By Maj. Lindsey M Elder (8th Theater Sustainment Command)May 4, 2017
As if the challenges in managing the logistics for the entire U.S Army in the Indo-Asia Pacific region weren't enough, a group of leaders from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command challenged themselves physically by conquering a 120-mile overnight course across rugged trails of Oahu's North Shore, April 21-22.
Switching gears fresh from a Warfighter exercise declaring victory in Atropia, the close-knit staff team included the command's G1 Lt. Col Kelly French, G6 Lt. Col Victor Deekens, G8 Lt. Col. Michael McBride, G9 Lt. Col Tom Brown, Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col Ryan Dowdy and 8th Special Troops Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Todd Allison.
Joined by Lt. Col Michael Scarpulla, U.S Army Pacific director of training and Lt Col Hannon Didier, the U.S Army Pacific Chief of Training Operations, the all-veteran team came together to conquer a course over two days and one night. They pushed their limits, on little amounts of sleep, along three different loops ranging from four to more than six miles each. Completing the course as a team in 20 hours and 3 minutes, team members contributed an average of 15 miles each.
But beyond coming together for physical fitness, this teamwork is another example of the solidarity and comradery that are common in the 8th TSC staff. While all military staffs can come together to support the mission or command social events like hails and farewells, it is an entirely different level of teamwork when staff members and their families participate in collective activities together on their own time and initiative.
"The last couple of years have been incredible for me mostly because of my peers," said French.
"We all have choices in life, but in our line of work, where you get stationed and with whom, is usually not one of them. As a group of lieutenant colonels, we've done additional physical training together on multiple occasions to push each other and see different parts of the island. As my tour comes to an end, I will miss Hawaii but I will miss the comradery and esprit de corps of the 8th TSC just as much."
In addition to ensuring the complex logistics needs for the region are being met and constantly reassessed, commands of the 8th STB and the 8th TSC have embraced a new prioritization on the things that matter most for the mission as well as the personal and professional development of the staff. This includes encouraging open dialogue about what can be done better for the team, ensuring that all members of the command truly understand the mission and the critical role they play through regular all-hands meetings, increased voluntary "Sustainer PT" fitness events and adherence to family time.
Team relays are about coming together and accomplishing something one could never do alone. Supporting the concepts of support for the Army's TSC with the smallest staff but largest geographical region of responsibility also takes a village.
"I could not think of another group of leaders with whom I'd rather run through the woods, mud, rain and howling winds with for 20 hours," joked Dowdy.
Steady rainfall through the weekend made the trails especially muddy, slippery and challenging. The team also had two of its members arrive at the airport from the east coast just an hour before the race began. All challenges aside, the team members felt the event was a rewarding experience for all involved. They finished first in the category of "Public service" and 4th overall out of 103 teams.
"When I took command of the special troops battalion I knew the only way I could ever be successful was to build a relationship with my network of peers, because at this level of leadership you lead through consensus and influence," said Allison.
The race marked one of his final team events with the 8th TSC staff before leaving command. The teamwork demonstrated in this relay is a truly fitting ending to his time in the tight knit unit he said.
"My teammates are the ones who truly help lead the TSC headquarters for Maj. Gen. Davidson across the many directorates and Special Staff that make up this battalion. We could not have completed the race if it were not for the world class collective effort of everyone present. I wish everyone all the best and may our paths cross again on some muddy trails."