By Maj. Lindsey ElderDecember 20, 2017
By Maj. Lindsey Elder, Capt. Adam Cartier and Sgt. 1st Class John Brown
Army Logisticians in the Pacific are involved in solving some of the most complex challenges in arguably the most dynamic environment in the world. 2017 brought with it many opportunities for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, along with its enterprise partners, to approach these complex challenges across 9, 000 miles, 36 nations, 16 time zones and through dramatically varying climates.
Seeking to move at the speed of relevancy and adapt to today's challenges and prepare for tomorrow's threats, the 8th TSC engaged in multiple table top exchanges while proving sustainment experts to make the most of regional exercise opportunities. In a region requiring a tailored mix of strategic lift, Army watercraft systems and strategic and operational concepts of sustainment, the refinement and improvement of the critical operation of setting the theater was present in everything the command did.
Aside from supporting the constant training and exercises across the Pacific, the command continued its support to missions in the Middle East through the deployment of multiple Military Working Dog (MWD) teams from the 728th Military Police Battalion. The battalion also deployed the 58th Military Police Company to serve as the security force in support of the 94th Army Air Missile Defense Command-led Joint Task Force Talon in Guam.
Soldiers from the 8th Human Resources Sustainment Center deployed in July to Qatar and Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Approximately 50 Soldiers continue to provide comprehensive and expert theater-level human resource support to Army, Joint and Multinational Forces deployed to the CENTCOM area of operations.
As the 4th deployment for the unit since its creation in 2006, the 8th HRSC coordinates, integrates and synchronizes personnel accountability and strength reporting, casualty reporting, Army postal operations and reception staging and onward movement tracking and analysis throughout the theater.
Members of the 175th Financial Management Support Center continued to improve and coordinate financial management efforts in the Pacific over the year, leading exercises, conferences, and facilitating technical readiness training.
Providing on ground and home station payment support during Talisman Saber, Garuda Shield, and Cobra Gold as part of Pacific Pathways, the 175th FMSC Accounting and Disbursing section processed more than 300 contract payments. In conjunction with exercise support, the 175th FMSC also funded and certified ten paying agents whose missions included places like Japan, China, and Palau.
The 175th FMSC provided Soldiers of the 125th Financial Management Support Unit at Schofield Barracks with on-site technical training in systems used for exercise contract payment support. This enabled the 125th FMSU to become proficient at conducting the commercial vendor service mission and supplement finance teams engaged across the region.
The 175th FMSC hosted mission analysis conferences with human resource subject matter experts in support of the military pay mission's shift to the HR community. Together the two branches identified challenges and tasks to be completed for a smoother transition. Efforts and communication between the 175th FMSC and HR community will continue into 2018 as courses of action for future implementation develops.
Joint orientation and planning conferences have allowed financial management, contracting, and resource management across the military components to come together and discuss differences and similarities between business processes and force structure. This enhanced understanding of the fiscal triad footprint in the Pacific serves to better plan and execute missions that require joint capabilities.
2017 also brought with it many achievements. Capt. Fred Teeter of the 8th TSC G5 was named the Regimental Transportation Officer of the Year. The 58th MP Company of the 728th MP Battalion was selected for a Department of the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence (AAME). Soldiers from the 130th Engineer Brigade received many accolades while competing across the Army to include: 1st Lt. Bre Davis received the Engineer Regimental Award for Outstanding Platoon Leader; Sgt. 1st Class Narcisha Smith was a recipient of the Joint Women's Leadership Symposium Award for Advancing the Role of Women through Leadership and Excellence; and Maj. Andrew Johannes received recognition as a finalist for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. The top Soldier and NCO for the 8th TSC both hailed from 130th Engineer brigade this year, Sgt. Gene Calantoc and Spc. Thomas MacDonald.
Not to be outdone, there were many noteworthy achievements by Soldiers across the command in culinary arts. With multiple 8th TSC Soldiers as team members, Joint Team Hawaii was named the top culinary team in the Department of Defense. Victory was also on the menu for the culinary specialists of the 84th Engineer Battalion's Forward Support Company, as they were the U.S. Army Pacific winners of the Connelly Award. The team is gearing up for the national competition taking place in late January 2018.
The command also planned and executed the 13th U.S.- China Disaster Management Exchange with the support of the Oregon National Guard and several supporting organizations. Hosted by U.S. Army Pacific, the DME provides an opportunity for hands-on and side-by-side interaction between United States Army and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations and enables sharing of lessons learned.
