Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson, Deployable Operations Group.
An Air Force C-5M Galaxy lumbered toward the terminal at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss. Its smooth 222-foot long gray wings stretch across the width of the tarmac. At the top of its more than six-story-tall fuselage, an airman scans around the plane as it taxis to ensure it has clearance on all sides.
Manned by an Air Force Reserve Command crew, the massive plane landed to pick up Coast Guard Port Security Unit 308 personnel and equipment deploying in support of Operation Bold Alligator 2012. The operation is the largest amphibious assault exercise in a decade and will run off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
The culmination of Bold Alligator will include three large-scale events within the exercise: an amphibious assault, an aerial assault and an amphibious raid. It incorporates the lessons learned over the past 10 years of challenging combat operations and is designed to revitalize the Navy and Marine’s amphibious operation fundamentals and strengthen their traditional role as fighters from the sea.
During this joint and multinational exercise, PSU 308 members will provide water and landside security for high-value assets. But before the operation can start, they must first mobilize from their homebase. This involves moving more than 40 tons of personnel and equipment, including boats and weapons.
Arranging transportation for the gear and personnel is the responsibility of Stephen Brown of the Deployable Operations Group’s logistics division. Brown, a retired Coast Guard chief warrant officer, is no stranger to large-scale logistics. He learned his craft on active duty by coordinating overseas transportation of equipment and personnel as well as coordinating pier-side services for Coast Guard ships.
“The key to transporting personnel and equipment is the big ‘F’ word,” said Brown. “Flexibility, every evolution is a learning experience and has unique challenges.”
The process begins when a deployment order is released. An order directs a deployable specialized force unit or adaptive force package to conduct a specific mission for a requesting operational commander.
“We work inside the DOD’s Joint Operations Planning and Execution System,” said Brown. “This joint system allows us to communicate with the Pentagon, U.S. Northern Command, Central Command, Southern Command, Transportation Command, Navy Air Logistics Office, Air Force Reserve Command, Navy Operational Logistics Support Center and Joint Interagency Task Force-South. Building a knowledge base of the commands and people involved takes time. We maintain these relationships, so our Coast Guard units have the flexibility to deploy worldwide.”
Coast Guard Deployable Specialized Forces can deploy by highway convoys, cargo planes, ships, barges and landing craft. After determining the most efficient, effective and safe way to transport personnel and equipment, Brown coordinates with the local unit to ensure the load plans and schedules are synchronized.
“Our five active duty members did a lot of leg work on the logistics,” said Lt. Brandi Marquadt, PSU 308’s force readiness officer. “We worked with the DSF force managers to ensure we were able to transport personnel and equipment to BA12 and meet the Navy’s expectations.”
For this operation, PSU 308 used its qualified load planners to weigh everything being loaded onto the C-5 including boats, trucks, equipment and crews. The boats and trucks were also inspected by hazardous material inspectors from Aviation Training Center Mobile to ensure each conformed to Coast Guard and Air Force standards for transporting machinery.
With everything safely loaded onto the plane, Port Security Unit 308 flew off to begin their deployment in support of Bold Alligator 2012.
Keep following Compass in the next two weeks to find out what happens next in Bold Alligator 2012, including how the crews build a forward operating base and an entry control point to begin their security operations.