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Knights’ Brigade Soldiers Support Rotational Unit in Europe

Knights’ Brigade Soldiers Support Rotational Unit in Europe

Story by SSG Sinthia Rosario on 02/03/2019

ANTWERP, Belgium Soldiers of the 16th Sustainment Brigade, or “Knights’ Brigade,” meticulously work together to ensure proper accountability, staging and transport of equipment and personnel of the rotational unit 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

The 1st ABCT transported approximately 3,500 personnel and about 3,000 pieces of equipment to the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, in support of Atlantic Resolve.

One of the Knights’ Brigade units tasked to work at the Port of Antwerp was the 386th Transportation Detachment – MC, 39th Transportation Battalion.

“The purpose of having the MCT (Movement Control Team) out here is primarily for asset visibility, speed of assembly and to make sure that we coordinate the move for that organic unit of 1st ABCT, to get their equipment from the seaport of debarkation to final location in order to conduct their exercises,” said Capt. Nicholas P. Fiebke, detachment commander of the 386th Transportation Detachment.

One key factor in ensuring proper transport of equipment is “In-Transit Visibility”.

“For us ITV is key,” said 1st Lt. Ira R. White, officer in charge of the 386th. “ITV gives us the ability to locate and provide us updated status of 1-1 ABCT’s equipment that’s moving across the European theater to its final destination. If something were to happen to the equipment during its travel, let’s say it was stuck somewhere, we would be able to locate it at any given time and check its status.”

Working at the port also provides the unit an opportunity to build partner nation capabilities and capacities with Allies and partners in the European theater.

“It feels great being involved in this because not only do we get to work with our partner nations with the Belgium military, but also, we get to work with another unit from the United States, that we get to introduce into the European theater and get to see how their operations are conducted in Europe,” Fiebke said.

At the port, some of the methods used for the transport of equipment are the rail movement, the barge, and the 66th Transportation Company trucks for line haul.

“We’re picking up equipment from the port here in Belgium and then we’re taking them to various locations in Poland for the units out there being in the rotation,” said Sgt. Gabriela Ortiz Avalos, a heavy vehicle operator with the 66th Transportation Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

The 66th Transportation Company ensure vehicles and equipment are properly and securely loaded onto their trucks to transport them first to the Logistics Support Area (LSA) at Grobbendonk, Belgium, then to its final destination. The 1st ABCT will also have convoys that will travel to the LSA.

The LSA provides the Soldiers the opportunity to securely stage their equipment, rest overnight and prepare for their move toward their respective locations.

“At the LSA we basically receive the 1-1 ID Soldiers and their equipment,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Williams, officer in charge for LSA Grobbendonk, with the 240th Composite Supply Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “We receive these Soldiers and make sure they have the right equipment and life support that they need to push forward into Germany and finally into Poland where they will conduct their training exercises.

Williams added that if the Soldiers are not worried about their life support or their day to day, then they can focus on conducting preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles, get their vehicles in serial and convoy order, and be ready to push out.

The convoys and trucks carrying equipment need to have march credits prior to leaving the LSA to their final destination. March credits are documents that allow vehicles to travel throughout Europe over a controlled route in a fixed time.

Many moving pieces have been at play since before and after the arrival of 1st ABCT into the European theater.

“I think it’s speaks up volumes to the competence of the planning that goes into an exercise like this,” William said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us to show what we can do and what we do on a daily basis. All of our units stretched all the way across, working together, pretty decentralized in terms of the company’s and units together, but they’re all coming together and working really well.”

Although the Knights’ Brigade plays an important role in the support provided to 1st ABCT, their Belgium counterparts are also vital to the success of this operation.

“They have been nothing but amazing,” William said. “Since we first linked up in early December, we started planning exactly for the ins and outs that we wanted to do here. Obviously, some things change and you have to stay flexible and mentally agile and they have helped us with that at every turn.”

He emphatically stated that the Belgian forces have really helped set up the stage for 1st ABCT to have a successful exercise.

Williams concluded with, “It’s been a great experience so far, obviously we’re not done yet, we got a lot of work to do.” “We’re excited to keep pursuing excellence and keep pushing forward in that manner.”

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