FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — The U.S. Army plays a critical role in enabling the joint force in the Indo-Pacific, and one significant role is in setting the theater. The Army Watercraft Systems are one of the capabilities utilized by the Army in support of the joint force. Of that fleet, the Logistical Support Vessels allow a combatant commander to have increased options for positioning military forces in the Indo-Pacific.
Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, the U.S. Army's regional Combat Training Center provides an opportunity for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command to employ this capability. This training center facilitates unit readiness in the region and allows commanders to train their forces in unique environments and conditions where they are most likely to campaign and be employed in the event of crisis or conflict. JPRMC leverages the unique joint training environments and offers allies and partners exceptional, multinational training opportunities in live, virtual and constructive environments.
In 2022, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command's LSV-3 General Brehon B. Somervell transported 101 soldiers and 15 combat vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Oahu, Hawaii to Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii's "Big Island" for the first time ever during a JPMRC rotation for the combat unit. This significant strategic training demonstrated how AWS supports the operational maneuver of a combat configured tactical formation as part of a maneuver commander's order of battle.
The 8th TSC's LSV-4, Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, transported 31 pieces of equipment assigned to 25th Infantry Division, during the JPMRC rotation from Oahu to PTA. During the training exercise, LSV-4 transported 515 short tons of equipment, significantly increasing joint and multinational interoperability across the Pacific and reinforced the Army’s contribution to USINDOPACOM’s Pacific Multinational Training Experimentation Capability.
JPMRC allowed the LSV crew to validate load plans, conduct staging operations, and support U.S. Army Pacific elements. At 273-feet long, with the ability to carry 2,000 tons, LSV-4 has the equivalent payload capacity of 40 C-17 Globemaster III aircrafts, which demonstrates the vital role AWS have in supporting the operational maneuvers and options of a combat commander and their formations in the Indo-Pacific.
“Every mission in which the Logistics Support Vessel 4 mobilizes, provides an opportunity not only for training,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arian Fernandez, vessel master LSV-4. “In addition, the crew was able to increase its readiness by training on key METL tasks while providing a flexible yet adaptable mode of transportation to the warfighter.”
During the nine-day exercise, the 8th TSC’s 130th Engineer Brigade and 8th Military Police Brigade executed their specific missions in support of 25th ID’s 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.
Engineers from the 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Bde. were part of the initial spearhead, along with elements from the 25th ID and Royal Thai Army for the first three days. In order to advance, the 130th Eng. Bde. breached multiple barriers with explosive charges allowing infantry elements to advance. The engineers were instrumental in allowing the next phase of the exercise to proceed after breaching a major obstacle that was creating a choke point for the infantry.
“Initially we were used to augment their support by fire, given I have heavy gun trucks here with heavy armor, 50 [caliber machineguns], 240 Bravos, pretty easy conversion [from traditional engineer roles],” said 2nd Lt. Devin, Breske, 2nd platoon leader, 95th Eng. Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.. “Moving into the breach, we got a call from the infantry, said they need help. The engineers at that breach point weren’t able to fully get through that obstacle given their current numbers and the casualties they had taken on. And of course it is a very engineer specific task that we were able to help them out with.”
For the remainder of the exercise the engineers from the 130th Eng. Bde. erected their own obstacles to prevent or slow counter attacks, provided security, and quick reaction force missions.
“Moving forward to when we actually started expanding our [area of operations] … at that point we more so focused on integrating for the defense,” said Breske. “This boiled down to us getting out there physically, setting up the [concertina] wire, setting in the explosives, and making sure that wherever we slowed down the enemy that was the exact spot that the maneuver commander had already coordinated indirect fire and that all of his weapons systems are already aiming at that position.”
Without the unique breaching abilities of the 130th Eng. Bde. the 25th ID soldiers would have had a much tougher fight on their hands being bogged down by obstacles and barricades and losing the momentum they had built.
“As a platoon, we have learned a lot while we were here,” said Breske. “JPMRC is a developing process, is a developing training event … we learn a lot while we are here. The information, the [after action reviews], the mistakes, as well as everything we do correctly … that combines to better train us as leaders, to better train the soldiers, and that’s something we can pass off once we get back to the company. And of course, this helps us increase the competency as a whole, which means that we can go out to these bigger [exercise] rotations.”
While engineers from the 130th Eng. Bde. breached and erected obstacles, military police soldiers from the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Bde. conducted security and escort missions for the 25th ID’s Roll One medical station and Forward Logistics Element.
“We have two teams protecting the Roll One, they are providing security as well as ambulance one escort,” said 1st Lt. Mikeidrea Feacher, 2nd platoon leader, 58th Military Police Company, 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde.. “We also have two trucks supporting the FLE providing convoy security, and two teams at the Battalion’s Tactical Operations Center.”
Feacher went on to say that, although her unit was not able to showcase their detainee expertise they were able to be an asset to the 25th ID by providing security and escort missions, and explained how the training benefitted her platoon.
“This training has given us the opportunity to integrate with other units, leading up to this it was just all company internal, so it’s giving them an opportunity for what the other units do and how we fit into their plans.”
JPMRC is a training exercise that focuses on real world scenarios and how each unit plays a vital part during military operations.
“I think this training has given us insight to what we have here on island,” said Feacher. “We are such a small unit on the island, but we have such a big impact in the Pacific.”
During the exercise the 8th TSC Commander, Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, and Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Graham, traveled to check on Soldiers and their training. Maj. Gen. Helwig asked about the training and how their integration with other units went.
“The base security, the mount security is a huge opportunity to soak in everything you did here,” said Helwig. “We’re super proud of your teams and all you have done here.”
JPMRC is a critical capability that builds readiness, which further strengthens and enhances Operation Pathways deployments. After conducting a JPMRC rotation or training event, the Theater Army projects combat credible forces, through Operation Pathways, forward into the Indo-Pacific and Asia. The JPMRC resides with the Theater Army in the priority DoD theater. To date, all JPMRC rotations have also had participation from regional allies and partners to include, but not limited to, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, India and Thailand.