By Staff Sgt. Eric McDonoughSeptember 14, 2017
This September, 14 nations are gathered together in Western Ukraine at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center to participate in Exercise Rapid Trident-2017, a two-week exercise designed to test and build Ukraine's interoperability with NATO allies and partners.
Approximately two thousand personnel are participating in this year's exercise. Some are serving as observer coach trainers, some are running the computer-assisted command post exercise, but all require food, water, shelter and transportation.
Meeting these basic needs, all of which keep the exercise running smoothly, is the responsibility of a small group of Soldiers-the logisticians.
"Our mission is unique," said Maj. Christopher Ribera, the logistics officer for the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. "We didn't fall in on any preexisting, established supply lines."
Logistics, at its simplest, Ribera explained, is acquiring and moving resources to the right place at the right time.
However, as simple as it sounds, logisticians know from experience just how complicated this can be.
To prepare for this year's exercise, the JMTG-U logistics team, including the training battalion's forward support company, Foxtrot, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th IBCT, painted tactical vehicles to match the surrounding area of exercise operations and managed contracts for various areas of exercise support, including contracts for food, water, fuel, non-tactical vehicles and field sanitation equipment.
The logisticians also worked closely with multinational partners and support from U.S. Army Europe and the California National Guard to synchronize resources and deconflict areas of friction.
"We've integrated our maintenance team with the various mechanics who are here to support the exercise; [the additional personnel here for Rapid Trident] have exceeded [the dining hall] capacity so we've also created a feeding schedule with our coalition partners," Ribera said.
Due to its status as a non-NATO and non-European Union nation, Ukraine presents many logistical challenges, most of which do not exist in the rest of Europe. Because Ukraine does not yet have an open border with its neighboring countries, the planning required to support a large exercise, like Rapid Trident, is far more complex.
"From a logistical standpoint, the JMTG-U mission has been more difficult than our previous deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan," said Col. David Jordan, the U.S. co-director of this year's Rapid Trident and the commander of the 45th IBCT and the JMTG-U. "However, a close relationship and cooperation with our Ukrainian and Polish partners and our higher headquarters has helped us to overcome many of the logistical challenges here and to accomplish our mission."