ANNISTON, Ala. –
A demonstration of the Rapidly Available Interface for trans-Loading, or RAIL, system was recently conducted at Anniston Army Depot with support from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Anniston, Alabama. Led by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and the Combat Development Command, Ground Vehicle Systems Center, the demonstration was the first technical demonstration of the system.
RAIL, a program sponsored by the United States Transportation Command, began in October 2020. It was developed to provide an expeditionary railhead capability for loading and unloading tracked and wheeled vehicles.
“RAIL is a new, innovative capability that gives warfighters more agility when setting up an expeditionary rail head,” said Justin Strickler, division chief at the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory at the ERDC in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The demonstration was a collaborative effort to showcase the system’s capabilities. “We used this demo to showcase the system in three different configurations,” said Strickler. “We were able to load and unload an M1A1 tank off the end of a rail car and off the side of the rail car.”
DLA Distribution Anniston provided the material handling equipment and rail cars as well as the M1A1 Abrams tanks and drivers. Additional support was provided by soldiers from the 757th Expeditionary Rail Center.
“DLA is actively engaged in modernization,” said Reginald Tyus, chief of vehicle and artillery branch at DDAA. “And Lt. Col. Oladipofaniyi, our commander, saw this demonstration as a way to support warfighters and aid in modernization, which are two of our top priorities.” Tyus added that DLA employees were highly motived and willing, every day, to support the success of the demo.
The demonstration lasted for five days. And, according to Stickler, it was successful, which he attributed to the collaborative effort.
“We’re a research organization, so being able to interface with an operations organization and have soldiers put their hands on the system is great,” he said. “And having both the soldiers and the DLA employees give their feedback proved the power of having a team like this come together.”
The team hopes to return to ANAD next year to complete another demonstration. “The demo we did this time was on a prepared surface,” Strickler said. “We hope to return in a year to show some other capabilities on an unprepared rail laydown yard.” Strickler hopes to show capabilities such as a rail line protection kit, which protects the track from a tank running over it.
Tyus added that DLA Distribution will continue to support missions such as this one. “DLA is always looking at how we can assist the armed services in supporting their mission,” he said. “Supporting this demonstration is just an example of how DLA is continuously involved in supporting the military services.”