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US Army rotational forces transition creates waves at the port of Alexandroupoli, Greece

By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Reynolds December 10, 2021

ALEXANDROUPOLI, Greece -- As waves crash against the port of Alexandroupoli, the mist of the Aegean Sea gently coats the staged UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the 627th Movement Control Team, 39th Transportation Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, work together to ensure military mobility for troops and equipment across Europe without delay.

Port operations in Alexandroupoli are currently transitioning the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division's equipment back to Fort Riley, Kansas, as the 1ACB's equipment arrives from Fort Hood, Texas.

Rotational forces implement regional security in Europe as a top priority for the U.S. and allow for more flexibility to deter threats when they arise. Through precise planning and coordination, troops and equipment rotate in and out of the European theater for Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has led the Department of Defense's Atlantic Resolve land efforts by rotating units based in the U.S. to Europe. There are four types of U.S. Army Atlantic Resolve rotations - armored, aviation, sustainment task force and division headquarters. Rotational units conduct bilateral, joint and multinational training events across more than a dozen countries. Atlantic Resolve is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, which enables the U.S. to enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support NATO.

"Planning extends to understanding the requirements, formulating synergies, providing the accurate cargo list and knowing exact timelines," said Mr. Andre Cameron, director of Transportation Corps, Eastern Mediterranean (Greece) Detachment, 839th Transportation Battalion, 598th Transportation Brigade, SDDC.

At the port, the SDDC and the 627MCT tracked 1ACB helicopters, containers, equipment and tactical vehicles that were unloaded from the vessel ARC Independence. They loaded all of 1CAB's equipment to ship back to Fort Riley, Kansas.

"For the past week or so, we began receiving the cargo for the 1CAB, 1ID, and we received a total of 260 pieces," said Capt. Eddie Quintero, 627MCT commander. "From there, it's transitioned into the vessel discharge. What we then do is when the unit arrives, we coordinate with our unit movement officers to move everything to their final destinations and their training areas."

This coordination varies from each country within Europe, as the movement and transportation requirements differ from the United States. Before receiving military equipment, movement control teams work alongside host nations to ensure the correct documentation is logged and the timeline is met.

From a security perspective, port operations incorporate military police working dog handlers and their dogs from the Combined Military Working Dog Detachment-Europe, 18th Military Police Brigade. These teams work closely with the Hellenic canine teams to conduct inspections. Together, Hellenic forces and the Alexandroupolis Port Authority ensure that missions are executed safely and successfully in Greece.

Once the vessel ARC Independence arrived, 1ACB cargo was unlatched and downloaded into staging areas on the port. U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were unfolded and made flight-ready. SDDC and the 21st TSC then moved the remaining equipment via vessel, barge, rail and military convoy.

For this mission, the port of Alexandroupoli hosted the most significant amount of cargo, just under 1,000 pieces to include the largest number of helicopters to date at this port (73). SDDC, the 627th MCT and Soldiers with 1ACB discharged the most considerable amount of cargo ever in one day at 534 pieces within ten hours at the port of Alexandroupoli.

The highest number of trucks to date were transported with nearly 330 truckloads and 73 helicopters to three forward operating locations, exceeding the theater's required delivery dates by nearly 60 percent.

These "many firsts" at the port of Alexandroupoli demonstrate the importance of the partnership capabilities between the U.S. and Greece. Thus, the robust capabilities showcased at the port prove to remain aligned with the bolstering theater objectives.

"With the reception of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, it was such a championship win," Cameron said. "The ultimate factors to ensure safe and successful missions are the synergies formulated from a joint partnership perspective, U.S. and the host nation teams. So far, we've all been able to successfully establish this during all of our port operations' missions on this power projection platform, and this is evident amongst all."

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