POWIDZ, Poland -- The 16th Sustainment Brigade and 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion hosted a joint brief with the U.S. Air Force for members of the House Armed Services Committee and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, here April 9.

Five members of the House Armed Services Committee listened to Soldiers discuss their experiences deploying to Europe, and discuss the relief-in-place (RIP) process with 18th CSSB, 16th SB's transfer of authority to Task Force Rook -- a multi-component sustainment force led by the 497th CSSB.

"The relationship between the United States and its allies is vital," said Congressman Steven M. Palazzo, representative of Mississippi's 4th Congressional District. "We stand together, and we stand strong."
The multi-component formation, with National Guard formations from South Carolina and U.S. Army Reserve formations from Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts, increases the 16th Sustainment Brigade's ability to provide operational reach and to sustain formations operating across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

"We are excited to exercise our capabilities and I am excited to broaden my experience through this rotation to Europe," said 2nd Lt. Fletcher Hopkins, a fuel distribution platoon leader assigned to the 227th Composite Supply Company from the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "In Europe we will be able to conduct real-world missions across a distance over 1,300 miles."

After visiting with Soldiers, Mika briefed the delegation on the status of the alliance between Polish and U.S. forces, and the opportunities for heightened interoperability.

Strengthening relationships with allies, integrating the Army Reserve and National Guard, utilizing regionally allocated forces from the United States, and empowering junior leaders across all chains of command is vital to sustaining a strong Europe.