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Logistics Tracking Team Monitors Road Shipment Safety, Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Dec. 11, 2012 – A tractor-trailer loaded with military ammunition destined for Fort Bragg, N.C., skidded off an icy road, spewing its cargo on the remote roadway as the truck slid down an embankment and out of sight.

The only “eyes” on scene, beyond the driver’s, were electronic signals. Beamed from the vehicle, they alerted an analyst at the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command headquarters here that the trailer had separated from the truck.

The analyst contacted the trucking company to hail the vehicle. Five minutes later, getting no response, he called the police. They arrived at the scene to investigate, calling an ambulance to transport the driver to the hospital and securing the ammunition until federal authorities arrived.

It was all in a day’s work for the Defense Transportation Tracking System, which monitors all commercial carriers transporting arms, ammunition, explosives or other sensitive material within the United States for the Defense Department.

First created by the Navy in 1989 after an accident in Denver involving a commercial motor carrier transporting torpedoes, the system was expanded to track all sensitive DOD shipments from their point of origin until they reach their designation, Daniel Bradley, the program manager, told American Forces Press Service.

The system got an upgrade two years ago, incorporating the Intelligent Road/Rail Information Server, to better track DOD cargo during transport.

The goal, Bradley explained, is to maintain public safety and keep DOD shipments secure.

“The beauty of what DTTS does is, we don’t just track something from A to B and see that it got there,” he said. “We provide a response to things that require a response, and we get the right people engaged in things when we need it.”

Analysts at SDDC’s 24/7 operations center monitor satellite signals emitted from the vehicles to track 150 to 300 shipments every day, and about 60,000 to 80,000 shipments a year, he said. They keep a watch on the vehicles’ positions to ensure they match information filed in the command database.

Tracking satellite messages the driver sends during the transit, they look for “oddities” that might signal a problem, Bradley said. That way, when the unexpected happens -- an unscheduled or prolonged stop, an open trailer door en transit, a breakdown, accident, or panic alert from the driver -- they’re ready to spring to action, he said.

When an incident does occur, Bradley said his team’s goal is to get the proper authorities involved and ultimately, get delayed shipments back on schedule and headed to their destination.

“They’re safest and most secure when they are on the road, moving, so we do everything we can to get them back on the road moving again,” he said. “That’s where it’s the safest for the public and best for the equipment itself.”


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Related Sites:
U.S. Transportation Command
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command

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