1st Theater Sustainment Command


News Stories

Showcasing Coordination and Cooperation

By Sgt. 1st Class Lisa Rodriguez Presley | 831st Transportation Battalion | September 20, 2018

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --

With detachments in Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, the 831st Transportation Battalion is at the tip of the sustainment spear, and their quarterly mission conducted at the Port of Mesaieed in Qatar on Sept. 20, highlighted their ability to get cargo to the warfighter through teamwork with international partners.

 Moving cargo across theater is a complex operation, requiring cooperation and coordination with multiple governments and civilian entities at locations spread across the area of responsibility. In some cases, that coordination takes place strictly via phone and email, making the establishment of good working relationships with these groups critical.

“It’s not just the detachments that accomplish all this work, so it’s important for us to build a ‘team of teams’,” said Lt. Col. Gerald Duenas, Commander, 831st Transportation Battalion. “There’s a lot of relationship building done over the phone and via conferences, especially in areas where we don’t have any people on the ground.”

According to Duenas, one of the primary challenges to operating in so many different countries is the different customs requirements for the different ports. Each has unique requirements and paperwork, all of which must be filled out correctly and have appropriate documentation.

“As far as our challenges, it’s primarily the requirements for each of the different countries that we move cargo through,” he said. “For example, in Bahrain we’ve got two ports that we manage closely and their customs clearance requirements are a lot different from Qatar or even the United Arab Emirates.”

Understanding these requirements and working with the host nation to ensure the customs process goes smoothly can mean the difference in soldiers receiving the supplies they need in a timely manner. Forces in Afghanistan in particular, rely heavily on the work of the 831st, making their partnerships with Pakistan and surrounding countries instrumental to the framework of a successful sustainment mission.

“We depend tremendously on countries bordering Afghanistan because it is landlocked,” he said. “A lot of the cargo that we push into Afghanistan comes through Pakistan, which has two ports we try to manage cargo in without anybody on the ground, so there’s a lot of relationship building done there.”

For the 831st’s quarterly mission in Qatar, delivery of cargo was coordinated with the Port of Masaieed, civilian transportation contractors, military police, Qatari police and fire services. Participants in the mission conducted a Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drill to ensure every detail of the operation was known and understood by all involved.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to each cargo movement,” said Capt. Joseph Waters, 831st Transportation Battalion, Qatar Detachment Commander. “Going through this in detail before any cargo moves ensures everyone is on the same page and knows exactly what to expect.”

Making their way to the port, the complexity of the operation was evident, with dozens of vehicles and personnel from military, to civilian, to host nation involved. Entering the port itself has its own requirements for both vehicles and personnel, all of which must be adhered to by the 831st.

“Whatever country we are operating in, we have to abide by their procedures,” said Waters. “Qatar is very strict about their port operations, so we work within those rules to get the mission done.”

Beyond the port operations, the unit also utilizes the Northern Distribution Network and assistance from other sustainment units in U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to allow for multiple avenues of access for moving cargo in theater.

“We’ve got Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan that support us, and we try to coordinate with our sister battalion and brigade at EUCOM that manages Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges when we’re looking at each of the different countries we’ve got to move cargo through, and that’s before we even get into Afghanistan.”

As the 831st Transportation Battalion continues their mission, cooperation and coordination will remain at the heart of their operations.

“We are a small unit with a very large area of responsibility,” said Duenas. “It’s lots of countries, lots of different requirements that we have to figure out and lay out the best way to accomplish the mission.”