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Cross-training, preparation pays off in Cobra Gold 03.

For MTMC's Pacific Rim units, the annual Cobra Gold training exercise takes place every year. Our veteran staffers are old hands working the process and the many ports.

For me, Cobra Gold 2003 was my first deployment experience.

Our mission in the U.S. Pacific Command's major joint/combined, multilateral exercise's deployment phase was to discharge 1,700 pieces of cargo. The 50,000 measurement tons of cargo was aboard three ships--American Tern, Tampere and Pegasus Leader.

Our 16-member deployment support team traveled to Thailand in mid-May. Our members included nine civilians and seven soldiers. The civilians included three transportation interns. Members of our team were drawn from the 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii; all three battalions--835th Transportation Battalion, Okinawa, Japan; the 836th Transportation Battalion, Yokohama, Japan; and the 837th Transportation Battalion, Pusan, Korea.

"Current real-world contingencies presented some challenges that we overcame as a result of careful planning and detailed preparations," said Lt. Col. Clayton Newton, 835th commander.

Our deployment support team managed two ports in Thailand--Chuk Samet for general cargo and Thong Prong for ammunition.

With heightened personnel demands due to Operation Iraqi Freedom we cross-trained our team members. The team had a majority of civilian members.

"I knew after the in-brief and meeting everyone face to face that the mission would be successful," said Master Sgt. Felton Head, senior NCO for the team.

In an initial move, we detached three members of the team to take on a second mission of maintaining in-transit visibility of cargo for the 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, until it reached its inland destination of Camp Thanarath, Thailand.

With both teams working in unison, we retained in-transit visibility of the division's cargo from its upload at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to its final inland destination in Thailand--from the point of origin to final destination.

At three key points, our team provided surface distribution for 25th Infantry Division cargo bound for Camp Thanarath, a Thai naval facility located three miles inland from Chuk Samet. Initially, we discharged the cargo from the Pegasus Leader. Subsequently, we conducted the cargo's disposition and verification for onward movement, and the verification of the cargo's arrival at its final destination.

At Thong Prong Pier, team members conducted the discharge and staging of ammunition containers from the American Tern. Because of pre-deployment planning and preparation, we reduced work in the actual operation.

John Geigel, 835th supply branch chief, summed up the operation in two words--"customer satisfaction."

"After discharging the cargo, we not only staged the ammunition by unit, but by compatibility," said Geigel, "giving our customers the ability to take their ammunition and go. Our customers wanted this level of service and we provided it."

The biggest challenge for our team members was the intense heat. On the last day of our ship operations the temperature reached 114 F. We followed careful safety procedures and ensured that our fellow co-workers maintained fluid in their bodies.

The exercise was a big success, said Head.

"No injuries, incidents, or heat casualties ... we were able to complete our Mission Essential Task List to standard and completed all tasks on schedule," said Head.

Christine Dimity, a member of the Office of the Chief of Transportation Intern Program, is currently serving an 18-month training tour with the 835th Transportation Battalion, Okinawa, Japan.
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Author:Dimitry, Christine
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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