SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii- The capacity to tactically move military units from point A to point B is an essential capability most Army units maintain. 18th Medical Command demonstrated that capability during a Deployment Readiness Exercise (DRE) as they moved from Ft. Shafter to Area X-ray on Schofield Barracks on 15 November 2021.
The tactical movement was the first of many mission essential task list (METL) items that the theater medical command would be exercising during this training, Sgt. Maj. Farrens, 18th Medical Command’s G3 Current Operations Sgt. Maj. explained, “This DRE enabled us to work towards providing opportunities to test and update our systems and processes unique to a theater medical command.”
Farrens continued by saying, “Realistic medical evacuation training that our team coordinated provided both Soldiers from 18th Medical Command and 8th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Detachment real-world repetitions of proper loading of military aircraft, while allowing our OCP (Operational Command Post) to track the patient movements between roles of care.”
The training event would provide opportunities for the higher headquarters at US Army Pacific to integrate master scenario event list (MSEL) training injects to the 18th Medical Command’s OCP. This type of training simulates what a forward stationed medical command OCP would be doing to command and control (C2) medical assets throughout the INDO-PACIFIC Theater of operations within the joint force.
18th Medical Command, Chief of Staff, Col. Jolanda Walker helped define the complexity of the mission the command faces when deploying, “Through deployment readiness exercises like this we are able to operationally employ, tactically move our operational command post and conduct expedient site establishment with secure communications capabilities.” Walker added, “This is proof that we can self-employ, establish a Current Operations & Integration Cell and begin command and control operations within one hour of being on ground to execute C2 of missions involving multiple joint organizations.”
As important as beans and bullets are to infantry Soldiers, the ability to communicate and have computer connectivity is essential for a theater level C2 medical unit. “It is imperative that our unit continues to partner with the signal community as they provide the necessary tactical communications capabilities beyond what are organically assigned.” Said Maj. Christiaan Taylor, “We are using the DRE as an opportunity to better see ourselves and determine what gaps exist within our organic architecture.” Taylor further explained, “We have recently added new technology that allows us to hit the ground and immediately establish network connectivity, which is our ultimate communication goal.”
The DRE exercised much more than just establishing an OCP for theater level medical C2. “This exercise has facilitated the practice of skills from the individual level to echelons above brigade.” said Cpt. Seamus McMullen, commander of 18th Medical Command’s Headquarters, Headquarters Company. “It is important to train the basic skills in conjunction with training the unit on collective tasks. This develops well rounded Soldiers while enabling them to understand the big picture operation and how they fit into our mission.”
Col. Walker finished by saying, “This was a huge success with identified lessons learned captured; primarily in maintenance, training and knowledge of DRE sequence of events. So excited and proud of this team and what they have been able to accomplish in planning and executing this event.”