JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
It’s hard to imagine traveling more than one thousand miles in a day, but the members of Task Force Liberty (TFL) Ground Transportation are averaging that distance daily, transporting 440 people – and that’s all within an 80-mile radius of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
“I’ve probably logged around 2,000 miles personally,” said Senior Airman Brian Kackley, a ground transportation operator with TFL with the 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. “A call is made to dispatch, who relays it to us. They tell us the pickup location and the drop-off destination, and then they also issue us a vehicle during this process.”
There are 35 vehicles in the fleet: a combination of 15 passenger minivans, 11 passenger buses, one box truck, three flatbed trailers, and a forklift. This 59-person operation has moved 1.8 million pounds of cargo and a total of 13.2 thousand people – so far.
“There’s a lot that can go into a request,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Vanderford, the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of ground transportation for TFL with the 138th LRS, Oklahoma. “You can’t judge how long it will take for a vehicle – it really depends on what kind of mission they’re running. Right now, our biggest mission demand is hospital runs. We’re supporting 14 hospital locations that our residents go to for treatment, and those range from nearby to Delaware and Philadelphia. I can dispatch a vehicle to a location on base and have it arrive within 15 minutes, but some transports can take two hours one-way.”
The hurdles they face in setting up a new route start in space and encompass many challenges, such as traffic, construction, toll routes, and weather. They also factor in waiting on people at pickup locations, ensuring equipment like car seats are included, or health concerns of sick patients. To create any route to a new destination, they have to establish geographic maps using satellite imaging for their trainees and commercial partners.
“We work with three squadrons on base in a three-part process,” said Senior Master Sgt. John Via, superintendent of TFL logistics readiness with the 137th Special Operations LRS, Oklahoma. “We work with security forces to set up and secure traffic control points, then with civil engineering to put up assets like fencing and speed bumps. Lastly, we coordinate with our logistics operations office, J4, for approval of our routes. After that is approved, it goes into the geographic system we put our routes into to train our drivers and then coordinate with the commercial dispatch to get their personnel trained before we establish that new run.”
Once their runs are in place, dispatchers determine what vehicles are available in the fleet and then assign the drivers to a route when calls come in for transportation. This process for coordination does not include troop movement or cargo movement. With each new influx of people to the base also comes their luggage and equipment for villages, and logistics readiness must track and deliver all of it.
“Our small group’s saying ‘Semper in Moventur’ means always on the move, and that’s really what we live by in vehicle operations,” Via concluded.