CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – Deployments are often spent surrounded by your fellow Guard members, which makes the time away from home much easier. Sometimes – they’re spent alone.
“I have been a bit of a lone survivor out here representing the Washington National Guard,” said Capt. Theodore Tatum, a logistician with the Washington National Guard. “I have changed a lot of the active-duty mindset about what the Guard can do.”
For more than 15 months, Tatum has been the lone Guardsman in Baumholder, Germany as part of Special Operations Task Force-North West Africa. He’s been serving as the Task Force’s logistics planner, working in support of Operation Juniper Shield focusing on current, long-range and developmental logistics planning in 10 countries within the Joint Operations Area in North West Africa. Tatum works on a team that has helped prepare, coordinate, update and provide oversight of compartmented logistics plans with U.S. Africa Command and Special Operations Command - Africa that supports counterterrorism and counter violent extremist operations activities.
“We have been able to bring together so many different coalition partners, government agencies and partner nation Ministries of Defense to accomplish our mission of completing all special operation forces logistical requirements,” said Tatum.
While the mission has been stressful at times, working to meet the unique logistics operations and equipping needs for special operations command in North West Africa, the challenge has been extremely rewarding for Tatum.
“I have been awarded numerous awards and accolades these last 15 months,” said Tatum. “However you stay humble because you remember this is all part of a bigger picture.”
It was the mission to rescue U.S. citizen Philip Walton that gave Tatum both personal and professional pride. Walton was abducted from his home in Niger in late October and was rescued shortly after being taken captive by a Joint Special Operations team.
“Our team helped shape the logistic conditions for the rescue of Mr. Walton,” said Tatum. “We received personal thanks from Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, our commanding general for our quick work.”
Currently Tatum is part of the team setting up the first Air Mobility Cell in Ramstein, Germany for the Theatre Special Operations Command to streamline and fix logistical issues into both North West and East Africa.