WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- 599th Transportation Brigade planners attended a workshop at brigade headquarters here to train and discuss planning methods Dec.11-13.

"What an amazing team I have the pleasure of leading," said 599th plans chief, Air Force Maj. Charles Boler IV. "Being geographically separated poses a unique set of challenges, but the wealth of knowledge that we shared this week proves that we can easily overcome any hurdles for the foreseeable future."

Planners from brigade headquarters, the 835th, 836th, 837th transportation battalions, and forward planners from Japan and South Korea attended.

"We haven't had a plans workshop for years," said 599th deputy plans chief, Mike Mamer. "We have a new S3 and a new plans chief. We also have new planners at the 836th and 837th, and relatively new forward planners in Japan and Korea."

"It was great putting a name to a face with our fellow planners, and the meetings we went to were with the right people to give us information that we need here," said Robert Greer, 837th plans chief. "This gave us an appreciation for what each of us bring to the table."

Mamer said the 599th hosts purposely made the schedule flexible enough to accommodate changes or additions.

"We didn't originally have meetings scheduled with USARPAC and PACOM," he said. "But when the attendees arrived and said they would like to meet their counterparts there, we set that up."

"We already call on one another, but we were able to share a lot of tips at the event, and it will be easier to get with each other now," said Rick Patton, 599th Korea forward planner.

We were able to share exercise-planning conference tips, guidelines, and things to look for when we go to outside forums," said Mamer. "Everyone brought something to the table."

The planners said they are able to help each other in spite of working with different countries and commands throughout the Pacific.

"Doctrinally, our positions are created equal," said Patton. "Obviously each one focuses on their own exercise requirements, but you go in with the same idea that you have certain products and goals to reach by the end state."

"We have to work with different countries, so you have different ways that you have to approach things," said Staci Willis, 835th plans chief.

"The process is the same but the area of responsibility is unique," said Rick Ruiz, Japan forward
planner. "Culturally the operating environment is a little different. The basic procedures are the
same, but you have to be careful that you understand where you are working culturally and within your commands."

"I think we passed a lot of good tips around and saw different ways that commands approach things," said Willis. "We may do something differently, but it's also oriented through our operational environment."

Mamer said Willis was particularly helpful.

"Staci shared a checklist with us that he uses at workshops for his exercise planning," Mamer said.

Mamer said the 599th would like to have a plans meeting at least annually, supplemented by monthly video-teleconferences between the planners to keep them in touch.

"We're also thinking of rotating the event between locations, so we can get a feel for one another's environments," he said. "We would also like to have a meeting that includes the Pacific planners who work at our higher headquarters."

"Although I won't be here to see it through, I have faith that we have established a solid foundation to develop this annual initiative," said Boler.