Tacoma to Afghanistan:
Deploying the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team
By Maj. Jim Congrove, 599th Transportation Group
The recent deployment of more than 3,800 troops and 900 pieces of the equip-
ment for the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan was historic by
many measures. It was the first deployment of an SBCT to Afghanistan, the first
combat deployment for the 5th SBCT, and the first operational deployment of US-
TRANSCOM’s Joint Task Force - Port Opening to expedite the move.
The following is a first-person account of the unique move from beginning to end.
n mid-January, a U.S. Transportation Com- never been to the tiny British territory in the In-
mand Request For Information came across dian Ocean, I scanned a wall map in the Opera-
my desk inquiring as to the feasibility of tions hallway of the 599th Transportation Group
moving a brigade-sized element of Stryker in Hawaii, noting Diego Garcia to be located in
vehicles into the Afghanistan theater through a cluster of islands approximately 1,000 miles
Diego Garcia. south of India. Ambitious, I thought, not neces-
The thought was to deliver the equipment sarily for the port piece but certainly for the air
to Diego Garcia by surface, then facilitate its mission that would follow.
onward movement to Afghanistan by air. Having Prior to responding, I conducted some re-
search. It included gathering technical data on
the port’s capabilities, calls to the island, and
staffing the scheme through several people at the
599th who had been involved with missions on
Diego Garcia in the past.
I responded to the RFI, hitting the send key,
closing out the tasker and thinking, “This is
never going to happen…”
Never say never…
Planning and Rehearsal
In mid-March, on my first day back after
returning from the group’s semi-annual exercise
on the Korean Peninsula, Col. Susan David-
son, 599th commander at the time, handed me
a folder containing a warning order. The order