DoD: Navigating the Department of Defense Transportation Needs

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) is the USA’s largest government agency with a vast number of military bases, personnel and equipment spread across the entire Nation and even as far as worldwide.

To keep this highly complex system operational requires well-orchestrated and highly efficient logistics and transportation solutions.

This is where the best, most experienced transportation companies come into play (including us at PEI πŸ˜‰). Because one things for sure, hauling DoD freight is far different from the transportation of regular freight and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted! Here’s why…

Types of Freight Hauled for DoD

The Department of Defense requires the movement of different categories of cargo frequently.Β Here are some examples of the types of freight you’d expect to transport in this line of work:

Military Vehicles and Equipment 🚁

Armoured vehicles, tanks, aircraft components construction machinery, etc. all fall within this category and are common shipments for the DoD.

Hazardous Equipment and Materials 🧨

Ammunition, explosives and fuels are all hazardous materials also needing transportation solutions. However, it’s important to know that even when you have clearance to transport DoD shipments, you will also need a Hazmat certification to handle these kind of shipments.

Heavy Haul Goods πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ

Prefabricated buildings, base construction equipment, power generators, temporary barracks, etc. are all heavy haul goods needed at the DoD bases.

General Time Sensitive Cargo 🩺

Urgent spare parts, food, medical supplies and construction materials can all be time-sensitive shipments, again needed in the DoD.

How To Become A Partner With The DoD As A Carrier?

To become a successful carrier with the DoD you must go through extensive and rigorous clearance processes. Outlined below:

Step One:

Before even being considered for security clearance to work on hauling DoD freight, a carrier can be sponsored by a customer. This creates a degree of trust in the carrier.

Step Two:

If the sponsorship is complete or you simply apply off your own back. Step two consists of a thorough auditing process. This involves all of the carrier’s systems and processing being investigated to ensure they meet the DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations.

Step Three:

Wait on the verdict. This can be a lengthy process so be sure to provide as much correct information about your business up front to prevent further delays.

Step Four:

Put your staff through the relevant training and make sure to get your drivers DoD certified too, which we cover in the next section. Keep reading to find out how 😊.

How To Get Certified With The DoD As A Driver? 🚚

To become a driver of military freight, drivers are put through an intense security clearance themselves. As the DoD need to know they can trust these drivers with highly dangerous and classified freight such as specialized equipment, weapons, ammunition, explosives, etc. Here’s a sneak peek into the process.

Step One:

All drivers must complete a clearance form which unfortunately takes an incredibly long time (hours). This form covers all things from work history, finances, psychological and emotional health history, criminal history and details of family and friends, etc. This probably seems excessive. But like we said above it’s super important to ensure the driver is of sound mind. While also making sure they don’t have any connections to anyone that might want to sabotage the work at the US DoD, and that the freight doesn’t end up in the wrong hands 🀲. As this could lead to serious issues!

Step Two:

Supply finger prints to assist your application.

Step Three:

It’s essentially then a waiting game. This type of clearance can take weeks or up to a month to be processed and approved.

Step Four:

Complete all relevant training.

Step Five:

Have panic buttons wired into your trucks dash and also get your hands on a wireless handheld panic button to have on yourself at all times. Sounds scary we know, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when transporting such dangerous goods ⚠️

The Unique Demands of DoD Shipments

DoD freight is extremely different to all other freight and requires extra precautions too during the transportation. In most cases, classified cargo such as the ones mentioned above need to be hauled by a team of drivers (at least 2 man teams, or 2 women teams πŸ˜…). This constraint is in place so one person can keep an eye on the cargo, so it’s under constant surveillance, while the other drives, and visa versa.

Also, depending on the freight being hauled and which military bases it’s going between will depend on what restrictions apply. Some bases have more security in place than others and certain classified freight will require a military personnel escort. Another unique aspect of DoD shipping is that sometimes you won’t even know what your load consists of until you get to pick-up. It will also be at that pick-up that you get handed the BOL (bill of lading) to keep the shipments as secret as possible and minimize any organized crime.

*It’s super important to understand that drivers of this type of classified freight need to have the utmost confidentiality. Meaning, that they can not discuss their cargo with anyone except for their fleet manager or back office staff dealing with its’ transportation.*

What Other Requirements Are There After Becoming Certified?

Specialized equipmentΒ and securing measures : These are needed when hauling most of the cargo for the DoD. Because most shipments will contain cargo that are high value and can be extremely sensitive.

Safety & Compliance : The DoD only want to work with the best, you can probably imagine why. Not only is their freight dangerous (if in the wrong hands) but also extremely sensitive and not to be shouted about. This is why the DoD hold their partners to the highest of standards. Meaning, they will do regular checks to ensure their shipments are with the best.

Insurances : For obvious reasons, not any old insurance policy will cut it when it comes to the DoD types of freight. Specialized and specific insurance policies are required to handle such cargo to meet their requirements.

Dependable partners : The DoD need to now that when they have an urgent shipment, that it can be fulfilled exactly when needed. Most of the time these shipments will be under a time crunch, so reliable and dependable partners are a MUST.

So, Why Should Carriers Partner With The DoD?

There’s a ton of reasons why a carrier should consider partnering with our Department of Defense, if they can fulfil the above requirements. Here’s a few to get thinking about…

  • Reason #1 If you want to feel an immense amount of pride and duty by contributing to our nation’s defense. It’s extremely rewarding!
  • Reason #2 In this line of work there is a certain amount of demand, due to the sheer volume of ongoing transportation needs within the DoD, plus it’s super interesting work!
  • Reason #3 Who wouldn’t want to transport explosives 😯?


It’s safe to say that trucking companies that play a part in the logistics and transportation of DoD freight, play a vital role in the nation’s defense logistics. There are a ton of requirements to be able to take part in these types of jobs. However, for the transportation companies that can meet the requirements, such as appropriate resources and certifications. Then, this line of work can be extremely rewarding. Especially in the way that it presents great opportunities and patriotic contributions πŸ˜„


Need help with any of your specialized shipments?

At PEI we’re experts in specialized freight, including DoD shipments and can handle yours with any custom requirements.

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