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598th transportation group recognizes 60 years of continued port support in northern Europe.

More than 120 military and civilian port-related dignitaries from Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and the United States attended the 598th Transportation Group reception at the Van Ghentkazerne in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

This reception, with the motto "Sixty Years Continued Support," was hosted by the 598th Commander, Col. Gary R. Stanley. The reception was initiated to recognize the City Authorities of the Ports of Bremerhaven, Nordenham, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Mannheim for their continued support to the 598th Trans Gp over the past 60 years.

Before presenting 598th Trans Gp mementos to the mayors or representatives of these four ports, Stanley opened with remarks.

"The 598th Transportation Group's daily mission to plan and conduct water port and surface distribution operations has always been successful, thanks to the Host Nation Support," he said.

"In 60 years we have seen a transformation of Europe, a transformation of our world and a transformation in the way in which forces, equipment, supplies and commercial goods are distributed around the globe. The 598th Transportation Group, in partnership with everyone here today, has led that transformation in both the military and commercial sectors and today we both, in our own way, serve as the model for the future."

"The U.S. Department of the Army established the first Army Transportation unit in Bremerhaven, Germany, the gateway for forces, equipment and supplies, in 1945 as Europe began the process of rebuilding and transforming in the wake of the events of the Second World War. Although the headquarters for this transportation unit has since relocated to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the German town of Bremerhaven has in fact provided invaluable, uninterrupted service to NATO and to the U.S. armed forces for 60 years. Bremerhaven, along with her sister facilities in the City of Nordenham, located on the other side of the Weser River, continue to be the primary ports in Northern Europe supporting the movement of ammunition, Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs) and select units in the region.

"The other primary ports today, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Mannheim have been used almost continuously since they were liberated in 1944 and 1945. As our ability to project and sustain forces grew in importance, and we began to rely more heavily on commercial facilities, our role in these ports expanded exponentially. Based on their increased role, given the volumes of material involved in sustaining NATO efforts in the Cold War and preparing for any and all contingencies, the U.S. Army established a permanent presence in Rotterdam and Mannheim in 1957. Antwerp, although up until now supported by our permanent organization here in the Netherlands, has and continues to play an important, vital role in the distribution of NATO and U.S. forces cargo."

Today, Europe, America and in fact the world as a whole, are all far different places than the ones which existed when we began this journey together back in 1945. In 1989 the wall in Berlin fell and in concert with the impact of globalization and connectivity the worlds we operate in have changed as well. "I am not going to discuss the politics or debate the merits of the many deployments we and our NATO partners have engaged in around the globe since 1989, but I would like to say that we have transformed how Soldiers, equipment and supplies are deployed and sustained around the globe each and every day. Our partnerships with NATO and commercial industry have changed how we operate and how we view the world. Side-by-side we have seen an industry transform and the capability of the West to deploy and sustain forces around the globe are now central to any strategy dealing with global security and disaster response," said Stanley.

"The reason we have invited the city authorities today is because although we have on many occasions recognized the efforts of the port authorities, host nation military, contractors, security officials, and our commercial carriers we have not, as far as I can determine, ever officially thanked our gracious hosts before today. So, in an attempt to start a new trend after 60 memorable and successful years here in Europe, we would like to present 598th Transportation Group plaques for outstanding support to the mayors and representatives of our primary port cities of Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Mannheim," he continued.

Stanley specially recognized the mayor of Capelle aan den IJssel, the Honorable Joke van Doorne, and some of the direct neighbors at the Lylantse Plein where we've resided for the last several years. He thanked the Capelle mayor, the local Police, Marechaussee and the Netherlands Military for their efforts in providing the 598th and their families a secure environment to live and work in. "I would also be remiss if I did not thank all of our neighbors who have been so gracious in allowing us to provide a safer environment despite the inconveniences it has caused them."

The Royal Dutch Marine Corps Van Ghentkazerne in Rotterdam has been chosen as the location for the reception because this will be the new location of the 598th Transportation Group in the near future. Stanley addressed the Royal Netherlands' Marine Corps Van Ghentkazerne commander, Col. Eric Blommestijn, as our 'soon to be neighbors.'

"The Dutch Marines have been very gracious and supportive as we went through our own lengthy political process to secure permissions to move to Van Ghentkazerne and also to secure the funding necessary to make this a reality. I am happy to announce today that we recently received the full support of our U.S. Secretary of the Army for this move to the Van Ghentkazerne," concluded Stanley.

After praising the support of his own workforce and presenting the mementos to the mayors and representatives of the four major ports he turned over the podium to his deputy, Lt. Col. Stacy L. Ruble. Ruble provided a 30-minute slide show, which provided a walking tour through the past 60 years of our command's presence here in Europe. The slides demonstrated how much we have changed, both as an industry and a military discipline, and also as a world.

Story and photos by Bram de Jong, Command Affairs Officer 598th Transportation Group
COPYRIGHT 2006 U.S. Military Traffic Management Command
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Author:de Jong, Bram
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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