By Staff Sgt. Kyle J. RichardsonNovember 18, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Nov. 14) - Nations in the Pacific region deal with changing weather patterns on a yearly basis. Some of these changes will funnel in heavy rains, hurricanes, tsunamis, and typhoons -- along with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
The U.S. Army Pacific, known as USARPAC, and the Pacific Command, or PACOM, has a team prepared to assist the Pacific region during these disastrous situations.
The Contingency Command Post, or CCP, is a rapid response team capable of deploying within 24-hours of a tragic event. The CCP is a diverse element of USARPAC and PACOM trained and prepared to face to disasters and humanitarian crises. The team is comprised of more than 100 Soldiers with various military occupational specialties, adding to the versatility of the team.
"The Contingency Command Post came about because there was a real need while we were supporting two different theatres in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Thomas Kunk, a Springfield, Ohio, native, and the deputy chief of staff for the CCP. "There was a need to have an element to come out and support other countries around the world."
The CCP is broken down into three elements. Each element can operate independently of one another, or deploy together in support of a larger contingency operation. The Soldiers assigned to team remain on call to help if needed. The organization is currently going through a restructuring increasing the unit's capabilities and manpower.
"Working with the CCP and HAST is great," said CW3 Jeremy Drage, Tuscan, Ariz., native, an operations officer for the Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team, or HAST. "I believe we're in the best position. This is the best thing that we can do being centrally located within the Pacific. We have the capabilities to assist and get to places quickly if called upon. These teams are very important and I think we need to have more."
The CCP along with the HAST has a very unique mission that involves creating disaster plans with nations and determining what assistance would be needed before disaster strikes.
"It's important to have professional Soldiers that know how to operate the equipment and are ready to deploy at a moment's notice wherever and whenever our nation needs us to go," said Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commanding general for USARPAC. "This is part of what U.S. Army Pacific does as a member of the joint team called PACOM. This capability that we have is similar to what was committed into the Philippines right now."
The Soldiers and the leaders with the CCP constantly train on the equipment and conduct disaster relief exercise and exchanges with partner nations throughout the year.
"Being well trained almost guarantees the success of our mission," said Kunk. "Our particular skill sets are perishable so we have to remain ready. At any time we could get that call, and what we do can help determine the outcomes of nations we work with."
As the organization continues to train and remain ready to provide relief, the unit provides unique opportunities for the Soldiers.
"I didn't know what to expect when I got to the team, it was new to me but I was looking for an experience," said Spc. John Miles, Dayton, Tenn., native and an information specialist. "I can say, I got that experience and more. I'm glad I got this experience, we're truly doing great things."
While the team goes through several changes the mission stays intact. The CCP and HAST remains flexible and ready to provide support to nations in need.