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NEWS | March 16, 2024

733d MSG fast action support enabled quick 7th TB(X) deployment

By Erik Siegel

The 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), deployed to Gaza for a relief mission, Mar. 15, 2024, just over a week following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, Mar. 7.

This tight turnaround schedule would not have been possible without the 633d Air Base Wing’s 733d Mission Support Group, the principal support organization on Fort Eustis to tenant units at JBLE.

“The 733d [MSG] Logistics Readiness Squadron Materiel Management Flight took the lead in providing support to 7th TB(X) watercraft movement through the supply support activity, which has taken over 592 lines of inventory originally stored [at Fort Eustis],” said Diana D. Craig, 733d MSG LRS, Material & Fuels Management chief. “From ‘Notice of Deployment’…the SSA worked closely with the 7th [TB(X)] Logistics Mobility Officer to order watercraft parts and equipment in bulk to support the mission.  As the requested items come in, the SSA staff are breaking them down by vessel and manually tracking the items to be shipped to the different ports, in many cases re-palletizing and shrink wrapping them to specs for shipment forward.”

According to Craig, the SSA knew on March 4 the first movement date was March 11. They, along with other 733d MSG units, had seven days to move the first of several Army logistics support vessels along with approximately 500 personnel. The remaining vessels departed on schedule in strategic increments throughout the rest of the March and into April.  However, movement of supporting sustainment equipment and parts continued.

“One of my many responsibilities as the Army Unit Movement coordinator for Fort Eustis is to ensure the Army unit movement data built into plans on the automated deployment systems is reviewed, processed, and transmitted error-free to U.S. Forces Command and Surface Deployment and Distribution Command/U.S. Transportation Command,” said Troy T. Mara, Sr., 733d MSG LRS, Installation Transportation Office, Army Unit Movement coordinator. “Once 7th TB(X) had completed the refinement of the UMD, my team and I provided military shipping labels, and wrote data onto radio frequency identification tags for 7th TB(X) to apply to the equipment as part of the seaport’s documentation requirements.”

Following reception, the SSA also tracked and shipped additional watercraft parts and equipment, moving from various storage facilities throughout the world, which included a pair of 40-foot containers of legacy watercraft parts out of the Indo-Pacific region.

“To date, we have shipped $44,338.13 worth of sustainment parts, hazardous material, and equipment, and are expecting to receive another $181,819.30 worth of additional items which will be held on location at our warehouse for strategic as needed shipping,” said Craig. “We are continuing to move stock [on Fort Eustis] with ongoing coordination of shipment of those items to the 7th TB(X) in various forward locations. At this point we have shipped 161 lines of various items to Rota, Spain. That shipment made it to the port in time for the vessel to stop and pick up the items that were shipped. However, SSA operations for this watercraft mission are still ongoing.”

No operation is without its inherent challenges, and one like the 7th TB(X) deployment had additional considerations due to the expedited turnaround time.

“One major hurdle was…the locations where the supplies and equipment were to be shipped were classified…, which caused a delay in coordination,” said Craig. “In addition, there was no one physically at the locations to receive the equipment. The biggest hurdle has been trying to ship items that are identified as hazardous. These issues were eventually resolved.”

Craig also indicated the Materiel Management Property Book Office overcame an additional challenge, the small arms protective inserts plates, which are required before a soldier can deploy to a potentially hostile environment. Someone must scan these SAPI plates to ensure there are no flaws, which might render the plates ineffective. However, only select military installations have scan capability. The BPO resolved this by requesting the plates from Fort Liberty, N.C., physically traveling there, and then transporting the SAPI plates back to JBLE-Eustis.

“The biggest hurdle we faced was the ever-changing mission requirements and new developments at the 7th TB(X)’s final deployment location that dictated which equipment the 7th TB(X) would deploy with,” said Mara. “For missions of this size and with a short, compressed timeline to execute, it is not uncommon for last minute changes to equipment sets.  I am very proud of my team for their hard work, dedication to duty, flexibility, and willingness to do whatever was needed to support the [7th TB(X)] and ensure complete mission success.”

733d Operations Division working with 733d LRS is the, by integrating with select 11th Transportation Battalion and 331st Transportation Company (Causeway) contingents. The 733d Ops team ensured deconfliction with installation organizations and tenant units as the 331st prepared the loadout of heavy, mission critical equipment and military vehicles in support of Gaza operations.

“733d MSG Ops operated under the same timeline sequence given to 7th TB(X). Ensuring that there was continuous support available to the entire 7th TB(X), especially once 331st Causeway team implemented 24-hour operations to meet mission requirements,” said Sgt. Maj. Richard Serrano, 733d MSG Operations sergeant major. “The Gaza mission equipment package blowout occurred in various stages, from identification of vital equipment to the operation and expeditious, yet safe, loading procedures executed to load vessels.”

According to Serrano, the 733d MSG Ops team also provided logistical support and coordination to 7th TB(X) Medical Operations, ensuring they had the medical supplies in-hand and loaded onto the departing vessels, while the medical team focused their efforts on the Soldier Readiness Program and individual mobilization.

“Despite the short notice and huge demand set upon the installation organizations and tenant units, it was outwardly evident that each provider, soldier, and civilian remained diligent and extremely professional throughout the emergent requirements,” said Serrano. “The collaborative actions of disciplined stewards in these individual professions made it possible to deliver an efficient and modernized installation service and support plan, embodying the ‘people first’ mentality.”

The totality of the ‘people first’ mentality is one 733d personnel embrace throughout the organization.

“The 733d LRS is here to provide operational support to JBLE-Eustis ensuring expeditionary success,” said Jeffery D. Romero, 733d LRS director. “We are an Air Force organization committed to [supporting] Army unit requirements to meet global mission demands. The 7th TB(X)’s mission to Gaza has some of the highest visibility, and we treated it with the same level of professionalism and expediency as every mission we have a hand in supporting. I could not be prouder of the 733d LRS team.”

Despite their expressed pride in a job well done, 733d MSG personnel know the future is still in motion.

“The residual effects of the movement of the 7th TB(X) are still ongoing. In other words, we are not done yet,” said Craig. “As soon as we are done, the process to redeploy them home will start. For logistics readiness personnel, this is what we do. Our job is to accept our marching orders and make it happen no matter what the hurdles [are], and we have done that and continue to support the fight.”