Trains get gear on track for exercise Ssang Yong
GWANGYANG, Republic of Korea -- U.S. service members working in conjunction with Republic of Korea contractors loaded combat heavy equipment onto rail cars March 22 at the Gwangyang port and rail station in the Republic of Korea during exercise Freedom Banner 2014 to support exercise Ssang Yong 14.
Ssang Yong 14 is a large scale combined amphibious exercise, incorporating more than 13,000 U.S. and ROK Navy-Marine and Australian Army forces, which effectively demonstrates the unique abilities of a forward-deployed Marine air-ground task force.
“Logistically this connects a lot of dots, all these dots fit into a huge puzzle and the culminating portion of the puzzle will be during the execution of this exercise,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. David A. Adames, motor transportation operations chief with G-4, supply and logistics, III MEF Command Element.
The equipment’s final destination is Pohang where it will support for the Ssang Yong amphibious landing and follow-on training. The process of moving the equipment to the rail cars from the staging lot involved multiple personnel and additional heavy equipment systems.
“Today we have U.S. and ROK military and contractors working with the U.S. Marines to move four M1A1 Abrams tanks and one M-88 Hercules recovery vehicle,” said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Jayme L. Carlstrom, the landing force support party detachment officer in charge with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
More than 320 tons of equipment were offloaded from the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo maritime prepositioning force ship. Each piece was carefully placed on lowboy trucks operated by local contractors and transported to the Gwangyang train station. Next, operators used a ramp system to load each vehicle onto cars where joint ROK-U.S. team secured the items using chains and grips.
“First the unit that needs to move vehicles and equipment tells us what their requirements are and then we, as the Marine air-ground task force movement control center and mobile deployment distributions operations center, fill in the blank for what the unit might not know as far as logistical requirements such as ramps or how to transport the equipment from the staging lot to the rail cars,” said Adames. “We take care of the forklifts, the carts, the lowboys and all the paperwork that goes with that, and then we submit it all to the U.S. Army’s 25th Transportation Battalion who then coordinates additional support we may need such as private contractors.”
Although the execution of the amphibious assault during exercise Ssang Yong 14 may occur in a single day, it can take much more time planning to ensure the equipment necessary for the success of the exercise is in the right place at the right time, according to Adames.
The planning and logistical aspects of loading U.S. Marine Corps equipment on U.S. Army rail cars in ROK stands as a testament to the cooperation between the U.S. Marine Corps and joint services, and more importantly, the interoperability of the U.S. and ROK.
Coordinating between so many individuals and organizations to move the equipment in support of exercises in the Republic of Korea is a tribute to the Marine Corps expeditionary heritage and global reach capabilities.
“I would say we’ve been successful today,” said Carlstrom. “This is a small piece in the larger workings and it’s shown that we do have the capabilities we claim to have – we can get where we need to be with troops and equipment and get the job done.”