Local nationals assist vital Army missions

Col. Prescott Marshall
1st Transportation Movement Control Agency commander

***image1***U.S. Army Europe is completing the deployment of a second rotation of units to Iraq. This seems like a good time to thank a group of people who allowed these Soldiers to spend a few more days and weeks at home before deploying to Iraq for a year — our skilled and very dedicated local national employees. 
Wherever our Soldiers supporting the deployment worked and lived — rail heads, staging areas, ports and in maintenance facilities — you could find our local national employees day and night, sharing the same working and living conditions, and working the same hours, often away from home. This isn’t anything new. For decades, they have been out in every season and all kinds of weather repairing equipment, helping load trains and driving trucks — first supporting Return of Forces to Germany exercises, then operations in the Balkans, and now our operations in Iraq.
Our recent deployment and redeployment operations here in Germany and Belgium in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom have really reminded me how good our local national workforce is and how lucky we are to be able to turn to them. They are picking up the workload of many deploying Soldiers and deploying away from home to share the same austere conditions of our Soldiers. They are operating deployment nodes, so that deploying units have more time to prepare and more time to spend with their families before they leave for a year in Iraq.
Wherever you went during our deployment operations, chances are you would find some of our local national employees at the Schwerpunkt (decisive point) making things happen. The pride, enthusiasm and innovation our local national employees display is indistinguishable from that you see in our units.
Their impact on generations of military families passing through Europe is hard to overstate, given how much they teach us. A good illustration of this is that even years later, every former unit executive officer, movement officer or non-commissioned officer, or S4 officer in charge or non-commissioned officer in charge I’ve ever met from the 1st Infantry Division remembers Edith, the Transportation Assistant in the Division Transportation Office there for what she taught them or helped them with. With their many years of experience, our local national employees are often the source of initiatives to improve how we do business, as well as maintaining relationships with our Host Nation which they often use to resolve otherwise intractable problems.
As the size of our forces has been reduced and the requirement to deploy Soldiers outside of Europe continues, our local national workforces’ skills and dedication will continue to be critical to our ability to accomplish Global War on Terrorism missions while still taking care of our Soldiers and their families. Whenever a local national employee delivers cargo, loads a train or covers down on a maintenance requirement, it means our Soldiers have that much more time to focus on training or their family. Please join me in thanking our highly professional local national employees — we’re lucky to have them.