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Training standardization pays big dividends.

The evolution of the old Tiger Team to the Deployment Support Team marked a significant step in the command's capability to meet rapid changes in the post-Cold War environment.

Continuous improvements to the Deployment Support Team concept have allowed MTMC to provide flexible, efficient, and responsive port operations capability in support of an evolving national security strategy.

"The teams extend our port management and port operations capabilities to any location designated by the geographic Commander-in-Chiefs," said Capt. Jay Nelson, Command Operations Center West Team watch officer.

Deployment Support Teams take full advantage of assets from across the groups and battalions to deploy task-organized teams. Team members include military, civilian, commercial and host nation personnel. All are trained on the equipment and techniques to meet mission requirements.

In the U.S. Southern Command area of operations, we have deployed teams to numerous countries.

"We task-organized our teams using several factors, including mission, terrain, tactics, terms of service, length of operations, and systems requirements, just to name a few," said Lt. Col. Bob Oliveras, Commander, 832nd Transportation Battalion, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.

In support of exercise New Horizons in January, we had six team members deployed to Guatemala from such diverse units as Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Seattle; and Puerto Rico. In five days, they discharged the equipment of an engineer task force from three vessels.

"We're rapidly approaching a complete plug-and-play capability with the Deployment Support Team people that come from other units," said Maj. John Lawson, Team Leader. "I was able to deploy and employ a team in one day with the same confidence I would have if all the team members came from my unit."

Training is the critical element that leads to success. The ability to task-organize a team requires that unit personnel from across the command to have a standard training program and a common understanding of mission-essential tasks, supporting tasks, training standards, and readiness criteria. In that manner, members can be pulled together from any unit and operate as an effective team.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth. L. Privratsky, Commander, has re-energized the training program.

We initiated a series of top-down steps, starting with standard Mission Essential Task Lists, quarterly training briefings and guidance, and the publication of the command's first Joint Training Plan for fiscal years 2001-2004.

We also developed an extensive matrix that crosswalks individual, collective, and supporting tasks with the standard battalion mission-essential tasks.

Parallel efforts are ongoing at other levels. Earlier this year, the Deployment Support Command developed an initiative to improve team training. The concept involves training in three phases: (1) Team "battle drills" at home station; (2) Training opportunities where individual unit members deploy as augmentation to teams; and (3) Collective training, where units deploy an organic team.

A prime example of the concept in action occurred when seven members of the 834th Transportation Battalion, Concord, Calif., led by Lt. Cmdr. Tom LaCross, deployed to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, in support of port operations for another New Horizons exercise in January. By the end of the year, the Deployment Support Command will have provided team support to New Horizons exercises in five additional countries, including St. Lucia, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and St. Vincent.

"MTMC ports in the United States and overseas must be trained to the same standard," said Maj. Joe Calisto, Operations Officer, 597th Transportation Group, Sunny Point, N.C.

"At each MTMC port, we need designated military and civilian personnel who are trained and ready to deploy as a team in peacetime or war," said Calisto.

The operations tempo is just as high in the U.S. Pacific Command and 599th Transportation Group area of operations.

A team composed of MTMC personnel from five separate units conducted operations in support of exercise Tandem Thrust in Australia in April. At about the same time, four units combined to form a second team to support exercise Cobra Gold in Thailand.

"These exercises allow us rotate from across the group and our battalions, as well as provide training for people from outside," said Col. John Bordwell, Commander, 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.

"We're all learning and accomplishing the mission at the same time."

One of the frequently overlooked benefits that result from team deployments is leader training. While the opportunity to lead a Deployment Support Team composed of members from your own unit to a new area is always a challenge, it is an even greater challenge to merge members from multiple locations and produce a new team.

Our leaders are better as a result.

The Deployment Support Team concept will continue to evolve to meet changing requirements. As we streamline the command, the role of the teams becomes even more critical.

Maj. Alex Monteith, Commander, 954th Transportation Company, said it best:

"Having personnel who can and must deploy when needed will be a key to MTMC's future success."
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Title Annotation:Deployment Support Team
Author:Harvey, Tom
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
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