HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii - Four vehicles, two trailers and 23 people doesn't sound like much, but that's the idea: it represents the total framework of the Deployable Assessment Team, a small group of professionals with minimal baggage and a mission to rapidly respond when disaster strikes in the Pacific.

The U.S. Army, Pacific's Contingency Command Post DAT is a unique concept on the way to becoming fully operational capable in the coming months. The DAT exercised a milestone in this endeavor through a load exercise conducted here Oct. 1.

"This was the first time that the entire DAT had been alerted, all of the DAT vehicles and equipment rolled at the same time and the first time it had all been loaded onto a C-17," said Maj. Keegan Leonard, DAT deputy chief of operations and USARPAC CCP aviation operations officer.

"The Air Force loadmasters that took the time to help us during this exercise were great. Though the DAT is strictly a U.S. Army entity, only a joint effort can get the DAT to its destination and back."

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Isaiah Murray, non-commissioned officer standardization and evaluation for the 535th Airlift Squadron and team of loadmasters assisted the DAT in loading and unloading.

"The whole point of the exercise was to ensure that we can safely load their cargo, conduct proper tie-down techniques and also ensure the safety of their passengers," he said. Murray said he felt confident about the entire process because of the teamwork of all involved.

"Everybody came ready to work, which is important, because everyone was able to gel together and mesh as a team, follow directions and get the job done, which is really important when you have a short notice mission to an austere location," Murray said.

The DAT represents the command and control assessment capability for the USARPAC commander in an emergency or situation regarded as humanitarian assistance or disaster relief in the Pacific.

When fully operational capable and called upon in an emergency, the initial team or DAT A, comprised of 9 members representing the CCPs initial entry command and control capability flies out first. DAT B, an additional 14 person team, follows on 24 to 48 hours later and builds upon DAT A's command and control capability.

DAT B brings expertise of technical assessments to evaluate what has occurred and what assistance may need to be brought in.

"DAT A has been exercising its mission for some time and by integrating DAT B into this exercise, we proved that if DAT A and B [can] roll concurrently, we can do it with minimum friction, get the vehicles and equipment loaded in an orderly, efficient manner, and rapidly deploy anywhere the USARPAC commander sees a need for the unique capabilities of the Deployable Assessment Team," said Leonard.

At the end of the day, the mission was deemed a success.

"Everybody was where they needed to be with the right attitude, all our vehicles were loaded onto the C-17 as though we were strategically deployed for disaster relief, we also got some great hands on training from the loadmasters, which will definitely help us prepare not only for the next time we do this but most importantly, when we have to do this in the real world," said Maj. Kevin Stonerook, DAT operations officer in charge and Air Missile Defense Operations Officer.

With alert roster in place, all people and loads able to move onto the aircraft successfully, the small team with the big mission has only two achievements left to becoming FOC. A fly-away exercise to validate its rapid movement and another exercise to test its assessment capability, scheduled for early December.

"I'm proud to be a part of this mission, very excited to see from where we started from to where we're going," said Staff Sgt. Jeff Anderson, communications non-commissioned officer in charge. "It's good to be a part of the DAT."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16