown is the Supply and Service Officer for the 701st Main
Support Batallion, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), in Germany. He was the
Support Operations Officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Division
Support Command, 1st Infantry Division, during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
He has a B.S. degree in geography from New Mexico State University and is a
of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Captains
Career Course, and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.