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837th Transportation Battalion

The 837th Transportation Battalion acts as the single U.S. point of contact to the Port Operations Group with responsibility for stow planning, staging area management, supervision of Republic of Korea Army stevedores and general vessel operations safety. In Korea, all ammunition shipments are combined operations. The 837th Transportation Battalion is the Single Port Manager and Republic of Korea Defense Transportation Command Port Operations Group is the port operator for all ammunition vessel operations.

At dawn on 25 June 1950, North Korea attacked across the 38th parallel and began advancing into South Korea, starting the Korean war. United States and United Nations forces quickly rushed to Korea's defense and the 809th Port Command (Provisional) was moved from Japan to Pusan. Pusan port was chartered with the vital mission of receiving the masses of troops and equipment arriving via sealift through the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. This command ultimately controlled all piers within Pusan harbor and seven subports located throughout the country, being redesignated as the 7th Major Port Command in the process.

With the signing of the peace armistice, the military port gradually decreased in size and in 1955 was reorganized as the Pusan Outport, 8132nd Army Unit, 2nd Transportation Terminal Command, with headquarters at Inchon. Most of the control of Pusan harbor was relinquished to the Korean government at this time. The unit was reorganized in 1958 as the U.S. Army Port Pusan, and again in 1960 as the 70th Transportation Battalion (Terminal).

Cargo volume increased during the mid-1960's as Pusan became a major supply staging area and port of embarkation for Korean soldiers in route to the Republic of Vietnam. In 1967, the activity's name changed to U.S. Army Port Operations Pusan. With the 1971 inactivation of the 202nd Transportation Terminal Battalion at Inchon, the Pusan command officially became the single ocean terminal operator within Korea.

The decade of the 1970's witnessed unprecedented growth of the Korean economy and the commercial port of Pusan expanded tremendously. As an integral part of its port modernization plan, in July 1981 the Pusan Port Authority relocated the U.S. military operation from the center of the bustling commercial harbor to the Korean government's newly constructed facility at the present day complex.

On 1 October 1981, Eighth United States Army transferred the headquarters U.S. Army Port Operations-Pusan to the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC). With the passing of the colors, the unit was officially redesignated Military Traffic Management Command Terminal-Pusan. Thus, becoming the last major U.S. Army port worldwide to join the Military Traffic Management Command family.

On 1 January 1993, MTMC Terminal-Pusan was redesignated as the 1317th Medium Port Command. Due to a MTMC initiative, on 1 October 1997, the 1317th Medium Port Command was officially redesignated the 837th U.S. Army Transportation Battalion.

Located approximately 450 km south of Seoul, Pusan is the major port city for U.S. supplies entering Korea. It is also a major target for a chemical attack, officials said. There are known threats here in South Korea because of North Korea's long range scud missile capabilities and possible chemical agents. The probability of North Korea attacking the port with missiles carrying chemical agents is high. The 837th Transportation Battalion may be the only unit in South Korea that provides chemical protection training for Korean civilians. While U.S. troops are familiar with the chemical protection training, Harvey said Korean port workers weren't. Because of this, Korean civilians were somewhat skeptical over the need for such training. It's not easy doing work for three and a half hours in MOPP-4.

Nearly 530,000 U.S. and South Korean troops participated in Foal Eagle 99, one of the world's largest annual military training exercises. The 837th Transportation Battalion, a Military traffic Management Command unit located on Pier 8, Pusan, unloaded unit equipment from the 4th Infantry Division participating in the 1999 annual Combined Forces Command Foal Eagle exercise. The equipment was delivered aboard the United States Naval Ship Cape Knox. Port operations will begin on 10 October 1999. The Cape Knox, a Roll-On/Roll-Off vessel from the Ready Reserve fleet, discharged combat equipment including M1A2 Tanks which will participate in combined field training with the Republic of Korea Army.

The Foal Eagle 99 exercise involved a series of tests to determine the readiness of rear forces, such as the 29 October 1999 simulated chemical attack against the port of Pusan. The 837th conducted a decontamination and Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear exchange with Korean nationals at Pier 8. About 150 soldiers and civilian dockworkers donned chemical protective gear during the mock attack. The drill -- referred to as Port Chemex 00-1 -- tested reactions and decontamination procedures for both soldiers and Korean civilians at the port. The MOPP4-4 drill required workers to don and work in all of the chemical protective gear issued by the military. The dock workers offloaded a Military Sealift Command ship, the Cape Knox, after the 61st Chemical Company decontaminated the pier while working in full chemical protection gear. This is the first time a U.S. Army unit will decontaminate a U.S. Navy vessel. After spending most of the day in full chemical decontamination gear, both the soldiers and Korean nationals were ready to have a breath of fresh air.

On the same day in Seoul, U.S. Forces Korea announced that all DoD civilian employees and family members in South Korea would soon be issued protective masks to improve the command's long-term protective posture. Mission-essential DoD civilians and service members in Korea have for some time been issued protective masks and clothing. The new initiative will provide masks to all civilian employees, their family members, and to the families of all service members. For the past year, civilian longshoremen and even secretaries at Pusan have been practicing how to don gas masks and work in chemical protective gear

Soldiers deployed to the port of Pusan for Foal Eagle were also provided a two-week class on operation of the Gantry crane. This crane actually moves back and forth where as other cranes are stationary.

The Chinhae Ammunition Pier served as the center of gravity for exercise Turbo CADS 99 on the Korean peninsula. MTMC's presence in Chinhae for the operation fosters a bilateral relationship that ensures our capability to sustain the Warfighter. The 837th Transportation Battalion paired up with their Republic of Korea Army transportation counterparts to exercise and train on containerized munitions. With the Korean portion of the exercise occurring during the monsoon season, weather played a role. Most of the operations were conducted in the rain with high winds from Typhoon Olga causing some delay in gantry crane operations. Turbo CADS 99 provided a real-world opportunity to call forward munitions and demonstrate combined U.S.-Republic of Korea containerized munitions handling and transportation operations to a warfighting commander-in-chief. A U.S. Transportation Command sponsored Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise, Turbo CADS 99 is designed to exercise containerized ammunition distribution systems from origin to destination. The 1999 exercise moved 728 containers of ammunition from continental United States depots through the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point and ocean terminal in Guam and the Republic of Korea. Upon arrival, the containers were then moved inland to depots and supply points in each country. Over 800 containers were returned with retrograde munitions. Other U.S. elements included Military Sealift Command - Korea, 6th Ordnance Battalion, 19th TAACOM, 7th U.S Air Force Water Port Liaison Office, 25th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), and the crew of the MV Chesapeake Bay. In addition to the ROK POG, the ROK Transportation Command and Ammunition Support Command provided support for inland movement as well as container operations at the depots.



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