40th Infantry Division headquarters on JFTB Los Alamitos, photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.

JFTB’s 40th Infantry Division takes part in joint exercise Defender Pacific 20

The 40th Infantry Division, aligned under the U.S. Army’s America’s First Corps took part in Defender Pacific 20.

Defender Pacific 20 is a joint exercise that demonstrates the Army’s strategic readiness by deploying combat credible forces across the Indo-Pacific Theater of operations.

The 40th Infantry Division’s warfighting function chiefs and enabled staff members synchronized their effects in multiple command-post exercises a year prior in preparation for Defender Pacific 20.

Discussions for the 40th Infantry Division not to participate in Defender Pacific 20 were on the table for months as planning efforts altered due to the spread of COVID-19.

“The continuous changes to the ‘Defender Pacific 20’ operational environment, related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications on oversea travel, provided the staff an excellent opportunity to apply the Army Design Methodology and conceive creative solutions,” said Maj. Daniel Fox, the 40th Infantry Division’s Current Operations Officer.

The 40th Infantry Division’s staff quickly adapted to the world-wide pandemic constraints and did not cease their in-depth involvement in Defender Pacific 20.

“We went from planning a full-on exercise to scaling back to Hawaii and then home-station,” said Maj. Moses Scheinfeld, the 40th Infantry Division’s Future Operations Officer, “the decision was all based off the 14-day quarantine restrictions.”

The 40th Infantry Division maintained effortless Command and Control throughout Defender Pacific 20 and achieved its operational reach across the Pacific region from its California Camp, San Luis Obispo Training Site.

A recognizable success from Defender Pacific 20 was the Shemya Mission. The 40th Infantry Division received a real-time mission from America’s First Corps to take Command and Control over the Expeditionary Strike Package (ESP) mission from Boeing Airfield in Seattle, Washington to Shemya Island, Alaska.

“The Shemya mission was a short-notice mission given to us from higher,” said Scheinfeld, “we get short-notice missions all the time, so we did what we always do, start coordinating with our partners and found creative ways to track the mission.”

Coordination and communication efforts with the pilots on the C-17 were done by the 40th Infantry Division Liaisons, California Air National Guardsmen’s Lt. Col. Christopher “Ranger” Corliss, and Lt. Col. Joshua “Cheech” Hernandez.

“Lt. Col. Corliss and Lt. Col. Hernandez made communications effortless,” said Scheinfeld, “being able to maintain contact with the 618th Air Operations Center located at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and at the same time track the C-17 throughout its mission to Shemya using our communication systems at Division’s Tactical Center was remarkable.”

Lt. Col. Corliss and Lt. Col. Hernandez kept constant communication with U.S. Army Maj. Kevin Shouse, the 17th Field Artillery Brigade Operations Officer, and U.S. Army Maj. Andy Cotter, the 17th Field Artillery Brigade Effects Officer.

Maj. Shouse and Maj. Cotter’s regular artillery missions consist of rapid deployment of ESPs. The 17th Field Artillery Brigade is aligned under America’s First Corps as their leading Field Artillery Brigade.

“The 40th Infantry Division Tactical Command Post network capabilities and their reach from the states into the Pacific region were key to the mission success,” said Shouse.

“Being able to show we can rapidly deploy our combat power and hold communications with the 40th Infantry Division across the barring straight was an undefining moment,” said Cotter.

The 40th Infantry Division’s Tactical Command Post, located at Camp San Luis Obispo, main efforts were to maintain contact with the Air Force C-17 until the Shemya mission was complete and then hand-over communication support to the Air Force control element located in the U. S. territory, Guam.

The 40th Infantry Division’s operational reach was achieved by enabling their advanced global communication network capabilities. These network capabilities empowered simultaneous real-time joint missions controlled by the 40th Infantry Division’s staff to various locations within the Pacific region along with Air Force Stations within the U.S.

“Shemya mission demonstrated that we can achieve operational success even on a short notice, and working alongside our Air Force and active-duty Army partners clearly demonstrates we are all one team,” said Scheinfeld.

The 40th Infantry Division has set the stage for future operations and will continue to evolve, adapt and refine their capabilities in order to maintain their combat readiness.

Defender Pacific 20 was just one employment among many that the 40th Infantry Division conducted this year. Always ready, “Ball of Fire”.

The article above by Lt. Col. Cara Kupcho was released through the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).