• All About R4D — The new Army AL&T magazine is here

    By Steve Stark

     

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Herculean, monumental, massive, unprecedented — all of these words have been used to describe the undertaking we know as R4D, and the October – December 2013 issue of Army AL&T magazine goes in depth on the effort, underway right now, to retrograde, reset, redeploy, redistribute and dispose of the material accumulated in Afghanistan over more than a decade of war there.

    And it’s ongoing, even as new capabilities, such as Capability Set 13, are being deployed.

    Robots, medical supplies, UAVs, wheeled and tracked vehicles, and much, much more – the effort to scale down our materiel in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 is bringing together nearly every aspect of acquisition, logistics and technology to get it done.

    Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in this issue:

    Exit Strategy — Learn how the experts at Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command are overcoming obstacles to get materiel out of Afghanistan.

    Synchronizing the Force — Army G-8 plays a major role in bringing all of the many players to the table, so we sat down with them to learn how they do it. Read the interview.

    Brainpower Surge — There’s more to the new issue than just R4D, of course. Learn how the U.S. Army Armament, Research, Development and Engineering Center is using its IDEA program to jumpstart innovation.

    Career Corner — Get all the latest on career development.

    Critical Thinking — Our interview this issue is with Amazon’s Jeff Wilke, who provides a host of insights on how Amazon does logistics — no small feat.

    Army AL&T magazine is available in hard copy, online in our e-version, and as an app for your mobile device.

    iTunes (for iPad and iPhone)

    Google Play (Non-Kindle Android Devices)

    Amazon (for Kindle)


     

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  • SDDC teleconference fills void in DOD shipper training, education

    Traffic management specialists assigned to the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Strategic Business Directorate, prepare for the November Shipper Session. The Shipper Sessions were created as a replacement for the SDDC Symposium and Traffic Management Workshop. Both events were cancelled this year in response to Department of Defense guidance that promotes further efficiency and cost consciousness in federal government operations. (Photo Credit: Mr. Mark Diamond, SDDC)

    Mark Diamond

     

    SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill – When the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Training Symposium and Traffic Management Workshop were cancelled this year, a vital link between the command and its customers was severed.

    The symposium and workshop were cancelled in response to Department of Defense guidance that promotes further efficiency and cost consciousness in federal government operations.

    According to SDDC transportation experts, in years past, the symposium and workshop were conduits for the exchange of ideas and, more importantly, an avenue for education, training and policy updates related to the movement of DOD cargo in support of military contingency operations, exercises and humanitarian missions around the world.

    To fill that void, SDDC’s Strategic Business Directorate (G9) recently began communicating with DOD shippers through massive, monthly teleconferences. DOD shippers include transportation and logistics personnel across the military Services and other government agencies, including Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, General Services Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, and more.

    Within the G9 directorate, the Business Integration Branch (part of the Domestic Business Division) is responsible for organizing the monthly Shipper Sessions.

    “With the cancellation of the symposium and training workshop, we had to look at another avenue to engage our customers — to keep them updated, to educate them, to train them — so they can maintain the proper policies and procedures when moving DOD freight,” said Chuck Morgan, Business Integration Branch team lead and acting supervisor.

    Morgan and his team have already conducted two sessions, one in October and another in November. Because of the holidays, no Shipper Session will be held in December; however, he said the service will continue in 2013 with sessions scheduled for January, February and March.

    If the first two Shipper Sessions are any indication, DOD shippers are eager to participate. According to Morgan, more than 100 DOD shippers dialed in during the first session, and more than 50 shippers participated in the November teleconference.

    Jeffery Criger, a traffic management specialist who works for the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Transportation and Distribution Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, attended the October Shipper Session. Because his office is responsible for developing proposals and recommending policy to the Air Staff in all areas of cargo movement, packaging, and cargo funding, he said someone from his office normally attends either the SDDC Symposium or the Traffic Management Workshop.

    “The Air Force applauds SDDC efforts to keep the lines of communication open in response to ever tightening government budgets, which has forced the cancellation of [the symposium and workshop],” Criger said. “Additionally, the training provided and feedback received during these Shipper Sessions is invaluable to the entire DOD Transportation and Distribution community.”

    Criger said he plans to attend future sessions, as well. “Since our office is currently leading the effort among all Air Force major commands to revise the Air Force Cargo Movement Policy, it is imperative that we continue to participate in every Shipper Session offered by SDDC. Moreover, the Air Staff has strongly advocated and publicly endorsed Air Force participation in these Shipper Sessions, from the MAJCOM down to the unit-level.”

