WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD – Hawaii - With a slew of multilateral exercises happening throughout the Indo-Pacific summer of 2021, 18th Medical Command (DS) made a big statement by conducting their first ever rehearsal of concept drill (ROC drill). The newly minted two star command led by Maj. Gen. Michael L. Place seized the first time opportunity to rehearse 18th Medical Command (DS) command of medical assets in real world strategic situations.
U.S. Army Pacific commander, Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, opened the event by reviewing the joint medical force posture in the theater and then emphasized the importance and relevance of the medical team to any operation in the Indo-Pacific theater.
"We as a team are stronger by having a single command whose sole mission is to posture, prepare, and medically set the theater within a Joint Force." LaCamera explained, "The demonstrated strategic foresight and abilities show the importance of 18 MEDCOM and how essential a synchronized health system support plan is to Joint and Combined operations throughout the Indo-Pacific."
The ROC drill was organized by 18th Medical Command (DS) – the only active Army unit of its kind and the only medical command in the Indo-Pacific – serves as a subordinate command within U.S. Army Pacific. The drill combined multiple days of secret level strategic discussions about medical assets, pre-positioned stock, logistical movements and support to our Allies and Partners to name a few. Each day the subject matter experts presented vignettes that further explored possible scenarios, experimental operations and muscle movements 18th Medical Command would have to do to be successful in the pacific theater.
“We are doing this ROC Drill to ensure we are delivering capable medical forces in support of each of the various exercises being conducted by US Army Pacific this year with many of our allies and partners within the Indo-Pacific area of operation. There are a lot of moving parts, but every trooper needs to have the appropriate care available, so that also includes working with civilian hospitals in a number of countries. That means we have a lot of details to cover and rehearsals are the best way to ensure we’re ready.” said Maj. Gen. Michael L. Place, 18th Medical Command (DS), commanding general, “The Army plays a big role in the joint medical force, but we also need to ensure we know how to use all of the assets available from our sister services as well.”
In addition to the planning aspect of the three day-long event, the ROC drill was also a chance for participants to meet each other before carrying through with plans constructed from this drill. With over 20 different commands physically represented at the drill ranging from medical to logistics, 18 MEDCOM’s intent was to get honest and realistic feedback to better understand the joint force within the Indo-Pacific theater.
Chief logistics officer for 18th Medical Command (DS) Col. Shawn Gelzaines highlighted the benefits to having unit representatives physically at the ROC drill, “The ROC drill provided an opportunity for the key players to interface, ensure there is a common understanding to the medical concept of operations, to synchronize unit plans and identify areas where additional focus and planning was still required prior to conducting the summer exercises.”.
Gelzaines further explained how they were able to work through beforehand the logistical challenges they would deal with in the coming months, “During the ROC drill we were able to synchronize and mature the plan for medical logistics support and the draw of medical materiel from Army Prepositioned Stocks.” This type of forethought and planning is how 18 MEDCOM is directly setting the theater medically. During the ROC Drill, military experts from 18th Medical Command (DS), 8th Theater Sustainment Command and 62nd Medical Brigade briefed concepts from all aspects of medical support to a panel of general officers and over 20 other joint commands senior military leaders in the room.
“ROC drills are meant to get everyone on the same page; they help us understand second and third order effects and sometimes show us opportunities we might try to capitalize on,” said Maj. Gen. Place, “What we are doing here couldn’t be done with just a slide show presentation. The bottom line is this gives all of us a much more accurate and detailed understanding of our plans, because you literally walk the physical model, talk through the issues in time and space and get instant feedback from subject matter experts face to face.”