By Staff Sgt. Ange Desinor (3rd ABCT, 4th ID)August 19, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany - When your car breaks down on a road trip, you can usually rely on a call for roadside assistance to help.
But what happens when a U.S. Army tank breaks down nearly 2,000 kilometers away from its parent unit?
Combined-arms battalions of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, call upon their logisticians from the 64th Brigade Support Battalion for help.
"We run resupply missions to Poland twice a week," said 2nd Lt. Edward Garibay, a supply platoon leader for Company A, 64th BSB, 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Those missions are to resupply the Soldiers from three of our battalions who are currently conducting missions remotely in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, and we ensure they have the supplies needed."
Since the 3rd ABCT arrived to Europe in January, BSB convoys have trekked more than 125,000 kilometers (or about 80,000 miles) to nine countries and are on pace to deliver 27,000 parts by the end of the brigade's nine-month rotation as U.S. Army Europe's regionally allocated land force. That's 2 1/2 times busier than back home at Fort Carson, Colorado, and well beyond the normal output of any other supply support activity in the U.S. Army.
Covering so much ground and moving so many parts through multiple nations can test the logisticians.
"We faced some challenges because a lot of the European roads are narrow. We manage and push through as safely as we can. The key thing is planning ahead and being proactive," said Garibay.
The battalions rely on 64th BSB logistic support from afar to feed their forward support companies with parts needed to keep armor equipment running and supplies to keep Soldiers going.
"The main things we supply them with are basic necessities like food, water, soap, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc., as well as ammunition and vehicle parts. If anything breaks down and they don't get the parts needed to fix it, then that compromises their mission. We work diligently and around the clock to ensure they are good to go," said Garibay.
If even one tank goes down, that significantly decreases the combat power of a battalion.
"As soon as a tank goes down, the report is immediately sent up across the brigade. There's only so many tanks within a brigade, and you need to know how much firepower you have," said Garibay.
The 3rd ABCT has operated across a swath from the Baltic Sea in northern Europe to the Black Sea in the south, providing a persistent presence to deter aggression. Quickly providing units with what they need from as far as 1,800 kilometers away requires foresight and efficient supply lines.
"Whether it's in Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland, we have been able to get parts to them in a timely manner," said Cpl. Jeffery Penn, noncommissioned officer in charge of 64th BSB's parts issue section in Company A.
"We are just a battalion and support an entire brigade. Normally we would only be a couple kilometers away from everyone and support them. We have expanded our capabilities to nine different countries across Europe to ensure the brigade is successful," said Penn.
The primary means for 64th BSB to move supplies is the M1075 palletized load system.
"We use the five-wheeled systems and trucks for a resupply convoy system," said Garibay. "We also have other means to get supplies out quickly, especially if it's critical to a mission or exercise. We can airlift it out to the units.
"The amount of support throughout this mission, sometimes on short notice, is really impressive. These Soldiers are resilient and adaptive, even with limited resources. They have been extremely innovative in ensuring that Soldiers out in the field get what they need," he added.