    With the cancellation of the SDDC Symposium and Traffic Manager’s Workshop, Morgan said using current technologies to interact with SDDC customers is more important than ever.

    “We need to ensure our shippers are following the correct policies and procedures for shipping DOD freight,” he added. “If they don’t, the result could be damaged cargo, lost or delayed cargo, or other issues that could result in mission failure or additional cost to the government. The more we can educate our shippers, the smoother the process will be; it will be more efficient and more effective.”

    He added that in today’s fiscally challenging environment, the monthly teleconferences are the best option for addressing DOD shippers’ needs. “We know the need [for training and education] is still there, but we don’t have the money, and they don’t have the money. We can’t get to them, and they can’t get to us. Using the Shipper Sessions, we can still provide the training, education and advice our shippers are looking for.”

    DOD shippers interested in attending an SDDC Shipper Session can request a call-in number by e-mailing SDDC’s Business Integration Branch at usarmy.scott.sddc.mbx.workshop-registration@mail.mil. Morgan said his team will respond to each request by providing a call-in number, along with other details, including call-in times and instructions, a schedule of events, links to important or relevant information, and more.

    “It doesn’t matter what [branch of service or government agency] you belong to,” added Morgan. “If you’re a DOD shipper who uses SDDC services, you can participate with us.”

    Morgan said his team will cover two topics per session. The November session featured special requirements, to include rate negotiations and DD Form 1085 (Domestic Freight Routing Request and Order) processing, and the movement of Arms, Ammunition & Explosives and hazardous material. For the January session, he said topics will include carrier performance and Transportation Discrepancy Reports, or TDRs. Morgan said Shipper Session topics were determined based on feedback from a military shipper survey his office distributed prior to the cancellation of the SDDC Symposium.

    He added that identical Shipper Sessions are conducted twice in the same day. A morning session (8 to 10 a.m.) is geared toward customers on the East Coast and in the European and Southwest Asia theaters; and an afternoon session (2 to 4 p.m.) is conducted for customers on the West Coast and in the Pacific theater.

    Each session is attended by every member of the G9 Business Integration Branch, as well as specific SDDC subject matter experts (briefers). According to Morgan, a member of his team begins each session by discussing hot issues, followed by the two main topic briefings (30 to 45 minutes per topic), and every session ends with a question and answer period.

    He also said participants are asked to review the briefing slides and have their questions ready prior to each session. Slides are published on the SDDC website at http://www.sddc.army.mil/GCD/default.aspx. The website also includes example forms, organizational e-mails, and a live FAQ page, which includes questions that have already been asked and answered. Morgan said the FAQ is a “live document” that will continue to grow as the branch receives additional questions during each Shipper Session.

     
     


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  • Small SDDC Branch Provides Big Cost Savings for DOD

    The SRB helps DOD shippers make special transportation arrangements and find the best rates for high-volume or specialized cargo movements, which has saved shippers millions, said SRB Chief Dora Elias, shown here with Richard Cody (left), lead Traffic Management Specialist for the SRB, and Ed Lilly, Traffic Management Specialist, at Scott Air Force Base, IL. (Photos by Mitch Chandran, SDDC Public Affairs)

    Mitch Chandran

    For DOD shippers who need to move specialized and
    large-volume cargo domestically, the Special Requirements Branch (SRB) of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) is a one-stop shop for finding the right rate and transportation mode.

    The branch, part of SDDC’s Strategic Business Directorate, wants DOD shippers with special requirements to know that not all rates are equal and that they will help find cost-efficient transportation solutions. The branch specializes in arranging transportation for oversize, overweight, and high-volume cargo movements.

    Dora Elias, SRB Chief, and her team of 11 transportation experts partner with commercial industry’s truck, rail, barge, and pipeline carriers daily on behalf of shippers to secure special rates for an array of agencies including the Defense Contract Management Agency, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Life Cycle Management Command, Defense Logistics Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and White House Communications Agency.

    “As an example,” Elias said, “Defense Contract Management Agency would come to us with a volume move of a few dozen Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. We, in turn, have the avenues and would find the best domestic rates to accommodate their move, which in the long run helps them save money.”

    “As long as we can find out our shipper’s requirements a little in advance, then we can start scheduling transportation to meet their needs. Also, we can set up long-term options and provide consistent rates to our customers.”

