Rail, Port, and Cargo

Safe rail, port, and cargo operations are crucial to a successful deployment and require prior planning and training.  These operations demand the commitment of commanders and leaders at every level to apply the principles of risk management (see DA PAM 385-30) and ensure Soldiers execute tasks to standard.  They also require commanders to appoint a safety officer and NCO for the specified operation (e.g. Railhead Safety Officer, Escort Safety Officer, etc.).  These personnel must be trained and have the appropriate certifications as required.


  • Personnel assigned to operate vehicles and materials handling equipment (MHE) shall be trained, licensed, and experienced.  Use ground guides and ensure operators and ground guides know standard ground guiding procedures.  Review arm and hand signals for ground forces in FM 21-60, Chapter 2 and in Appendix A of TC 21-305-20.
  • Inform personnel about the hazards associated with overhead power lines and remind them to maintain situational awareness and avoid any contact. Also, have them remove or tie down antennas and ensure all equipment is secure.
  • Personnel should avoid placing themselves between objects where they can possibly be pinned or pinched. Instruct them to never drive or walk under suspended loads and under or between railcars.
  • Equip Soldiers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for the mission. At minimum, this includes reflective vest, hard hat, hearing protection, safety toed boots and gloves.
  • Designate at least one trained individual (on orders) to certify hazardous cargo at unit level. Hazardous cargo certifiers must be trained at a Department of Defense (DOD) approved school within the last 24 months. Certifiers require refresher training every two years.
  • The hazardous cargo certifying official is responsible for ensuring the shipment is properly prepared, packaged, marked, inspected and documented. They can certify documentation for commercial and military trucks, rail, sea and air. A common mistake occurs when units send the HAZMAT certifier with the advance party leaving no one to accomplish the HAZMAT inspections during departure operations.
  • The unit Safety Officer must coordinate with the port Safety Officer prior to arrival at port.  Once on site, all unit personnel are required to receive Port Safety/Rules of the Port brief.
  • Supercargoes and escorts carrying weapons will be briefed on specific rules of engagement