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Maritime Logistics Community News : November 2009
43 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SPRING 2009 The information can be read in parallel with the article submitted by LCDR D. Dodds of the FHQ Fleet Battle Staff. It was not too long after assuming my position as the RAN Liaison Officer (RANLO) to the Commander US Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT), more commonly referred to as RANLO Hawaii that I made my first return visit to Australia to attend the Talisman Sabre Final Planning Conference (FPC). As a representative of the N4 staff within PACFLT my assignment was initially to confirm that logistics requirements submitted at the end of the Mid Planning Conference (MPC) had been actioned, costed and arranged. Whilst the source of many goods and services had been identified, the costings had not been completed, nor contracts signed. I confirmed the requirements remained valid and provided amendments where they were deemed necessary. This proved a challenge given that the USN was deploying aviation detachments in Darwin, Townsville and Rockhampton, a Reserve Diving unit in Gladstone and logistic support elements in Rockhampton and Darwin. Being able to reach the respective units from Hawaii and contending with time zone differences between Japan, Australian, Hawaii, California and Virginia finally resulted in confirmation of requirements with little time left before personnel started to arrive in Australia. To complicate matters even more for me, Talisman Sabre was being run by the United States Marine Corps (USMC), specifically the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF). Not only did I need to acquaint myself with the US Navy requirements, but also the acquisition processes of the US Marines as well. After the FPC logistics representatives were required to arrange the transfer of funds to III MEF, to enable the acquisition of goods and services for each deploying unit. This is where the fun began. For weeks after the FPC my colleague and I had to liaise with several USN units dispersed throughout the PACFLT AOR for the transfer of necessary funding to preposition goods and services for them in Australia to undertake the exercise. As many individuals had not been to Australia before it took some time to comprehend the time vs. distance conundrum many Australians are already familiar with. The misconception crept in a few times that Darwin, Townsville, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Sydney were literally just around the corner from each other and that a quick trip in a car would deliver key people or stores in no time. Once it was explained that driving distances between some of these destinations started at three hours and could go up to 35 hours the realisation that they would need more money for commercial air transport and time for deliveries set in. It took some time to get the money out of the units, just like in the ADF, the expectation/hope is that some higher authority will pick up the tab. Coming from that higher authority and with the demands of real world operations and multiple exercises, the ability to fund everything is not always possible. As such, the units had to provide their own funds with limited supplementation by PACFLT. This proved challenging in itself, as units were arriving in Australia to start the exercise with the funding issue far from resolved. The USMC purchasing cell would only procure goods and services on production of the funding document, resulting in some frantic emails and phone calls to parent unit logistic representatives. The number of looks I received when it was explained that I was the Logistics representative for the USN from not only US forces but ADF personnel in Rockhampton was amusing. Being able to translate between the two nations proved invaluable to all. Supporting maritime forces at sea in once thing, but not having served at DNSDC or other joint logistics units, supporting shore elements in multiple locations within Australia at the same time is something altogether different again. Assuming responsibility for the coordination of such support was at first daunting, noting the potential implications if you get it wrong, but as the exercise drew closer the experience gained through my service in the RAN enabled me to tackle the challenges of coordinating support for USN elements located in two countries deploying to a third across multiple and disparate locations and time zones. To top it off, working with the US Marines for the first time proved easier than I thought, so much so that I was adopted by them and would have been taken back to Japan with them if I did not feel the need to return to the sunny beaches of Hawaii. RANLO Hawaii The following paragraphs will briefly outline the role I played in supporting the United States Navy (USN) in the lead up to Exercise Talisman Sabre held in various parts of Northern and North Eastern Australia in July of this year. BY LCDR EDDIE PIEKUSIS, RAN A NOBLE & SON LTD Specialist in Supply and Testing of Wire Rope and Lifting Equipment 49 Benison Road, Winnellie NT 0821 Telephone (08) 8947 4884 Fax (08) 8947 4770 www.nobles.com.au 16 Fariola Street, Silverwater NSW 2128 Telephone (02) 9748 1166 Fax (02) 9647 2958 14 BRANCHES AUSTRALIA WIDE Fully recommended for Naval Support