The U.S. Army has confirmed that dozens of M1 Abrams main battle tanks and equipment began arriving at the port in Antwerp-Bruges, Belgium amid the ongoing war in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to a press release from 21st Theater Sustainment Command, armor, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and equipment from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, began arriving at the port in Antwerp-Bruges, Belgium, July 21st, as the unit begins its deployment to Europe.
The Brigade will move approximately 4,200 Soldiers and 2,700 equipment items into the European theater to replace the 1st Armored Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which is returning to the United States. The brigade’s deployment demonstrates the U.S. Army’s unrelenting commitment to Europe and its NATO allies in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The initial equipment arrived aboard the commercial cargo vessel, ARC Integrity, following its journey across the Atlantic Ocean from the port in Corpus Christi, Texas. A “Team of Teams” made up of transportation, logistics and support professionals from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 598th Transportation Brigade (SDDC) and units from the Belgian Armed Forces, worked closely together to coordinate the reception, staging and onward movement of equipment at the port. The facility in Antwerp-Bruges is one of the largest and busiest seaports in the world with a long tradition of supporting U.S. Army forces.
“The Army has successfully and safely deployed equipment for brigade-sized elements through the port in Antwerp-Bruges for many years now,” said Lt. Col. J.D. Tillman, commander, 838th Transportation Battalion. “It is one of the most capable ports in the world and we have an excellent partnership at the port with our Belgian Allies. Given the professionalism of its workforce and access to onward movement transportation modes like rail, commercial line-haul trucking and barge, Antwerp remains a strategically vital seaport both for the U.S. Army and for our NATO Allies.”
Approximately 300 U.S. Army Soldiers and civilians operate from the port to execute the safe and efficient discharge of the brigade’s equipment from vessels arriving into Antwerp-Bruges and to further coordinate the upload and movement of that equipment to locations in Europe via rail, commercial line-haul trucking and by barge. It’s an intricate and complex mission requiring detailed, ongoing coordination with multiple Army units, the commercial partners who support the movement, and the Belgian host-nation element at the port.
“Interoperability is key to the Army Vision. It is more than just equipment and systems, it is about processes and relationships as well,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Rivera, 39th Transportation Battalion commander. “These port operations allow us to stand side-by-side with our Belgian Allies to achieve tactical, operational, and strategic objectives. These extremely important partnerships during port operations help us facilitate the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration of forces and equipment in the European theater.”
The 260th Movement Control Team, 39th Transportation Battalion treasures these partnerships as it enhances their ability to conduct operations as they prepare for the largest onward movement at this port in 21st TSC history.
Spc. Marshall Mains, transportation management coordinator, 260th MCT, 39th Trans. Bn. is the Node 2 tally point leader accounting for every piece of equipment that comes off the vessel to move throughout Europe. In his first leadership position on a port assignment, the partnerships and relationships he’s established are important to his success.
“The team here is an amalgamation of 1ICTC (1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company), 627th Movement Control Team, SDDC, Belgian partners and us,” said Mains. “We barely knew each other and we all came together as a team to get it done, and really enjoy each other. It’s a good feeling.”
After training for many months, 3rd ABCT Soldiers based at Fort Hood were ready to begin their deployment.
“It’s really about leader engagement before this deployment and here now at the port,” said Maj. Eric Yost, squadron executive officer, 3rd Squadron, 8th Cavalry, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “The integration with the SDDC and MCT helped us to refine our planning and methods of execution. They gave us a lot of feedback and the partnership has been great. We are ready to move from here and get to work.”
The 3rd ABCT’s deployment is a one-for-one unit replacement with the 1st ABCT, 3rd ID, which leaves the Army’s overall force posture in the region unchanged.
The ability to deploy an armored brigade combat team from Fort Hood to Europe demonstrates the capability of the U.S. global deployment and distribution enterprise, along with the Army’s ability to conduct strategic movement into and across the theater in support of a wide range of operations and missions.