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18th MEDCOM (Deployment Support)
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support)
The 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), also known as 18th MEDCOM, located at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, serves as the operational arm for Army Health Systems throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The 18th MEDCOM (DS) assumes the role of medical mission command in support of combatant commanders during deployment operations as well as during humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations throughout the Indo-Asian Pacific region. By working closely with host nation leaders, non-governmental organizations and joint service medical professionals, the 18th MEDCOM provides the necessary assets to ensure medical treatment providers have every opportunity to accomplish their mission.
It is also the responsibility of the Pacific Knights, in conjunction with U.S. Army Pacific Command (USPACOM), to participate in training exercises throughout the Pacific each year. These exercises are designed to broaden host nation relations and assist with ongoing healthcare initiatives in that particular area. In many cases, the Pacific Knights coordinate with the U.S. Army Reserve and the Army National Guard to provide medical personnel to serve as part of subject matter expert exchanges, community health engagements and emergency combat casualty care instructors at a variety of levels.
Each day, the Soldiers of the 18th MEDCOM train and prepare to execute their mission. Whether it be in support of one of our more than 40 host nation partners, on a neighboring island or in support of contingency operations; the Pacific Knights remain ready.
The 18th MEDCOM (DS) executes mission command of the Army Health System in support of unified land operations in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operational environment in order to contribute to a stable and secure USAPACOM area of responsibility; on-order, provide command and control for assigned or attached units.
A mission-ready team of professionals providing health system support in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
KEY SUPPORT CAPABILITIES
- Medical Mission Command
Provides mission command, administrative assistance, and technical supervision of assigned and attached medical units. Conducts mission command for multiple medical units by way of Medical Response Package (MRP), Joint Medical Operations Element (JMOE), Operational Command Post (OCP).
- Hospitalization/ Treatment
Army Healthcare Systems synchronization as part of the theater-wide system for managing sick, injured and wounded patients. Theater hospitalization and treatment are synchronized by way of Joint Theater Trauma System (JTTS) and Wartime Host Nation Hospital (WHNS).
- Theater Evacuation
Coordinate with USAF Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center (TPMRC) for medical reporting/regulating.
- Medical Intelligence
Provide the medical threat analysis and medical intelligence support to higher headquarters by way of USARPAC G2 Intelligence Working Group.
- Medical Logistics
Coordinate/Synchronize full spectrum medical logistics (maintenance, opto, blood, CL VIII, etc); Can Execute Single Integrated Medical Logistics Manager (SIMLM) when directed.
- Force Health Protection
Publishes Force Health Protection Guidance through weekly reports to USARPAC Surgeon Office.
Employment Readiness, The Everyday Mission
By Sgt. 1st Class John Brown, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support)
In today’s Army, the term “readiness” has become the rallying cry for senior leaders and command teams that look to prepare Soldiers and units for mission execution. We crunch the numbers and schedule training to ensure each and every Soldier has met the minimum requirement to be deployment eligible; but is that the true measure of deployment readiness?
For most Army units around the world, deployment readiness is based on a calendar date. It’s the date when the unit will have completed its training cycle and is at its most effective for supporting contingency operations for a specific list of operational theaters. Personnel, training, equipment, medical, and logistical readiness numbers for these units will show a constant increase until they deploy, followed by a sharp decline following redeployment as the unit begins the cycle all over again.
“The 18th MEDCOM is the only operational-level medical mission command headquarters in the Pacific, postured to provide Army Health System Support in the AOR to build relationships and enhance readiness with our 36 partner nations,” said Col. Ann M. Sammartino, commander of the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support).
The 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) doesn’t have the luxury of a reoccurring deployment cycle to rely on increasing deployment readiness statistics, and they definitely don’t have a date on a calendar that they need to be prepared for. For the Soldiers of the 18th MEDCOM, today could be that date on the calendar.
Like every other unit in the Army, the possibility of deploying in support of contingency operations remains at the forefront of training requirements, but it’s the other missions that require a constant state of readiness for the Pacific Knights.
One of the primary missions of the 18th MEDCOM, as the Operational Army of Army Health Systems in the Indo-Asian Pacific Region, is to provide Medical Mission Command in support of humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
According to the National Weather Service, in 2016, there were 26 named storms, 13 hurricanes or typhoons, and six super typhoons within the Indo-Asian-Pacific Area of Responsibility. Each of these storms, which strike with little warning, is a potential deployment for the 18th MEDCOM.
