U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with 1172nd Movement Control Team, 446th Transportation Battalion, Grafenwoehr, Germany, prepared vehicle convoys from 2d Cavalry Regiment for an upcoming border crossing into Lithuania as part of U.S. Army Europe's exercise Saber Strike 18 near Orzysz, Poland, June 4.
This border crossing is part of 2CR's tactical road march from Vilseck, Germany to Lithuania which began last month, and is the largest ammunition distribution training in Europe to date.
The 1172nd MCT's role during Saber Strike involves coordinating incoming vehicles, counting vehicles and trailers, communicating with unit commanders to determine number of personnel, weapons, and ammunition aboard each vehicle, providing transportation tracking, and coordinating vehicles' transfer to the next checkpoint.
Most importantly, the 1172nd MCT must facilitate communication between the host country and individual units during the multi-national exercise.
MCTs send documentation for diplomatic clearances, customs, and police escorts to the local National Movement Coordination Center for approval. They then re-distribute transportation movement releases (TMRs) to the unit before crossing country borders.
"We encountered a couple challenges," said Sgt. 1st Class Amador Sanchez, 1172nd MCT non-commissioned officer in charge, originally from Chicago, Illinois. "But we identified what the miscommunication was between our reports and [the host country's] reports, came together, and got the information to solve the problem."
Each country in the European Union has its own regulations for which vehicles can be driven on local roads, said Sgt. Jody Galinat, a native of New London, Connecticut and transportation coordinator with 1172nd MCT. The MCT must find out which permits are required before units drive those vehicles and their weapons, cargo, and/or hazardous materials into the country, he added.
The 1172nd MCT must be quick, efficient, and most importantly, accurate, Sanchez noted.
MCTs are trained to notice incorrect or incomplete documents and can correct those deficiencies before the mission continues. Several Soldiers with 1172nd MCT are customs certification officers, meaning they can stamp and send customs documents directly to the host nation.
MCTs, comprised largely of reserve and National Guard Soldiers, provide a mission-essential service to active duty units and to larger transportation battalions.
The 1172nd MCT is currently augmenting 53rd Movement Control Battalion, an active duty unit from Fort Eustis, VA.
The 1172nd MCT coordinated the movement timelines for 2CR during Saber Strike, said CPT Jeremy Littrel, logistical officer with 2CR. They are a critical asset in the success of the exercise.
"[Saber Strike] helped the active duty and reserve sides interact and come together as one unit instead of different pieces," added Sanchez.
Planning and executing movement timelines during a multi-national exercise helped the 1172nd MCT utilize their strengths as a team, and also identify areas needing improvement.
"There have been a lot of experiences here that I can take back to our unit, to focus our training," said Sanchez. "It has been a good learning experience overall and it's definitely what we're here for."
The MCT's higher unit, 446th Trans BN, falls under 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is the U.S. Army Reserve's only forward deployed multifunctional civil affairs unit in Europe providing civil affairs; movement control; human resource; chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological; public affairs and forward engineering support to U.S. Army Europe.
Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise that helps facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and 19 other allied and partner nations.