AUGUST 4, 2016, MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania – Steel Knight Soldiers from the 51st Transportation Company rolled down European highways throughout the summer in powerful tank carriers — officially known as Heavy Equipment Transporters — on an ongoing mission in support of Atlantic Resolve — South.
The HET’s primary function is to move tracked vehicles like Abrams Main Battle Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles on the battlefield. But the giant trucks are capable of far more. With compatible trailers, for instance, the transporters can transport containers and pallets of various lengths to allow movement of almost all classes of supply.
The HET system may also act as a recovery asset, recovering disabled vehicles not exceeding 140,000 pounds such as a Palletized Loading Systems and Light Movement Tactical Vehicles.
“We are the biggest asset in the brigade and we take pride in that,” said Staff Sgt. William Bell, a motor transport operator assigned to 51st Transportation Company. “We’ll move anything anywhere because we maintain readiness by continually training.”
As a part of Task Force Warhammer, the qualified HET operators’ primary duty is the movement of tracked vehicles and other large equipment between training areas in support of rotational training units across Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. This broad range of movement across the Atlantic Resolve — South area and Europe as a whole includes its unique share of planning requirements.
Any movement involving these enormous vehicles requires a police escort due to their over-sized load, as well as the approval of host nations. HET crews plan carefully to ensure the transports can meet clearance standards for bridges and underpasses.
In between missions, the operators take the time to ensure their equipment is in a state of maximum readiness.
“We need to take the down-time we have to ensure that our vehicles are road-ready,” said Staff Sgt. Stefanie Waid, a motor transport operator assigned to the 51st Transportation Company. “When the mission comes, my trucks will roll with no excuses. If we fail in the execution phase then we failed in the planning phase.”
The HET crews directly affect the rotational training units and European Activity Set across Atlantic Resolve — South by moving equipment and tracked vehicles to different areas within the area of operation. These assets, Waid said, aid units in accomplishing their missions, completing training, and supporting allies as a part of building a stronger Europe.