Story and photo by
Sgt. Gregory Williams
3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The 209th Aviation Support Brigade trained more than 100 Soldiers during a Unit Movement Officer, or UMO, Rodeo, here, Aug. 14.
When a unit is ready to leave Afghanistan, the UMO must put together a load plan that will track and ship equipment back to the states, equipment that could easily be worth more than $1 million.
“Let a UMO lose one piece of equipment,” said Sgt. Irene Campos, automotive logistics noncommissioned officer, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. “I think they would get a field grade Article 15 because that equipment is on the commander’s hand receipt, so this training that we’re doing now is very important.”
During the rodeo, Soldiers learned how to prepare movement documentation, facilitate container management with in-transit visibility and prepare cargo for joint inspection. Soldiers also learned how to prepare air load plans for redeployment, which can make the process of shipping cargo back home much easier and less strenuous.
“It’s important to Soldiers, and especially for the UMOs, to understand the redeployment process, so they know what to expect so they have enough time to plan ahead,” said Staff Sgt. Khris De La Pena, transportation management NCO, 822nd Movement Control Detachment.
“UMOs have to know that they only have a certain amount of time to get their equipment ready to be shipped out,” De La Pena added.
The redeployment process presents many challenges that can cost the Army millions of dollars because the movement of cargo is not cheap, and careful planning is essential to the success of the process.
“I feel if you have everything that belongs to the unit on a well-put-together load plan, then a UMO should be good,” Campos said. “If not … well, then you’re a ‘SOL’ (Soldier out of luck) because not one container can be left behind.”
The rodeo also gave Soldiers the chance to gain hands-on experience with conducting inspections and weighing equipment, which is usually a job for an Air Force cargo load team.
Once the teams were finished with their tasks outside, Soldiers headed back inside to learn about the Transportation Coordinator Automated Information for Movement System, or TC-AIMS, II — a two-week course offered by the military. Instructors, however, were challenged to teach all the Soldiers the basics of the program in two days.
“I’d prefer to teach smaller groups, so I could give that individual attention, since everyone learns at a different pace,” De La Pena said. “I’d hope that, at the very least, Soldiers know who to contact if they need help with any part of the process.”
Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan provided a Sustainment Automation Support Management Office, or SASMO, instructor to further help the UMO Rodeo participants learn more about the redeployment process.
“I help teach Soldiers the air planning applications, which is what the transportation community uses to support the warfighter worldwide,” said David Bowman, SASMO trainer, Tapestry Solutions. “With this, the Soldiers will learn how to not only use TC-AIMS II, but also the Automated Air Load Planning System, or AALPS.”
Campos said she tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible because systems are always being updated to become more proficient.
“Going into AALPS was good because I have some experience using it manually, but now some of the features are automatic, which is a time-saver,” Campos said. “It’s supposed to be a refresher, but I learned a lot more because we went more in detail about the program.”
“I hope the Soldiers take away the skills and confidence to redeploy their unit home,” Bowman said. “They now have the most accurate information to ensure that all equipment and personnel arrive at their home station safely.”