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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Coordinating Military Deployments on Roads and Highways:
A Guide for State and Local Agencies

This publication is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.

Chapter 2. Roles and Responsibilities of Key State and Local Agencies During Military Deployments

Many agencies outside of the formal military structure play a critical role in ensuring that the military deploys safely and efficiently with minimal impact to traditional highway traffic. This chapter describes the six major agencies directly involved in military deployments. For each major agency, individuals essential to effective deployments are identified along with their primary responsibilities. Opportunities for collaboration and coordination within and across agencies are discussed. The roles and responsibilities of the State agencies that assist in this mission (described in this section) span multiple agencies, require interagency coordination and partnering, and include activities such as:

  • Supporting normal agency functions.
  • Responding to special requests for traffic management and control.
  • Augmenting traffic operations during special circumstances by providing additional agency resources and personnel.
  • Increasing agency responsiveness and filling special roles during periods of heightened security or critical need.
  • Contributing to maintenance and/or restoration of public order and services associated with military deployments during emergencies.

Figure 4 identifies the six key agencies involved in the overall process. In addition to primary roles and responsibilities of each agency, this section helps to delineate their major coordination or interaction points. As the figure indicates, each agency contributes to the effectiveness of military coordination plans and procedures. Roles vary and include multiple levels of support for coordination, planning, resource and asset preparedness, operational assistance, contingency response, and performance assessment.

drawing that shows effective military coordination plans and procedures as the center of a collaborative effort among six agencies: state department of transportation, state department of public safety, defense movement coordinator, emergency management, military units (deploying), and port of embarkation

Figure 4. Effective Coordination Procedures or Plans Require a Collaborative Effort Among Six Key Agencies

State Department of Transportation (SDOT)

In general, the SDOT ensures that highway operations are available to meet public and military needs in the event of a national security emergency. To accomplish this, SDOT offices coordinate with both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and military transportation organizations such as the SDDC TEA to receive guidance and policy to ensure that State transportation programs are addressing current civilian and military requirements. While the emphasis in this subsection is on SDOT, similar functions may need to be performed by city and local transportation agencies, depending on a region or State's jurisdictional responsibilities for the public road network. During a national security emergency involving a military deployment, the SDOT plays a primary role by ensuring the desired routes are passable for the types of equipment and volumes and by issuing permits to the military for vehicles using the State roadway system. Because some military vehicles are oversize and overweight by state/local limitations, it is critical that the SDOT assist in determining which routes (roads and bridges) will be able to support the equipment. The SDOT permit officer must coordinate closely with regional and district SDOT offices to ensure that height and weight clearance information is timely and accurate for every area through which a convoy may pass on both planned and contingency routes. Convoy permit requests are typically sent to SDOTs by the State Defense Movement Coordinator (DMC).

SDOT offices provide additional support for military convoy or Department of Defense (DoD) commercial movements. This support may include traffic advisories and information on construction work zone restrictions or closures, traffic-related weather advisories, conditions at public rest areas/rest stop/ refueling locations, incidents that may affect convoy timeliness, and the locations and times of recurring traffic congestion. The permit officer (or designee) must also be available throughout a convoy deployment in the event new or revised permits for oversize/overweight vehicles are needed as an approved route becomes impassable. Figure 5 shows an example of a special-use military transporter.

photo of a special-use military transporter, a heavy equipment transport system vehicle, crossing a highway bridge

Figure 5. Example of a Heavy Equipment Transport (HET) System Vehicle in Action

SDOT traffic engineers assess and monitor traffic capacity and operations on designated or preferred deployment routes. Through traffic monitoring techniques and estimates of military or DoD commercial vehicular volumes, the traffic operation specialists are able to ensure military needs are met without disrupting general civilian traffic. Many Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices, including Traffic Management Centers (TMC), may be utilized to assist in monitoring traffic conditions and conveying critical and timely information to both military and civilian drivers. A more detailed discussion of ITS technologies is presented in chapter 5. Figure 6 illustrates one example of an ITS application.

photo of a truck passing under an overhead roadway sign that reads "overheight vehicle exit right"

Figure 6. State DOTs Have New ITS Options to Assist Highway Operations

State Department of Public Safety and Law Enforcement Agencies

The objective of the State Department of Public Safety (SDPS) and law enforcement agencies is to ensure public safety. The SDPS would respond to a travel management incident involving a military convoy outside of a military installation in the same manner as it does for any situation. As the SDPS is often called upon to support routine military convoy movements, it also plays a critical supporting role during a national security emergency. Usually State and local law enforcement agencies are not manned or equipped to provide convoy protection against possible terrorist attacks. However, under the extreme circumstances of public safety, assistance from Federal agencies—FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), etc.—may be needed, and State and local law enforcement may also be called upon for assistance.

