TAPA, Estonia – DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a highly complex, multinational, joint exercise involving over 26,000 forces from 26 nations conducting operations across more than 30 training areas in 12 countries.
But how do you support all these troops logistically? That’s a feat all to itself and one not taken lightly.
Army Capt. Triada Cross knows exactly what it takes to support DEFENDER-Europe 21. She’s the commander of the Base Operating Support-Integrator cell in Tapa, Estonia, for exercise Swift Response 21, one of several exercises being conducting simultaneously as part of DEFENDER-Europe 21.
“As the commander of BOS-I, I’m in charge of all the life support for all the U.S. Soldiers here in Tapa,” said Cross, whose normal job in Wiesbaden, Germany, is Contingency Command Post company commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. “I’m the tie between the support that’s happening on the ground and the units that need the support.”
But Cross said she and BOS-I can’t do it alone. She relies on the 405th Army Field Support Brigade and its Logistics Civil Augmentation Program for their contracting needs. The 405th AFSB’s LOGCAP provides base support and sustainment services to deployed forces during contingency operations and large-scale exercises like DEFENDER-Europe 21.
Within the BOS-I area of operations in Estonia, LOGCAP’s support extents across two sites – Tapa Barracks and the airborne drop zone in Nurmsi. The LOGCAP contracts include all the latrine and shower facilities, laundry services, general forklift support, and water and MRE storage and delivery for these sites.
The units being supported include HHBn, USAREUR-AF, as well as elements from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 30th Medical Brigade, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, 7th Army Training Command.
“The 405th AFSB makes sure the contracts that were written to support everyone out here are good to go,” said Cross. “I’ve been going to them a lot just to help me understand the full scope of the operation. It helps me to better understand what is available to me and what we can scale back on to help save the Army money.”
And if something critical is needed that wasn’t planned for, LOGCAP can assist with amending, modifying or adding to the contracts, she said.
The 405th AFSB’s LOGCAP personnel “have been that liaison,” she said, “making sure (the contractors) know exactly what we need, where we need it and when we need it.”
And what is needed is only going to expand as DEFENDER-Europe 21 ramps up.
“Right now we have about 150 advance party personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division. The rest of them – over 1,000 – are jumping straight into Estonia at Nurmsi Drop Zone,” Cross said.
“We’re going to go from around 200-300 people to well over a thousand, overnight. It’ll be exciting to see. And we’re ready.”
“Just being able to see all the hard work that’s been going on over the last couple of months paying off and being a part of all of this is really, really cool – really humbling,” Cross added.
Master Sgt. Lonnell Thompson is Cross’ noncommissioned officer in charge. He works with all the NCOICs from all the units deployed to Estonia for DEFENDER-Europe 21.
“I help to make sure all the life support is good to go, morale remains high, and we continue to foster a positive, shared understanding between BOS-I, 405th AFSB and all the units on the ground here that we are supporting,” Thompson said.
“It’s very important, especially for the younger Soldiers,” said Cross. “The things they do impact more than just us and other Soldiers wearing this uniform – they impact people all over this world,” Cross said.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, USAREUR-AF. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging the U.S. Army Materiel Command materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.