IN A RESERVE JOINT COMMAND
I began packing for my 20th Annual Training (AT) assignment on Friday night before I was scheduled to fly out on Saturday morning. Planning and preparations had begun two months before. Packing is my final signal to my family that everything is set to go. I have been going on these ATs since 1981. Those early ones were always filled with long working hours on projects and military training. The past three had been OUTCONUS supporting the fleet activities in Europe as a member of Environmental Engineering Unit, Atlantic.
This would be my first AT with a new unit Theater Contingency Engineering Management (TCEM) Reserve Cell, of Southern Command (South Com) in Miami, FL. This would not be like any of the past ATs. The first difference is that I would have six days to accomplish my tasks, (a split AT). But, this narrative is not about overcoming difficult circumstances. It is about a new way of thinking and serving in a Joint Reserve Command.
South Com moved to Miami from the Panama Canal Zone in 1997. South Com TCEM is lead by COL Lou Best, US Army, and has eight full-time engineers from the four services. CAPT. Ray Alexander, CEC, USNR, worked for two years during his tenure with the Reserve TCEM to create a drilling reserve unit to support the active component. The new unit stood up 1 Oct. 1998 with eleven engineers from the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve. (No Marine Corps Reserve engineers were available for an assignment.)
CAPT Ronald Batdorf, CEC, USNR relieved CAPT Alexander at the initial unit conference in October 1998. The conference provided a gaining command briefing and some insight in how other servicesí engineers operate and their capabilities. The briefings at the conference reminded me of some of statements at the CEC LCDR indoctrination course; about "be a part of the solution," and "become a planner and not just a doer only" (Aug. 1998, CEC Officer School, NCBC Port Hueneme, CA). Third Naval Construction Regiment (3rd NCR) hosted the conference at the NRC Atlanta, Ga. They also provided medical support by reviewing medical records to ensure vaccinations were up to date.
I arrived in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday night. The taxi
ride from the airport was the better option that to rent a car and driving
myself. I didnít want to take my driving tour of Kingston in the
dark. On Sunday I met up with LTC James Stone, US Army, a staff engineer
at South Com. Our tour of Kingston included the U.S. Embassy, the
Jamaican Defense Force (JDF) Headquarters Compound and Port Royal Coast
Guard station. We also met the Naval Oceanographic Office (Nav Oce
Off) personnel who were there performing a survey of the island.
On Monday LTC Stone and I met with LTC Feherenchak, US Army, Embassy MILGROUP,
and later with Maj. Hall, Operations Officer, 1st Engineer Regiment, JDF.
Plans to travel to Pedro Key, JDF Coast Guard Station, were finalized.
LTC Stone transferred his rental car to me and returned to Miami on Tuesday
Pedro Key is located 80 miles south of Kingston, it is a remote outpost of the war on drugs. The JDF coast guard station was established in 1996 to stem the flow of drugs into Jamaica. Colombia is about 1000 miles to the south. Drug traffickers used this small island to transfer drug shipments to Jamaican fishing boats for further shipment into Jamaica. Drug transfers still occur in the area and the coast guard personnel at the station patrol the area in small boats.
My assignment is to prepare scopes of work (DD-1391) to provide a pier
and some water and fuel tanks for the island. There is no pier on
the island now and supplies are transferred from supply vessels to the
local fishing boats and then supplies are transferred over the beach to
the station. There is an existing 300 gal. fuel tank for the two
station generators and a 300 gal. potable water tank for the island which
has a small contingent of coast guardsmen and a civilian population of
Maj. Hall, Lt. Cmdr. Powell and I discussed the requirements of the station for a pier, and fuel and water tanks. Mr. Lemley set a benchmark for later surveys of the surrounding ocean. We returned to Kingston about 1730. Wednesday was spent in the MILGROUP office planning my site visits to Camp Moneague and possible humanitarian relief projects in the central part of Jamaica and collecting additional information on Pedro Key.