State Law Enforcement

The primary mission of State police during a military deployment is the same as their everyday mission: to enforce safe driving rules and traffic regulations on highways. Additional responsibilities for State police during military deployments include:

  • Ensuring that convoys are not creating safety hazards to civilian traffic or themselves due to unsafe practices.
  • Providing convoy movement control when requested by the military, such as convoy escort through congested areas or around hazards, as well as traffic signal controls for improved flow.
  • Coordinating with State or regional SDOT Operations Centers (as necessary).
  • Providing convoy accident or incident assistance.
  • Assisting with public relations and public information.
  • Providing reroute or detour recommendations.
  • Relaying communication between the convoy commanders and their military movement control centers through local, State, or regional law enforcement dispatch centers.

Local Law Enforcement

Local law enforcement agencies provide support to convoys within their jurisdictions similar to that which State police provide. They may provide convoy movement control when requested by the military, such as convoy escort through congested areas. They may also assist in intersection clearance or synchronized traffic control and respond to accidents or incidents that involve convoys. Local law enforcement is often a critical communication link for information that needs to be relayed between the convoy commanders in the field and the installation Provost Marshal Office.

Emergency Management

Local, State, and regional emergency management (EM) agencies are responsible for supporting activities of emergency responders. That support may be providing resources (equipment, supplies, and manpower), communications, or coordination. The same responsibilities exist during convoy operations. Depending on the laws of the State, the governor or designated agency representatives may activate local, State, or regional Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) to provide 24-hour support to the deployment process during a national security emergency. The EOCs have enhanced communication capabilities and interoperability and can be used to coordinate all facets of convoy support and response. It is recommended the EM community work closely with the traffic engineering and operations community in an overall response and supporting role for military deployments.

Emergency management agencies are responsible for:

  • Monitoring general conditions affecting public safety.
  • Coordinating emergency response actions involving the convoys.
  • Providing communications support for law enforcement, fire, HAZMAT, and EMS operations in relation to convoy operations.
  • Assisting with public relations and public information.
  • Providing resources in support of emergency responses and recovery.

State Defense Movement Coordinator

The State Defense Movement Coordinator (DMC), appointed by the State Adjutant General, is the key link between the military and SDOT. The DMC is a National Guard position and the office is considered part of the State Area Command (STARC). The DMC is the military's single point of contact for receiving approval from the SDOT for highway permits and convoy clearance requests. The primary responsibilities of the DMC are:

  • Operating the State Movement Coordination Center (SMCC) for the purpose of receiving and approving convoy movements on public highways. Within the SMCC, requests for convoy movements will be scheduled and conflicting movement requests will be reconciled.
  • Completing and monitoring cross-State coordination as required.
  • Establishing a liaison position at the military installation for large-scale movements.
  • Planning convoy movements through an automated system—the Mobilization Movement Control System (MOBCON).
  • Providing a Convoy Movement Order (CMO) for all convoys that comply with civil laws and military regulations.

The DMC verifies the validity of the convoy request, ensures alternative means of movement are not available, and coordinates with State, local, and toll authorities (as appropriate) to obtain civil permits necessary for the requested move. The DMC receives requests for special hauling permits from the deploying installations. The Transportation Branch of STARC works directly with the SDOT to obtain special hauling permits for military oversize/overweight equipment.

The DMC requires that convoys have a Request for Special Hauling Permit for each oversize/overweight vehicle attached to the CMO.

Military Deploying Installation Offices

Four major offices at the deploying installation have a responsibility for convoy formation and successful, safe deployment to the destination. While State agencies have direct contact primarily with the DMC, an understanding of these four offices will assist State agencies during abnormal or special circumstances.

Directorate of Logistics

At the installation, the Directorate of Logistics (DOL) plans and coordinates the military deployment resources for the pending deployment. Every military organization with a role in the deployment process coordinates information with the DOL, which is usually responsible for planning convoy routes in advance of convoy movements, establishing convoy support along those routes (resting areas, refueling, and lodging), staffing positions along the routes, and coordinating all physical movement of equipment during a deployment. The DOL coordinates unit convoy requests and submits the requests to the DMC for convoy clearance and special permits. In addition, the DOL procures commercial highway carriers for movement of supplies and equipment not carried on military vehicles. Therefore, coordination between the DMC and DOL is needed to properly identify and inform other State agencies of the full range, number, and types of vehicles that will be deployed.

Provost Marshal

The installation provost marshal (PM) is responsible primarily for coordinating civilian law enforcement support to convoy operations. The PM contacts State police, sheriff's departments, and local police departments along the convoy route to coordinate law enforcement assistance when the convoy crosses congested areas, as well as when threat conditions or intelligence data indicate that extra vigilance is warranted.

