Military News

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

McChord Soldiers and Airmen train for Pacific contingency mission

by Sgt. Leon Cook
20th Public Affairs Detachment

1/20/2016 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- An underwater earthquake occurred off the coast of Guam, sending massive tsunami waves over the tiny island in the Pacific. Hundreds were killed, the Navy base was swept away, and the property damage is incalculable. Relief efforts were quickly organized. The U.S. Army's only regionally-aligned corps, I Corps, based in JBLM, set up medical and food aid as well as assistance in finding survivors and clearing rubble.

The details of this scenario are fictional, but plausible, and just the sort of thing I Corps' Early Entry Command Post trains for. The EECP's mission is to set up and deploy a command and control node anywhere in the Pacific within 96 hours of receiving the order to go. The command post will coordinate with U.S. forces and communicate with coalition partners and nongovernmental entities.

To accomplish this, I Corps' EECP practiced loading into aircraft with loadmasters and aircrew from the Air Force's 62nd Airlift Wing, Jan. 13.

"The purpose of the training is to continue to build readiness so that we provide the I Corps commander with a rapidly deployable mission command node," said Maj. Andrew Hill, the EECP's commanding officer.

Past training exercises have shown what is essential and what is non-essential to bring. Now, the EECP can fit into three Humvees and their trailers.

The small footprint allows the entire command post to fit into a single C-17, Hill said.

Soldiers backed the trailers and Humvees onto a steep cargo ramp of a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft and tied the equipment down for air transport. Some trailers nearly scraped their undercarriages on the ramp, but quick thinking, a few ramp adjustments and some planks of wood allowed the training to continue.

"[This training] allowed us to actually get on the aircraft, to actually look at our load plan to see what it would actually look like instead of just looking at it on a computer graphic," Hill said. "We're pretty satisfied that we're meeting the Corps commander's intent and that we'll be able to execute at any time."

In March, the EECP will validate their readiness further by once again loading onto a C-17. Next time, instead of staying on the ground, they will fly to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and set up a command post there.

That exercise will be the culminating event of all their training and validate their readiness to deploy.

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