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Appendix G

Rail Guards and Supercargoes

Cargo guards or escorts maintain surveillance over the military equipment during the journey and notify railroad personnel of any problems. The rail cargo escorts help railroad personnel protect and maintain security of Army equipment loaded aboard trains and protect US Army interests.
A copy of the trip itinerary is given to the cargo escort supervisor. It includes the rail routing by specific rail companies, interchange points, and stop off points within a given rail line. The escorts are given portable radios to maintain communication with escort supervisors and other escorts.
Guards/escorts may ride in the locomotive. This eliminates the need for placing an additional caboose or guard car on the train. Escorts are instructed on locomotive and railroad safety.
NOTE: The deploying unit commander makes the final determination based on security requirements and coordinates with the ITO and authorized railroad representatives on guard/escort matters.
Guards/escorts are armed at the installation commander's discretion. When armed guards are used, all participating railroads must be notified. All armed guards must be familiar with the rules of engagement and trained in the use of force.
SECTION I - Rail Guards


G-1. Rail loading and unloading operations must be conducted carefully to prevent personnel injuries and loss of equipment. The following items must be strictly adhered to by everyone in the operation, particularly the OIC/NCOIC.


G-2. It is strongly recommended that the following guidelines and items be used as the basis for the operation's safety briefing.

  • No loading will begin until all participants have received a full safety briefing from the OIC/NCOIC (or designee).
  • Blue flag track.
  • Uniform hand signals must be established for use by Car Guides, ensuring that all drivers are fully aware of those signals. The signals must be a major portion of the safety briefing.
  • All loading personnel MUST wear leather gloves (not cloth gloves or military black glove "liners" or inserts) and will wear hard hats or helmets (not merely helmet liners). Eye protection (goggles) is highly recommended, but is optional depending on availability. Goggles are always required when driving nails into blocking material.
  • Personnel will not jump onto or from railcars. Use the steps provided or walk on/off the railcar using an adjacent railcar or loading dock.
  • Do not crawl under any railcar.
  • Do not step between railcars.
  • Do not step onto a coupler, the coupler assembly, or its hoses.
  • Do not step or walk on the rails. They become very slippery if any lubricant has been spilled upon them or when wet.
  • Do not stand or walk between a moving vehicle and a parked vehicle on the railcars or in the loading area. Ensure the vehicles engines are off and hand brakes set before you begin securing vehicles to railcars.
  • Chock both ends of two wheels (at least one on each side) of the first railcar, then at least one wheel per side on every third railcar thereafter. You may use 2 X 2's or 2 X 4's as chocking material.
  • No vehicle will be moved onto or while on a railcar without a Car Guide to the front of that vehicle and two Side Guides (one on the ground on each side of the vehicle being moved). Only the Car Guide may give instructions to the vehicle driver, but the Side Guides will keep the Car Guide advised of the location of the vehicle in relation to the edges of the railcar.
  • The Car Guide should stay one railcar ahead of the vehicle being guided. That will require that the Car Guide direct the vehicle to the spanners leading onto the railcar on which he is standing, stop the vehicle, turn around and walk the full length of that railcar and onto the next in line, then turn around and guide the vehicle across the spanners onto the railcar which he just left. When the Car Guide is guiding a vehicle onto a railcar where there is already a parked vehicle, he will assume a secure and observable position on or beside the parked vehicle so that he cannot be pinned between the moving and parked vehicles.
  • No personnel, especially Car Guides, shall walk backwards on any railcar. Preferably no personnel shall walk backwards anywhere in the area of the loading due to the likelihood of obstacles or debris on the ground in that area.
  • Do not wear rings while rail loading. Also, the wearing of watches with military or other fabric around-the-wrist bands should not be allowed, as the band may become hooked on a moving object, dragging the wearer by the tough fabric.
  • Do not attempt to pull nails from a railcar deck without proper equipment. Large nails should only be removed by using a long prybar (such as a "gooseneck" wrecking bar) with a nail "notch" due to the size and length of the nails used in the railcars.
  • When using a long prybar around other loading personnel, either pad the end of the prybar or cover its end with one hand to avoid striking or jabbing other personnel with the prybar.
  • On wooden deck flatcars, splintered wood can be very hazardous, and should be avoided (or removed, if possible).
  • There will be NO SMOKING in the loading area.
  • The OIC/NCOIC should ensure that water and first aid kits are readily available at the site. If possible, medical personnel and a medical evacuation vehicle should be on hand.
  • If loading is to be conducted during hours of darkness, adequate lighting (not unit equipment that is to be loaded) should be made available. Lighting should be located at deck-level, to avoid placing the work areas under the vehicles in shadow.
  • Car Guides must ensure that vehicles are not driven onto spanners until it is verified that the spanners are properly aligned and set.
  • If at all possible, do not back any vehicles onto or while upon the railcars.
  • If the unit will be using bi-level or tri-level cars, load team personnel must be very careful when moving around the ends of the cars, since they are open and a soldier could easily fall to the ground or onto the coupling from them.
  • All rail load personnel must be alert for any unsafe actions or situations, and all personnel have the responsibility and ability to immediately halt all operations if an unsafe situation or action is observed. The OIC/NCOIC will then ensure that the unsafe situation or action is corrected prior to the resumption of operations.
  • Use only authorized and approved tools. Use them only for the purpose for which they were designed.


