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NEWS | May 7, 2024

Strengthening NATO Forces: Army Prepositioned Stock Utilized for Defender 24 in Europe

By SSG Rene Rosas 405th Army Field Support Brigade

At the start of DEFENDER 24, a strategic exercise that bolsters the readiness of NATO forces in the European theater, Soldiers of the 43rd Multi-Role Bridge Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, arrive in an unfamiliar location across the Atlantic Ocean from their home station. Like all Soldiers who have deployed in the past, they go over the uncertainties in their heads. One certainty they can rely on is that they will be prepared with the necessary supplies and equipment to tackle their upcoming mission.

Touching down in the heart of Europe, the 43rd MRBC finds itself at Drawsko Combat Training Center, Poland, to receive gear from the Army Prepositioned Stock-2 (APS-2). The equipment, including everything from Bridge Erection Boats to radios, will be utilized during the unit’s upcoming participation in DEFENDER 24. The Defender series of exercises underscores the United States’ commitment to collective defense and readiness. The APS-2 equipment at this site is maintained and issued by Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux (AFSBn-Benelux).

From armored vehicles to communication systems, every piece of equipment issued at this forward APS-2 equipment hand-off site is crucial in ensuring the unit’s readiness for any scenario during DEFENDER 24. The AFSBn-Benelux takes pride in its ability to maintain equipment readiness and deployability and has continuously sustained its inventory at a fully mission-capable status.

“At ASBn-Benelux, we have a robust maintenance cycle that allows us to issue combat-ready equipment to the individual Soldiers and various formations arriving in theater,” said Capt. Daniel Holmes, operations officer AFSBn-Benelux.

The 43rd MRBC’s participation in DEFENDER 24 comes at a pivotal time. As part of the larger NATO defense strategy, DEFENDER 24 is a critical exercise that enhances interoperability and readiness among allied forces. 43rd MRBC arrival in Europe demonstrates the U.S. capability to rapidly deploy, gain equipment en route, and project combat power expediently and efficiently. With tensions simmering in various parts of the world, the need for a robust and agile military presence in Europe has never been more pressing.

One of the critical elements facilitating the rapid deployment of the 43rd MRBC is the strategically positioned APS-2 equipment. Prepositioned stock provides the base of the Army’s deployment triad, which includes the movement of by air and sea. The deployment triad is a tool used to create agile logistics systems, and mitigate risk. Equipment stockpiles provide deploying Soldiers with the necessary tools and resources at a moment’s notice. This forward positioning of equipment significantly reduces deployment timelines and enhances the overall effectiveness of military operations in the region.

“Having the equipment here in theater allows us to maximize our training timeline at home station and arrive in theater with fully mission capable equipment ready to be drawn,” said 1st. Lt. Krueger, the executive officer of the 43rd MRBC. “Our Soldiers were able to focus on critical tasks for DEFENDER 24, as opposed to preparing equipment for movement, prior to arrival in the theater.”

During DEFENDER 24, the 43rd MBRC is slated to conduct a joint combat bridge crossing with multinational partners, and a wet gap crossing with the combination of Bridge Erection Boats and equipment received from APS-2. Utilizing equipment they received during this APS-2 draw a mere three weeks after arriving in Europe, the 43rd MRBC will play a decisive role in DEFENDER 24. The nature of the exercise is a testament to the importance of APS-2 and of having equipment ready in theater.

The coordination between the 43rd MRBC and AFSBn-Benelux exemplifies the spirit of teamwork and collaboration inherent in military operations. Through effective communication and meticulous planning, both units work together to achieve their common goal: readiness for DEFENDER 24. This level of coordination enhances the deployment process’s efficiency and fosters a sense of camaraderie among Soldiers.

“If we had to load out the equipment we are drawing here, it would have made it far more difficult to conduct validation training before coming to DEFENDER 24,” said Capt. Joel Self, the commander of the 43rd MRBC.

The arrival of the 43rd MRBC at this forward APS-2 equipment hand-off site in DCTC displays the ongoing efforts to enhance NATO’s readiness and effectiveness in the European theater. As the equipment issuing process progresses, the 43rd MRBC stands poised and ready to fulfill its mission during DEFENDER 24.