By Mr. Johnathon Orrell (SDDC)January 30, 2019
The Surface Warriors from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's (SDDC) 838th Transportation Battalion took on operations at the Port of Zeebrugge, Belgium Jan. 29, in addition to their current operations at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.
Both port missions are in support of the 1st Infantry Division's deployment from Fort Riley, Kansas to Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve, with equipment from the division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) and 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) arriving in Antwerp and Zeebrugge, respectively.
Atlantic Resolve is a series of deployments of American forces into Europe in support of the United States' commitment to NATO and its European allies. This is the 14th CAB rotation in support of this mission.
"To be able to work with our NATO partners to ensure a Strong Europe is essential to Atlantic Resolve and we do that by working through the 'team of teams' concept," said Maj. Shawn Orskog, the 838th executive officer.
Supporting two missions simultaneously could put a strain on any unit, but the integration of an SDDC Reserve unit, the 461st Expeditionary Theater Opening Element (ETOE), with the battalion's active forces to support the surge operations helps to ensure mission success.
"The 461st ETOE has enabled us to safely and effectively execute these large scale simultaneous brigade movements without degrading the quality of support we are providing to the warfighter and the theater," said Maj. Aaron Hiatt, the 838th operations officer.
At the port, the total force team tracked helicopters, containers and equipment unloaded from the ships that will be used during the brigade's deployment.
After the cargo was downloaded, it was placed into a staging yard where the helicopters will be reassembled and made flight-ready. The remaining equipment will be moved via barge, commercial line-haul and military convoy.
Orskog says that SDDC's role in these movements is critical to ensuring the equipment is loaded and unloaded in the correct manner.
"Our main focus is port operations and all of the services that go into establishing a port, which ensures we are setting the incoming unit up for success," he said, adding that the battalion's end goal is the same at both ports…"That we safely discharge the vessel with no injuries in the most effective and efficient manner so that we can provide the best support to this unit as possible."