By John OrrellJanuary 25, 2019
Surface Warriors from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's (SDDC) 838th Transportation Battalion, 598th Transportation Brigade are conducting operations at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium to move the Devil Brigade -- 1st Infantry Division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (1/1 ID ABCT) -- into Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve.
Led by U.S. Army Europe since 2014, Atlantic Resolve builds readiness, increases interoperability and enhances the bonds between European allied and partner militaries with multinational training events as part of its Strong Europe campaign. U.S. based units deploy in support of Atlantic Resolve on nine-month rotations.
In conjunction with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), Belgium military and port personnel, the 838th has been preparing for this operation over the last nine months to ensure proper logistics are in place for a successful mission.
"When planning for a movement of this size, we first received the theater requirements generated by the 21st TSC, and then begin planning at USTRANSCOM and SDDC headquarters for the reception, staging and onward movement (of equipment)," said Maj. Aaron Hiatt, the operations officer for the 838th.
The Devil Brigade began their journey at their home station of Fort Riley, Kansas.
The first SDDC unit the brigade worked with was the 841st Transportation Battalion from SDDC's 597th Transportation Brigade. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, the 841st planned and executed the movement of the brigade's equipment to the Port of Charleston and then uploaded all of the equipment onto multiple vessels at the port.
When the vessels arrived at the Port of Antwerp, the 838th began download operations for the thousands of pieces of equipment packed bumper to bumper and side by side in the ships' cargo holds.
During download operations, the Surface Warriors of the 838th methodically track and annotate each piece of equipment coming off the ship to ensure every piece arrives from the United States at the right time and place.
"Our personnel tally and plan the placement of all of the pieces into the port's holding yard. This allows for maximum usage of the finite amount of space we have," said Hiatt. "As the single port managers, we manage, synchronize and choreograph the plans."
Follow-on movements taking place simultaneously with download operations add an additional layer of complexity to the operation, with equipment being loaded onto trains, barges and trucks for onward movement into the European theater.
"We have equipment coming off the ship, we have it being tallied, we have it being positioned and we have it being moved -- all at the same time," said Lt. Col. John Thyng, the commander of the 838th.
"This takes great skill and patience to ensure everything is being done correctly and, most importantly, safely."
Col. Jin Pak, the 598th Transportation Brigade commander, is pleased with the support the 838th has provided to the Devil Brigade's deployment to Europe and is confident they will continue the effort through successful completion of the mission.
"We are poised and ready to continue this operation and any future operations to deliver our armed forces and the materiel to sustain them here in the European Command area of responsibility," he said.
"We are proud to be at the forefront delivering readiness and lethality to the theater," added Pak.