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1st Infantry Division Movement
Control Operations in Iraq

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.

Movement Planning

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 available transport-ation assets.

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.

CLP Tracker

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 through their sectors.

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.

Contracted Deliveries

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.

Movement Tracking

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 visibility. 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 and 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 decisions that 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 movement 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 division 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 Deputy 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 graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.