By Doug MagillMay 15, 2019
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - A traffic management specialist from U.S. Army Europe's two-star logistics command has been recognized as the U.S. Army's top civilian transportation expert.
Patrick Robert, 21st Theater Sustainment Command traffic management specialist, was presented the 2018 Transportation Civilian of the Year award, May 7, during a ceremony at the U.S. Army's Transportation Corps headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Robert oversees a team of six Soldiers and civilians in the 21st TSC's commercial highway branch responsible for ordering of commercial transportation for U.S. Army Europe operations throughout the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. Robert's team has taken over one-time-only contracting of trucks from U.S. European Command to move forces across Europe as part of U.S. Army Europe's support to NATO deterrence. The one-time-only contracts are initiated for movements where there is a lack of existing rates between specific locations.
"We took on functions from U.S. European Command J4 to provide more timely and responsive support to U.S. Army Europe, while allowing the J4 staff to focus on increasing capacity and establishing rates for Atlantic Resolve locations," said John Gallagher, deputy in charge of 21st Theater Sustainment Command's theater movements center, which oversees the commercial highway branch. "We set up the commercial highway branch in 2018 and we immediately saw a dramatic improvement in our access to commercial capacity and timely ability to support large movements."
The commercial highway branch was functional at initial operating capacity, May 2018, and at full operational capacity that September. 21st TSC performing this function instead of U.S. European Command, allowed for better service to U.S. Army Europe. By connecting the requiring unit with the commercial highway branch, we are better able to tailor the requested support to meet the requirement.
"In 2018, we really upped our game significantly," Gallagher said. "The commercial highway branch increased access to our commercial transportation capacity and our ability to provide mission focused solutions."
In addition, Patrick and his team coordinate through the Movement Coordination Center Europe who in turn works with Host Nation support officers through their Inland Surface Transport cell from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. This allows the branch to access additional host nation military and commercial transportation resources.
Since 2018, the branch has been able to complete missions such as moving multinational partners from Georgia, Ukraine, and Romania to Hohenfels, Germany for training; and moving multiple brigade combat teams from ports in western Europe to eight different locations in Poland. When rail delays were expected after a derailment in southeastern Europe, the Commercial Highway branch provided road solutions to clear two train loads of heavy military vehicles within 10 days of notification, to minimize impacts on unit training.
"The transportation movements center has taken on an enormous amount of responsibility from U.S. Army Europe and from European Command," said Lt. Col. John Hirsch, 21st Theater Sustainment Command theater transportation operations chief. "Patrick was able to take a complex task and run with it. It turned out extremely well for the 21st TSC, in its ability to influence and effect transportation operations in U.S. Army Europe and U.S. European Command."
Transportation operations in Europe can present a special challenge, partially due to the dynamic of moving military assets from not only the U.S. Army, but also of NATO allies and partner nations through multiple countries throughout the European theater. All making for a complex problem set, unique to the U.S. Army Europe mission.
"A lot of things that are happening in the Department of Defense are focused here in Europe," Hirsch said. "And having someone who has been recognized as the best civilian is not only a highlight for the 21st, but for U.S. Army Europe as well."