As nearly 30,000 U.S., allied and partner forces pour into over 30 training across Europe, a five-person advance party team from the 510th Regional Support Group is supporting this massive logistical effort by integrating nearly 2,300 Soldiers at several bases throughout Hungary.
Working long hours to receive busloads of service members at all hours at Papa Air Base, the team – in coordination with host-nation partners – ensures COVID-19 screening and the essentials for basic life support are relayed. Through this exchange, units understand how to secure water, meals, fuel, showers, laundry services and quarters as well as how the 510th RSG supports resolution of day-to-day issues to keep the lights on while unit commanders focus on training as part of DEFENDER-Europe 21.
“Where we can step in to solve problems 24 hours a day to keep units supplied, keep hygiene areas clean and stocked, and even offering a few quality of life improvements where we can – that’s what we bring to the fight,” Maj. Marc Acito, operations officer for the 510th RSG and advance party officer-in-charge. “We’re the only Army Reserve unit out here supporting. We’re in this together, and we’re proud to execute the critical role a Regional Support Group serves.”
Acito’s team arrived in Hungary in late April to conduct advance-party operations and establish a footprint for the 510th RSG conducting Base Operations Support – Integrator (BOS-I) operations in support of DEFENDER-Europe 21. The effort will continue on in several locations to support subset exercises as part of DEFENDER-Europe 21, but not without close coordination with host-nation partners.
At Papa Air Base, members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade staged before conducting airdrop and parachute jump operations as part of Swift Response, one piece of the broader DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise series that improves allied access with Bulgarian and Hungarian allies via cross-border joint forcible entry and airborne assault operations followed by tactical exercises.
Shortly after the effort at Papa Air Base, additional Soldiers arrived to bolster the capacity of the advance party team to provide BOS-I support. With additional personnel, the 510th RSG will shift focus to additional training areas – specifically further south where the 2nd Cavalry Regiment is preparing to operate a contingency COVID-19 isolation facility as part of robust outbreak-mitigation measures integrated into DEFENDER-Europe 21.
Support to units in Hungary will continue into June. All the while, those units – through quality of life and base operations support from the 510th RSG – will keep their eyes focused on the spirit of DEFENDER-Europe 21: to demonstrate and develop the extensive military capabilities that NATO allies need to prevent conflict, preserve peace and keep nations safe.
“We’re answering the phone when units need us. Whether that’s broken doors, they’re out of water or food, or the generators aren’t pushing hot or cold air or need maintenance,” said Sgt. Percy Morales, battle NCO with the 510th RSG advance party. “We turn the lights on.”