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Combat Equipment Base
Vriezenveen, Netherlands
5225'N 637'E

The Cold War strategy was to have 10 divisions in Europe in 10 days. And the former POMCUS (Prepositioned Materiel Configured to Unit Sets) accommodated that. Today, the only heavy armor prepositioned in the Netherlands - one combat brigade worth - is located in northeastern Holland, in the small village of Vriezenveen. One of three sets of equipment to outfit heavy combat brigades in Europe, it's maintained by soldiers and host-nation employees from CEB-Vriezenveen. At the base, soldiers not only work among more than 250 host-nation employees and oversee what they do, they work at the only site in the Netherlands where heavy armored vehicles are stored and maintained. The materiel, one armor brigade set, includes Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and humvees.

The simplicity of life in rural Holland has remained virtually unchanged for countless generations. Villagers still wear traditional wooden shoes to tend livestock and work the fields, small mills grind the flour used to bake fresh bread each morning and the roads are pieced together stone-by-stone. Yet for more than a decade, Vriezenveen has been home to the 19th Combat Equipment Company (CEC), one of seven Army War Reserve storage sites on the European continent under the command and control of Combat Equipment Group - Europe (CEG-E). As lead elements of the 1st Infantry Division arrived in the Balkans as part of the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR), soldiers from the division's 1st Brigade began pre-deployment processing at Fort Riley, Kansas. Organized to support and sustain the peace achieved with the implementation of the Dayton Accord, Task Force 1-41 Infantry would fall in on and draw a tailored package of war reserve materiel prior to beginning a twelve-month tour of duty in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.

In the summer of 2000, personnel from the United States and Germany augmented the regular work force to meet the demands of operations in Kosovo. Workers completed 6,000 items over a four-month period. In 1999 CEB-VR moved nearly 4,500 items to the Balkans, 11,000 items to prepositioned ships and about 4,000 items to Southwest Asia.

The base itself boasts 16 humidity-controlled warehouses, which provide 1.5 million square feet of storage space. Twenty-four maintenance bays facilitate equipment repair. And an on-site fabrication shop allows employees to do everything from cut and sew seat fabrics to fashion metal parts and build wooden shipping crates.

To say that Combat Equipment Base-Vriezenveen is off the beaten path is an understatement. It is genuinely an outpost, a unit that includes only eight soldiers among a work force of more than 250 Dutch Defense Ministry employees. There's no PX, no commissary. The closest Army support is almost four hours away at Schinnen. In an area considered remote - because of its distance from US support facilities - soldiers receive aid in locating housing through the Schinnen-based 254th Base Support Battalion. The 254th also provides furniture and appliances for their homes. In Vriezenveen, the Army offers few services on the installation - only a very small MWR facility and a modest library. Once a week, a housing office representative arrives to help with household-related bills. For medical emergencies, families go to the Dutch hospital downtown, or to Hanau, Germany, a 4.5-hour drive away. There are no Department of Defense Dependent Schools in this area of vast fields and farms, so soldiers in Vriezenveen can elect to send their children to a DODDs school in England or make other arrangements.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:57:54 ZULU