ALEXANDROUPOLI, Greece – The U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Greek Minister of Defense Niko Panagiotopoulos, visited the port and spoke to a group of senior U.S. and Greek civilian and military leaders here July 23.
The arrival of elements of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in support of operation Atlantic Resolve served as the occasion for the senior leader’s visit. The 101st CAB is replacing the 3rd Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade. Soldiers with the 101st began to arrive in Germany in late June, while their equipment arrived through ports in La Rochelle, France, and here at Alexandroupoli during July. In total, the 101st CAB is deploying with approximately 2,000 personnel, 50 UH-60 and HH-60 Black Hawks, 4 CH-47 Chinooks, 25 AH-64 Apaches and more than 1,800 wheeled vehicles and pieces of equipment.
The Commanding General, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Maj. Gen. Christopher Mohan, along with Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia, 1CD FWD, commanding general, and Brigadier Jo Chestnutt, commander, 104th Logistic Support Brigade (UK) met with the minister and ambassador during the visit.
“I also want to say a special thank you to the key stakeholders in Operation Atlantic Resolve, Major General Mohan and Brigadier General Sylvia. It’s great to have you and your soldiers here with us in Greece, along with the support of our U.K. ally represented by General Chestnut,” said Pyatt. “The 101st Airborne is one of the truly storied units of the U.S. Army. I’m very proud to have them with us here in Greece today.”
The ambassador highlighted recent infrastructure investments the U.S. had made at the Alexandroupoli port and the impact these improvements had on the port’s ability to support the movement of U.S., allied and partner military forces.
“Last September, we were here at Alexandroupoli to mark the completion of the $2.3 million U.S. Army-funded project to remove the sunken dredger Olga, which had blocked full access to the pier since 2010,” Pyatt said. “The Olga’s removal improved access and flexibility, enhanced the port’s capacity for multiple users.”
During the port operation, the 598th Transportation Brigade, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, executed mission command over the discharge of the 101st CAB's equipment from the Military Sealift Command’s contracted vessel, the M/V ARC Endurance. Notably, the ARC Endurance is the largest vessel ever to dock at the port.
The further reception, staging, onward movement and integration of the 101st CAB’s equipment from the port to locations throughout Europe is led by the 21st TSC. A complex port operation requires coordination across a variety of U.S. and Greek partner organizations, both military and civilian.
“It takes a real ‘Team of Teams’ to successfully and safely execute port ops like the one here in Alexandroupoli,” said Col. Joshua Hirsch, 598th TBDE commander. “We worked very closely with the MSC, 21st TSC, the 101st CAB, our counterparts in the Hellenic Armed Forces, and with civilian port authorities to make this happen. This is a truly global operation that exemplifies how we conduct strategic maneuver from the U.S. into ports in the European theater. We rely on each other and this drives us all to build the kind of partnerships and relationships that instill confidence and trust across the team. We’ve definitely done that here in Greece and it’ll pay benefits today and going forward.”
In addition to the complexity of the port operations themselves, the ‘Team of Teams’ adhered to a range of COVID-19 health and safety restrictions throughout the operation. “Every aspect of our operation is conducted with COVID prevention measures foremost in our minds,” said Hirsch. “Our Soldiers from the U.S. are tested and enter quarantine prior to arriving in Europe and we adhere to all of the COVID-related restrictions in our host-nation countries. We realize the seriousness of the COVID environment and we are committed to being good and COVID-safe guests.”
The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade will now move from the ports in both La Rochelle and Alexandroupoli to train alongside NATO and partner nation forces in support of Atlantic Resolve throughout the theater.
More information about the ‘Team of Teams’ and Atlantic Resolve can be found at: