Helicopters and equipment from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, began offloading March 6, 2021, at the Port of Dunkirk, France. The aviation brigade is home-stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas and its equipment arrived aboard the Endurance, a commercial vessel chartered by the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command.
The brigade is deploying to Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve, and will conduct bilateral and multinational training events with more than a dozen NATO allies and partner nations. These exercises build readiness and strengthen relationships between U.S. forces and our allies and partners.
The aviation brigade consists of approximately 50 UH-60 and HH-60 Black Hawks, 10 CH-47 Chinooks, 25 AH-64 Apaches and 1,800 wheeled vehicles. Only a portion of the brigade’s equipment is being off-loaded in Dunkirk. The rest arrived at the port in Alexandroupoli, Greece in late February. When the port operations are complete, the brigade’s equipment moves to locations across Europe via air, commercial line-haul, and rail. In France, the brigade’s helicopters and personnel are also operating from the airport in Calais, an important logistical hub for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and for the reception, staging and onward movement of the brigade’s aircraft.
This is the first time in more than 60 years that U.S. Army equipment has arrived in Europe through the Dunkirk and Calais regions. It is not only a historic event, it also represents a strong bilateral relationship between U.S. and French military forces. French support for the arrival and movement of U.S. Army equipment is referred to as Operation Mousquetaire 2021-II. This effort enhances interoperability between the U.S. and France, while demonstrating that logisticians on both sides can work together seamlessly.
While operating in the current COVID-19 environment, the health and safety of the communities where U.S. personnel are located is a top priority. Although the operation in Dunkirk and Calais primarily involves equipment and aircraft, all Soldiers arriving for Atlantic Resolve, regardless of location, undertake extensive actions to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Before departing the U.S., Soldiers are required to perform pre-deployment restriction of movement periods, and COVID-19 testing. While travelling, all Soldiers wear masks and follow strict hygiene measures. After arriving in Europe, Soldiers undergo a second restriction of movement period, along with COVID-19 testing, before travelling further.
“This port operation demonstrates what our collective team can accomplish, while at the same time, doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID,” said Lt. Col William Prince, Jr., Commander, 838th Transportation Battalion, 598th Transportation Brigade. “Everyone involved is committed to the highest standards of COVID prevention. It’s a shared goal for all of us. The 1st CAB team, our French allies, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, MSC, and our commercial industry partners have done a great job. The initial portion of the offload is going very well and 1st CAB’s equipment will be ready to move forward safely and quickly to support Atlantic Resolve.”
Enabled by the European Deterrence Initiative, U.S. Army support to the Atlantic Resolve mission consists of Soldiers assigned to armored, aviation and logistical task forces overseen by a Division Headquarters (Forward) based in Poznan, Poland. Active duty, Reserve, and National Guard units rotate from the U.S. with their vehicles, aircraft and equipment for nine months at a time. Atlantic Resolve began in 2014 and is evidence of the strong and unremitting U.S. commitment to NATO and Europe.
Photo credits: Staff Sgt. Benjamin Northcutt / 21st Theater Sustainment Command