Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- Dozens of Soldiers from the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command deployed to South Korea in August to participate in Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual 10-day defensive exercise designed to enhance readiness, protect the region, and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.
In the exercise, the 593rd ESC established an early entry command post in order to direct sustainment operations in support of I Corps.
"We went to Korea to exercise our capability to expeditiously deploy, establish an EECP, and provide mission command in an austere environment," said Maj. Kyle Smith, the officer-in-charge of the ESC's current operations section.
Staff Sgt. Richard Pacheco, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic and power-grid manager for the ESC, did his part to make sure the EECP stayed operational with electricity.
"We started prepping the power grid a few months out," Pacheco said. Preparations included conducting a full site set-up with all the pieces of equipment that use electric power, then running through checks to make sure everything works properly when operating under full and reduced power. "The biggest learning curve is you cannot predict for everything to go right, so you have to have contingencies. Plan for the worst, but be prepared for even more severe things to happen."
While Pacheco kept power flowing, it was Spc. Vincent Dupont's job to keep relevant the endless flow of data coming into the EECP. Dupont, an ammunition stock, control and accounting specialist in the 593rd ESC Support Operations section, aggregated the information into a common operating picture for the commander to make decisions.
"There were a lot of moving parts, but I always had a sense that people knew what they were supposed to do," Dupont said of the support operation section, otherwise known as "SPO."
The SPO section is staffed with subject matter experts on all matters logistics and sustainment, but coordinating their knowledge and experience into an exercise like UFG can be demanding. Improving from previous exercises, "We seemed to have more precise focus on what we were supposed to achieve as a team," Dupont said.
"Our job was to set the conditions that enable freedom of action and endurance," said SPO Plans Officer Maj. Paul Reyes. Put another way, the 593rd ESC ensured America's First Corps could keep fighting on its terms.
Beyond the benefit of rehearsing drills and responding to computer-simulated scenarios, the exercise also allowed Soldiers to work with senior Army commands and international partners, fostering relationships and understanding, Reyes said.
About 17,500 U.S. service members participated in the exercise, with 3,000 troops coming from off the Korean peninsula. U.S. forces joined Republic of Korea military forces from major ROK units representing all services, as well as ROK government participants. In addition to the ROK and U.S. forces, U.N. Command forces from seven sending states, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom participated in the exercise.
Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers monitored the exercise to ensure it was in compliance with the Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State (1953). Training exercises like UFG are carried out in the spirit of the Oct. 1, 1953, ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty and in accordance with the Armistice. These exercises highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm U.S. commitment to the Alliance.