JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — First Corps prepared equipment to move to the Port of Tacoma to travel across the largest stretch of empty ocean in the world for Operation PATHWAYS, the annual series of joint multinational exercises in the Pacific spanning all combat domains.
Living up to the Army’s mantra, “Train as we fight,” I Corps used the movement of equipment to complete a deployment readiness exercise, or DRE, treating it as though they were deploying to go to war.
“Exercises like this showcase the ability of the Corps and installation to rapidly deploy thousands of Soldiers,” said Maj. Jeremy Kinder, operations battle major with America’s First Corps. “It denies adversarial advantages in competition around the globe while reducing risks inherent in transitioning from home station to conflict.”
The DRE gives units practice filtering Soldiers through the deployment process, including Soldier Readiness Processing which makes sure Soldiers are medically fit for combat, and the Central Issue Facility where they receive gear and equipment needed to fight overseas.
“My unit used the DRE as an opportunity to validate its deployment standard operating procedures and Command Deployment Discipline Program,” said Maj. Andrew Kydes, executive officer for 502d Intelligence Electronic Warfare Battalion (IEW). “We also provided Soldiers with the opportunity to see first-hand the time, effort, and energy that goes into mobilizing a unit for an operation.”
The 502d IEW used the upcoming Operation PATHWAYS exercise to provide realistic training for its Soldiers, taking notes and addressing challenges as they arose.
“One of the biggest challenges 502d IEW Battalion faced was an inability to move its own containers,” said Kydes, referring to the 20-foot shipping containers used to move military equipment across the globe. “As a result, our unit planned and coordinated with external enablers across Joint Base Lewis-McChord, later ensuring that the containers could be transported to the Port of Tacoma.”
The DRE saw movement both on and off-installation, requiring units to synchronize efforts across multiple locations, including the Mission Training Complex, Soldier Readiness Center and North Fort Deployment Center with concurrent operations on McChord Air Force Base and the Port of Tacoma. Leaders discussed ways to streamline Soldier processing and deployment procedures as part of the exercise.
“First Corps’ ability to synchronize efforts across a multitude of both military and supporting civilian agencies was reflected in this DRE,” said Kinder. “Moving Soldiers with their equipment, conducting railhead operations, airfield operations and port operations is a complex process. We are looking to reduce and mitigate risk for our forces, as it takes significant effort to move anywhere in the world on short notice.”
Participating units included 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 7th Infantry Division, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 42nd Military Police Brigade, 555th Engineer Brigade and 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade with supporting military and civilian agencies.
“This exercise serves to demonstrate the Corps’ capability to be globally responsive,” said Kinder. “It proves the Corps is capable of executing largescale combat operations and serves as a deterrence for adversaries and provides reassurance for our allies.”