Watch Now

Logistics of military drawdown requires tactical precision


As the U.S. military continues withdrawal of troops around the world, transportation logistics plays an important role. Military exit strategies involve the withdrawal not just of personnel but of equipment — everything from machinery to office supplies — as well as the dismantling of entire facilities.

Bob McGhee, AIT Worldwide Logistics’ director of government and aerospace operations, detailed the unique logistical challenges involved in transporting military goods around the world.

Global supply chain management providers such as AIT have answered the call to aid in the military’s drawdown from areas of conflict. According to McGhee, AIT is already retrograding two bases in the Middle East and Central Africa.

“Based on the location of each military base, it’s very challenging,” McGhee said. “We’re doing everything from dismantling facilities to crating ground support equipment.”

With more than 75 locations worldwide, AIT provides sea, air and ground support in nearly every industry. However, McGhee explained that the planning process is far from easy.

Pre-planning is usually conducted months in advance. In addition, some of the military equipment slated for transport is oversized and bulky, requiring flat rack ocean containers which McGhee said are often difficult to procure. But the biggest challenge for military shippers is safety. He said that ensuring safe passage for each mode of transportation is no easy task.

Shipping in general is likely to remain a challenge for everyone entering the new year. McGhee expects air and ocean capacity to be extremely tight heading into 2021, likely persisting throughout the entire first half of the year. He said that peak shipping season will continue for the next several months due to the “unbelievable” number of high-priced chartered flights already scheduled.

“What I recommend to my customers — as well as any shipper or consignee — is to work with your service providers well in advance,” McGhee said. “The COVID-19 vaccine distribution is going to take a tremendous amount of air capacity out of the global market. Plan in advance as far out as you can.”

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.