“The 18th MEDCOM is literally a one-of-its-kind unit; there are no longer any other multi-component MEDCOMs in the Army … not to mention, it is a world-wide deployable unit based in the most natural disaster-prone region of the world,” said Cpt. McKinsey Harb, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th MEDCOM.
Consisting of both Active Duty and Army Reserve Soldiers, the 18th MEDCOM faces unique challenges with regard to maintaining readiness. “Ensuring that Army Reserve Soldiers stay ready in the 18th MEDCOM requires our Active Duty Soldiers to expand their knowledge of Army systems, gain access to unfamiliar territory, liaise with external units, and utilize multiple methods of communication and leadership,” explained Harb.
The training requirements are slightly different for Active and Reserve components, but the need to maintain readiness remains the same. By ensuring all Soldiers, both Active and Reserve, are held to the same standards for training, the 18th MEDCOM ensures that all members of the team are prepared for mobilization.
“My focuses, as the HHC commander are medical readiness of the Soldiers in the unit, required training prescribed by Army Regulation 350-1 which includes physical readiness testing and weapons qualification, training on the company METL (mission essential task list) to ensure we are ready to support the 18th MEDCOM mission, and accountability and maintenance of the unit’s equipment,” said Harb.
Harb points out that in the past, the Army has focused deployment readiness on the various phases of the Army Force Generation cycle which set benchmarks for deployment preparation and provided a ready pool of units for contingency operations. Often referred to as the “Patch Chart,” Army units knew when they were scheduled to be available for possible deployments.
“Today’s Army demands that commands maintain a constant state of readiness,” says Harb, “which requires more diligence, more flexibility, more communication, and more honesty.
“As a company commander, I have found that maintaining deployment readiness has been a challenge that requires me to think outside the box, solicit creative solutions both internally and externally, generate buy-in and persevere with new solutions when old ones fail,” said Harb.
The 18th MEDCOM maintains deployment readiness by providing regular classes, ranges and testing opportunities to ensure all Soldiers meet their requirements, by monitoring individual medical readiness on a daily basis, and by providing daily physical readiness and reconditioning physical readiness programs for Soldiers.
“To ensure individual and unit deployment readiness we monitor, from the platoon and company level, the training proficiency and medical status of every Soldier every day,” said Harb.
An aspect of deployment readiness that is often overlooked is equipment readiness. Soldiers who currently have multiple deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan to their credit have grown accustomed to getting a majority of their equipment when they reach their deployment location courtesy of prepositioned stocks and lateral transfers from the unit’s they replace. For units that have to be prepared to support efforts throughout the Pacific, however, organic equipment must be ready for mobilization at all times.
“Maintaining equipment readiness is no easy task due to the level of details and steps that have to be taken in order to maintain unit readiness,” said Cpt. Basilio Deleon, a logistics officer with 18th MEDCOM.
“Maintaining readiness starts with the daily, weekly and monthly Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services that users perform on their equipment,” continued Deleon, “18th MEDCOM has kept the force ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to any part of the Pacific Area of Responsibility by conducting the necessary maintenance on the unit’s equipment and by utilizing tools like the Global Combat Support System-Army.”
Deleon is quick to point out that failure to perform required/regular maintenance on organic equipment can have catastrophic effects on a unit’s deployment readiness, “We have to remember that the equipment we have now is what we are more than likely going to deploy with.”
In 2016, the 18th MEDCOM was able to effectively mobilize their Forward Command Post and Main Command Post in support of U.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) training exercises while simultaneously facilitating Global Health Engagements with the People’s Army of Vietnam and participating in Ulchi Freedom Guardian in Korea and Japan, and Medical Exercise 2016 in Japan.
Throughout the course of the year, the Soldiers and leaders of the 18th MEDCOM facilitated training, provided medical logistics support, engaged with healthcare leaders from partnered nations, and supported more than a dozen events throughout the Indo-Asian Pacific Region.
Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Wrighton Jr., the senior enlisted advisor for 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), and Air Force Sr. Chief Master Sgt. Chi Swanson, the acting superintendent for the 35th Medical Group Base Hospital at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, visit with Soldiers and Airmen working in the urgent care department during Joint Medical Exercise 2016 on August 23. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) Public Affairs Office
The Warrior Way
By Spc. Bryan M. Faison
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support),
Eleven Soldiers from the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), also known as 18th MEDCOM (DS) saw their hard work and preparation put on display to become the 18th MEDCOM (DS) 2017 best warrior.
For four days, from February 7-10, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and junior enlisted Soldiers, battled the Oahu elements and pushed their minds and bodies to the limit.
