Memphis logistics pro sets stage for US-NATO exercises in COVID-vigilant environment

Former Shelby County resident and Oakhaven High School graduate U.S. Army Maj. Mitchell Brooks is sending a clear message to would-be European antagonists.

“The Army is ready at any given moment in time to hold off any aggressors around the world,” said Brooks, a logistics officer assigned to the 405th Army Field Support Brigade.

U.S. Army Maj. Mitchell Brooks, 405th Army Field Support Battalion-Germany, 405th Army Field Support Brigade, site officer in charge of equipment movement from the Eygelshoven Army Prepositioned Stock Site, part of the 405th AFSB, to Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany April 12. DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a U.S. Army-led, joint exercise involving approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations. This year’s exercise focuses on building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations, demonstrating that the U.S. commitment to NATO is iron clad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jesse Pilgrim)

The brigade, under operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, based in Kaiserslautern, ensures Soldiers have the equipment and support they need to rapidly deploy and respond to threats across two continents.

Brooks is among more than 28,000 participants from 26 nations participating in DEFENDER-Europe 21. The event takes place through June, with the 405th AFSB and other 21st TSC units transporting equipment, ensuring interoperability with Allies and providing logistical support for the nearly simultaneous military exercises taking place across 13 countries. Equipment ranges from armored vehicles to satellite dishes and support includes basics like mobile dining facilities and Wi-Fi service.

As a support operations officer, Brooks works with the Army Prepositioned Stocks program, which maintains strategically prepositioned equipment that allow troops to rapidly deploy and sustain forces. Equipment from sites in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will be mobilized during DEFENDER-Europe 21. In April, Brooks managed transport and issue of essential U.S. Army communications equipment from the Netherlands to a U.S. training area in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

“I coordinate readiness resources to keep the war fighters in the fight with no issues,” said Brooks.

During a global pandemic, potential issues include COVID-19. A strict COVID prevention and mitigation strategy implemented by the U.S. and participating nations has U.S.-based Soldiers conducting pre-deployment COVID testing, quarantining in Europe upon arrival and doing additional COVID testing before travelling throughout the continent. According to Brooks, 75% of all APS personnel at the Grafenwoehr site have been vaccinated.

“While we are closely monitoring the COVID situation, we’ve proven we have the capability to train safely despite the pandemic,” said Gen. Christopher Cavoli, U.S. Army Europe and Africa commanding general. “No matter what, our nations count on our forces being ready to defend the peace.”

They can also count on Brooks, who joined the U.S. Army Reserves as an enlisted religious affairs specialist 17 years ago. He progressed through the ranks to sergeant and attended college in the Simultaneous Membership Program. He then joined active duty as a second lieutenant and as a captain, switching to logistics after completing the career course.

During DEFENDER-Europe 21, Brooks’ work to set the stage for successful joint military exercises exemplifies the 405th AFSB motto, “Support the warrior.”