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First in a decade: command participates in Philippine exercise.

For the first time in a decade, a MTMC deployment support team has worked a terminal operation in the Republic of the Philippines.

The occasion was Exercise Balikatan 2002, a combined, joint task force of United States and Philippine military forces.

In the past, ammunition was transported to the exercise by the Air Mobility Command. This year, exercise officials selected MTMC to do the job. The selection came after initial coordination with Xavier Monroy, a transportation planner at the 835th Transportation Battalion, Okinawa, Japan.

"Balikatan presented an opportunity to evaluate and sharpen our port operations capability," said Maj. Vince Thompson, Executive Officer of the 835th.

Balikatan is the 18th in the Team Challenge series of exercises to improve combat readiness and interoperability by cross training in air, land and sea operations. In the host nation language, Balikatan means "shouldering the load together."

Working under the scorching sun and blanket of humidity that covered the port of Subic Bay in April and May, the deployed single port managers loaded and discharged all military sealift cargo for the combined-joint exercise. MTMC's team was led by Lawrence Dowsing and included: Staff Sgt. Allan Cich, Sgt. Aron Lawson, Spc. James Carter and Don Larkin.

The team's work included the discharge and documentation of equipment and ammunition from the Star Bird, a Military Sealift Command charter vessel.

The transportation managers sharpened their ocean terminal operations skills in cargo accountability and updating the Worldwide Port System main file server located in Okinawa.

"In lieu of a Worldwide Port System carry away, we sent updates to our battalion's main server by Iridium phone every six hours throughout the loading operations," said Dowsing.

With this information, the 835th's Cargo Management Division produced cargo manifests that were then sent by facsimile to the deployed team.

Taking advantage of every training opportunity, team members developed the final stow plan using the Integrated Computerized Deployment System.

"Becoming familiar with the lay of the land at Subic Bay port and working together with the people of the host nation is important to prepare our team for any real world contingencies in the Philippines," said Richard Wilson, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.

"Balikatan tested the transportation group's abilities at command and control, single port management, communication capabilities and overall mission capabilities to conduct world-class port operations at a non-Department of Defense port."

The Pacific Command initiative to enhance theater security cooperation is touted by Col. Peter Gitto, Commander, 599th.

"The ability of our deployed team to support these exercises directly supports the Pacific Command's initiatives to enhance cooperation among the armed forces of the Asia-Pacific region," said Gitto.
By Terri Kojima
Command Affairs Officer
599th Transportation Group
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Author:Kojima, Terri
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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