By Staff Sgt. Gaelen Lowers, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsNovember 29, 2012
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- As the Army moves away from its constant deployment cycle and transitions to a more expeditionary force, Soldiers of the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, are taking another step in that direction by having a plan set in place that would rapidly and effectively deploy the 8th TSC headquarters.
"As you all know, we may never know when it is time for us to deploy somewhere in the Pacific," said Col. Charles Maskell, deputy commander, 8th TSC, to a group of 8th STB Soldiers standing inside of a C17. "The days of the preplanned deployments where you know a year in advance that you will be deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan are rapidly coming to an end.
"The new focus of the Army," he explained, "will be on expeditionary and short-notice operations, rather than long-term, advanced-notice deployments. You are all doing the right thing by making our headquarters more deployable."
The "right thing" Maskell was talking about is the total body of work the 8th STB accomplished during the past month to get the headquarters more expeditionary.
Soldiers began by setting up their forward command post on Fort Shafter Flats. Maj. Gen. Steven Lyons, commander, 8th TSC, visited to give his feedback on the tents and workspace. After receiving the commander's guidance,
Soldiers were then able to put together a list of equipment the command will need in case a fire mission occurs. Figuring out how to get the equipment from Hawaii to wherever the mission is occurring was the next step for the 8th STB.
"We have prepared a load plan and are out here loading a C-17, should we need to respond to a disaster mission in the Pacific theater," said Capt. Adrianne Lahtela, officer in charge, special operations, 8th STB, and the officer in charge of the load plan.
The C-17 load was practice for Soldiers in the event an actual mission arises. The 8th STB worked diligently with units from the Air Force and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii to get a plan in place that allows the headquarters to deploy in a 72-hour window.
"The biggest part of this is that our command and Soldiers see that we can, in a short time, deploy, should an emergency happen somewhere, so we can be a viable asset for the theater," Lahtela said.
Many officers and senior noncommissioned officers from U.S. Army-Pacific were present to observe the process and eventually replicate it so they can prepare their own commands to become more expeditionary.
"I believe we're setting the standard," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Rossy, plans NCO, 8th TSC, and NCO-in-charge of the load plan. "Other units have not been able to accomplish what we have been able to in less time."
The next steps for the 8th STB are to test the load plan at the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, said Lahtela, and then to eventually deploy the equipment to Korea or Japan for Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual Pacific exercise.
At the end of the day, all of the recognition fell on Soldiers involved, the ones who got the equipment together, loaded the trucks, transported the cargo and loaded the C-17.
"We have set a good framework for our upcoming training and missions," Lahtela concluded. "We are setting a good foundation. I am absolutely proud of the work the Soldiers have accomplished thus far," he added. "This is like an opening night, and I'm proud of opening night. But, for me, I am more proud of the rehearsals that led up to it.