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I Corps to re-focus on Asia-Pacific

Published: 01:38PM November 15th, 2012
I Corps to re-focus on Asia-Pacific

Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell

From left, U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Mark W. Rudes, senior enlisted adviser to the U.S. Pacific Command commander, reviews the layout of the Mission Training Complex Oct. 29. Anthony Schmitz, (center) MTC operations chief and contracting officer of record looks on while John M. Peppers, MTC director, briefs Rudes.

America’s Corps has shifted its focus to the rebalancing mission of the U.S. Pacific Command, responsible for an area of operation that stretches across 16 time zones and home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population.

During a recent interview, I Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, affirmed as troops draw down in Afghanistan, partnering with countries in the Pacific with increased, but shorter, exercises will help to maintain security, peace and stability.

This pivot to the region was clarified during a press brief at the 2012 Association of the United States Army Conference in October.

“The realignment of forces will allow command headquarters, brigade combat teams and supporting elements to be available to the USPACOM commander without being forward based,” said U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski.

I Corps welcomed the shift in emphasis and presented capabilities to USPACOM two weeks ago.

U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Mark W. Rudes, senior enlisted adviser to the USPACOM commander, toured Joint Base Lewis-McChord Oct. 29 and reviewed key elements that will become valuable assets to the Asia-Pacific mission.

I Corps Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell welcomed Rudes by showing him the capabilities of the corps.

“What we bring is our ability to perform as a joint task force and a joint force land component command headquarters, something unique that no other Army unit in the area of responsibility can do,” Troxell said.

I Corps collaborated with JBLM partners to exhibit technological advances from the individual-Soldier level to the joint-force level, showcasing the means I Corps can achieve team-building goals with partnering countries. Troxell led the tour that featured land and air resources enabling cost efficient, flexible, training environments without having to establish permanent infrastructure while offering immediate response if needed.

The Mission Training Complex debuted a live virtual gaming arena, valuable to a resource-constrained training environment.

“We wanted to show him that we can replicate the terrain, the language and realistic approach of what to expect and how it doesn’t cost nearly as much as opposed to sending troops to an actual training area,” Troxell said.

David S. Nash, a technical support specialist at the MTC, provided Rudes with a synopsis of the HUMINT Control Cell, a part of the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer program. The HCC provides training for human and counterintelligence collectors, including interaction with live avatars capable of speaking in foreign languages through interpreters.

“We are in the process of designing multiple PACOM-based HCC scenarios to support future training events,” Nash said. “Realistic intelligence simulations are critical to mission command training events, allowing organic intelligence Soldiers to write appropriate reports, develop collection plans and develop relationships with the rest of the staff.”

A Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise was also simulated using virtual reality to replicate for Rudes the ground aspect of training. He sat in the seat of a virtual Stryker, experiencing how it feels to maneuver the vehicle out of a simulated cargo bay.

Rudes later had lunch with Army senior enlisted advisers, including Air Force and Marine Corps counterparts, to talk about the rebalance of force posture in the USPACOM area.

“Rebalance does not mean there will be a buildup of permanent infrastructures or traditional deployments, but what it does mean are more rotational forces in the region,” Rudes said, pointing to relationships established with the 36 nations in the Pacific as a key factor, echoing the USPACOM commander’s recent remarks.

Rebalance will involve “building partnerships and the ability to work together on security issues that will impact the region in the future,” Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said during a press brief to the American Forces Press Service last month.

Troxell further displayed ways I Corps has worked with partnering forces.

“We’ve established team-building and good rapport with our counterparts,” said Troxell, highlighting the role of the 62nd Airlift Wing, the senior Air Force combatant command on JBLM. Among Rudes’ key concerns were lift capabilities and fiscal responsibility.

“There are ways that we can save money and be more efficient in getting to where we need to be in the theater,” Troxell said.

Troxell said I Corps is more capable with the immediate “means” of mobility, thanks to the support of the 62nd AW.

Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Drake, 62nd AW, briefed Rudes about the C-17 Globemaster III, leading him through a static tour of 48 of the workhorse aircraft, a demonstration of a Joint Precision Air Drop System, and discussions of the Operation Deep Freeze and Prime Nuclear Airlift Force missions.

“Stryker brigade combat teams and other I Corps units can be deployed rapidly and directly from JBLM rather than depending on airlift from other wings located worldwide,” Drake said. “This not only saves precious time but fiscal resources as well, since it costs $17,000 per flying hour to bring in an empty C-17 to mobilize a SBCT. Other airlift aircraft, such as the C-5 can cost more than $45,000 per flying hour.”

The 62nd Airlift Wing is the only Air Force wing certified to perform a variety of unique missions, Drake said. “Our JPADS system increases air drop accuracy when resupplying combat units in the field and enhances safety for the warfighter on the ground,” Drake said.

Aligning joint forces is an important factor for success in the Asia-Pacific, Troxell said.

“This shows us the way ahead and allows us to see that we are after the same priorities,” he said about collaboration already established with partners.

While the nation undergoes transition following an election, and as troops return to a refocus in the Pacific, I Corps is “exactly in line with Rudes’ vision,” Troxell said.

“JBLM and I Corps will have a significant role in this historic shift,” Brown said.

“We are not becoming part of USPACOM to perform a specific mission,” Troxell said. “we will be prepared to do that if need be, but we need to be prepared to build partnerships.”

As he departed, Rudes thanked his hosts and called JBLM “highly capable” of contributing to USPACOM.