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The security you provide for critical cargoes moving through logistical systems to tactical units can be critical to the tactical commander's success in battle. During transporting, storing, and transloading, critical cargoes are at great risk to sabotage, diversion, and theft.

Traditionally, TA MP security companies provide the specialized security needed to protect rail, pipeline, and port cargoes.

If a TA MP security company is not yet present in a theater, security for key, nonredundant parts of cargo transport systems is likely to be provided by a combination of--

  • US forces already located near the cargo, facility, or system at risk.
  • HN forces under a government agreement.
  • Subordinate units of the TA arriving in-theater for that purpose.

Army units in the area (if they are not themselves priority targets) are located along critical parts of the systems when they can be. Their self-defense takes in the defense of the nearby system. TAACOM MP intensify their area security efforts. And, whenever possible, Army aviation keeps watch on the railway and pipeline systems from the air. (No matter who provides the specialized security, all efforts are integrated with MP area security measures for that AO.)

But until a TA's special-purpose MP units arrive, the responsibility for security of critical cargoes is likely to be tasked by the echelon commander to MP units operating in the area of concern. If you are in a TAACOM MP element tasked to provide security for critical cargoes you must focus your efforts on increasing security most in areas of greatest risk. Set up checkpoints and roadblocks throughout the AO. Have recon and security patrols monitor key areas outside ports and along railways and pipelines. Patrols should be random but frequent. Loading areas, bridges, pumping stations, remote switching points, refueling and rewatering points, or any nonredundant feature that requires a fairly long repair time are checked often. And security patrols screen critical points to provide security in depth.


If a TAACOM MP unit must provide security for cargoes in port, the main effort must be to provide security from the perimeter of the port outward. Security measures should focus on aggressive patrolling to detect, report, and, if need be, combat enemy threats. Measures may include--

  • Conducting route and area recon patrols.
  • Developing criminal intelligence in the AO.
  • Controlling traffic in the area surrounding the port.
  • Conducting mounted or dismounted patrols, with MWDs if available, around the port perimeter.
  • Watching for penetrations into the port.
  • Watching for diversions of supplies out of the port.
  • Providing a response force to react to incidents inside the port perimeter.
  • Providing observation and early warning of Threat ground and air attacks.

On occasion you may have to safeguard highly critical cargo inside a port perimeter. The type and degree of security you provide is based on--

  • Types and values of cargoes stored on the wharves.
  • The degree of risk for theft, pilferage, and sabotage.
  • Their vulnerability to a land threat.
  • Its risk to theft or diversion by military personnel, local workers, black marketeers, or enemy agents.
  • Location and nature of the port facilities.
  • HN agreements.
  • Your degree of ingress and egress control.

If you must provide security for a cargo, focus on providing a security overwatch for the cargo as it moves from port to the combat area. Inside a port's perimeter, limit access to cargoes by--

  • Operating random mounted or dismounted patrols (with MWDs).
  • Using the combined patrols as a response force for incidents inside the perimeter.
  • Controlling access to the most restricted areas.

Focus your effort on keeping safe the most critical cargoes waiting for or being transferred to land transport.

To safeguard stored cargo--

  • Check passes and badges of persons entering or leaving the terminal.
  • Direct persons without proper passes to the identification section.
  • Search bundles and packages being taken from the area.
  • Examine trip tickets and documentation of cargo vehicles.
  • Issue and check badges of persons entering or leaving restricted areas like wharf sheds, vessels, and ammunition areas.

If the restricted area is a pier, you must be able to control access from the water as well as from the land. You can control entry on the landward side of a pier with fencing. But the part of the pier that protrudes over the water is accessible from the sides and from below. You can limit access to a pier along its water boundaries with--

  • Patrols.
  • Protective lighting.
  • Booms.
  • Nets.

Sometimes it is best to just close off the water side of a pier. A floating boom will keep small boats out. And suspending a cable or chain link net from the boom will deny access underwater.

