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U.S. Army Vessels (USAV SP4 James A. Loux (LSV-6), USAV Monterrey (LCU30), USAV Matamoros (LCU26), and USAV Wilson Warf (LCU11) from the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, XVIII Airborne Corps, departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis, March 12, 2024. Photo courtesy U.S. Central Command

U.S. Army Vessels depart Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia carry equipment to build a temporary humanitarian pier in Gaza., March 12, 2024. Photo courtesy U.S. Central Command

Army JLOTS Unit Sets Sail on Gaza Pier Mission

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1965
March 13, 2024

The Pentagon is providing new details on U.S. military efforts to build a temporary pier in Gaza to supply civilians with aid supplies as the first of several vessels, part of a specialized army unit, get underway from Virginia.

The creation of a roll-on, roll-off pier will allow the U.S. and its allies to provide ship-to-shore humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The Pentagon expects the pier to be fully functioning in approximately 60 days, facilitating the delivery of around 2 million meals per day.

The pier is in addition to U.S. air drops of food and supplies to Gaza, while the U.S. Agency for International Development is striving to open land routes.

The first watercraft used to build the pier, manned by troops from the 7th Transportation Brigade, started their weeks-long transit to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility just days after President Joe Biden ordered the emergency operation in his State of the Union Address last week.

The U.S. Central Command said on Sunday that the U.S. Army Vessel (USAV) General Frank S. Besson (LSV-1) departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis en route to the Eastern Mediterranean carrying the first equipment to establish the temporary pier. Four additional Army vessels from Joint Base Langley-Eustis—the USAVs Monterrey, Matamoros, SP4 James A. Loux and Wilson Wharf—set sail Tuesday to join the operation.

The Brigade is a part of the XVIII Airborne Corps and is the Army’s top watercraft unit specializing in Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS). JLOTS systems allow the joint use of Army and Navy logistics assets to deliver vital supplies to troops or civilians in any global location, even in austere environments.

Once the unit arrives, it will commence the construction of a 1,800-foot causeway, known as a Trident Pier, off the coast of Gaza.

The Assistant Commanding General for Support at the Corps, Army Brig. Gen. John B. Hinson, commented on the readiness of the corps and its ability to respond to any contingency operation globally within 18 hours. “The 7th TB(X) is one of these units that falls in that category where all of their units are very deployable for an immediate response force for different types of contingencies all around the world,” he said.

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder emphasized the importance of the JLOTS capability in continuing aid delivery without deploying U.S. forces on the ground in Gaza.

“We’ll be working with partners in the region to be on the receiving end of [the JLOTS installation], but at no time will we require U.S. forces to actually go on the ground,”Ryder said. “Our role will be essentially to provide the service of getting [the aid] to the causeway, at which point it will then be distributed.”

The 7th TB(X) has a history of deploying the JLOTS capability, last used operationally to deliver humanitarian assistance following the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010. More recently, soldiers from the 7th TB(X) participated in a 2023 joint defense exercise between Australia and the United States called Exercise Talisman Sabre.

The unit’s commitment to humanitarian assistance was apparent in the words of Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Benjamin Tate, the chief engineer on one of the vessels heading for Gaza.

“We’re extremely proud that we get to participate in humanitarian relief,” Tate said. “Me personally, if my family was in that situation, I’d want somebody to be willing to help. So, when we were told that was the task, our guys are ramping the boat up and getting ready.”

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