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DEFENDER-Europe 2022: Dülmen plays key role in support of Europe-wide exercise

By Libby Weiler, USAG Benelux Public Affairs May 6, 2022

DÜLMEN TOWER BARRACKS, Germany -- On a rainy afternoon in northwestern Germany, contractors helped load rail cars shipping out materiel in preparation for DEFENDER-Europe 2022 exercise operations April 5, 2022.

DEFENDER-Europe is an annual joint, multinational exercise led by the U.S. Army in cooperation with NATO allies and partners in order to build readiness and interoperability of troops and equipment throughout Europe.

This extensive exercise encompasses different organizations and military units both stateside and in the European theatre. The materiel leaves the Army Prepositions Stock (APS-2) site, Soldiers use it within a partner nation, and it returns to the APS-2 facility for inspection and maintenance.

The U.S. Army Garrison Benelux APS-2 site in Dülmen, Germany participated in DEFENDER-Europe 20 and DEFENDER-Europe 21, but this is the first year they have been able to support at such a large scale.

"We are getting our operations in line with being able to do a mass draw (of equipment)," said Logan Rappuhn, APS-2 program integrator. "This operation is how the garrison supports the 405th (Army Field Support Brigade) and (U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency) to get them out of the gate."

As a first this year, Dülmen Tower Barracks was able to use the railhead on site in order to ship materiel to neighboring countries.

"It's all done with secure railyards through the Deutsche Bahn, which is the rail system here," said Rappuhn. "It will leave here and go straight to a secure railyard."

With new ways of shipping materiel came some challenges as well.

The railhead was only able to handle about five cars at a time, according to Rappuhn. Upon learning this, 21st Theater Sustainment Command sent a mobile ramp to Dülmen Tower Barracks, and the ramp doubled the output to about ten cars in an hour and a half, pushing equipment from the APS-2 site much faster.

Each train holds five to ten cars with one to two vehicles on each car depending on the size of the vehicle.

"For this railhead, the load is only going to be about 200 pieces, and then we are going to add in commercial line haul which is another 500 pieces," said Sgt. Edgar Guzman, noncommissioned officer in charge for the 624th Movement Control Team at Dülmen.

This complex operation uses the strength of the personnel at the garrison, and works with unit partners such as the 405th AFSB, USAMMA, 21st TSC, 624th MCT as well as contractors in each location, who are experts in their fields.

"We are assisting in all the transportation needs for it," said Guzman. "Anything that needs to be moved, tracked, anything like that - that is our job. That's our bread and butter."

About 40 pallets of the materiel shipping out in support of the upcoming DEFENDER-Europe 22 is from USAMMA, which is in charge of Class 8 medical materiel for the Army.

"We have over 5,000 lines of medical equipment for sustaining lives," said Joseph Robinson, forward site manager for the APS-2 Class 8 Contingency Program.

Because of the importance of this mission and the amount of work involved in order to get materiel shipped out in time, USAMMA sent Soldiers working as Army medical logistics specialists from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Hood, Texas, to help in the efforts.

Before pallets ship out for DEFENDER-Europe 22, a different checklist is followed for Class 8 materiel.

"A lot of people don't understand how complex that is," said Robinson. "They have to pull the expired materiel, they have to actually pull the excess materiel because these sets are constantly changing. Then they have to put that materiel back into the set in the right configuration, so it all fits into the box."

Although no field hospitals were sent out in DEFENDER-Europe 22, Dülmen Tower Barracks is prepared if an emergency may arise.

"We have seven hospitals - that's a 32-bed, 64-bed, and 24-bed," said Robinson. "Included in the hospital we have three forward surgical departments."

Not only does USAMMA house class 8 materiel at Dülmen, but they also have a biomedical facility tied to their storage unit. This allows them to service equipment stored on site easily.

The U.S. Army Garrison Benelux APS-2 site at Dülmen remains an important part of the Army's mission in Europe. Through DEFENDER-Europe 22 operations, the personnel at Dülmen Tower Barracks have been able to learn, improve and gain valuable insights into future operations. Dülmen Tower Barracks continues to promote deterrence and show European strength for the U.S. Army in Europe.

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