Distribution Center Meets Warfighters’ Needs
By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Apr. 1, 2010 Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are getting their work done more quickly and efficiently, thanks to the U.S. Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center.
“Our goal very simply is to ensure that we are as effective as possible in supporting warfighter requirements while being as efficient as possible from the taxpayer's perspective," Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert H. McMahon, the center’s director, said during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable yesterday.
The center, known as the CDDOC, monitors all supply routes into Afghanistan and Iraq by air, land and sea, working closely with U.S. Transportation Command and its components to ensure both people and equipment are moved in a timely manner, McMahon said.
An intratheater logistics program known as the I-channel provides, in effect, a scheduled busline in the air, the general said.
“The frequency of flights is based upon the warfighter's needs,” he explained. The I-channel system, which transports both cargo and passengers, serves as the main transportation mode for passengers traveling to and from Kuwait as part of their travel for rest and recuperation leave. When the I-channel is not available, CDDOC uses an intratheater airlift request system called ITARS.
“In a perfect world, all intratheater airlift moves could be accomplished utilizing our I-channel system,” McMahon said. “The reality is that every day there's a myriad of requirements that bubble up that necessitate a unique [intratheater] airlift request be generated.”
ITARS is used when a high-priority movement can't wait for a scheduled flight, the general said. In any given month, about 75 percent of intratheater airlift movements are accomplished through that system.
The center’s theater express program gives commercial carriers an opportunity to use excess capacity to carry cargo within the theater.
One of his biggest concerns, McMahon said, is ensuring that his team properly and effectively deploys conventional and all-terrain mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles. If that takes more capability than C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy transport jets can provide, he said, he looks for other means to get the life-saving vehicles to the warfighters.
“My job is to ensure that I've leveraged everything that's available, just not those C-17s or C-5s, to be able to get what we need in place on time,” he said.
Another big challenge, the general said, is the drawdown in Iraq. “We have to leverage all of the available tools and capacity that we have, both on the ground and in the air,” he said. “I have to help facilitate success.”
In Afghanistan, McMahon said, improving infrastructure such as airports, roads and rail lines is a high priority. “This not only benefits our force flow and sustainment requirements,” he explained, “but more importantly to me, it contributes to Afghanistan's future.”
McMahon also credited Centcom and Transcom logisticians and teamwork in general with allowing the CDDOC to be effective.
“We could not accomplish what we do today without the teaming between the commercial sector and the military sector, not only to prepare the equipment, to prepare the sustainment, but also to move that forward,” he said.
“All of this takes place because of the teamwork between military and industry, between private- and public-sector movement teams, and because everyone is single-focused to ensure that the warfighter has what they need when they need it.”