    “We make the process really simple for shippers,” said Richard Cody, lead Traffic Management Specialist. “A shipper calls us and gives us their requirements: delivery date, weight, dimensions, volume, etc. We’ll draw up the request letters and send them to various carriers. detailing a shipper’s requirements, to obtain their rates. Once we get responses back, we’ll offer our recommendations back to the shippers and go from there.”

    Expanding Options
    Elias said the branch is exploring more commercial rail options to offer shippers.

    SDDC owns more than 2,000 flatcars and special-purpose railcars of varying lengths and weight capacities to accommodate almost any cargo the department needs to move. The DODX-marked railcars make up the command’s Defense Freight Railway Interchange Fleet. Here, military vehicles loaded onto DODX and commercial flatcars await transport from Fort Hood to multiple locations.

    “So far, within the last five months, our branch has helped DOD shippers save $4.6 million by using rail for a majority of domestic movements,” she said. “We deal with a lot of the volume move requests, and across-the-board savings really add up quick. If more organizations came to us for help with their transportation needs, I’m confident we would realize even more cost savings.

    “We can help local transportation offices to help themselves in meeting customer requirements. Likewise, we’re challenging some of our industry partners for more competitive rates.”

    Commercial freight cars are always an option for moving cargo, but the industry has weight and size limitations. When DOD shipping requirements exceed commercial freight car limits, SDDC has an in-house solution.

    “So far, within the last five months, our branch has helped DOD shippers save $4.6 million by using rail for a majority of domestic movements.”

    The command’s Defense Freight Railway Interchange Fleet comprises more than 2,000 DODX-marked flat and special-purpose railcars of varying lengths and weight capacities to accommodate almost any cargo the department needs to move. The fleet includes chemical tank, refrigerated, and boxcars along with heavy-duty flatcars with a capacity of up to 300 tons.

    “Owning this rail fleet provides DOD with immediate accessibility for moving volume and overweight cargo,” said George Gounley, Chief of SDDC’s Rail Fleet Management Branch.

    A Satisfied Customer
    In July, the SRB was involved in arranging transportation for a large volume of oversize vehicles, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and M-1 Abrams tanks from Fort Hood, TX, to multiple locations around the country. SDDC used both commercial and DODX rail cars to move all the vehicles.

    Renee Roper, Transportation Assistant for the Fort Hood Transportation Office, worked through the SRB to arrange this movement.

    “It makes more sense anytime we can get two huge vehicles onto one railcar,” Roper said. “Arranging the transportation for all these vehicles is very easy for us. We simply fill out the paperwork with the details, send it to SDDC, and they pretty much arrange the rest and make it work. It’s really painless for us.”

    Roper added that by using technology to streamline the shipper’s request process, she can devote more time to other aspects of her job.

    “As long as we can find out our shipper’s requirements a little in advance, then we can start scheduling transportation to meet their needs,” Elias said. “Also, we can set up long-term options and provide consistent rates to our customers.”

    For more information, contact SRB General Service at 618-220-4513.

     


    • MITCH CHANDRAN, a DA civilian employee, is a Public Affairs Specialist for Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. He holds a B.B.A. in business management from the University of Central Oklahoma.

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  • SDDC Advances Quality Assurance Checks and Balances

    Traffic Management Specialist Kathy Baker (center) in SDDC’s Quality Assurance Branch makes procedural modifications with (from left) co-workers Maureen Carlo, Michele Florence, Monica Rodriquez, and Janet Eversgerd. The branch has the mission of evaluating commercial motor carriers carrying government cargo and ensuring that they comply with DOT and DOD rules and regulations. (U.S. Army photo)

    Mitch Chandran

    With budgetary uncertainty looming, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s (SDDC’s) Quality Assurance Branch is focusing its efforts now to advance its processes and gain efficiencies.

    The branch, part of the Strategic Business Directorate, is responsible for evaluating and monitoring more than 1,200 motor carriers from the transportation industry that are approved to transport government cargo for DOD shippers. SDDC provides expeditionary and sustained end-to-end deployment and distribution solutions for surface shipping of DOD equipment and supplies to warfighters worldwide.

    “Our office fields about 10,000 questions each year from service members and carriers with questions ranging from detention fees to fraud, waste, and abuse.”

    Branch Chief Maureen Carlo and her team of 10 transportation experts manage myriad programs designed to ensure that carriers doing business with the government comply with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and DOD rules and regulations. If not, branch personnel inform carriers of their substandard performance. If such performance is left unchecked, the branch processes company “non-use” and “disqualification” standing on the DOD approved carrier list.