G-3. Cargo guards/escorts will become familiar with the train when they report for duty. Escorts conduct a cargo check one to two hours before the train's departure with the railroad representative.

G-4. The cargo escort supervisor ensures that the guard car has enough rations to allow for any delays that might occur. The escort supervisor checks to ensure that supplies are adequate for the trip.

G-5. Cargo guards/escorts make cargo checks whenever the train stops for 30 minutes or more. The train conductor determines the estimated time for stops. During the cargo check, cargo escorts inspect the equipment to determine the following:

  • If cargo has shifted or tie-down devices have loosened.
  • If cargo has been tampered with since the last check; for example, seals missing or locks and doors unsecured.
  • If cargo is missing.
  • If cargo has been damaged.

G-6. During stops en route, guards are staggered along both sides of the train. Suspicious incidents or the presence of unauthorized persons are reported to the guard in charge and to railroad personnel. Guards use the buddy system to investigate incidents or to approach a suspect.

G-7. If a railcar must be removed from the train and left on a side track for maintenance, the following procedures apply:

  • If the car has no sensitive or security cargo on it, no cargo escort is left with the car.
  • If the car contains sensitive or classified cargo, the car must be guarded constantly.


G-8. The guard or escort that discovers the problem must complete an incident report for each occurrence and give it to the person in charge of the detail. Immediately upon arrival at the destination, the person in charge gives the reports to the destination transportation officer, who sends them to the commander of the appropriate MTMC area command. The report shows the following:

  • What happened.
  • Where the incident occurred.
  • When the incident occurred (date and time).
  • Which railcars were involved.
  • Who was involved in the incident.
  • Who was notified of the incident.

The guard or escort must still report immediately by telephone to the MTMC area command all major incidents that could delay a shipment en route.

SECTION II - Supercargoes

G-9. Supercargoes are teams of soldiers who accompany, supervise, guard, and maintain unit equipment aboard the ship. An essential part of their job is to monitor and correct equipment lashings and tie-downs during movement. They also provide key control, note items that cannot be repaired en route, and brief the port commander at the SPOD on vehicle conditions and any peculiar aspects of the cargo.

G-10. Supercargoes are the deploying unit commander's on-board representatives during the movement of unit equipment on a ship. While the exact composition of the supercargo team depends on several factors, it generally consists of an OIC/NCOIC, classified/sensitive cargo escorts, and selected maintenance personnel for the type and quantity of equipment being shipped.

G-11. The composition of the supercargo team depends on the number of passenger berths available, the amount and mix of vehicles and equipment deployed, the length of voyage, and the number of units deploying equipment on a ship. Working and living conditions are austere, but with proper planning, the travel should not result in hardship.

G-12. Mechanics are required for wheeled and tracked vehicles, aircraft, and communications equipment. Supercargo personnel must be experienced and licensed on all types of vehicles being shipped. Though it may not be practical for each supercargo to be licensed on each vehicle deployed, the team must consist of qualified drivers for each vehicle on the ship.

G-13. Supercargoes are critical to shipping and maintaining the operational readiness of equipment to enhance the unit's effectiveness on arrival in the overseas theater. The supercargo team performs the following:

  • Makes periodic checks of unit cargo aboard the vessel.
  • Maintains key control of vehicles.
  • Makes repairs as practicable.
  • Documents those items that could affect discharge operations.
  • Provides maintenance support and liaison during cargo reception at the SPOE and during ship loading and discharge operations and SPOD clearance operations.

G-14. The following rules help supercargoes do their job safely and effectively:

Rule 1: The captain is the ultimate authority on the ship. His word is absolute law, and every individual must obey him.

Rule 2: The first mate is the captain's right-hand man. If you are having a problem, go to the first mate. Before the ship sails, the first mate should brief supercargo officers and NCOs on the following:

  • General safety requirements.
  • Fire and lifeboat drill and stations.
  • Life preserver requirements.
  • Restricted deck areas.
  • Situations (fire or ship taking water) that require immediate notification of the ship's crew and what to do in each case.
  • The ship's layout including emergency escape hatches.
  • Whistle signals and their meanings, such as collision warning whistle and abandon ship whistle.
  • The chain of command.
  • Call signs for ship's officers (for use when supercargoes are issued ship's hand-held radios).


G-15. The following is a list of responsibilities for supercargoes and major commands.


G-16. The commander, MSC must do the following:

  • Provides MTMC with berthing availability for supercargoes and indicates maximum number of berths per ship.
  • Assumes operational control of supercargoes when they sign in aboard ship.
  • Orients and briefs supercargoes on the ship's layout and facilities, ship procedure, protocol, and contacts during the voyage.
  • Provides the vessel captain or first mate with a copy of the SOP.


