By Staff Sgt. Justin SilversAugust 22, 2018
TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii - For any Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman, being separated from your unit during operations, and subsequently from your family and friends, can be a harrowing and distraught experience.
That is why U.S. Army Pacific, in conjunction with its sister services, the Navy and the Air Force, used its resources to rescue and reintegrate personnel during reintegration training July 30, 2018.
The reintegration training also coincided with the largest naval exercise in the world, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
The reintegration process is broken down into three phases, which helps people who have been isolated or detained transition back into their normal duties with minimal physical or emotional complications, and is the final step in personnel recovery operations. USARPAC's role in the training was to provide phase II reintegration support, and is designated as the supported command for phase II for the entire Pacific region.
During Phase I reintegration, returnees go through medical triage, meet with a Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape psychologist, or a reintegration team chief, who describes the reintegration process and receive briefs to collect time sensitive information. Phase II and phase III of reintegration expand on the medical care provided during phase I, and includes intelligence and SERE briefs, additional time for Soldiers to decompress, as well as public affairs and legal support.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Bryon Mccrary, the USARPAC personnel recovery program manager, described the reintegration process in detail.
"Each reintegration phase provides a level of physiological and psychological care, decompression, intelligence, and SERE debriefings," said Mccrary. "Phase I and II each conclude with a decision point of returning a service member to duty, or to continue forward in the process to the next Phase. Since every individual's experience is different, (the decision) is based on the individual's need for additional care or debriefings."
The exercise began with four U.S. Airmen assuming the role of prisoners who were captured by a state sponsored terrorist organization. Each Airman had their own unique story, and simulated injuries sustained while they were prisoners. After the Airmen were rescued, they were transported to the U.S. Navy's USS Carl Vinson, where they received Phase I reintegration support.
Lt. j.g. Matt Maynard, an Intel officer with 3rd Fleet Maritime Air Operations with a background in SERE, was part of the phase I training, and said while phase I offered good training opportunities, there was always room for improvement.
"Phase I went well overall, with the amount of people involved from the Carl Vinson, I think they did well, (but) I think they need to know more," said Maynard. "They need to know more of what they're responsible for and how to get better at that, but not having as much experience doing this (compared to the Tripler Army Medical Center team), I think it was still effective training."
Following the phase I reintegration training on the USS Carl Vinson, the Airmen were transported by helicopter to Tripler Army Medical Center on Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where USARPAC Soldiers led the phase II reintegration training.
There, the Airmen were transported to a secure wing of the hospital, where they were evaluated by medical personnel to determine the need for continued medical support, as well as received debriefings from Army and Air Force personnel.
Mccrary, who has been involved in personnel recovery for nearly 18 years, described the goal of this year's exercise.
"The focal areas for this year's exercise were medical, intelligence and SERE debriefings, security and movement within the TAMC complex, and patient management (administrative and phase I-II transfer), and we were successful in those efforts."
Mccrary also highlighted the significance of personnel recovery and the reintegration process.
"There is motto which resides both in the Warrior Ethos and the Soldiers Creed that states, 'I will never leave a fallen comrade,' and on the POW flag, you will find in bold letters, 'You are not forgotten,' said Mccrary. "These simple mottos imply support of our Soldiers on and off the battlefield and they inspire confidence to those who provide us (the military) the national treasure of their sons and daughters. The PR process is built on the premise that if you are missing, we will find you and maximize efforts to bring you home. Once home, you and your Family will be cared for to the best of our ability. It's about loyalty, duty, and honor... this mission inspires trust from those who serve, and those whom we serve; the American public."
The next goal for the reintegration training will incorporate an operations center for robust event management, with future exercises planned in the late fall or early spring.