By Maj. Lindsey M Elder (8th Theater Sustainment Command), Capt. Adam Cartier (130th Engineer Brigade)January 20, 2017
While we welcome a new Commander in Chief, new Secretary of Defense and pass the important milestones of the first six months of command for the 8th TSC, 130th EN Bde and 8th MP Bde commanders, it is important to look back at all that we have accomplished in sustaining the force in the Pacific.
2016 was a year of increased international and civic partnership, achievement, and readiness for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command. While supporting missions across a region covering more than half the globe and about 10% of the command deployed at any time, the 8th TSC still made notable strategic contributions to the region. Under the command of Maj Gen. Susan Davidson since July, the 8th TSC has restructured its staff with a "back to basics" approach in improving theater logistics. It continues to build cohesion as an organization whose Soldiers truly want to be part of the team while executing the essential missions of planning and synchronizing theater distribution and sustainment, protecting the force, and building partner capacity to secure the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
The 8th TSC's participation in Rim of the Pacific in July 2016 showcased not only the amazing talent of the 7th Dive Detachment, but was one of several events where 8th TSC Soldiers implemented the Army's Multi-Domain Battlefield operating concept. The concept outlines that Army forces must be prepared to fight across not on just the land domain, but across multiple domains and contested areas, to gain the advantage over our enemies and achieve national defense objectives.
As the world's largest international maritime exercise, with more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participating, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships. RIMPAC 2016 was the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
RIMPAC enabled the 7th Dive Detachment and 32 Army mariners of the 545th Transportation Company, 8th Special Troops Battalion, to work in a joint environment, learn collaboratively with not just the Navy but other nations, all while analyzing capability gaps and implementing solutions. The exercise also gave Army Mariners on board the Logistic Support Vessel-4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, the opportunity to collaborate with U.S Navy Reservists from the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB - 10), Columbus, Ohio, in transporting essential supplies from Waipio Point to Ford Island for a simulated Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief training scenario.
The 8th TSC's Young Alaka'i program has grown so successful that it will continue to grow under the control of U.S Army Pacific next year. Recognized as one of the most innovative company grade strategic leadership programs in our Army, Young Alaka'i completed multiple phases this year, expanded partnerships with colleges, regional non-profit education and research organizations, and now has Alumni from across all services to include DA civilians.
The 2016 U.S. Army Soldier of the year, Sgt. Robert Miller, is a member of the 303rd EOD Battalion, while in other Department of the Army level recognition, the 728th MP Battalion won the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence.
Soldiers from both the 8th MP Brigade and the 130th Engineer Brigade supported the Army Total Force Policy, providing the Army National Guard/ Army Reserve essential training. This included law enforcement training with the U.S Army Reserve 414th MP Company, headquartered in Joplin, Mo.
In building on civic relationships in Hawaii, Military working dogs, Bike Patrols and other MP elements provided security at Oahu installations as well as during the 4th of July Spectacular, Kellie Pickler concert and other community activities ensuring safety for military personnel and their families. They were also critical in the public events such as the Army Birthday concerts and Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary commemorations at Fort DeRussy. Battalions within the 130th Engineers continued their community outreach program by conducting numerous events with the Mililani Uka Elementary School, participating in the Mililani Makua Neighborhood Board, and the Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta- placing third in all three categories.
Soldiers from all 8th TSC units supported multiple missions across the Pacific for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. More than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War. One notable 8th TSC mission was the 84th Engineer Battalion's 7th Eng. Dive Detachment deploying a five-Soldier SCUBA team to Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands where they executed an Underwater Investigation mission to verify the locations of a seaplane. They were successful in locating fallen Soldiers who have been buried at sea since WWII.
Executing Exercise Angkor Sentinel 2016 in Cambodia provided the command increased readiness, expansion of their humanitarian assistance/disaster response capabilities, and improved interoperability. The preparation continued through the 12th Iteration of the U.S. - China Disaster Management Exchange and continues through the New Year as the 130th EN Bde and 8th TSC lead planners prepare to support the concepts of support and EOD Subject matter expert exchanges as part of U.S. Army Pacific's Pacific Pathways.