“Breaking the service members down both physically and mentally during the four days showed a test of might and showed who could endure and tolerate…furthermore, it displayed loyalty and personal courage to stay in the competition and conduct events in which they knew nothing about until they were briefed moments prior,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas M. Hanley, the NCO in charge of this year’s competition.
The Soldiers began day one with a morning physical fitness test at Fort Shafter gym. Unlike the Army physical fitness test, the best warrior fitness challenge included pull-ups, a shuttle run, push-ups, and a variety of physical challenges designed to test physical endurance and mental agility. With little time to recover, the Soldiers loaded themselves and their fully packed ruck sacks into the back of a light medium tactical vehicle (LMTV), to be transported to Schofield Barracks for their next event.
A two-mile hike separated them from their arrival point at Schofield Barracks area X-ray and their destination, a mystery event, the personal protective mask confidence course.
For some Soldiers, their first and only exposure to CS gas was during initial entry training.
“It was different, a much needed training event”, said Sgt. Roderick L. Carmichael Jr., a communications NCO for 18th MEDCOM (DS). “Reacting to that environment is something we should all be prepared to do, you never know,” he added.
Day one was eventful and taxing for the participants, but with night approaching and temperatures dropping into the mid-60’s, East Range was the site of their last event for day one, night land navigation.
The competitors were given three hours to navigate the terrain and find a series of points during the hours of darkness before another hike and transportation back to Fort Shafter.
With only a few hours of rest, the competitors put their muscular endurance and a possible fear of heights to the test as they tackled the air assault obstacle course on Schofield Barracks.
“It was somewhat difficult based on my size, I didn’t let it stop me. It was a lot of fun,” said Pfc. Darlene P. Malanog, a signal system support specialist with 18th MEDCOM (DS).
Over the years, the Army warrior tasks (AWT) lanes have become the most dreaded of events during the Best Warrior Competition.
It is the event that separates Soldiers that participated to simply compete and those there to win.
“The challenge for CADRE, is that every year our Soldiers get stronger and smarter, so we are constantly increasing the intensity and realism of training to give our Soldiers the best opportunity to be successful,” said the NCOIC of the AWT lanes, Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown.
The event featured a 180-pound simulated casualty that needed to be identified, treated, and evacuated.
Maneuvering the simulated casualty on a sked stretcher proved to be the toughest of tasks for even the strongest of individuals.
“Pulling a 180-pound casualty on a sked, up hills, with a full ruck sack, after the air assault course was very difficult,” said Pfc. Harish D. Rao, a supply specialist with 18th MEDCOM (DS).
The physical demands of the two events took their toll but the lanes also tested the Soldier’s ability to maintain their composure in stressful situations by requiring the competitors to interact with media and answer a variety of thought provoking questions immediately after engaging in a stressful situation.
“I was exhausted, but I knew it was a challenge. I was thirsty and tired but I knew I had to answer these questions correctly and on the spot,” said Sgt. Yanique K. Morris, a culinary arts NCO for 18th MEDCOM (DS).
Following two days of grueling physical exertion, the Soldiers faced the daunting task of presenting themselves before the sergeant’s major board.
The board consisted of three staff sergeant’s major and Command Sgt. Maj. John Braham Jr., the president of the board.
As one group participated in the board, the other group conducted the day land navigation course at the Schofield Barracks East Range.
The competitors were only given a one hour break for lunch and reset before trading locations and transitioning to the opposite event.
When asked about the make-up of the board, Rao said, “I was nervous before and after, I’ve never been in a board, in front of so many sergeants major, all asking me questions.”
Day four featured the competitions culminating event, a timed 6-mile rucksack march on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that began nearly two hours before dawn.
Carrying a 35-pound ruck sack, Soldiers had one hour and 30 minutes to complete the final phase of the competition.
The previous three days of competition had taken its toll but did not slow down the first Soldier to finish, Sgt. Jeffrey S. Salinas, the units theatre patient movement control (TPMC) NCO. Salinas finished in 1 hour and 6 seconds.
“I was starting to cramp up, I really wanted to get it done as fast as I possibly could,” said Salinas.
Sgt. Roderick J. Carmichael and Pfc. Harish D. Rao were announced as the winners of the 2017 Best Warrior Competition during a ceremony held at the unit.
The winners now prepare to compete against Soldiers from across the region in Regional Health Command – Pacific’s best warrior competition.
“I expect it to be challenging and look forward to seeing how I stack up against my peers,” said Carmichael.
Rao, echoed his sentiments and added “It will be tough and I expect to learn more about myself as I compete against Soldiers from across the region.”