United States Army Pacific chaplains along with religious support specialists and noncommissioned officers came together for Chaplaincy Annual Sustainment Training, June 6 through June 8, at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Chapel in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

The CAST is an annual training event that helps to sustain the force through continuing education for chaplains and religious support personnel. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Grauer, deputy chaplain with USARPAC, helped to organize the training, and described some of the goals of the CAST.

"Our goal is to develop religious support personnel who continue to develop as leaders," said Grauer. "Leaders who show moral courage and who understand their role as a sustainer in the force, and work in an environment of engagement with other military services as well as other nations."

The USARPAC Command Chaplain, Col. William Green, provided the opening remarks for the training.

"This year's training is focused on strengthening the soul of the Army," said Green. "Because we believe so strongly in strengthening our soul before we can strengthen the soul of others, we have solicited some of the best individuals to help us get after, what I believe, is some of the most important work we will ever do in our lives, that is the work one must do on the self."

"Strengthening the soul of the Army is hard work," Green continued. "That's why we must spend time in these couple days anchoring our own Souls in our faith and doing those things that will give us the resolve to not be moved by the winds of change and differences across our units."

The CAST featured several guest speakers including Medal of Honor recipient retired Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Davis, Dr. Stephen Macchia, founding president of Leadership Transformations, Inc., Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Hawkins, 42nd Commandant of the United States Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, Command Sgt. Maj. Boris Bolanos, senior enlisted leader with the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, and Jeff Ash, artistic director and owner of Westside Improv theater.

The three-day training covered topics such as ethics and character development, leading with awareness, and leading with the heart. The attendees also took part in smaller round robin sessions covering topics in smaller group settings.

Sgt. 1st Class Carlton Canteen, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command senior religious affairs NCOIC, described the importance of the training at CAST.

"A few of the topics we discussed were leadership and being competent; but the overall topic of the CAST training, strengthening your soul, starts with yourself," said Canteen. "It's imperative that in order for you to be caretakers of others within your unit, you have to take care of yourself first, and then take care of the individuals within the organization."

Canteen said the training that impacted him the most was the topic of leadership.

"The most beneficial training for me during the cast training was the leadership portion taught by Chaplain Hawkins," said Canteen. "It allowed me to look at my leadership style, and for me to dig deep to become a better leader."

For Sgt. Amanda Rueter, 84th Engineer Battalion religious affairs NCO, two different speakers were most impactful during her time at CAST.

"Doctor Macchia spoke on taking care of the soul and how a neglected soul person acts and feels versus a nourished soul, and how important it is to care for yourself, and retired Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Davis, on how he cares for his soul and his faith; it ties together, and it was really great."

Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of USARPAC, summed up the importance of event and the chaplain corps.

"(Chaplains) are the person I look to for the pulse of the unit, the person I look to for that critical element of our resilience," said Brown. "Your ability to keep that spiritual pillar going strong at all levels and talk to the commander and let him know issues is key, if we can't do that we will fail."