USARAF holds initial Africa Transportation Forum

The mobility section of U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), G4, holds initial U.S. Army Africa Transportation forum in Garmisch, Germany, June 11-13.



By 1st Lt. Ian B. Shay USARAF Vicenza, Italy Jun 21, 2019
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GARMISCH, Germany – The mobility section of U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), G4, holds initial U.S. Army Africa Transportation forum in Garmisch, Germany, June 11-13. The forum offered unique training and insight to U.S. Army Africa Command, U.S. Army Africa, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Command, Special Operations Command Africa, and U.S. Air Force service members, and to more than a dozen civilian commercial carriers.

The three-day symposium included a forum on the operating risks within Africa, question and answer sessions, and breakout sessions focusing on customs, the West Africa Logistics Network (WALN), commercial theater entry and commercial carrier engagements. Altogether, more than 50 commercial carrier representatives were there to share ideas and solutions about working in the African environment.

 “Our purpose and goal is to set the theater for U.S. Army Africa,” said Kory D. Buckhout, the USARAF mobility division chief, who organized the event. “We want to gain access via diplomatic customs, coordinate with commercial industry to provide the modes and means of transport, and we want to ensure that vetted companies are identified and capable of meeting the needs of the (Department of Defense).”

The symposium kicked off with a panel-style forum discussing the operational risks and hurdles that come with supporting units in Africa. The amount of work it takes to order supplies (i.e. food, water, fuel), package them, schedule transport, load and then ship overseas can be very time consuming and can take over two months to arrive in West Africa once they are loaded on a cargo ship from the United States.

“The distance we have to support is tremendous,” said Navy Lt. Commander Jason Calandruccio, the U.S. Africa Command sustainment branch chief. “Our requirements are supported mainly by elements outside our area of responsibility, and, because of that and certain items’ lead times, it requires certain item requests to be submitted 120 days in advance.”

If a unit misses a deadline for submission, then air shipments are the only choice left in order to meet the shipment deadline. However, when this happens, the cost of transport increases, as air shipment is less cost effective than shipping via cargo ship.

That is why U.S. Army Africa is partnering with commercial carriers, both military and civilian, in leading the charge in order to make challenges like movement transit times, custom clearances, poor road conditions and vehicles that are not properly equipped to haul cargo a thing of the past.

“We do a good job of deploying and re-deploying Soldiers within Africa,” said Erick Holman, the AFRICOM traffic management specialist. “But while in theater, Soldiers need to be sustained with ammunition, fuel, food, all the normal things that we call sustainment. So, it’s the responsibility of AFRICOM as the geographic combatant commander to provide options for intra-theater sustainment requirements.”

“WALN is about standing up and maturing the theater distribution network, so that anyone can use it to move in and out to meet their sustainment needs,” he added.

USARAF G4 understands the importance of sustainment operations in Africa and hopes this forum leads to a greater understanding of operations, smoother logistical processes, faster movement transit times and fewer custom issues.

 “From this forum we would like to develop a WALN user’s guide with information required for units, components or organizations that will ship cargo through this distribution system,” Buckhout said. “We are the broker for all services, so we have the responsibility to provide customs exoneration. We are also drafting a freedom of movement agreement for Tunisia, using this forum to establish open lines of communication in order to benefit all AFRICOM components.”

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