BREMERHAVEN, Germany -- As Operation Atlantic Resolve continues to expand throughout the region, senior military leaders participating in U.S. Army Europe's Sustainment Terrain Walk are getting a first-hand look at two of the organization's critical logistical maritime hubs.
From a broad standpoint, the ports of Bremerhaven and Nordenham, operate to provide coordination of arriving equipment, such as the European Activity Set, to anywhere forward-stationed units may be.
In addition to arriving equipment, the ports also provide the means for shipping equipment back to the U.S. This allows for fast and efficient large-scale deployments of troops with their equipment to Europe while assisting our allies to deter aggression.
"There is nothing we cannot move," said Capt. Jeffery Sowecke, commander, 950th Transportation Company. "We can push, pull or drag any piece of equipment that is within the Department of Defense fleet."
Dialing into a more logistical view, the two hubs each have a unique responsibility.
Bremerhaven, the vastly larger or the two, receives nearly all of the equipment, expect for ammunition, which is handled by the Nordenham port.
With over 80,000 square meters readily available at Bremerhaven, this capacity translates to having the ability to receive a fully filled armored brigade's equipment, store that equipment until its respective unit arrives, then send it forward to its final destination out of the multiple railheads and mobile ramps onsite.
This larger port has the capability to dock three vessels simultaneously, making the increased traffic possible. Additionally, with the increase in equipment movement, a movement control team has been implemented strictly for full-time port security.
The 838th Transportation Battalion at the Bremerhaven port has been an impressive and critical asset at the port.
Arguably, one the team's most notable movement was in September 2014. As the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, prepared to arrive as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, they were able to offload over 370 pieces of equipment in approximately 14 hours from the ship and into storage.
Though a smaller port, Nordenham plays an equally valuable role. The port harbors mostly imported coal, and munitions would have a much more difficult time reaching downrange Solder's weapons without its capabilities.
This privately owned port has been a part of the U.S. Army in Europe dating back to World War II and the relationships between the U.S. and German owners continues to build interoperability, especially as munitions for OAR continues to grow.
Overseeing the logistical needs of both ports is the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 16th Sustainment Brigade. The brigade created a Marshaling Area and Control Group, an element of approximately 15 Soldiers to manage the two ports' operations.
What it [the MACG] brings to these nodes is four items," explains Lt. Col. Steve Dowgielewicz, commander, 39th Transportation Battalion. "It brings a knowledge of the European distribution network, HAZMAT-15 [level] certified personnel [to handle incoming hazardous materials], customs clearance officer support, and more importantly is that it brings connectivity to the folks who can fix problems."
Dowgielewicz said the most basic way to describe what the MACG does is they that take all of the moving parts and make sure operations run smoothly so every reaches the common goal or delivering the requested assets.
Estonian Maj. Oliver Kits says he is fascinated by the productivity of the ports.
"It is very different when you see it on paper then when you see it in person," he explained. He also added that this was a vital way to make connections he can bring back to his leaders back home.
Without the two ports and the Soldiers and civilians who meet Army Europe's day-to-day logistical demands, it would be drastically difficult to make 30,000 Soldiers feel like 300,000.
About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.