To keep cargo secure during transfer from one transport method to another, control the traffic moving in and out of cargo handling areas. You can--

  • Set up a single access control point.
  • Erect field-expedient barriers. Use truck trailers or other large vehicles to constrict the traffic flow if permanent barriers are not in place.
  • Limit entry to transporters and material handling vehicles and equipment and to maintenance and essential administrative vehicles.

If gates are used by other than cargo vehicles, provide a "turnout." Cargo vehicles can pull into it while they are being checked. Be sure the turnout is large enough to handle the volume and size of traffic. A wooden deck or platform at, or slightly higher than, the level of the truck bed hastens checking. It makes it easier to see the cargo. The platform should be as long as the vehicles being used. (You could use an empty flatbed trailer.)

Cargo is less likely to be diverted if you keep a close watch on cargo documentation and container safety. Containerized cargo is less likely to be stolen or sabotaged. But you must watch closely as containers are filled and sealed for storage or shipment. Cargo can be pilfered before the seal is applied. An unsealed container can be moved to a stacking area. Or someone may apply a false seal, break the seal later, remove cargo, and then apply a legitimate seal.

At access control points--

  • Inspect inbound and outbound containers. Look for signs of damage or unserviceability.
  • Inspect containers for the presence of seals and/or locks and hinges. Check their condition.
  • Allow only containers with valid documents to pass inbound or outbound through the control point.
  • Verify that the document's transporter number, container number, and container seal number match those numbers on the transportation control and movement document. (Check seals by handling them, not simply by a visual check.)


Sometimes TRANSCOM MP security companies are not available to provide on-board train security for a critical cargo. When this occurs, the echelon commander may task TAACOM MP or other US forces to ride with a train and its crew.

The train crew and the on-board train security force must get the train to its destination with its freight intact. The train commander is responsible for the operation and security of the train. He makes all decisions affecting the train. The security force commander is responsible for security of the cargo. The train crew and security force watch for and report any discrepancies or interruption to normal procedures at anytime during the movement. Information about the movement is usually sent along the movement route by the chief dispatcher through a telephone circuit. This integrates high-priority shipments into the movements program.


Most train crews have an engineer, a conductor, a fireman, a senior brakeman, and a brakeman or flagman. The crew controls the train. The conductor is the train commander unless a transportation railway service officer is assigned to that train.


When TRANSCOM MP provide security for a train, the same security forces and train crews, as much as possible, work together on every run. Sometimes a four-man security force is enough to secure cars having sensitive freight. But additional security forces may be needed for movement of critical cargo. In addition to a US military security force, the shipper or loading agency may send specially trained personnel with highly sensitive cargo.

The names of the security force, like the names of the train crew are listed on the dispatcher's roster. The number of men in a train security force depends on the--

  • Sensitivity of the freight.
  • Priority of need for the freight.
  • Terrain over which the train will pass.
  • Length of the train.
  • Duration of the trip.
  • Degree of enemy threat.


When planning on-board cargo security--

  • Obtain the time schedule for the rail movement.
  • Make a map recon of the route.
  • Plot locations and note radio frequencies and call signs of MP units and other friendly forces operating in the area along the route.
  • Obtain and review intelligence reports.
  • Plan actions at scheduled stops and relief points, deploying forces according to these plans.
  • Plan to communicate with friendly units as the train enters their AO.


Security forces prepare and maintain a record by car number of guarded cars in the train. Security forces can ride in--

  • The car to be protected.
  • A caboose.
  • A security car. (If only one, it should be near the center of the train; if more than one, the cars should be spaced to provide the best protection for the train.)

Place security forces where they can continuously observe and protect the flatcars or gondolas carrying sensitive or easily pilfered freight. Have them note and report immediately--

  • Irregularities in procedures.
  • The presence and/or actions of unauthorized persons.
  • Deficiencies and/or incidents that occur.

