JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- It might not be hard for some to imagine a U.S. Army convoy transporting assets through the deserts of Southwest Asia, but during exercise Rim of the Pacific 2016, a certain type of Army team moved humanitarian assistance/disaster response supplies a little differently.
Deliveries weren't executed by trucks or land vehicles from July 9 to July 14. Instead, Soldiers of the 163rd Transportation Detachment went underway to deliver cargo to U.S. Navy Reservists, Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 10, at Kaneohe Bay and Ford Island, aboard the Logistics Support Vessel (LSV) Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker. A vessel these Soldiers are accustomed to and a mission that they train for day-to-day.
"Training with the other services allows us to understand how they work while coinciding with them understanding how we work," said Chief Warrant Officer Clinton Smith, 163rd Transportation Detachment commander. "In a real world operation or a real world mission we already understand each other, how they do things and how we do things. It makes for a more successful mission and it increases readiness for the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, whatever service we're working with in the event that we do have to work together on a disaster."
Smith said that the LSV brings a unique capability for the Army when operating in a maritime environment by providing 10,500 square feet of deck space and the ability to operate in shallow waters, allowing them to effectively transport all types of cargo.
"It's important to have these capabilities in the Pacific Region because you never know what's going to happen," Smith said. "To have these capabilities to move supplies, to move cargo, to move personnel, at a moment's notice is very important… depending on the disaster and what's required, we can move it and we can provide it."
The detachment's LSV's are often utilized to transport equipment from island to island within the Hawaiian Archipelago but Sgt. George Sulligan, 163rd Transportation Detachment boatswain says that their capabilities have a much larger reach.
"We do other exercises in other countries and it just shows our capabilities of going globally, not just here helping ourselves and fellow Americans," Sulligan said. "We can go to other countries like Haiti when they had their earthquake or the Philippines. We almost went out there when they had their giant [typhoon]."
During his visit to U.S. Pacific Command, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning spoke about the importance of partnerships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and how multinational exercises facilitates a face-to-face collaboration with our allies.
"The 27 militaries in the Pacific Region, 20 of them are led by an Army, that's their key service… so those relationships that we have are critically important," Secretary Fanning said. "That type of training that we keep doing, like Pacific Pathways, helps us with that tyranny of distance."
Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.