U.S. Army story by: Jeff Jurgensen, 598th Transportation Brigade - SDDC
VLISSINGEN, Netherlands — Army equipment to include M1 Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and a wide range of wheeled vehicles belonging to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division deployed to Europe this week at the port in Vlissingen, Netherlands.
The 3rd ABCT is deploying from Fort Carson, Colorado, for its preplanned, nine-month rotation in support of Atlantic Resolve. Approximately 1,300 vehicles and equipment items will arrive at the port facility and be staged for onward movement using rail and commercial line-haul transportation modes.
“The port of Vlissingen is very important to the U.S. Army,” said Cpt. Heriberto Quintero, 627th transportation detachment company commander. “It is one of the largest ports in Europe and it can offload and re-upload an entire ABCT within a month.”
The equipment deployed to Vlissingen on two vessels. The first to arrive was the MV “Cape Washington,” a U.S. Navy, Military Sealift Command, Ready Reserve Force ship. The second vessel, the “ARC Endurance,” an MSC-chartered cargo ship, arrived at the port a few days later. In addition to the port in Vlissingen, 3rd ABCT’s equipment is also arriving at ports located in Greece and Denmark.
Discharging hundreds of equipment items and efficiently executing its reception, staging and onward movement (RSOM) is an enormously complex mission that requires the synchronized contributions of many joint, Army, allied and commercial organizations.
The 838th Transportation Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. J.D. Tillman, attributed the success of the mission so far to the detailed coordination that preceded the arrival of the vessels.
“There are a number of different commands that make these port operations happen,” said Tillman. “We often refer to this as our ‘Team of Teams.’ It includes Military Sealift Command, the deploying unit, in this case the “Iron Brigade,” the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), 21st Theater Sustainment Command and their movement control professionals, and I also really want to highlight the great support we receive from our host-nation allies here in the Netherlands. We have a saying in SDDC, that when it comes to the global transportation of Army equipment, we get it to the ‘Right Place, Right Time, Every Time’ and we’re showing we can do that here in Vlissingen.”
The armored brigade will deploy nearly 4,000 Soldiers and after arriving here in theater is ready to begin its mission.
“For this unit, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, we are moving equipment to different destinations by two modes of transportation, which are rail and commercial line haul,” said Quintero.
As the equipment is prepared for onward movement, the 21st TSC leads the effort and ensures the tanks, Bradleys, wheeled vehicles, and containers of equipment are ready to move hundreds of miles on trucks and trains as 3rd ABCT moves to its training locations in Europe.
“Our mission here is to make sure all the armored brigade equipment from 4th ID makes it safely to Poland,” said 2nd Lt. Jack Babbitt, 627th Movement Control Team. “We work hard to make sure the commercial line haul trucks move out quickly and once the rail mission starts that will be a lot of equipment out of the port at once.”
Moving all this equipment is not easy but it is a mission the Soldiers and local national partners do quickly.
“So many people work hard and very few people can get this equipment out quickly to accomplish the mission,” said Babbitt. “My soldiers and others are working day and night in 24-hour shifts to make sure the equipment gets there.”
With the deployment of 3rd ABCT, the U.S. Army will have three armored brigades in Europe at one time for the first time since 2007. The other armored brigades currently in theater are the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
All three brigades will fall under the command of U.S. Army V Corps. Also known as “Victory Corps,” V Corps is America’s forward deployed corps in Europe; the unit works alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-ready forces, execute joint and multinational training exercises, and retain command and control for all rotational and assigned units in the European theater.
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has led the Department of Defense’s Atlantic Resolve land efforts by bringing units based in the U.S. to Europe. Units, such as 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are ready, combat-capable forces able to conduct extensive bilateral, joint, and multilateral training throughout its deployments to more than a dozen countries in Europe. Moreover, Atlantic Resolve enables the U.S. to enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support NATO.