Convoy Commander

Each convoy will be organized under the control of a convoy commander. After the convoy is released by the DOL office, the convoy commander is in charge and should have contact with all subordinate commanders during the movement. The convoy commander would be in direct contact with State agency field personnel for local or regional information pertinent to the convoy movement. (See Appendix B–Convoy Facts.)

Public Affairs

The installation Public Affairs Office (PAO) coordinates all media actions and is the single point of contact for deployment information available for public release. State and local agency public information offices should maintain contact with the military installation PAO so that deployment facts given to the public remain accurate and consistent.

Commercial Seaports of Embarkation

Typically, the destination for military convoys is a commercial seaport for loading on Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships for overseas movement. When the destination is a commercial seaport, additional agencies have a primary role in supporting the moving convoys. These agencies, as described below, have the responsibility of ensuring the commercial seaport is able to absorb the volume and types of convoys so that the time spent on public roads or in port staging areas is minimized.

SDDC Transportation Battalions

SDDC Transportation Battalions (TBN) are responsible for assisting the military unit by ensuring the equipment to be convoyed to a seaport is best configured for loading onto the ship. The SDDC TBN sends personnel to assist at the military installation and the seaport. TBNs are located across the United States, and each TBN is responsible for a certain number of seaports. In coordinating with the seaport to plan for large military deployments, port planning orders (PPO) are developed to ensure sufficient space and berths are available for arriving military equipment and ships. Five Army transportation battalions support the DoD port deployment process:

  • 832nd Transportation Battalion, Jacksonville, Florida.
  • 833d Transportation Battalion, Seattle, Washington.
  • 834th Transportation Battalion, Military Ocean Terminal, Concord, California.
  • 841st Transportation Battalion, Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, South Carolina.
  • 842nd Transportation Battalion, Beaumont, Texas.

Port Support Activity

The Port Support Activity (PSA) is an office run by an onsite member of the DOL staff from the deploying installation. This operational and organizational configuration enables the DOL's direct involvement with the convoy from deployment notification until the material is loaded for transport. Within the port, the PSA representative reports to the SDDC TBN and is responsible for:

  • Obtaining lodging and return transportation for convoy drivers and assistants.
  • Ensuring the equipment is marked, labeled, and prepared for loading.
  • Communicating changes in port status to TBNs.

Military Sealift Command

Military Sealift Command (MSC) has the primary responsibility of ensuring that ships (vessels) arrive to meet the deploying units at the port by the time specified in the port call order. If the correct ships are not able to reach the berths for loading, there will be a backlog of equipment at the port, creating a backlog of convoys on the roads and storage areas in or surrounding the port. It is imperative the correct ships are available at the correct time to match the arriving units.

The Commercial Port Owner/Operator

Commercial ports designated by the military as strategic ports have been issued a port planning order (PPO) by Maritime Administration (MARAD) at the request of SDDC. Consequently, these designated commercial ports will provide staging areas and berthing facilities for military operations, and assist in obtaining contracted labor for large-scale military deployments. Generally, there are no financial incentives in receiving a designation as a strategic port. The port negotiates military activities in the areas designated for the commercial operations. In this case, it is critical that the commercial port receives an advance notification from SDDC of arriving military cargo. Figure 7 depicts a common port-side operation.

photo of a truck being loaded onto a military sealift command ship

Figure 7. After Arriving at the Seaport, Equipment Such as This Truck Is Loaded onto MSC Ships for Overseas Movement

Special Situations

Commercial seaports deploy and redeploy the majority of military assets, and, as a result, they have formal organizational structures to support these complex operations. Occasionally, military assets are deployed to other locations such as:

  • Aerial Ports of Embarkation (APOE)—used when cargo is time sensitive and is able to be transported by air. The military often uses organic (military) facilities to conduct airlift operations, so the impact on public roadways is often minimal.
  • Military Depot and Contractor Repair Facilities—equipment that has been deployed often needs to be repaired back in the United States and prepared for redeployment as needed. This often creates an unexpected cycle of large military equipment moving in and out of remote depot repair or contractor service facilities via rail or commercial carriers. The effects on public roadways tend to be local/regional. Public roadway management is handled on a case-by-case basis between the depot repair manager and local authorities.
  • National Special Security Events (NSSE)—under the National Response Plan (NRP), events within the United States may be designated as national security events and may require coordinated military deployments at the State or Federal level to provide additional security. These deployments are coordinated on an as-needed basis through emergency management agencies and the military in the region.
  • Temporary Military Staging Locations—military installations may experience high-volume movements of military equipment and/or personnel to meet logistical schedules or training requirements. These movements are generally coordinated with the DMC.
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