Army Reserve Soldiers from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s Deployment Support Command recently brought a unique layer of experience to meet the needs of high tempo operations at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.
The 461st Expeditionary Terminal Operating Element, a DSC unit from McAllen, Texas, is supporting SDDC’s 598th Transportation Brigade during the European deployment of the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team in support of Atlantic Resolve.
The 461st performs tracking functions for the downloading and staging of equipment from ships.
“We stand in as an element that exists within the active duty world during port operations,” said Capt. Stephen Yarbrough, the 461st team chief.
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“We bridge the gap with the computer systems we operate, whether it’s for manifesting the ships or developing staging plans on the ship, so that we can expedite the download of equipment to the staging yard in preparation for onward movement,” he added.
The unique part of being a Reservist is that being a Soldier is not their full-time job, but, they have developed skills within their civilian careers that they are able to rely on when serving in uniform.
Master Sgt. Manuel Gilliam, the 461st ETOE’s senior transportation supervisor, is a prime example of how civilian skills can translate to being a Soldier for SDDC.
“I am a civilian truck driver and I am also a motor transport operator in the Army,” he said. “I am able to tap into my civilian expertise and bring that to SDDC when making stow plans—which is a layout of how equipment is stored in a staging area or on a ship—and I can look at them and I know how the equipment drives and how it’s configured.”
Another example of using civilian experience to better SDDC’s mission is Sgt. 1st. Class Esperanza Chavez, a transportation management coordinator with the 461st.
In her civilian job, Chavez is a government service employee as an administrator with the 369th ETOE based out of Houston, Texas. She says her day-to-day job ties directly into the skills needed to coordinate the movement of equipment from the ship to the staging yard for onward movements.
“Both jobs take organization, lots of organization,” she said. “When I am operating at the tally station I have to make sure my skills keep the flow of traffic going. If there is an issue at the tally station, the whole process comes to a halt.”
Chavez says the reason she serves her nation as an Army Reserve Soldier is to give back to others what she has received all her life—freedom.
“My whole life I have been supported by this country and its military, for which I am grateful,” she said. “Serving my country is my way of giving back.”
With over 2,500 Soldiers ready to answer the call the DSC is a force multiplier that nearly doubles the entire size of SDDC as a whole. Without these Reservists, SDDC would not be able to integrate and synchronize surface deployment and distribution capabilities to deliver and sustain the armed forces around the globe.