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839th Transportation Battalion

The 839th Transportation assigned to the Military Traffic Management Command and runs all the seaports supporting U.S. military operations throughout the Mediterranean. The 839th Transportation Bn. is stationed in Stagno, Italy, three miles from the main post at Livorno.

The military transportation units of the Military Traffic Management Command have become more uniform in size and composition. The changes in existing MTMC units are sweeping in scope. The ideas for the changes came from MTMC's commanders themselves. At the same time, the changes reflect reduction in layering and the great use of computer automation. The proposal called for changes in the size and structure of most of the Military Traffic Management Command's 25 transportation unit locations in the United States and around the world. Implementation of the proposal was complete by 30 September 2001. MTMC battalions were reorganized into standard 26-member organizations. The battalion's subordinate company and detachment units were also affected. The MTMC Battalion Evaluation Group selected 26 as an optimum number for a water port concentrating on the core missions of terminal operations and traffic management. The 839th Transportation Battalion, Livorno, Italy, gained nine positions. The unit gained one civilian and 11 foreign national workers -- it lost one officer and two soldiers.

The 839th Transportation Battalion is in direct support of Task Force Rijeka, which has overall responsibility for the reception, staging, and onward movement of forces deploying through Rijeka. Task Force Rijeka is an element of the 21st Theater Support Command (Provisional). The Task Force provides for all life support and port support activities at Rijeka, in addition to normal command and control.

US military and Italian civilian transportation and documentation experts from MTMC's 839th Transportation Battalion, based out of Livorno, Italy supported Operation Joint Forge, SFOR6 in Rijeka Croatia. They were responsible for the simultaneous unloading of the MV Saudi Taif, a Saudi Arabian roll-on/roll-off vessel contracted by the Military Sealift Command, and the initial staging of the 10th Mountain Division equipment in the port of Rijeka. The ship arrived on 20 August 1999 and departed on August 22, 1999. The equipment left Rijeka by rail. The rail upload, coordination with the port customs, and the preparation of all necessary cargo documentation were also vital parts of their mission. To accomplish this mission, the 839th Transportation Battalion employed members from all elements of the command, to include each of its subordinate Companies, the 953rd Tranportation Company based in Greece and the 952nd Transportation Company based in the Azores.

The cargo aboard the MV Saudi Taif consisted of the main body of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division Combat Team which relieved the 1st Cavalry Division Brigade Combat Team which had been in Bosnia since March 1999. The MV Saudi Taif was loaded by the 600th Trans Group in Howland Hook, New Jersey. The cargo consisted of 453 pieces. This total included 106 wheeled vehicles such as track vehicles, cargo trucks and trailers, engineer equipment, 185 shipping containers, and 56 Apache, Black Hawk and Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The cargo was discharged in two ways. Vehicles, helicopters and break bulk cargo loaded below the ship's "weather deck" moved off the ship via the stern ramp. This is what is known as 'RORO' way (roll-on/roll-off) operations. Simultaneously, containers and other selected equipment loaded on the vessel's top or "weather deck", are lifted off in what are termed 'LOLO' (lift-on/lift-off) operations.

The transporters with the 839th Transportation Battalion, Livorno, Italy, made Army history 22 February 2000 and slightly over three weeks earlier when they unloaded the Saudi Abha and the Lara Bay, respectively. That's because for the first time since the Army began the mission in late 1995, a National Guard unit made up a sizeable portion of the peacekeeping force. It is also the first time a National Guard headquarters organization will command Multinational Division (North) and Task Force Eagle. The Military Traffic Management Command has loaded and discharged many ships at Rijeka, Croatia, since the summer of 1998. That was when the movement of peacekeeping troops was shifted from a northern European land route to a more efficient, Adriatic Sea entry point.

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