BERGEN-HOHNE, Germany –
DEFENDER-Europe 20 will be the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe for an exercise in more than 25 years. With more than 20,000 U.S. service members participating over the next five months across the theater, they will need thousands of vehicles and equipment moved in conducting the exercise across Europe.
Getting this massive mission underway, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 1172nd and 1177th Movement Control Detachments, 446th Movement Control Team, 510th Regional Support Group, 7th Mission Support Command, based out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, came in to provide the push-pull operations needed to get gear in position and ready to go, here, Feb. 7-8, 2020.
Approximately 1,200 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from multiple units across the U.S. will be participating in DEFENDER-Europe 20, including the only Army Reserve unit stationed in Europe, the 7th MSC.
Throughout the month of February, the Soldiers of the 466th MCT are preparing and tracking 2,360 pieces of rolling stock moving from the theater preposition yard at Coleman Barracks near Mannheim, Germany, for a nearly 300-mile movement north to Bergen-Hohne, Germany.
“So what our job is as the Movement Control Detachment is to provide in-transit visibility, that is tracking of all the equipment that is moving no matter how it’s moving; via rail, via commercial or via military line haul,” said Capt. Lawrence Coles, 1172nd MCD commander.
Once the Soldiers have tagged and labeled the vehicles with radio frequency identification devices, so that they can be tracked along their movement to Bergen-Hohne, the gear will be received by another group of MCT Soldiers the next day.
“We get there early in the morning. We are going to get eyes on every single vehicle by serial number to take accountability of what has arrived, but we are also using the electronic systems we have to read the ID tags we have on every vehicle,” said Sgt. Clinton Pope, a Soldier with the 1172nd MCD.
Once the vehicles arrive at the rail head in Bergen-Hohne, and Pope and his fellow Soldiers have checked them off, they are then offloaded from the train and onto heavy equipment transportation trailers operated by Soldiers from the German Bundeswehr.
That’s when their German counterparts lend a hand and transport the large tracked vehicles an additional 30 miles to Fallingbostel, a former British Army base now operated by the German military.
The Soldiers will check each vehicle again once it has arrived and has been staged, and there it will stay until the deploying units for DEFENDER Europe-20 hit the ground and fall in on the equipment.
“It’s been an amazing experience seeing a large movement like this and the strategic piece of it,” said Pope, who will be leaving Bergen-Hohne later this month for his Military Occupational Skill training as an 88N Transportation Equipment Manager. “To see this before I go to training is a really neat experience.”
It is this kind of training that allows Reserve Soldiers here in Europe to help support the larger mission of the U.S. Army and continue to serve their country in a meaningful way, despite living so far away from it.
“We are the only Reserve MCT in the European theater,” said Coles. “Which means we get the opportunity to participate in large scale operations like this, as well as operations that take us to Poland, to Norway, to Slovenia; things a lot of Reserve Soldiers don’t get the opportunity to do. So it’s a great opportunity to do some great things in the Army Reserve.”