8th Military Police Brigade
The 8th MP Bde. continued to strengthen its partner relationships with foreign nations, government agencies and the local community through subject matter expert exchanges, exercises, and community outreach.
The brigade's headquarters held its annual command post exercise to assess the brigade's ability to conduct detainee operations in preparation of its participation in Warfighter 17 with Eighth Army in the Republic of Korea.
The brigade's Special Reaction Team and Military Working Dog Detachment enabled joint interoperability among first responders across the command and the community through active shooter and validation exercises.
Troops from the 728th Military Police Battalion participated in exercises Keen Sword and Khaan Quest. Members also prepared for their upcoming missions in Guam supporting Task Force Falcon.
'Dragon Fire' troops from the 71st Chemical Company conducted their first culminating training exercise in which supporting elements from throughout the brigade evaluated the company on its Mission Essential Task Lists. The company also successfully certified four teams on its first Stryker Gunnery.
'Forged in Fire' troops from the 303rd EOD Battalion won USARPAC's EOD Team of the Year Competition for the third year in a row and also engaged in subject matter expert exchanges with other countries' militaries while continuing to respond to real-world missions throughout Hawaii and the Pacific. Of critical importance was the start of the four year Humanitarian Mine Action mission with Vietnam, as well as supporting HMA missions in Sri Lanka.
The 303 EOD Battalion also hosted its first German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition where over 120 Soldiers from nine different subordinate commands under U.S. Army-Pacific earned the coveted badge after competing in the three-day event.
The 130th Engineer Brigade was unrelenting in commitment to readiness, responsiveness in the pacific and taking care of Soldiers, Civilians and their Families in 2016. The brigade deployed over 1,500 Soldiers to more than 17 Countries, from Afghanistan to Palau and everywhere in-between, while enhancing facilities and community relations at home in Oahu.
Members of the 84th Engineer Battalion and 14th Construction Management Team provided troop labor, survey and design support, and construction management for joint force projects on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Schofield Barracks, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Fiji , Nepal, Philippines, Palau, and Korea. Additionally the brigade supported the U.S. Army Reserve 412 Theater Engineer Command with planning for operations across the pacific. Finally, the brigade bested their Navy counterparts in the Seabee Olympics to begin the year.
For the first time in Okinawa, Logistic Support Vessel (LSV) -- 2 (CW3 Harold C. Clinger) crewed by 30 Army mariners from the 163rd Trans Detachment, supported 10th Regional Support Group to retrograde ammunition containers to mainland Japan in support of 25th ID during Pacific Pathways 16-3.
Task Force Ready inactivated in August after nine months in Korea providing engineer capabilities in support of Eighth Army and 2nd Infantry Division. The rotation was designed to support the US security commitment to the ROK as specified by the mutual defense treaty and presidential agreements between the US and ROK government. Task Force Ready was the first Echelons Above Brigade (EAB) engineer force structure to serve in the ROK for several years and the first engineer EAB unit to rotate to Korea since the rotational forces program began in 2014. 523 Engineer Company also deployed as part of a rotational unit support to Korea in May of 2016 with 113 Soldiers received by 602ASB/2CAB/2ID, returning in 2017 after the establishment of the 11th Engineer Battalion.
13 Soldiers from the 84th Engineer Battalion deployed to Palau as Civil Action Team 84-004 in July of 2016 for a nine month rotation to provide construction support to the Republic of Palau, apprentice program to train engineering/medical skills, and provide support to community relations events for Palau.
Multi-Domain battle expands the principle of joint combined arms in the new operational environment, accounting for new technologies--most notably cyber--and more capable adversaries who are able to contest all domains. With a renewed focus on operational plans, innovation, readiness and how the increased logistical needs of the multi-domain battle concept can challenge a staff, the 8th TSC begins the new year with a renewed sense of pride and ready for the training and real world challenges 2017 will bring.