By Sgt. 1st Class Kevin P. BellDecember 28, 2010
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The U.S. Army Pacific Contingency Command Post Deployable Assessment Team B, a new concept to the Theater Army, is ready for contingency operations after U.S. Army Pacific Commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon certified the team fully operational capable at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Dec. 22.
The DAT B completed a certification exercise, convoying, loading and flying via C-17 from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to the island of Hawaii Dec. 7-10.
"This is the first time that the entire DAT B, with all of its equipment, had gone through the alert procedure, marshalling, conducting joint inspections, loading a C-17 and actually flying to another location, doing it all in reverse, conducting tactical movement to where we are going to set up our tactical operations center, then assessing the situation there, developing a course of action, and how we want to go out and do our assessments," said Maj. Keegan Leonard, USARPAC CCP, DAT officer in charge.
The team deployed as part of an exercise scenario that involved a tsunami strike to Hilo.
The DAT B is a 23-Soldier team that must be ready to deploy rapidly anywhere in the Pacific Command area of responsibility to assess crises, disasters or similar situations. The team can deploy in a smaller module called DAT A with nine personnel, depending on the size and scope of the mission.
Whatever the size, within 24 hours of a disaster, a team of specialized experts must be en route. Each member serves a specific job function, but because the team is small, regardless of rank, all must also apply tactical skills and work together.
"Our main focus is to provide assessment for the USARPAC commander based on the inherent skills set we have within our team," said Leonard. "Whether (it is) engineer, medical, aviation, field services or logistics, we can tailor that package to provide answers to questions that he might need initially, that he can then use to assist in planning for his follow-on forces."
"Additionally, the DAT B provides expanded assessment capability, begins initial C2 (command and control) of deployed/assigned assets, and determines where the footprint for the expanded operational mission of the CCP is going setup," said Leonard.
Once on the ground in Hilo, the team moved by tactical vehicles to the austere Pohakuloa Training Area, which sits between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa mountains. The team established communications with the CCP at Fort Shafter within minutes using a combination of civilian and military communications systems. Within two hours, the team established a functioning workspace in several tents and was providing assessments to USARPAC.
"Conducting an assessment of the Hilo airport, harbor and road networks improved the logistics cell's ability to conduct real-world assessments in support of humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions," said Lt. Col. John Wimberley, DAT logistics officer.
"I believe the exercise allowed the DAT B to come together as a cohesive element and practice in a realistic environment. I am confident that the DAT B can deploy on a moment's notice anywhere in the Pacific AOR (area of responsibility) and execute our mission in support of the USARPAC commander's intent," Wimberley added.
"This mission was a tremendous success. The hardest thing was to alert, assemble and rapidly deploy, within 24 hours, the initial footprint of an expandable command post," said Col. Marlin Remigio, CCP director of operations. "For a real-world event, it's easier to get off the island because the assets will be provided to you. It's harder, however, to get the assets for training, specifically, the aircraft. During this flyaway, we executed the procedures needed to work with the Air Force."
The 535th Airlift Squadron, stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, used the flights to train crews on aircraft loading procedures, and, on the flight to the island of Hawaii, practiced a tactical descent in which the plane dropped more than 15,000 feet in just a few minutes.