***image1***It was a bittersweet ceremony for the 21st Theater Support Command when it bade farewell to the 1st Transportation Movement Control Agency, the 37th Transportation Command and the 200th Theater Distribution Brigade March 29 on Panzer Kaserne.
The three brigade-sized units were inactivated as part of the Army’s global rebasing and restructuring concept.
Brig. Gen. Scott G. West, 21st TSC commander, noted that the three units – with their long and distinguished history – significantly contributed to the success of the U.S. Army in Europe.
“The Soldiers on the field today represent literally thousands upon thousands of Soldiers and civilians who have served in the ranks of these units for more than a combined 110 years of service in Europe and over 180 years of collective service to the Nation,” General West said.
The 1st TMCA was activated Feb. 18, 1986, but its lineage dates to 1942. The 37th TRANSCOM was organized as a regular Army unit Feb. 10, 1936, and the 200th TDB has continuously been providing supply and maintenance support to USAREUR since World War II.
To illustrate the magnitude of the units’ contributions, General West took his audience back to 1986, when 260,000 Americans lived in Europe and the Cold War was more than an outdated term.
“East versus West; friction is in the air along the entire trace of the Iron Curtain, and at every point of friction USAREUR is there to counter the threat,” he said. “In those days we conducted a major exercise every year; most often twice per year, that we called REFORGER.”
During the Return of Forces to Germany exercises, equipment and vehicles were moved all across Germany and the BENELUX countries into REFORGER battle positions on a daily basis.
“In a sense, you could judge the effectiveness of a REFORGER by how well these units [being inactivated] performed,” General West said.
The 200th TDB, then called the 200th Theater Army Materiel Management Center, was responsible for a second aspect of the logistics involvement.
“They owned all of the stuff. They provided rations, ammunition, repair parts and every thing else that makes an Army run … the 200th TDB fueled the engine that was USAREUR, the most powerful Field Army in the World in 1986,” General West said.
And after, all the talk of success and importance, General West asked the questions many in attendance may have felt in their hearts:
“So, you may ask, if they are so important, why are we inactivating them?”
General West explained that the brigade headquarters are being inactivated not their staffs. The materiel management, movement control and theater transportation functions remain as important today as they have been in the past and will continue to be so in the future.
“Those functions don’t go away. We just have a different mechanism to command and control them,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Philipp J. Thorpe, 21st TSC deputy commander, agreed.
“We’ve identified that the functions of these organizations can in fact go to other organizations that are going to be remaining here in Europe,” he said.
General West expanded on that thought.
“It is important to remember that they [the inactivating units] leave behind great leaders, Soldiers and civilians in their wake. People trained and ready to meet our future challenges; people who will assure success of 7th Army for years to come,” General West said.