Author’s Note: Well, I decided to make a little change in presentation. Instead of posting the rest of the prologue, I’m going to post an excerpt from Chapter 3. That way, I can give you guys a bigger piece of the overall picture and flow of events. Hopefully it works out. This weekend I’ll post two or three excerpts from the Lead Up to War chapters, and then on Christmas, a War chapter. Oh, and I added a photo because posting entries without them is just getting weird. 😊Snow is finally falling here in Princeton right now. –Mike
The sight before them was too irresistibly amusing for the NCOs and enlisted personnel to ignore. It was like a scene from a Dr. Seuss book, if the good doctor’s characters had worn green. Two dozen brigade staff officers and battalion commanders climbing around and exploring the neatly parked rows of M-1A1 Abrams battle tanks, and M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with all the enthusiasm of children exploring gifts beneath the tree on Christmas morning. It was not the first time the US Army personnel stationed here at the POMCUS depot in Brunssum had seen something like this and certainly would not be the last. Every eight months or so, another group of stateside-based officers came through here to inspect the equipment their units would take into battle if the balloon went up at some point in the future.
On this morning it was officers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade. O-4s and O-5s mostly who had at one time commanded their own armor platoons and companies but were now higher up the chain in brigade staff and battalion command slots. The equipment located in the Brunssum depot’s warehouses was earmarked for 2nd Brigade. If a crisis broke out in Europe and REFORGER was activated, the brigade’s troops and officers would be flown over from Fort Hood to mate up with the pre-positioned equipment here. They would not be alone. There were over two dozen POMCUS sites located in the Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany. Combined, they held enough equipment, fuel and ammunition to fill out six heavy maneuver divisions.
Lt Colonel Mike Velez, US Army hopped down from an Abrams he’d been inspecting carefully for the last twenty minutes. He nodded his head, satisfied. This tank was in perfect condition. On the flight over, he had been skeptical about the condition of vehicles here at Brunssum. He was pleased to discover that his concerns turned out to be unfounded. The maintainers here had the armored vehicles in this warehouse and the two adjacent ones entirely ready for war. All the tankers had to do was hop in, start the engine, and drive off into battle.
Velez commanded 1/32 Armor, one of the brigade’s three maneuver battalions. He was six months into this command tour and had a good feel for his officers and men. This trip was now giving him, his fellow battalion commanders, and the brigade staff a feel for the equipment they’d take into battle. Tomorrow, the officers would head east into the Federal Republic and survey the terrain 2nd Brigade would fight on if the balloon ever did go up here. Given events in Moscow earlier in the week, the brigade staff and commanders had come over at a good time, Velez decided.
“Well, what do you think?” A voice called out from somewhere off to the right. Velez looked over in that direction and saw Colonel John Aaron, 2nd Brigade’s CO climbing down from a Bradley. Velez walked over to where Aaron was.
“No complaints, sir. The equipment in here is good to go,” he pronounced.
“Glad to hear it,” Aaron smiled thinly. “Because these tanks and Brads belong to your battalion’s set.”
“I’ll take it,” Velez said with his own grin. Next, he shifted topics. “What’s next on the day’s schedule, sir?”
“We’ll be taking a ride over to Zutendaal in Belgium to see the ammo depot there. Half hour drive, not far. Tonight, our Dutch hosts will be holding a dinner for us and then tomorrow morning we head east to recon the North German Plain with some officers from NORTHAG.”
“Sounds like a good plan, Colonel. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and kindly ask some your brigade staff to get down off my tanks before they break something,” Velez chuckled.