G-17. The commander, MTMC will do the following:

  • Coordinates with MSC for the number of supercargoes required on the planned report date.
  • Provides a copy of the SOP to the supercargo OIC/NCOIC.
  • Provides cargo operation orientation briefing to appropriate port authorities.
  • Assumes operational control of supercargoes until they report onboard ship. (Supercargoes are released upon completion of port clearance operations at the SPOD to the deploying unit.)


G-18. Commanders of installations and units will do the following:

  • Select and brief individuals. Supercargoes must be familiar with the overall concept of deployment and must be able to brief the MTMC terminal commander at the SPOD on the status of equipment.
  • Appoint individuals on orders (using DA Form 1610-R) as supercargoes.
  • Dispatch a message to the MACOM, MTMC, and MSC identifying selected individuals by name, rank, service number, and unit.

G-19. The supercargo OIC/NCOIC will do the following:

  • Reports to the port commander immediately upon arrival at the SPOE.
  • Finalizes berthing, messing, and personal hygiene arrangements of the supercargoes with the vessel captain or first mate. Problems are brought to the attention of the MTMC port commander or MSC representative for resolution.
  • Is responsible for discipline, such as counseling, remedial training, and uniform, and administration of Army personnel. (The parent unit keeps authority to impose nonjudicial punishment.)
  • Instructs supercargoes on their responsibility to comply with the vessel regulations.
  • Coordinates supercargo routine and emergency duty stations with the vessel captain or first mate.
  • Establishes a duty roster for supercargoes for continued coverage of the cargo operation and full responsiveness to the MTMC port commander or vessel first mate.
  • Gets permission to send personnel into the cargo areas to perform maintenance or other work from the vessel captain or first mate.
  • Maintains 24-hour watch, surveillance, or contact with the vessel's first mate.
  • Provides key control measures.
  • Uses DA Form 1594 to record or log daily supercargo activities.
  • Identifies any special load/discharge requirements and specifies vehicles with problems, such as fluid leaks or flat tires.
  • Provides status reports to the vessel's first mate on vehicle and equipment checks.
  • Attends port operations meetings at the SPOE and SPOD to be familiar with operations and vehicle status.
  • Reviews the SOP with the vessel's captain or first mate. It is important that they discuss and clearly understand the role/relationship of supercargoes aboard ship.
  • Provides the first mate a manifest of the supercargoes (full name, rank, social security number, unit, place of birth, and citizenship) and leaves a copy with the port commander.
  • Checks with the first mate before the ship sails to verify if additional information is required.
  • Briefs team members on expected weather conditions for the next 24 hours so they can dress appropriately.
  • Establishes a buddy system to check holds and makes sure each team entering a hold has a radio and checks into and out of the hold on the supercargo radio net. Records reported discrepancies for the next day's briefing and plans proper corrective actions. Supercargo team members do not go into holds alone without a radio. If the member falls and is injured, he will not be missed until the next team accountability time.
  • Checks the aircraft and vehicle lashings to make sure they are properly tightened but not overtightened.
  • Drills the supercargo team on lifeboat and abandon ship procedures.
  • Checks all the holds for running vehicles.
  • Reports suspected damage or pilferage to the MTMC port commander or designated representative.
  • Provides key control of vehicles and helps port operations personnel maintain keys.
  • Periodically starts vehicles near loading/discharging ramps to prevent hindering vessel discharge.

The supercargo OIC/NCOIC pays special attention to vehicles loaded on ramps and on the deck. Not only are the walking areas in these locations treacherous, but also loose lashings and missing chocks could result in losing a vehicle over the side or having the vehicle break loose on the ramp and hit the ship's watertight doors at the bottom of the ramps. He also gets team members to stow all supercargo gear as soon as possible after consultation with the first mate.


G-20. Upon arrival at the SPOE, supercargoes are under the operational control of the port commander. While onboard a ship, the supercargoes are under the command and control of the vessel's captain or first mate. Upon arrival at the SPOD, supercargoes are under the operational control of the port commander. Supercargoes are normally released to the unit on completion of port clearance operations.


G-21. Supercargoes may use the following during vessel operations.


G-22. Supercargoes should use DA Form 1594 to record their daily activities. Mandatory entries include checks of equipment, key control actions, and damage reports. If the situation is severe, request the information be transmitted to the SPOD from the ship while en route.


G-23. Use DA Form 2404 to note deficiencies and any corrective actions on vehicles and equipment. Complete the form with three copies. Attach one copy to the original DA Form 1594 and give it to the port commander. Attach another copy to the DA Form 1594 that is given to the unit commander of the supercargoes. One copy is attached to the piece of equipment.


G-24. In addition to personal items required to support the supercargo, sufficient maintenance-related items must accompany the supercargo. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Tool set, general mechanic's (one per mechanic).
  • Jumper slave cable (one set per deck).
  • One battery charger.
  • Limited Class III and IX items required for repair en route, such as batteries, headlights, reflectors, oil, lubricants, and deicer.

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