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U.S. Transportation Command Demonstrates Port Opening Capability

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., (USTCNS) --- The United States Transportation Command recently demonstrated a new capability designed to enhance the initial flow of forces and cargo into a theater of operations. The initiative, known as the Joint Task Force - Port Opening (JTF-PO), was demonstrated during Operation Bright Star held in Egypt from August 23 to September 6, 2005.

The initiative combines specific Army, Navy, and Air Force assets required to open a deployment and distribution pipeline in a theater of operations. Once more traditional logistics forces arrive in theater, the JTF-PO transfers its responsibilities to them.

During Bright Star, the JTF-PO opened an airfield, established in-transit visibility, and performed initial passenger and cargo movement.

Maj. Dave Jones, a USTRANSCOM JTF-PO concept developer, said the exercise provided an opportunity to demonstrate the JTF-PO capability in real time conditions.

“During Bright Star, the JTF-PO must quickly assess the airfield’s capabilities and get it opened,” Jones said. “The exercise forces and cargo will be arriving and will need to be moved forward to their exercise destinations.”

Historically, the deployment and distribution process would experience lags between the initial occupation of a port and the subsequent support phases. JTF-PO is intended to bridge that gap.

“We get people, equipment, and supplies to ports of debarkation pretty well. What has been lacking in the past was the establishment of a distribution system that addressed onward movement of material off the airfield and which generated immediate visibility to the Combatant Commander (COCOM) or the JTF Commander of the new distribution node,” said Rear Admiral Marc Purcell, USTRANSCOM’s Director of Strategy, Plans, Policy and Programs. The addition of Army forces to the JTF-PO is designed to address that problem.

Purcell said another key attribute of this concept is the ability to deploy the initial port opening forces within hours of notification, solely on the authority of the USTRANSCOM Commander.

“The response will be immediate and will only require that the Geographic COCOM ask USTRANSCOM that the capability be deployed,” he said.

In general, JTF-PO can be tasked to support any mission requirement ranging from an uncertain threat environment to a humanitarian operation. “The size of the task force will be tailored to the Supported Commander’s requirements,” said Purcell.

“If some of the capabilities can be provided by the host nation, or are not required, then we can tailor our force and mission requirements around that,” Purcell added.

For Bright Star, the JTF-PO successfully combined Air Force and Army capabilities and deployed as a single unit from McGuire AFB, NJ. Col. Lloyd Moon, JTF-PO Commander and 816 Contingency Response Group Commander, touted the effort, “This is a powerful first step towards fusing unique Service capabilities into one rapidly deployable unit. It is very apparent that we all stand to gain a lot from this new initiative.”

“Joining forces between the Army and Air Force allows us to get the resources off the airfield sooner and smarter. That’s important, especially in the initial phases of any effort,” stated Maj. Kenneth King, JTF-PO’s Surface Element lead and U.S. Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s Deputy Director for Command Transformation Integration Office.

“Bright Star was a great venue for demonstrating this enhanced capability to support the warfighter”, stated Moon. “By integrating the two Service components, we created a synergy in cargo movement and passenger processing. Those efficiencies resulted in expeditious delivery of combat troops and their equipment…that’s what the Combatant Commander expects.”

Because of those synergistic efficiencies, the JTF-PO was able to receive and move 1,075 tons of cargo and 2,797 passengers, and receive 60 US and Coalition aircraft from August 23 to September 5.

“This was a unique experience being on the ground floor of an initiative that is sure to be incorporated into future joint operations,” added King.

During Bright Star, planners focused only on airfield ports of debarkation and moving cargo and passengers into the theater distribution process, but they emphasize that this concept applies equally to the initial opening of seaports as well.

Office of Public Affairs - transcom-pa@mail.mil
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