Thursday met up with Warrant Officer Simmons, and Sapper Harris of the 1st Eng. Reg. JDF, who would be my JDF point of contact and technician. WO Simmons drove us up to Camp Moneague, which is the JDFís infantry training site. Over the past few years South Com has been providing engineering support in the form of troop labor to improve the living conditions at the training site. Army, Navy, and Air Force engineer units have built barracks and mess halls.
The headquarters and operations functions are currently housed in four small temporary builds that are in poor condition and do not facilitate easy access between each office. The JDF would like to replace these with a single permanent building. To plan a functional layout for a headquarters and operations building for a JDF infantry regiment I was briefed on how they are organized. A regiment is about equivalent in size to a US battalion, which makes since because battalions use to be called regiments. The functions are the same, their Second-In-Charge (2IC) is our XO, Adjutant is our S-1, and Operations is unchanged. The Regimental Sergeant Major is the same as the Navyís Command Master Chief. Intelligence and supply are housed separately and their offices will not be quartered in the same building.
The site for the new headquarters/operations building is on top of a
small hill overlooking the camp. It will be conspicuous from the
Photo 2 shows two of the existing temporary buildings used for
operations and personnel.
After lunch at the Officers Mess, WO Simmons, Sp Harris and I drove to St. Annís Bay on the north coast of the island to find the Windsor Girls Home. The home is a possible humanitarian project. We contacted Ms Eunice Scott-Shaw, the director of the home. She showed us the leaking roofs of the educational wing and the multi-purpose room. She also indicated that some of the wood storm slats in the windows needed repair. I checked the reported foundation problem and found that it had been repaired once but that continued erosion has caused the repairs to crack also. In my opinion troop labor can easily replace the roof over the educational wing and multi-purpose room and repair the broken window slats. The foundation problem will require additional Jamaican government action.
Friday morning I met Mr. Woodrow Smith from the Security Ministry. He drove us to Port Maria on the north coast, where we got directions to Geddes Town in order to visit another possible humanitarian project. Geddes Town is not on the tourist maps you can get at the Jamaican petrol stations. We located the site after seeking directions from several local people. The project summary is to renovate a private residence into a drug rehab facility. In my opinion the project was not one that troop labor would be able to perform. A new building lay out is required and utilities to the site would require improvements that may not be supportable by the local utility services.
Saturday morning I returned the rental car and caught the plane back home. I got home that night. Mission Complete.
Reflecting on my AT, I am planning for training exercises that will
take place in FY-2000 and will involve a unit that will not be Navy.
The active duty engineers from South Com had been doing this before, now
they are calling on reservists like me because of the workload due to Haiti
and Hurricane Mitch relief and to get additional expertise. I also
had transitioned from a post Cold War soldier to a War on Drugs soldier.
Military assistance and humanitarian projects provide our engineer units
meaningful training in countries that can use our help. This AT had
provided me with Joint Operations experience with allied forces.
That was pretty good for an old retread.
About the author: LCDR. Stewart was born in Crawfordsville, In. in 1949.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and severed in the Republic of Vietnam,
released from active duty in 1971. He received a BS in Industrial
Engineering from Purdue Univ. in 1975 and a MS in Health and Safety from
Indiana Univ. in 1976. He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard
in 1980 and transferred to the Army Reserve in 1983. He received
a Direct Reserve Commission in the Civil Engineer Corps in 1987. He is
a Professional Engineer registered in Massachusetts. He has been
a member of the Naval Reserve Asso. since 1994. He is employed by
NAVFACENGCOM Southern Division in Charleston, S.C. LCDR Stewart took
photos 1, 2, & 3, Ms Scott-Shaw provided photo 4.
Naval Reserve member since 1987. Served with NMCB-14 as S-2A and Det. 0914 OIC (1990-94); Project Officer with EEU Atlantic Div (95-98). Current reserve assignment is with CINC South Com on the Engineering Staff. Civilian employee of Southern Division f NAVFAC in Charleston, SC since 1983. Formerly employed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wa. (1977-79). Also member of Naval Reserve Association.
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