RHINE ORDNANCE BARRACKS, Germany – The population of this small installation has increased by nearly a thousand people in the past week as Soldiers participating in exercise Saber Junction 19 transit between here and training areas in Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, Germany.
The rotational forces are housed here at the Maj. Gen. James M. Wright Deployment Processing Center. The multi-building complex can hold approximately 2,500 Soldiers at one time, with surge capacity if needed, according to DPC managers.
“We monitor the influx of troops and when there’s a significant increase, we work together with the dining facility, the AAFES Express and our garrison FMWR to adjust for longer operating hours to accommodate the Soldiers,” said William Dial, chief of operations with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz’ S3/5/7 Directorate, which oversees the center’s use. “Our FMWR, for example, flexes to increase hours at the Java Café and at the ROB Fitness Center.”
“Soldier and family readiness is why we are here,” said Gary Burton, Director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “Our staff understands the importance of supporting the warfighter, whether for exercises or real-world rotations. Our facilities such as the Java Café and fitness center, both located adjacent to the DPC, play an important role in providing quality-of-life amenities that help make Soldiers feel more at home during their temporary stay here.”
That quality of life support ties in directly to Installation Management Command’s motto of “Serving the Rugged Professional” as well as IMCOM-Europe’s mission to enable readiness in the theater.
“IMCOM-Europe is the key enabling command and integrator that ‘Prepares the Theater’ in support of USAREUR’s mission to ‘Set the Theater’ and project forces,” said Dial. “As the premier Power Projection Platform in Europe, the garrison is operationally involved in a myriad of readiness functions, such as pre-deployment processing, Soldier readiness processing, installation staging area support and railhead transport of equipment, to name a few.”
With Saber Junction, Sept. 3-30, involving approximately 5,400 participants from the United States and 15 ally and partner nations, garrison planners and logistics support specialists from tenant organizations are integral to the Army’s readiness assessment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to execute land operations in a joint, combined environment and to promote interoperability with allies and partner nations.
“The DPC handles anywhere from five-man teams to very large groups that may be going to (other) locations; they may be going out to a training site or they may be coming in here to attend training locally,” said Charles Wallace, DPC director with the 21st Theater Logistics Support Center – Europe.
Wallace said the facility is never completely empty of Soldiers. The DPC runs 24-hours a day and employees are there to check people in and out as their mission and travel needs dictate.
“We do some coordinating with travel, like bus travel to and from their units,” Wallace said. “We can do manifesting for aircraft if the unit needs us to. We can also handle larger units with weapons and ammunition.”
Because transiting Soldiers may be in the Personnel Holding Areas anywhere from a day to weeks as they wait to transition to or from their mission, Wallace and his team are dedicated to making the buildings as comfortable as possible by adding some amenities to help the troops.
“I’ve tried to make it as comfortable as we can for a former motor pool with bunk beds and plywood walls,” laughed Wallace. “We provide everything from pillows, sheets and blankets to a movie theater setting, pool tables, free Wi-Fi, washers and dryers in every building and free international calling.”
“I love that we have clean sheets, a bed and free soap and razors,” said 1st Sgt. Rudy Alvarado, 173rd Airborne Brigade. “That means we don’t have to break apart our ruck sacks, get our sleeping bags out and then put it all back together when we gear up for the mission.”
When larger units are staying in the DPC, several other organizations are happy to lend a hand. The Kaiserslautern USO provides volunteer staff in the holding areas and gives out free toiletry bags and food, while the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Express has also stayed open later and sent food trucks to the DPC.
“The garrison family and our partners work hard together to make the transiting Soldiers’ stay, however long it is, a little more comfortable and have them prepared and ready to continue their forward mission,” said Dial.
“It helps tremendously,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Dyon, 173rd Airborne Brigade. “It sets warrior management and it allows us to get a good night’s sleep before we do a joint force entry into any mission.”