NEWS | April 12, 2018

599th Trans Partners with 931st Expeditionary Terminal Operations Element for Offload

By Donna Klapakis SDDC

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade and partners offloaded 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team cargo and equipment from the USNS Mendonca here, April 3-5.

The newest member of the 599th's arsenal of total force integration partners was the 931st Expeditionary Terminal Operations Element, a reserve unit from Sherman Oaks, California.

We fulfilled a mentoring role and performed brigade over watch for this operation," said Frank Viray, 599th traffic management specialist.

Capt. Jessica Foote, acting 931st ETOE commander said managing the offload wasn't easy.

"This was my first port operation, and it was also the first for most of our Soldiers and NCOs; it is the first real mission that we have been able to work instead of a training mission." she said. "We got to Hawaii on March 24, because that's when the vessel was originally scheduled to arrive. We were lucky that the offload was delayed by the long Easter weekend. It gave us a chance to take classes and get hands-on training in everything from systems to unlashing cargo."

Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Caldwell, 931st section chief, had also never worked that type of port operation. He said the mission provided good opportunities for the unit.

"The mission gave us very valuable hands-on training that we can't get in Sherman Oaks," he said. "We had great support from the Navy and civilians, and we received good training from the civilian staff and Pearl Harbor team."

Staff Sgt. Omar Soto, traffic management coordinator, had experience in port operations before the offload.

"I had to make sure the pieces were accounted for," Soto said. "We had some scanner issues, so I had to train about 20 soldiers how to fill out the manual tallies and make sure nothing went off the ship without accounting for it.

"Usually I work with GATES [cargo tracking system software] inside, but this way I was able to see the big picture by doing both."

A terminal management team from the 599th's subordinate units, the 836th Transportation Battalion and Guam Detachment, also worked the move and provided expert guidance to the ETOE.

"The 836th role was to teach, coach and mentor the 931st ETOE to develop them so they could conduct operations without oversight in an austere environment," said Capt. Andrei Cutas, 836th operations officer. "We evaluated them over the mission, but along the way we also trained them. At one point or another they will have to deploy on their own and will need to be able to operate a port by themselves."

Cutas said the 931st had come a long way in a short time.

"I am super proud of the Soldiers. They did an awesome job. After seeing how they performed in an actual operation, I have full confidence that they can do the mission," said Foote.

"To me, I enjoyed that the Soldiers got to do the job with hands-on training in a live mission," said Soto. "The challenges of the operation made for better training."

"This mission optimized the 'one team, one fight' concept without regard to component or status -- soldiers and civilians working together to make it happen, without injury of damage to cargo," said Carlos Tibbets, 599th terminals chief.