MANNHEIM, Germany –
When exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 was modified in size and scope with the onset of COVID-19 in March, the substantial and critical mission of moving military equipment to support the exercise remained.
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 446th Movement Control Battalion, 510th Regional Support Group, 7th Mission Support Command, initially supported this movement mission in February, when they prepared and tracked 2,360 pieces of rolling stock onto trains at Coleman Barracks near Mannheim bound for Bergen-Hohne, Germany, in preparation for use in Poland during exercises linked to DEFENDER-Europe 20.
On Sept. 15, after a COVID-induced modified mission (that included a name change to DEFENDER-Europe 20 Plus) and constantly fluctuating dates, the MCT Soldiers completed their inventory of redeployed equipment at Coleman Barracks and marked the end to their DEFENDER-Europe 20 Plus support.
“As a movement control team, our primary mission is coordinating movement of Army equipment in to and out of theater,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Marc Walkergrays, a transportation specialist and detachment noncommissioned officer in charge with the 793rd Movement Control Team under the 446th MCB. “We have been part of the redeployment phase since July 27th, providing in-transit visibility of all returning equipment.”
DEFENDER-Europe 20 was originally slated to be the largest U.S.-led regional exercise that included troop and equipment movement from the U.S. to Europe in 25 years. After the effects of COVID-19, U.S. Army Europe responded by stopping movement from the U.S to Europe and cancelling some of the linked exercises.
However, by the time the deployment was halted, more than ninety percent of the equipment tasked for DEFENDER-Europe 20 had already been loaded on aircraft or ships bound for Europe, according to a U.S. Army Europe press release.
In total, more than 6,000 Soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment arrived in Europe, and over 9,000 vehicles were moved from Army Prepositioned Stocks to training areas in Germany throughout the deployment phase.
During the redeployment phase, much of that equipment once again had to be tracked and inventoried by Walkergrays and his team, along with other movement control teams under the 446th.
“We were given a real-time status on all the equipment we were tracking until it reached its destination,” said Walkergrays.
Once the equipment arrived, it was searched, inventoried, and moved to maintenance storage.
In all, the movement control team Soldiers of the 446th tracked more than 2,600 pieces of equipment at Coleman Barracks to close out DEFENDER.
“I think our participation gave everyone some insight on the knowledge and experience that the Army Reserve can offer,” said Walkergrays. “We were all proud to be participating in the exercise and grateful to be part of the team.”