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Golden Cargo

Golden Cargo is a national military exercise which trains Army Reserve, Army National Guard and active component Army Combat Service Support (CSS) personnel in multifunctional logistics. Golden Cargo, an exercise that aids in training soldiers to handle and transport ammunition, was brought to life in 1991. Since then, Golden Cargo participants have safely trucked over 54,000 tons of ammunition and general cargo over 7.5 million miles.

Army Materiel Command [AMC] premier training event is GOLDEN CARGO, a large-scale transportation support operation. The operation offers training from command level down to the individual level. The comprehensive packaging of training enables units to train from theater-level command, down to unit level. A principal benefit is training at the intermediate command and control headquarters level which plans and executes the exercise. Few other training opportunities give this scope of planning for senior staff.

GOLDEN CARGO offers real world training for non-divisional Combat Service Support units. Also, it offers individual Military Occupational Specialty training, to include shipping and receiving, inventory, storage planning, transportation, movement control, documentation, life support operations, safety, hazardous materials handling, and leadership.

This annual exercise started in 1991 as a result of the need to move live ammunition from storage sites that were closing or reducing their missions according to recommendations of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commissions. Participation in Golden Cargo has grown steadily over the years because the active Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and other services have all recognized that it offers an important and unique training opportunity.

In 1996 GOLDEN CARGO was conducted over an eight-week period and involved more than 4,000 soldiers from 104 units across 33 states and Puerto Rico. They moved 23,000 short tons of ammunition (Class V) and re-warehoused more than 27,000 short tons. For the first time, commercial munitions carriers were used in the role of host nation support, moving 4,000 short tons of Class V ammo. Also, for the first time, reserve units used satellite monitoring for in-transit visibility and security.

Approximately 131 units from around the country participated in Exercise Golden Cargo '96 during the period 18 May to 29 June. The exercise was conducted in three 2-week increments to accommodate the annual training times allotted for participating Army National Guard and Army Reserve units. These units rotated in and out of the exercise according to their annual training schedules. This constant turnover gave the 70th Ordnance Battalion an excellent opportunity to integrate new units every 2 weeks.

The exercise also provided soldiers a realistic scenario in which they could create a large logistics organization to move ammunition in a wartime theater of operations. To enhance the realism of the exercise, theater ammunition storage areas and corps logistics bases were set up at Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky, Savanna Army Depot Activity, Illinois, and, in a separate operation, at Red River Army Depot, Texas, and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Oklahoma.

The 1997 exercise trucked over 24,000 tons of war stocks requiring special handling between installations involved in the exercise. Another 22,000 tons were moved by rail, air or within installations. The 3rd Corps Support Command, under the command of Brig. Gen. Gary Wattnem, served as headquarters for the exercise.

The central area of operations includes Savanna Army Depot, Ill., and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Okla. The eastern area of operations consists of Seneca Army Depot, N.Y., and Letterkenny Army Depot, Pa. The western area of operations is made up of the Sierra Army Depot, Calif., and Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev.

Golden Cargo is the best opportunity in the nation to train high-level CSS leadership skills in integration with training the troops on hands-on military occupational skill qualification combat service support skills. It is also a testing ground for CSS equipment and doctrine. Golden Cargo is the only military exercise in the country that exercises the full military logistics chain-of-command from the theater level through corps, group and battalion down to company level. It gives soldiers a sense of real mission accomplishment. Plus, it gives them an opportunity to act across component lines as they would do in a real war. Together, the Active Duty Army, Army Reserve, National Guard, and civilians work to achieve success in the operation.

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