War on Terrorism

Friday, February 19, 2010

Guardsman Uses Civilian Skills to Improve Convoy Routes

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 19, 2010 - An Oregon National Guard member, who is a line-haul driver for Federal Express in his civilian job, is helping to improve the convoy routes for military logisticians in Iraq. "I was asked to assist with developing new routes for soldiers in order to make their job more efficient," said Army Sgt. Maj. Ted Carlson, the brigade operations sergeant major for the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Col. Dan Hokanson, the 41st IBCT commander, asked Carlson to be a part of a 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) committee to restructure the convoy escort mission for the entire theater of Iraq.

"I was looking at the route system back in September and thought it didn't make any sense," said Hokanson. "I asked Sgt. Maj. Carlson what FedEx would do to deliver packages here and to implement that plan into a proposal to send to the 13th ESC."

Carlson, who has 17 years of experience driving long routes at his civilian job, traveled to different bases throughout Iraq and examined their dispatch systems for convoy missions, as well as the specific routes each unit was using.

Carlson also examined the current route structure and determined that doing it the FedEx way would be the most efficient course of action. Units in each area will only travel in a small hub and use a relay system to get equipment and supplies to their destinations.

"The smaller route loops will allow soldiers to become experts in their local areas," Carlson said. "They will know every pothole in the road, and it will be easier to detect changes and IED placements."

Carlson explained that since the biggest mission in Iraq today is convoy escort, streamlining the routes will pave the way for the drawdown of troops, as there will be less people needed to do the work.

"Changing the transportation structure to a civilian-based system also will benefit the Iraqis after we are gone," he said. "Whether they know it or not, soldiers are training the local national drivers during every single mission on how to run a transportation company."

Having smaller route hubs also allows soldiers to tailor their equipment sets, memorize the medevac call signs and frequencies for their area, and have more consistency in their missions.

"Feb. 4 was the first trial run," Carlson said. "We probably won't see this come to full fruition until this summer, so the unit that replaces those of us that are leaving should benefit from the work we put into this plan."

"Carlson's expertise is unmatched, and we needed his vision to improve how we operate," Hokanson said.

Carlson said he was happy to use his civilian skills during his Iraq deployment.

"This is what makes the National Guard special," he said. "Our civilian job expertise can help make the Army better."

(Story courtesy of 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.)

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