A Heavy Load

By Kim S. Nash  |  Posted 2007-08-28 Print this article Print
: The Nuts and Bolts of a Pullout">

A Heavy Load: The Nuts and Bolts of a Pullout


Each piece of equipment must be categorized as serviceable, unserviceable or recoverable and then further sorted as scrap, hazardous material or requiring demilitarization.

The Challenge:
Getting to each and every piece of equipment and crate of supplies while conducting daily war activities. The Transportation Command has offered to supply additional personnel if needed.


The items must be packed into standard shipping containers, with radio frequency identification tags attached to the outside.

How It's Done:
The tags, from Savi Technology, acquired last year by Lockheed Martin, are programmed with codes to identify the items inside, their owner, stock number, final destination and other identifiers.

The same tags used on supplies traveling to Iraq can be reused for material on the return trip, but they have to be rewritten in-theater with new destination codes.

The Challenge:
RFID tags fall off or get ripped off in transit, radio frequencies are sometimes unavailable and batteries in active, programmable tags run out. All of which renders the cargo intermittently invisible to military computer systems.

And Bringing Home the Soldiers

How It's Done:
Though there are 160,000 troops deployed now, the Transportation Command has overseen 4 million passenger round trips—which include deployments, redeployments and troops otherwise moving in and out of the war zone. Commercial airlines will fly many of the troops home and the Transportation Command maintains those schedules, with input on the number of people to be moved provided by the service branches. The systems for coordinating troop redeployment are classified; some are part of JOPES. The Transportation Command would provide daily movement statistics, as well as analysis of problems en route and workloads at the ports, to the joint commands and supporting entities. Wounded troops are tracked in a Transportation Command application called Transcom Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System, or TRAC2ES.

The Challenge:
Military branches and the Transportation Command must create "time-phased force and deployment data" plans, which means, in part, they consider contingencies when scheduling the exit of their troops: Who will provide physical protection to troops moving to air and sea ports? How many noncombat troops will stay behind to maintain infrastructure for the last troops in? Most troops will arrive in the U.S. ahead of their equipment, which will take weeks or months to return by ship.

Next Page: What Stays And What Goes

Senior Writer
Kim has covered the business of technology for 14 years, doing investigative work and writing about legal issues in the industry, including Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial. She has won numerous awards and has a B.S. degree in journalism from Boston University.

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