The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Surface Warriors - alongside their commercial and military partners - demonstrated their ability to project strategic readiness through their support of the DEFENDER-Europe 20 exercise.
Surface warriors across the command began planning and working on DEFENDER-Europe 20 moves over six months ago. And although the exercise was scaled back due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, SDDC personnel successfully moved more than 3,000 pieces of equipment through multiple seaports from the United States to Europe.
SDDC’s role in the exercise was to assure the deployment of a combat credible force to Europe, through cooperation and coordination with its military and commercial partners, in support of NATO and the U.S. National Defense Strategy, and then redeploy them back to home station when their mission was complete.
“Our commercial carriers and partners are key to our operations, like the port authorities when we're doing all the intermodal activities and the rail carriers that are bringing in all the combat power,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general.
“Since January, the Army deployed approximately 6,000 Soldiers from the United States to Europe including a division headquarters and an armored brigade combat team,” said Gen. James C. McConville, chief of staff of the Army, during a mid-March press conference.
Surface Warriors assisted deploying those units as they began moving equipment from home stations in late February via rail, line haul and convoy. They staged, processed and loaded over 9,000 pieces of equipment at four U.S. ports, although some of the equipment was either stopped before ships could depart the U.S. or before they could be unloaded in Europe when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.
“This exercise was a good way of working on the craft of deploying. The skills and the tasks that are essential to do this successfully start in the motor pool,” said Lt. Col. Gordon Vincent, commander of SDDC’s 842nd Transportation Battalion located in Beaumont, Texas. “So, every time we get an opportunity to practice how we would execute at speed, we have to take advantage of it.”
The time planning, staging and moving equipment did not go to waste. SDDC and the units they supported were able to exercise the muscle movements necessary for projecting strategic power from the U.S. to Europe at scale.
“We practice so that we get the discipline and the speed to project when our nation needs it and to be there at the right time to deliver the warfighting output that matters,” said Farmen. “That's why these exercises are so important.”
Readiness is the capability of our forces to conduct the full range of military operations to defeat all enemies regardless of the threats they pose, and exercises like this ensures that SDDC and its military and commercial partners can deliver readiness and lethality at speed by getting equipment and supplies to the point of need.
“Strategic readiness is our ability to project forces,” said Farmen. “It's one thing to be trained and ready when you're sitting at your post, camp or station - that's tactical readiness. But, true strategic readiness is our ability to project power anywhere at the time and place of our choosing. That's what makes us a superpower.”