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'This is about deterrence:' Largest ammo shipment to Europe in 20 years delivered

A container full of ammunition is offloaded from the U.S. Naval Ship Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, at Nordenham, Germany. More than 600 containers of mixed munitions, the largest Army-run shipment in more than 20 years, arrived at the port and were moved to Miesau for storage and distribution throughout Europe.

JACOB A. MCDONALD/U.S. ARMY

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 8, 2016

STUTTGART, Germany — The Army has completed its largest ammunition delivery to Europe in more than two decades. It was the second delivery of a massive stockpile of ammunition and weaponry to Europe in less than a year.

More than 600 shipping containers, providing supplies for both the Army and Air Force, arrived at Germany’s port in Nordenham Oct. 29 before being sent on to a depot in Miesau and other locations in Europe.

“This is about deterrence,” U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said in an Army news release. “We could have 1,000 tanks over here, but if we didn’t have the ammunition for them they would not have any deterrent effect. It’s another example of the commitment of the United States to security and stability in Europe.”

The delivery comes as the military builds up in Europe, where a U.S.-based tank brigade is scheduled to deploy in early 2017. The Fort Carson-based 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division will arrive in Germany in January and be dispatched to Poland and other positions up and down NATO’s eastern flank. In addition, an Army combat air brigade from the 10th Mountain Division will rotate through Europe next year, with helicopter units spread across Poland and the Baltics.

The moves are part of the $3.4 billion European Reassurance Initiative, which aims to showcase solidarity with NATO allies in Europe’s east as well as send a signal of deterrence to Russia.

Ammunition stocks in Europe left over from the Cold War were reported to have been seriously depleted by the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya and Syria.

The current surge in ammunition coincides with an uptick in training exercises and large-scale war games that the Army has been conducting in support of the Atlantic Resolve operation, launched in the wake of Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine.

In February, the Army completed what was its largest ammunition shipment in more than 10 years when it sent 415 shipping containers — more than 5,000 tons — of ammo to Germany.

The delivery grabbed headlines in Russian media.

The latest delivery involved 620 containers.

“We continue to build up the presence in Europe. This will help with reassuring our allies, along with the common defense of Europe if needed,” Lt. Col. Brad Culligan, commander, 838th Transportation Battalion, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, said in the release.

“It’s the ultimate theater sustainment,” Culligan added. “We’re bringing ammunition into the theater to resupply and set the stage for the European theater for any type of exercises or potential future missions that may come about.”

vandiver.john@stripes.com

A train pulling cars of Army and Air Force ammunition moves out of the port Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, at Nordenham, Germany, for movement to the Miesau Army Depot. More than 600 containers of ammunition -- the largest Army-run ammunition shipment to Europe in more than 20 years -- arrived at the port and were shipped to the depot for storage.
JACOB A. MCDONALD/U.S. ARMY