By Staff Sgt. Crista Yazzie USARPAC Public AffairsDecember 14, 2009
CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan-The U.S. Army, Pacific Contingency Command Post took the operational lead for Exercise Yama Sakura 57, providing the groundwork for a successful bilateral exercise with the Northern Army of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Yama Sakura, which translates to "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual, bilateral command post exercise between the JGSDF and U.S. Army, now in its 25th iteration. This is the first time the USARPAC CCP, a concept relatively new to the internal structure of the U.S. Army, has led an exercise.
"They exceeded my expectations quite a bit," said Col. Sean Callahan, operations chief, USARPAC CCP. "The ability of the Soldiers and officers from the CCP, together with I Corps Forward, to come together and build the corps of a very large staff and make it all work was impressive. They did an incredible job and had a very successful relationship with our Japanese partners."
The USARPAC CCP worked with I Corps Forward, the main element of the U.S. Army in Japan, and other units to create one functioning battle staff for the exercise.
"There were obstacles, but, good leadership and a lot of dedication overcame that," said Callahan.
Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Russell, USARPAC CCP operations non-commissioned officer and battle staff NCO in the combined operations intelligence center, spoke highly of his first experience of working with the Japanese military.
"I learned how to better function as a battle staff from our counterparts [Japanese Soldiers] because they are organized, intelligent, and understand what battle staff is since they have the same function as the U.S. Army does," said Russell.
"Working this exercise with Japan gave me the confidence and understanding that we will be able to stand as a unified front and make things happen not only on the battlefield, but also as a digital Army," said Russell. "I gained a lot in this environment and am fortunate to be here, it's the beginning of what can only be better endeavors for future battle staff training."
The USARPAC CCP is a scalable command post designed to rapidly deploy to low to mid contingencies, which can include anything from a natural disaster to peace-enforcement missions. The CCP, currently comprised of approximately 100 Soldiers, is an entity that when deployed, is able to integrate other units and agencies into its operations.
"USARPAC has paid a price in carving out a contingency command post and resourcing it with people, using very expensive equipment and the best of technology. USARPAC has invested a lot of time into the CCP," said Callahan. "There really is a growing capability for deployable command and control in USARPAC, so the price that we paid hasn't been in vain."
Overall, participants agreed that the exercise went well. "I definitely feel confidence with our performance at this exercise," said Chief Warrant Officer Dale Goolsby, USARPAC CCP intelligence officer.
The CCP's next obstacle to tackle is the lead on Exercise Cobra Gold 2010, an annual multi-national exercise in Thailand. During Cobra Gold, the CCP will immerse itself even further by providing all logistical and physical (FIX THIS) aspects of the exercise.
"The CCP can handle and conduct themselves as such, because going from this first accomplishment of functioning as an individual staff, once we sustain that to Cobra Gold, we can only build, " said Russell. "Getting the experience of working as a contingency command post is a new beginning for the Army."