Army Watercraft support to the region also got a new member of the family, the USAV General Brehon B. Somervell (LSV-3). While the hard work was done to prepare for her arrival in 2017, the crew of the 168th Transportation Company continues to grow before its formal activation ceremony in 2018.
Soldiers of the command continued to support multiple missions with the Defense Prisoner-of-War/Missing-in-Action Accounting Agency (DPAA). One of the more unique support missions was that of the 130th Engineer Brigade's 7th Engineer Dive Detachment. The "Deep Sea" Soldiers deployed to Vietnam, carefully recovering material underwater in order to identify remains of an F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber lost during the Vietnam War.
8th Military Police Brigade Watchdogs
The Watchdog Nation spent 2017 in high gear. At one point, the brigade was engaged in 14 countries while simultaneously conducting area reconnaissance, training law enforcement techniques, providing security, clearing ordnance, and teaching nuclear/biological/chemical survivability skills. Watchdog Soldiers participated in multiple partnership and readiness-building exercises to include Cobra Gold, Joint Readiness Training Center 17-04, Balikatan, Key Resolve, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Lightning Forge, and Warfighter 2017. The 8th MP BDE was the host of the island's German Armed Forces Badge qualification event, as well as the EOD Team of the Year competition through the 303rd Ordnance Battalion.
The 303rd Ordnance Battalion supported more than 20 training exercises throughout the Pacific all while responding to more than 300 calls for possible unexploded ordnance. They assisted a variety of governmental agencies including Homeland Security, the Transportation Safety Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations throughout the year with a 100% safety and success rate. The "Forged in Fire" battalion continued its HMA program in support of USARPAC with multiple efforts in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, as well as hosting training for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force as they prepare for the Olympic Games to be hosted in Toyko in 2020.
The 728th MP BN also stayed busy this year participating in eight large scale exercises, including Talisman Saber in Australia, Khaan Quest in Mongolia, Keen Sword in Japan and Shanti Prayas in Nepal. At home, they continued to provide unmatched law enforcement support in the Pacific.
130th Engineer Brigade "Sappers In"
The 130th Engineer Brigade experienced some major changes in 2017 and proved once again that they are trained and ready to conduct operations in any environment. In total, the brigade deployed over 500 Soldiers to 26 countries from Germany to Guam and everywhere in-between, while enhancing facilities and community relations at home in Oahu.
Approximately 100 Soldiers from the 523rd Engineer Support Company, 84th Eng. Bn. redeployed from the Republic of Korea after a nine-month mission supporting the Eighth Army, in February. While stationed at Camp Humphreys, the 523rd ESC participated in multiple exercises as well as several range and road construction missions to improve readiness of multiple training areas. Their accomplishments demonstrated the integral role of engineer support to forces in the Republic of Korea, ensuring that they are ready to fight tonight.
The brigade strengthened relations with allies throughout the Pacific by hosting the Combined Forces Command (CFC)/Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Engineer and Republic of Korea (ROK) Engineer Staff to promote the strategic partnership between ROK Engineers and supporting U.S. Engineer elements. Leaving an even more lasting impression on the peninsula, the 130th Engineer Brigade led the planning and building of the 11th Engineer battalion which activated in October 17 at Camp Humphreys. This permanent force replaces the stateside rotational engineer battalions U.S. Forces in Korea had been relying on since 2015.
The brigade continued to modernize throughout the year with the 523rd and 561st Engineer Support Companies undergoing a force design update, resulting in the acceptance, transfer and turn in of over 1500 pieces of equipment within the 84th Engineer Battalion, both on and off island. These updates will increase overall reediness and enhance engineer support capabilities across the Pacific.
In addition to their DPAA support missions, the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment completed a 35-day deployment to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai saving the Department of Defense millions of dollars in cable repair and replacement. These training events allow the unit to train proficiencies in a multitude of mission essential tasks whiles increasing interoperability in the joint environment.
Focusing on joint and multi-component training allowed the brigade to build relationships, set standard operating procedures, and establish processes that build a common understanding of all the capabilities and challenges inherent with syncing units of various backgrounds. To this end, in June, the brigade hosted the annual Joint Survey Stakes competition between the 84th Eng. Bn., 955th Survey and Design detachment of the 411th Engineer Battalion, Marine Aircraft Group 24, and the 647th Civil Engineer Squadron. Soldiers were broken into teams consisting of a member from each organization and given the task to design a heliport from initial survey to the final plan, ready to be executed by a military construction unit.
Additionally the brigade incorporated Soldiers from the Army Reserve's 411th Engineer Battalion into multiple command post exercises. The exercises allowed the brigade to enhance our understanding of how we work and employ multi-compo units, and supporting the Army's Total Force policy.