7th CSC Soldiers support Western Accord 14

by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta
7th Civil Support Command Public Affairs

THIES, Senegal — Soldiers from the 7th Civil Support Command’s 1172nd Movement Control Team provided logistical and movement control support to the U.S. Army Africa-led Western Accord 14, a combined joint military partnership command post and field training peace operation exercise held June 16 to 30 in Thies and the capital city of Dakar, Senegal.

The seven person team provided transportation and retro-grade/redeployment expertise for all participating personnel and equipment flowing in and out of country before, during and after the exercise. They also coordinated any last minute operational and transportation requirements.

The 1172nd MCT “is an additional most valuable player,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth Moore Jr., exercise director and deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Africa.

The 1172nd MCT helped move approximately 120 units of equipment and more than 500 service members and civilians, including more than 350 U.S. Army Soldiers, Marines and participants from 16 other participating nations, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal, who are also part of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS.

“We received all of Western Accord 14’s military exercise personnel and equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Staley, transportation management supervisor, 1172nd MCT, 7th CSC. “We’re scheduling and coordinating the necessary assets to return the necessary equipment and personnel to their respective home stations.”

The 1172nd MCT, which is a 7th CSC Army Reserve unit based in Grafenwöhr, Germany, had two primary missions: to move personnel and cargo to and from the port city of Dakar to the exercise site’s life support area on a Senegalese military base in the town of Thies.

“My role is to facilitate the movement of the unit’s personnel and equipment in and out of country,” said Spc. Robert Alcauter from the 1172nd MCT, 7th CSC.

Alcauter is also a former field artillery Soldier who is retraining after WA 14 to become a movement specialist.

“We have to import certain equipment and personnel so the exercise can continue and be successful,” he said.

The CPX took place next to the LSA, where the majority of the participating forces lived, ate, slept and showered when they weren’t out at the other three FTX sites.

As the exercise wound down, the wash rack, sterile yard/marshaling area and inspection stations were set-up on the airfield next to the LSA. Once redeployment operations started, a flurry of activity began. A crane moved large, metal shipping containers while Soldiers, civilians and Marines cleaned and washed equipment as U.S. Customs officials floated in and out observing, offering comments and inspecting cargo.

“I’ve worked with many movement control teams in the past and this one, the 1172nd MCT and their (noncommissioned officer in charge), Staff Sergeant Staley, are one of the best I’ve worked with thus far in my 12 years of customs experience,” said Alfonso Whitaker, customs inspector, U.S. Forces Customs. “Where everyone is lost, they bring a little order.”

During this time coordination, prioritization and placement of military shipment labels on equipment were provided by three 1172nd MCT Soldiers between the U.S. Customs inspectors, the Soldiers cleaning and prepping their vehicles, and the local contractors with large flat-bed tractor trailer trucks waiting to transport the various military items to the port.

“We also prepare their paperwork to alleviate any issues with customs to leave a foreign nation and enter the U.S.,” Alcauter said.

Anything that has to do with chemical based equipment such as oil, gasoline, cleaners, solvent, white out, or ammunition blank rounds must clear certain guidelines and criteria that the local port authority gives to us for the gear to leave and be shipped back to the U.S., Alcauter added.

“For example, the Colorado National Guard has their (tactical) water purification unit and equipment here,” said Staff Sgt. David Johnson, movement supervisor, 1172nd MCT, 7th CSC. “We are shipping their containers back to the U.S. A tactical water purification system has a lot of items that require detailed procedures and documentation. For example, compressed gases, lithium batteries and fuel all need proper documents and packing considerations to clear U.S. customs.”

While all of the cargo inspections, coordination and loading was going on, the remaining four 1172nd MCT Soldiers were busy moving, tracking, synchronizing and unloading the exercise participants and their personal items as they began their journeys via bus, van, truck or car to the civilian or military side of Dakar’s Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport and then onward to their respective countries.

“It went very smoothly,” said Ghana army Capt. Frank Amponsah, company commander, Engineer Company, Ghana Armed Forces. “They (the 1172nd MCT) arranged a bus to transport us here (to the training site) and (for) when we leave. It was very very good.”

It’s a tremendous effort that a very, very small unit can have such a large impact on such a large operation, Moore said.

“They (the 1172nd MCT) have really been the backbone in getting everything moved from Dakar, from our port of entry, from the airports, from our commercial flights as well as our charter flights bringing in our Soldiers and moving them a very long distance under very difficult conditions out to the training location in Thies,” Moore said. “They have provided seamless movement of all of our assets and our Soldiers.”