By 2nd Lt. Chaz Deering, 39th Trans. Bn. Public AffairsJune 21, 2012
RIGA, Latvia -- The 39th Transportation Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, has taken the lead controlling movements in Northern Europe for the joint multi-national training exercise Saber Strike 2012 June 11-22.
The battalion sent the 635th Movement Control Team to facilitate the sequential movements of personnel and equipment from various locations in Europe and the U.S. to exercise locations in Latvia and Estonia.
The U.S. Army Europe-led exercise, intended to enhance joint and combined interoperability between the U.S. Army and partner nations, required extensive logistical planning, since the movements consisted of a range of multi-modal travel including rail, air, surface, and sea.
Originating from two separate ferries in Germany, the training exercise equipment was loaded on to two trains and sent to Latvia. Once there, the 635th MCT ensured it was downloaded swiftly and carefully.
"Given the high cost of flying containers and vehicles, a large majority of the exercise equipment came by train. Coordinating the rail operations was certainly interesting. We worked alongside local national contractors, German customs officers, the Latvian Army movement control team, and Soldiers from the units sending equipment. Overall it has been a great experience," said Capt. Stuart Coleman, the 635th MCT commander.
Although most of the equipment arrived via rail, a small fleet of Stryker armored combat vehicles from the Pennsylvania National Guard were transported by plane to the Riga International Airport. The Stryker's arrival attracted a mass of civilian spectators who rarely get to see a C-5 land at the airport. The perimeter of the airport fence was lined with civilians and vehicles, some even standing on their vehicle to videotape the download of equipment.
"The gathering was almost like a show. I've never seen so much excitement over a flight that was not coming back from a deployment," said Staff Sgt. Angela Palmer, a squad leader with the 635th MCT.
Saber Strike is a training exercise for most units on ground, but for the 635th MCT it is a real-world mission.
"This isn't practice for us. There is no room for error, and we are expected to execute the movements without deficiencies," said Spc. Arron Gilbert, a 635th MCT movement specialist. By the time the last movement has arrived, most units breathe a sigh of relief, but for the MCT, this is just the beginning.
"No one sleeps until every person, container and vehicle arrives at its home station," said Gilbert.