    Many Ways to Monitor
    Managing more than 1,200 carriers for compliance is no easy task. Branch members use a variety of checklists and programs to validate carriers, including Freight Carrier Registration; Compliance Safety and Accountability; performance bonds; truck insurance; DOT sites; National Motor Freight Traffic Association sites; U.S. Bank; and mapping and review programs.

    “We are able to do in-depth checks and are finding discrepancies,” Carlo said. “At the same time, we are exploring ways to gain more efficiency in our office and the way we do our job.”

    “When we did our first review of 1,800 carriers in early 2011, we found quite a few that did not meet the qualification requirements for one reason or another,” said Kathy Baker, Traffic Management Specialist for the Quality Assurance Branch.

    “After completing our first review last year,” Carlo added, “we recommended disqualification of about 300 carriers from doing business with the government for substandard performance or qualifications.” Carriers that remain cognizant of their operations can minimize the chance of losing their government contracts.

    Compliance Safety and Accountability is a program designed to gain efficiencies from DOT’s database by looking for compliance or trends in the motor carrier’s performance history. For carriers with questionable scores in tracked categories, the branch asks the carrier to explain what it is doing to fix or improve its scores.

    DOT initiated this program in 2010, and the command adopted the program for its review process last year.

    “Prior to 2010,” Carlo added, “DOT had a rating program called Safer System, which gave us a good, conditional, or satisfactory rating for the carriers. Now, DOT has revised the program to rate carriers. Also, industry is really working with DOT to make it a better program.”

    Levels of Compliance
    The Quality Assurance Branch also maintains a detailed compliance program for carriers that transport arms, ammunition; and explosives and other sensitive government cargo.

    “Although the process is the same, we keep the Transportation, Safety and Security program separate because of the need to maintain higher compliance for safety,” Carlo said. “We inspect about 65 carriers a month. This includes corporate and no-notice inspections as well.”

    “After completing our first review last year, we recommended disqualification of about 300 carriers from doing business with the government for substandard performance or qualifications.”

    The branch also monitors validation of truck drivers’ insurance. SDDC requires trucking companies to maintain $150,000 in cargo insurance on each truck used to move government cargo. Using Lean Six Sigma, the branch “created a project to study and improve our monitoring processes, which is helping us to advance our efficiencies,” Carlo said.

    The branch also helps shippers when carriers exhibit poor performance or are negligent with government cargo. Branch members write carrier performance letters, letters of warning, or letters placing a carrier in a non-use status for up to 90 days. The branch can issue nationwide carrier performance action letters for multiple or severe infractions, or hold a transportation review board, a formal meeting with subpar-performing carriers to determine cause, effects, and solutions to performance problems as well as whether probation, suspension, or disqualification is in order.

    The branch also manages the DOD Government Cargo Recovery Effort, coordinating, reviewing, analyzing, and disseminating performance data to the military services, agency representatives, committee members, carriers, and SDDC staff.

    “An incident happened about three years ago involving an Air Force item that was being shipped and ended up getting lost,” Carlo said. “We started reviewing the process, and after making changes, we actually gained efficiency to where the carriers are now calling us with items they find. Also, the shipping community is now making quarterly contact with local warehouses and installations.”

    Assisting Shippers
    The branch’s mission is more than compliance checks, however. The branch wants shippers and carriers to know also it is there to help.

    The branch participates in transportation freight workshops for government shippers and carriers, to enhance and promote sound traffic management business practices. The team also fields questions from shippers and industry throughout the year, provides guidance, and clears up disputes.

    “Our office fields about 10,000 questions each year from service members and carriers with questions ranging from detention fees to fraud, waste, and abuse,” Carlo said.

    “As an example,” she added, “a carrier may arrive at an installation with cargo and, for one reason or another, can’t offload their truck. So the carrier has to leave. We’ll answer questions like, is the carrier entitled to storage? Or, is the carrier entitled to detention or re-consignment fees? We’ll examine the paperwork involved in each query, talk to both parties if necessary, and recommend a solution.”

    Carlo said the branch has made great strides in improving its processes since its 2010 relocation from Fort Eustis, VA, to Scott Air Force Base, IL.

    SDDC provides expeditionary and sustained end-to-end deployment and distribution solutions for surface shipping of DoD equipment and supplies to Warfighters worldwide.

     


    • MITCH CHANDRAN, a DA civilian employee, is a Public Affairs Specialist for Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. He holds a B.B.A. in business management from the University of Central Oklahoma.

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