VLISSINGEN, Netherlands — The USNS Mendonca delivered more than 1,200 vehicles and pieces of equipment, including M1 Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and a range of wheeled vehicles belonging to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division deployed to Europe, this week at the port in Vlissingen, Netherlands.
The 2nd ABCT, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, replaces the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, as part of a regular rotation of forces to support the United States’ commitment to Atlantic Resolve. Additional equipment is scheduled to arrive during the coming weeks at ports in Aarhus, Denmark and Riga, Latvia for onward movement to Eastern Europe.
“We appreciate the Netherlands' strong dedication to enhancing military mobility,” said 21st Theater Sustainment Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. James Smith. “A strong NATO ally with excellent port facilities and infrastructure, today's operation once again demonstrates our ability, with host nation support, to rapidly deploy equipment and personnel into and across the European continent."
Soldiers from 21st TSC’s 260th Movement Control Team, in coordination with the 598th Transportation Brigade (Surface Deployment and Distribution Command), host nation support and commercial organizations, discharged the vehicles and equipment, efficiently executing its reception, staging and onward movement.
According to 260th MCT Commander Capt. Karl Bliven, Vlissingen’s facilities and the Netherlands’ infrastructure make it possible to rapidly download an entire brigade’s worth of equipment and quickly stage it for transport throughout the European theater. The Army’s use of cutting-edge technology enhances safety, speed and in-transit visibility.
“Once the vehicle gets offloaded from the ship, we as an MCT use what is called a DRAM (Distribution Retrograde Adaptive Planning and Execution Management) tablet to scan the military shipping labels on these vehicles,” said Bliven. “This will ensure that we know all the information relating to the vehicle and that it gets on the correct truck, barge or train to get to the final location.
“It’s important that we do this smoothly and safely to allow for the equipment to arrive ready, in terms of maintenance and in the most efficient way possible.”
Dutch Sea Port of Debarkation Commander, Lt. Col. Peter van Dorst, said experience working with the U.S. Army at Vlissingen is paying dividends, as this is the fourth time the port has supported an Atlantic Resolve rotation.
“As a representative of the 13th Light Brigade from the Netherlands, we enjoy working together,” said van Dorst. “Cooperation with [598th] SDDC, 21st TSC and members of the 2nd Armored Combat Brigade is going very well. The Dutch military are already showing their experience in an operation like this and it is going better each time.”
598th Transportation Brigade Commander Col. Robert Kellam said the Vlissingen port operation was an opportunity to exercise multiple capabilities. “We’re building partnerships with the Dutch military, working with our partner organizations like 21st TSC and the 16th sustainment brigade … to get all of the equipment on multiple modes of transportation, as well as establishing the LSA (logistics support area).”
The Vlissingen port operation also demonstrated U.S. joint forces providing proactive and scalable options for priority missions. The USNS Mendonca is a U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command asset in support of DoD sealift missions worldwide.
The 2nd ABCT “Black Jack Brigade” 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 and 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 on a rotational basis. Deployed units 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.