WIESBADEN, Germany — For the Logisticians of the 2d Theater Signal Brigade, the COVID-19 pandemic provided them with a new challenge as they work to provide logistical support across the brigade, and to units participating in the DEFENDER-EUROPE 21 exercise.
“Our mission is to provide transportation and Logistical Operations support that comprises of non-tactical vehicles, sustainment operations, provide oversight and training in the Command Deployment Discipline Program and general customer service,” said Roderick T. Jackson, 2d TSB Logistics Management Specialist. “We also provide transportation and logistical support to Regionally Aligned Forces signal units that deploy and redeploy to the European theater.”
DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large-scale U.S. Army-led exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO allies and partner militaries. This year, more than 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations will conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen countries from the Baltics to the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea Region.
One focus area of DEFENDER-EUROPE 21 is to demonstrate the U.S., NATO and partner militaries’ capability to serve as a strategic security partner in the western Balkans and Black Sea regions while sustaining abilities in northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Africa.
2d TSB Logisticians are supporting this focus area by ensuring communications packages are deployed where they are needed, when they are needed, continuously coordinating transportation requests to move the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion across the European theater, which includes, Estonia, Albania, Italy, and Hungary.
“Our mission is to ensure the signalers’ equipment is fully mission capable, which provides them the ability to service their customers with Secure, Non-Secure and VOIP access,” said Cleveland Witherspoon Jr, 2d TSB Logistic Management Specialist. “Ensuring the brigade’s signal equipment is fully functional provides the customer the ability to communicate across the DEFENDER-21 footprint throughout the exercise.”
Providing appropriate and timely maintenance support is crucial to guaranteeing fully functional equipment, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Greg Gusler, 2d TSB S4 Maintenance Branch Chief. “My job is to ensure proper maintenance procedures are adhered and are reported properly via GCSS-Army for the Brigade,” Gusler said. “This means our team has a direct impact on success of Brigade missions by providing unprecedented readiness via critical logistics support advising and advocating proper maintenance procedures.”
Ensuring optimal readiness doesn’t just mean ensuring the equipment is ready for deployment. It also means managing various life support requirements for the communication teams.
“We coordinate life support, which includes billeting, Class I (food), and Class III (fuel) support,” Jackson said. “We also communicate with USAREUR-AF G3, G4, and G8 sections to ensure we are meeting the requirements outlined for DEF21 and ensuring our teams are where they need to be for the exercise.”
Mr. Jackson added that one of his favorite aspects of his job are the daily challenges involved with coordinating movement requirements in the European theater.
“Every day is different and provides a new way of testing my transportation and logistical experience,” he said. “Although challenging at times, it is fun trying to find solutions to complicated transportation and logistical problems. In Europe, our expertise and knowledge spans many countries, whereas in the United States, my scope would just be the state and base I’m located in. Here in Europe, I have to know network and establish relationships that help us meet the 2d TSB strategic and operational demands.”
Mr. Witherspoon stated working with his fellow co-workers one of the best parts of his job.
“I enjoy training our young Soldiers and junior leaders,” he said. “Everyone in the S4 section are true professionals. It also brings me satisfaction knowing that my support helped the mission be successful.”