By Donna Klapakis, SDDCSeptember 13, 2018
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade hosted its subordinate battalion command teams and total-force-integration partners during a commanders forum at brigade headquarters here Sept. 5-7.
The 599th has to cope with what is sometimes referred to as the tyranny of distance because the unit has only its headquarters in Hawaii, with each battalion disbursed throughout the Pacific. The annual forum gives commanders a chance to get to know one another, meet and exchange ideas, as well as meet and coordinate face to face with the staff at their higher headquarters.
"Riding on the wave of the recent Headquarters, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Senior Leader Forum, the 599th Transportation Brigade brought together the command teams from the 835th, 836th, and 837th transportation battalions, the commander of SDDC-Pacific Naval Reserve Unit, the 599th senior individual mobilization augmentee, and the 1192nd Deployment And Distribution Support Battalion command team," said Col. Frazariel Castro, 599th commander.
Castro said he appreciated the opportunity to discuss higher headquarters policy with all interested parties in one setting.
"This forum highlighted the SDDC R.E.A.D.Y., Set, Go Campaign Plan, training and leadership development guidance, brigade and battalion staff coordination and processes, total force integration opportunities, long range calendar planning, and exercise support," he said.
Although attendees considered different aspects of the event to be most beneficial, commanders and sergeants major all appreciated the chance to get together.
Command Sergeant Major Rufus Lewis has been the brigade senior enlisted advisor for more than a year.
"This was a great opportunity for command teams to come together and share knowledge and experience amongst the leadership," Lewis said. "We have new commanders and sergeants major on board, and this gave us a chance to get closer both at work and personally.
"They were able to share the ups and downs back at their locations, and we could hash it out and work to a solution. This is critical to this area of operations. And it is a good time to get everything worked out.
"This was also a great opportunity to reiterate the SDDC R.E.A.D.Y, Set, Go Campaign and instill its importance.
"Now that they came here, there is no doubt that they can deliver readiness and lethality," he added.
Lt. Col. Eldred Ramtahal is the commander of the 835th Transportation Battalion at Naha Military Port Facility in Okinawa, Japan.
"Anytime you have the opportunity to come face to face, it enables better synchronization efforts in meeting our commanding general's intent and to support his readiness campaign," he said. "When you are not in the same room, some things can get lost in translation."
Lt. Col. Gary Whittacre took command of the 836th Transportation Battalion in June.
"The value of a forum like this is the collaboration between all of the elements, and the ability to see the overall mission of the brigade outside of the individual footprint of our battalions," he said.
"One of the things that sets our profession apart from others is that we constantly strive for continuous professional development. To come together in a professional leadership forum like this helps us achieve that goal."
Each section in the 599th headquarters briefed roles and responsibilities and brought commanders up to date on latest developments. They also had an opportunity to find out how to better support the battalion commanders' needs from afar.
"While it is important to cultivate relationships, partnerships, and friendships with external teammates, this gathering strengthened the foundation of our internal 599th family and team," Castro said.