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Vehicle swap mission saves Army money

January 2, 2013

By Jean Dubiel, Fort Polk Guardian editor

FORT POLK, La. (Jan. 2, 2012) -- The idea was simple enough: Fort Hood, Texas, had a crane destined for Fort Polk. Fort Polk had 12 Humvees destined for Fort Hood.

Rather than incur the cost of private shipping lines, contractors and piles of paperwork, not to mention scheduling that could take several weeks to work out, Mario Sorce, logistics readiness specialist for the Joint Readiness Training Center G4 (logistics), saw an opportunity to not only reduce that cost but also provide valuable training.

'When I recognized the (opportunity), I got in touch with III Corps and Fort Polk's G4 to see what could be worked out,' said Sorce.

Once the mission was given a green light from III Corps, Fort Polk and Fort Hood, the 154th Transportation Company and 96th Transportation Company, both of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, Fort Hood, were tasked with bringing the 2.5-ton crane and a large generator to Fort Polk via heavy equipment transports, or HETs, which are large, multi-axle vehicles fitted with crane arms and sliding decks for loading vehicles. The Fort Hood drivers were all newly trained and this mission helped them become more familiar with the trucks and their loading procedures.

The crane was destined for the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and the generator for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Once the crane and generator were unloaded, 12 Humvees from Fort Polk's 519th Military Police Battalion were loaded onto the HETs for the trip back to Fort Hood, where they would be given to the 1st Cavalry Division.

The training benefit of this endeavor was clear, but an underlying principle was also at work: An Army initiative known as the 'Logistical Suport Operations Center,' or LSOC, which is intended to reduce the Army's dependency on civilian contractors, save money and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Army logistics.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason, Headquarters Department of the Army, deputy chief of staff, G4, explained the basics of the LSOC initiative during an Army Logistics conference in Austin, Texas, in January.

Mason said that while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, expeditionary sustainment commands, or ESCs, control sustainment brigades in theater, but at home higher headquarters units that are not logistics-oriented control these brigades.

LSOC, according to Mason, creates a formal mentorship relationship between the ESCs and other logistics units to help with training, mission support and overall coordination and communication between units.

The end result equals a cost savings with the added benefit of real-world missions to support ongoing training.

In the Fort Hood/Fort Polk vehicle swap mission, this goal was achieved.

'This is proof positive that the concept of the LSOC can work,' said Sorce.

Sgt. Maj. Benny Valdez, Sorce's military counterpart at Fort Polk's G4, agrees.

'This (venture) puts Fort Polk on the map with Major General John O'Conner, FORSCOM deputy chief of staff, G4,' said Valdez. 'It is a test of systems that not only track the ongoing mission in real time, but also prepares (units) for real world missions once deployed.'

The additional benefit is the cost savings.

'It really helps us utilize funding for transporting equipment,' said 1st Lt. Jesse Kangas, convoy commander, 96th Trans Co. 'When you add in the (HET driver) training, it accomplishes two things at once.'

Sorce said he predicts there will be more lateral transfers of assets between installations as the LSOC initiative grows in its implementation Army-wide.

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