Cargo is sealed inside railway cars during travel. A seal shows that a car has been loaded and inspected. (It can also reveal tampering. You must maintain rigid accountability of seals to prevent the undetected replacement of an original seal with another.)

Usually a railway car door is sealed with a soft metal strap seal or a cable seal. The seal is numbered. The cargo is protected by securing the car's locking eyes with a heavy duty padlock or a tightly twisted length of heavy wire with closely clipped ends. (Padlocks tend to advertise valuable cargo.) You should--

  • Constantly check doors, seals, wires, and locks for tampering.
  • Check the seals on cars when the train stops and before it starts again.
  • Check the train on both sides. Coordinate this carefully with the train crew.
  • Verify that seals, locks, and wires are intact. Report a broken seal immediately. This helps pinpoint the time and place of the theft.
  • Check for damage to the cars. Watch for overheating journal boxes. They can damage the axles.

If a car is set out on a siding because of a defect, a team from the security force must stay with the car until it is unloaded or repaired.

Your responsibility for the cargo ends when the loaded cars are delivered at their designated depot, siding, or track. When the trip is completed, the receiver or his agent inspects the secured cars. Obtain a receipt for the secured cars. Attach it to your trip report. Include--

  • Dates and times of the start and the end of a trip.
  • Recommendations for correcting deficiencies or for improving future security on trains.
  • Information required by local or command directive.

If your security force is relieved by another security force while en route, jointly inspect the guarded cars. Have the relief forces sign the record being kept on the guarded cars. Careful documentation is essential--

  • For the security of shipments.
  • To locate cars with critical cargo.
  • To ensure priority movements can be authorized.

Transportation movement officers are responsible for the completeness, correctness, and proper handling of waybills. For more information on security of railways and rail cargo, see FM 55-20.


Pipeline systems are widely used in a theater of operations to transport bulk petroleum or other liquids. Such systems are open to a number of security threats from point of entry to point of final delivery. Pipeline systems are composed of storage and dispersing facilities, pump stations, and extended pipelines. They also include discharging facilities for tankers at ports.

The type and extent of risk to a pipeline varies with the level of conflict in the AO. In a COMMZ the chief hazard is likely to be pilferage. The risk rises if gasoline is scarce and expensive on the civilian market. Sabotage is a security hazard during all levels of conflict. Saboteurs can--

  • Open pipe flanges.
  • Cut hoses.
  • Set fires and cause explosions to destroy portions of a line.

In areas of greater conflict, the likelihood of sabotage and interdiction increase. Pipeline systems are vulnerable to air attacks, especially--

  • Above-ground sections of the pipeline.
  • Pump stations.
  • Storage facilities.

Isolated parts of a pipeline are at great risk to enemy, terrorist, partisan, and ground attack. Pumping stations often are remote from supporting units. The pumping machinery or the entire station is vulnerable to sabotage. Set up patrols to screen isolated areas and remote nonredundant pumping stations. Sensors should also be considered, along with aerial security provided by Army Aviation. Tie in with all available supporting forces. Coordinate your efforts with HN and MP elements responsible for the AO.

Stay in touch with the echelon's petroleum officer. Be aware of the status of the pipeline. Information on line breaks, leakage, and other problems will help you evaluate risk and decide your response.

On security patrol--

  • Detect, report, and respond to attacks on or sabotage of the pipeline.
  • Monitor critical parts of the pipeline on a routine but random basis.
  • Monitor ground sensors and other intrusion detection devices. These are often used at pump stations and elsewhere along the pipeline to detect and identify threats to the system.
  • Check line pressure devices in pipeline and pumping facilities. The devices monitor the flow and detect breaks in the line. Gasoline can be pilfered from hoselines by--

--Loosening the couplings between sections of hose.

--Cutting holes in the hoseline.

--Tapping at loosened flange bolts that join the sections of pipe and--

    • Draining through the opening into containers of any type (depending on space available beneath the pipe).
    • Letting it drain into a hole dug under the line and then transferring it from the hole to containers.

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