USEUCOM’s ‘Year of Logistics’ Looms Large in Continuing COVID-19 Support to European Nations

While U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) training and exercise schedule for 2020 shifted to real-world efforts in response to COVID-19, USEUCOM’s banner for 2020, appropriately dubbed the “Year of Logistics,” has remained relevant and vital to support real-world, life-saving urgent care to those in need.



By U.S. European Command Public Affairs United States European Command Stuttgart, Germany May 27, 2020
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While U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) training and exercise schedule for 2020 shifted to real-world efforts in response to COVID-19, USEUCOM’s banner for 2020, appropriately dubbed the “Year of Logistics,” has remained relevant and vital to support real-world, life-saving urgent care to those in need.

Although planned exercises this year were modified or rescheduled, like logistically-intense DEFENDER-Europe 20, there’s been no lack of training during the months filled with quick response and support necessary to address the unprecedented health crisis.

“The military’s vast experience and deep expertise in the field of logistics have been significantly showcased in USEUCOM’s support to nations in need as countries continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, USEUCOM’s director of logistics. “Whether it’s leveraging the air assets of U.S. Air Forces-Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Europe or the contracting capabilities of U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command or the ground capabilities of U.S. Army Europe’s soldiers delivering aid directly to Allied and partner governmental agencies across the theater, military logistics has been at the very heart of our far-reaching humanitarian efforts.”

Since U.S. support to Allies and partners in response to COVID-19 began in February, the United States, including the Department of Defense and other agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development, has provided more than $90 million in support to 15 countries across the European theater. From delivering personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirator masks, disposable gloves and protective suits, to purchasing and donating other much-needed equipment and supplies, USEUCOM and its service components, quickly initiated its logistical processes and procedures to come to the aid of European nations.

As part of America’s overarching support to Europe, USEUCOM has approved more than $8 million in Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) funds for personal protective equipment and other critical supplies for Italy. Working closely with U.S. embassies across the theater, the command has completed COVID-19 support delivery to 14 separate European nations, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia and Montenegro and Slovenia. While additional projects are underway or being reviewed to support other countries, Offices of Defense Cooperation across USEUCOM’s theater continue to work with U.S. embassy teams and host nation partners to develop an additional $1.5 million in projects to support Allies and partners in the fight against COVID-19.

“Planning and preparation for large-scale exercises such as DEFENDER-Europe 20 had tremendous training and readiness value and better postured USEUCOM and NATO logistics enterprises to respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” said U.S. Army Col. Marc Mueller, USEUCOM’s deputy director of logistics. “The amount of multilateral coordination that went into planning these major exercises allowed us to further build and solidify relationships with the logistics professionals of our Allies and partners, establishing the trust and familiarity essential to building common understanding and a unified logistical approach.”

With regular interagency engagement with NATO staff and the cooperation of the European Union, USEUCOM’s logistical professionals were able to quickly determine requirements and coordinate everything from gaining diplomatic clearances and maintaining border crossings to ensure the continual flow of time-sensitive cargo to nations in need. Through Rapid Air Mobility procedures, COVID-19 support shipments were prioritized for air handling with accelerated diplomatic clearances.

Beginning last week, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Naval Forces-Europe launched what will continue through June as three-times-per-week air support missions to move and deliver medical and other relief supplies between logistical hubs in Milan and Rome to help the Italian National Disaster Management Agency and the country’s Civil Protection Agency in the continued battle against COVID-19. Headquartered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the U.S Air Force’s 86th Airlift Wing and air assets from U.S. Navy’s Commander, Task Force 63 based in Italy will continue to fly these supply missions, moving and delivering everything from KN95 surgical masks and surgical gowns to COVID-19 test kits.

While intense logistical and operational focus has been directed to assist Allies and partners in combating the virus, USEUCOM and its service components continue to maintain high levels of military readiness.

Last week, Allied Spirit, a DEFENDER-Europe 20 linked exercise originally slated to occur in May, was rescheduled to take place in Poland from June 5-19. With nearly 6,000 U.S. and Polish forces participating, this exercise will feature Polish airborne operations and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing. This exercise, along with several others, is being planned by U.S. Army Europe to leverage many of the original DEFENDER-Europe 20 training objectives as well as a full array of pre-positioned equipment to enhance readiness and interoperability between U.S., Allied and partner militaries.

In addition, bomber task force missions continue to fly, providing the training necessary to respond to any potential global crisis or challenge, while further demonstrating America’s continued commitment to its Allies and partners.

“Responsive and relevant logistics in the European theater is the key to reinforcing our commitment to our NATO Allies and partners, along with promoting continued stability in Europe,” Stamatopoulos added.

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