ZAGAN, Poland - The trains are being loaded, and over the next six days an entire combined-arms battalion's equipment will move from one NATO country to another.
"It's pretty amazing when you look back on what we have done,"' said Lt. Col. John Gilliam, commander, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment (Iron Knights), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, as he watched tanks being loaded on rail cars Jan. 25, 2017.
"We got our equipment here in Poland in mid-January," said Gilliam. "Within days, we were firing our tanks and Bradleys. Now, less than 10 days later, we are reloading our equipment on trains and moving to Germany, where we will continue to project our combat power."
This is the first of several pushes by 3rd Brigade, 4th Inf. Div. to move onward from Poland to seven other countries in central and Eastern Europe as part of a persistent U.S. armored presence in the region. Over the next few weeks, other combined-arms units in the brigade will follow suit and begin moving into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
The movement of 1st Bn., 66th Armor Regt. to Germany is a prime example of how the 3rd Brigade is exhibiting its ability to move freely from one NATO country to another, an effort made in part to show how the brigade could respond quickly if called to support an allied nation, said Gilliam.
In November, 3rd Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., loaded around 2,800 pieces of equipment onto railcars in Colorado, and shipped them to Beaumont, Texas, where they were placed on cargo ships bound for the port of Bremerhaven, Germany. The ships - loaded with the ABCT's full set of heavy equipment - arrived in early January in Germany, where they were loaded onto rail cars and shipped to Poland.
The movement of equipment and troops into and around Europe kicks off what will be a continuous rotation of armored brigades from the United States as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Iron Brigade's move to Germany will enhance deterrence capabilities in the region and improve the U.S. ability to respond to potential crisis and defend its allies and partners within the European community.
While the equipment and Soldiers will begin to arrive in Germany later this week, the battalion is already preparing to train.
"We hit the ground running in Poland, and we will hit the ground running in Germany," said Gilliam. "Our Soldiers are absolutely ready to do whatever is asked of them."
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.