Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said this of logistics: “You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”
For one command in Europe, the art of making operational support transparent has been an ongoing mission.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command and its subordinate units have provided logistical and sustainment support to Operation Atlantic Resolve in the Baltic region of Europe and Poland since the operation’s inception.
In the early stages of OAR, the “First in Support” command provided reception, staging, onward movement and integration support to all Soldiers moving into theater. This included processing, accounting for and coordinating movement to final the destination for every “Sky Soldier” involved in the operation. The 21st TSC also worked with the Defense Logistics Agency, Army Central Command, Theater Logistics Support Center-Europe and host nations to provide fuel, food, water and ammunition to Soldiers on the ground, said Maj. Shelia Day, 21st TSC support operations petroleum chief.
“The 21st (TSC) has the theater responsibility — so that’s Europe and Africa — in its fuel and water operations,” Day said. “(Most of the requirements) are supported by host nation agreements. The host nations have diesel, and a lot of the vehicles
from (the 173rd) can use diesel.”
The 21st TSC has also been responsible for the actual transportation of Soldiers and unit equipment in and out of theater. Through coordination of the 21st TSC’s 39th Movement Control Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, over 120 short tons of equipment have moved into the OAR theater, said Lt. Col. Joan T. Sweeny-Dent, 21st TSC SPO transportation integration branch chief.
“These Soldiers and their equipment are moving regularly into theater using Common User Land Transportation assets. This is the very meaning of invisible logistics. You may not see the 21st TSC and its units working, but everyone and everything is getting where it needs to be through great effort and coordination behind the scene,” Sweeny-Dent said. “Our teams are coordinating the movement of everything from Humvees to Howitzers.”
In the near future, there will be a shift from the 173rd BCT to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. With this change comes a change in requirement from a light infantry unit to a mechanized infantry unit with more equipment demands and greater fuel needs.
The 21st TSC has been planning and coordinating for several months to prepare for the change.
“With this transition from light to heavy (1/1 Cav.), their fuel demands will be much greater, so we will preposition equipment to accommodate that demand,” Day said. “We will have a much bigger part to play.”
In the coming months, the 21st TSC will deploy a forward command post to assist U.S. Army Europe in managing sustainment operations for all OAR Soldiers.
“Team 21’s forward logistics support provides the vital distribution and sustainment link for Operation Atlantic Resolve. Our enabling capabilities enhance both European and continental U.S. based regionally aligned forces’ combat power and readiness,” said Maj. Gen. John R. O’Connor, 21st TSC commanding general. “This access allows persistent engagement with our European partners to strengthen ties and counter potential threats.”