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Restructuring for Simultaneous Movement Control Operations

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 strategically.

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 (TSC).

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 Europe.

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.

The chart 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 operations.
• 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 were—

• 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 Enduring Freedom.


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 institutional training.

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 Staff College.