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NEWS | June 30, 2016

Army Reserve Soldiers gather for harbor and seaport logistics operations

By Staff Sgt. Robert Ham 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Army Reserve provides more than two-thirds of the Army's overall logistics support. The 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), from Los Angeles, California, has a long history of supplying logistics to the warfighter on the front lines from Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, to Joint Endeavor, to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom along with dozens of annual peacetime exercises. 

The 311th continues training for any future peacetime or wartime deployment during the U.S. Army Reserve's Big Logistics-Over-The-Shore-West 2016, from June 5th to June 24th.

The 311th led exercise has brought together "thousands of Soldiers from across the Army Reserve," said Brig. Gen. David E. Elwell, Commanding General, 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). "We train as we fight and this is part of our road to war for our port and watercraft Soldiers," continued Elwell. 

For Big LOTS-West's third consecutive year in the San Francisco Bay Area, Army Reserve Soldiers practiced harbor and seaport logistics operations such as the loading and unloading of containers from trucks to ships, a Landing Craft Utility vehicle beach landing, and rolling vehicles on and off the massive military transportation ships at Alameda Point. This intensive training is the closest Soldiers will get to a real world situation. 

"Whether it's an earthquake or an environment where ports have been destroyed in some way, the Army could come in and set up an expeditionary port. An Army watercraft could then utilize and offload ships from that degraded port," said Elwell.

Civilian safety officers and Army Reserve subject matter experts supervise the exercise to make sure military guidelines and safety procedures are maintained. "This is very dangerous work, because we're operating watercraft and operating very large cranes, there's not much room for error, so safety is paramount out here," said Elwell.

"This exercise keeps our jobs relevant in our minds. It helps us stay safe and focused and keeps us ready," said Spc. Brandon Byrd, a crane operator from the 441st Transportation Company (Seaport Operations), New Orleans, Louisiana. 

The Soldiers participating in Big LOTS come from all over the country with a wide base of professional and civilian skills that are in high demand. The Army Reserve provides an efficient and cost-effective way to mitigate issues during the current drawdown. For the majority of these Reserve Soldiers, this is their culminating annual exercise and they will go back to their civilian life at its conclusion and continue their two-day a month commitment until next year's annual training.