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Transportation Command Searches For Ways to Expedite Troop Rotations 

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by Sandra I. Erwin 

With thousands of troops in rotation, the Defense Department is seeking ways to expedite transportation services and make better use of the available means, officials say. The intent is to be able to rapidly match commanders’ needs with transportation assets such as aircraft, ships or trucks.

“We discovered that at U.S. TRANSCOM we can do a better job of organizing ourselves better to support the war-fighting customer,” says Army Lt. Gen. Robert Dail, deputy chief of U.S. Transportation Command.

A closer collaboration now exists between TRANSCOM and U.S. Central Command, which helps improve the response to the combatant commanders, Dail tells National Defense.

“We’ve already started to take action to change some of our processes and how we are going to organize ourselves at TRANSCOM and CENTCOM to support the upcoming rotation,” he adds. Web-based technology recently acquired allows planners based in Kuwait and at TRANSCOM headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., to share information in real time. The technology, for example, allows planners to run simulated drills so they can come up with alternative courses of action that are based on commander requests and available resources.

A decision-making process that would take three to four days to achieve consensus now can be accomplished in a matter of hours, Dail points out.

Another way to expedite transportation services is to streamline the bureaucracy, he notes. “We determined that today we provide support to war fighters in a very ‘stove-piped’ manner. Depending on how fast you need something delivered, you contact a different person at TRANSCOM.” Separate organizations manage air, surface and ground transportation.

Under the current reorganization, says Dail, “We have one single face to the regional combatant commander. One element focuses only on CENTCOM to plan transportation movement and support.”

If this works out well, he adds, “Our intent is to do the same for other regional combatant commanders.”

Similar efforts were applied in Afghanistan, where commanders complained that critical supplies were being delayed as a result of transportation logjams. Improvements have been reported in recent months, says Dail. “We went from more than 2,000 containers in the pipeline to 1,000. We’ve been able to save a considerable amount of money … Sharing information about what’s in the pipeline made the difference.”

The new technology employed by TRANSCOM is funded under a project called Agile Transportation for the 21st Century, or AT-21.

The web-based networking software is a suite of commercial systems. A tool called Yantra is used for process control and order management. The Manugistics Networks Transport assists the scheduling and analysis. The MayaViz (TransViz) helps visualize and analyze in a collaborative environment.

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