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Host Nation Support; Eindhoven, October 25 – 27, 2017

The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, part 3; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

After a deployment of more than nine months, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade was withdrawn to the United States at the end of October 2017. This operation was performed under the name Host Nation Support. During this logistics operation, Eindhoven Air Base and the port of Rotterdam played an important role.

After a period of more than nine months in Europe, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade (10th CAB) was withdrawn to the United States. The US Army has until 20 November to withdraw the 10th CAB from Europe. The unit will leave Europe by ship and will return to the United States. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade takes its place and will be mobilized in Europe at the same time as the retreat of the 10th CAB. With large ports and the good rail and road network, the Netherlands offers NATO a unique logistical capacity to quickly move large quantities of military equipment to and from the European mainland. Various units of the Dutch armed forces were deployed for weeks to support the American troop movement. Halfway October, all helicopters of the 10th CAB were collected from various locations in Europe in Germany. The flying units would gather at the Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in Germany which is stationed at Wiesbaden Army Airfield. The helicopters are prepared at this airbase of the US Army for the ferry to the United States. The helicopters will depart in groups of up to four helicopters each to Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands. In Eindhoven, the helicopters will be refueled after which they will eventually fly to the port of Rotterdam. Eindhoven Air Base was an important link for this ferry of more than 55 American helicopters from October 23 until 30. The helicopters were of the type CH-47F Chinook, UH-60L/M Blackhawk and AH-64D Apache and arrived in groups in Eindhoven and were parked on the Mil West platform.

Partly due to the bad weather in Germany in the Eifel and in parts of the Netherlands, it was a challenging logistical operation to safely move this amount of helicopters. Despite the weather all helicopters were ferried within one week from Germany to the port of Rotterdam. Often the helicopters arrived at Eindhoven in the afternoon. Most helicopters would stay in Eindhoven until the next day. In the morning the military helicopters would leave for Rotterdam. Only the helicopters arriving early in the

afternoon were flown to Rotterdam the same day. The Netherlands provided the so-called "Host Nation Support" with the help of these ferry operations. This means that the members of NATO help each other in operations on each other's territory. During the ferry the Dutch government offered the helping hand to the United States by supporting and facilitating this logistical action. The Netherlands has excellent logistics facilities for NATO to enable the troop movement due to its favorable location. Eindhoven Air Base was ideally located on the route for the helicopters and was therefore a suitable location for a tank stop. Eindhoven also has the facilities to handle a large group of helicopters quickly and efficiently. Eindhoven Air Base is the transport base of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and has also more than enough space on the ground to receive this amount of helicopters, without interfering its own activities.

Despite these long opening hours, the Americans have kept the appointment by having all helicopters at Eindhoven every day before sunset. The helicopters fly VFR (Visual flight Rules) and thus fly at the sight of the pilot. For this reason, it was decided in respect with safety to have the helicopters at Eindhoven every day before dark. The helicopters which were refueled at Eindhoven Air Base left for a temporary military site in the port of Rotterdam. This site was monitored daily and was marked off with fences and containers. On this specific location in the port of Rotterdam, the Dutch Army deployed a transshipment location with a landing site for the helicopters. The helicopters were prepared for shipping to the United States after they had arrived. For this preparation American ground personnel from Germany was brought to the port of Rotterdam. Preparing for transportation is done in the large warehouses on that site. The helicopters are stripped of their weapons and their fuel. The rotor blades are also removed and mechanical parts of the helicopter are secured with transport locks. In addition to the helicopters of the 10th CAB, many vehicles were also taken to the port by train. These vehicles of the US Army will also join to the United States on the same boat. All these vehicles are, like the helicopters, part of the 10th Mountain Division and have provided support to European troops, especially in Eastern Europe.

The ship on which all this military equipment is going to be transported is the Endurance. This ship sails under the American flag and is a so-called "vehicle carrier". This means that the ship is built to transport many vehicles over the large oceans in the world. The Endurance is a ship which was built in the United States in 1996. The ship has a length of 264 meters and is more than 32 meters wide. The Endurance has a gross weight of no less than 72708 tons and is a substantial cargo ship. Until February 15, 2010, the Endurance sailed under the name Taronga. It is not the first time this ship has been deployed by the US Army for moving equipment. At the start of the European tour, the Endurance also moved the 10th CAB to Europe. The replacement of the 10th Mountain Division has also been moved to Europe by the Endurance. The ship first unloaded a lot of non-flying equipment in Zeebrugge. Later on the helicopters of the 1st CAB were unloaded in the same harbor halfway October. The ship left on the 22nd of October from the port of Zeebrugge and then anchored in the North Sea until it was able to pick up the 10th Mountain Division in the port of Rotterdam. On November 15, the ship would eventually sail into the port of Rotterdam. The departure of the entire division was finally scheduled for November 20, 2017. After more than nine months, the departure of the Endurance from Rotterdam ended the deployment of the 10th CAB and the 10th Mountain Division. The tasks of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade have been taken over in Eastern Europe by the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.

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