Logistics unit out of Puerto Rico takes on larger role at Hohenfels
HOHENFELS, Germany — The Army Reserve’s 210th Response Support Group prides itself on switching gears quickly and efficiently.
The Puerto Rico-based logistics unit put its skills to the test during a two-week stint at the Army’s Multinational Training Center that ended Friday.
Shortly after arriving late last month, the 210th’s mission changed. Originally responsible for providing logistical support for 250 U.S. and Russian soldiers, the unit was then asked to tackle the needs of more than three times as many troops training at the expansive base in rural Bavaria.
“That’s what makes a logistics unit a successful one. What we learned is that it’s important we remain flexible,” said commander Col. Hector Lopez. “And in that regard, we’re going back to Puerto Rico with confidence.”
Col. Thomas Vandal, Hohenfels’ commander, said he hopes to bring the logistics team back to the training center, where noncommissioned officers typically take on logistics.
“They’ve demonstrated their capabilities,” he said. “It’s really been a marriage of convenience that has paid off well.”
Created in 2006, the 210th is a new type of Reserve unit built to be more self-sustained and flexible than the bigger combat service support units of years past, Lopez said.
Working behind the scenes 24 hours a day to coordinate everything from menus to munitions, the soldiers of the 210th had to pay close attention to the troops, many of whom did not speak English.
The key, Lopez said, is building in time for last-minute problems — “that way, you have time to find a solution instead of scrambling.”
In Hohenfels, where troops from around the world come to train, “going the extra mile builds trust” among the foreign soldiers and in turn between their countries and the U.S., Lopez said.
The Russian soldiers, for instance, needed special keyboards at the Internet cafe.
Also, they “really liked potatoes, so we made sure to get a lot of potatoes,” Lopez said. “We take care of everything to make sure they don’t have to worry about anything and can focus on their training.”
While all of the 210th speaks perfect English, for most, Spanish is their native tongue. The unit’s unique cultural situation perhaps gives them additional insight into the challenges faced by forces from other countries while training at U.S. bases, Lopez said.
“In a way it has given us a different dimension, different assets you may not find elsewhere,” he said.
But it has also meant teaching people about the U.S. territory they call home.
“We’re proud to be U.S. soldiers and to defend the flag of the United States. Some people are surprised to see we’re as committed and as patriotic,” Lopez said. “We’ve been ambassadors of the island and tried to clear up any misconceptions about Puerto Rico. We’re as American as the next soldier.”