The heavy armour from the 3rd ABCT of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived in Antwerp in Belgium on 21st July, when the unit began its European deployment. Some of that equipment has been, meanwhile, sent to Poland as well. The brigade consists of 4,200 soldiers and 2,700 equipment pieces, expected to be deployed in the European theater, to replace the 1st Armoured Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division that had been put on alert and deployed to Europe in late February and early March. Now those soldiers are on their way back to CONUS.
The equipment was sent onboard the commercial ARC Integrity cargo ship, among other vessels. That ship departed from the Corpus Christi harbour in Texas. A team of specialists dealing with transport, logistics, and support, belonging to the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 598th Transportation Brigade (SDDC), and elements of the Belgian Armed Forces have altogether engaged in the effort aimed at reception, deployment, and further movement of the equipment within the Antwerp-Bruges port - one of the largest, and also one of the busiest harbours around the world, with rich heritage when it comes to providing support for the US Army.
"The Army has successfully and safely deployed equipment for brigade-sized elements through the port in Antwerp-Bruges for many years now," said Lt. Col. J.D. Tillman, commander, 838th Transportation Battalion. "It is one of the most capable ports in the world and we have an excellent partnership at the port with our Belgian Allies. Given the professionalism of its workforce and access to onward movement transportation modes like rail, commercial line-haul trucking, and barge, Antwerp remains a strategically vital seaport both for the U.S. Army and for our NATO Allies."
Around 300 US troops and civilian employees have been working on safe and effective unloading of the brigade's equipment from ships arriving in Antwerp-Bruges, and on further coordination of the equipment movement throughout Europe, using various transportation assets. This convoluted mission required continuous, detailed coordination with numerous Army units, partners, entities supporting the mobility, and host nation officials at the harbour.
The Americans emphasize the fact that the ability to deploy the ABCT from Fort Hood to Europe exemplifies the US capacity to deploy forces globally, and demonstrates the US Army's capabilities to engage in the strategic deployment of its units to the theater, to support the conducted operations and missions. This also shows how big the quantity of equipment and personnel can be sent from the US to Europe, should a need emerge.
The aforesaid brigade replaces the 1st Armoured Brigade, of the 3rd Infantry Division that was put on alert and deployed to Europe in late February and early March. These assets were subordinated to the NRF, now they are on their way back to the United States. Following the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Americans decided to maintain a continuous presence of at least 2 armoured brigades in Europe - this refers to units that are normally stationed in the US. Alongside the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 3rd ABCT of the 4th Infantry Division took on that role, with the command element having been stationed in Żagań since June
The equipment delivered to Belgium includes the latest US-made M1A2SEPv3 MBTs procured by Poland, among other users. Warsaw decided to acquire 250 examples. The vehicles unloaded in Antwerp would also be sent to Poland, among other locations, seriously reinforcing NATO's regional potential, and also granting an opportunity to the Polish tank crews to get familiarized with the latest iteration of the Abrams.