8th TSC helps ensure accountability during Operation Tomodachi

| May 5, 2011 | 0 Comments
Soldiers with USAR-Japan and I Corps (Fwd.) account for family members using DTAS, as they welcome the families home after a voluntary departure due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Soldiers with USAR-Japan and I Corps (Fwd.) account for family members using DTAS, as they welcome the families home after a voluntary departure due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Story and Photo by
Spc. April de Armas
U.S. Army-Japan

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Accountability systems for Soldiers and military personnel have always been in place; when the March 11 earthquake shook Japan, accountability became the top priority for U.S. Army-Japan and I Corps Forward.

The command’s Human Resources team was directed to account for all Army personnel and their families living in Japan.

The HR team is resourced to provide assistance in humanitarian and disaster relief in Japan. However, because of the natural disaster, the staff needed more manpower to execute this mission.

“Our job was to help provide extra manpower and supplement the USAR-Japan and I Corps FWD (HR) office needs during this real-world accountability mission,” said Sgt. Maj. Paul Blanchard Jr., sergeant major, Personnel Accounting and Strength Reporting, 8th HR Sustainment Center, 8th Theater Sust. Command at Fort Shafter. “As the Pacific HRSC theater enabler, it is our mission to make sure we set up the right system for accountability when we hit the ground.”

For years, the Army has been using the Deployed Theater Accountability System, or DTAS, to provide commanders with real-time data of personnel, according to date and location on the ground. However, the Army has never used the system to track family members.

“This is a groundbreaking initiative for this operation,” said Lt. Col. Steve Cornelius, chief, Personnel Accounting, 8th HRSC, 8th TSC. “We have used DTAS in deployed theater of operations for some time, but never during a humanitarian operation, especially in a country that already has an infrastructure already in place.

“However, when we got here, we realized that the personnel structure was not as adequate as it should be, in light of the overwhelming devastation and the challenges of dispersed units and agencies,” he said.

Accountability was necessary for all military members, Department of Defense employees, contractors and dependants. The 8th HRSC was able to help establish and account for all Army Soldiers, employees and family members by name, date and location throughout Honshu, Kyushu and Okinawa, Japan, through implementing DTAS and investing many hours of manpower.

“A myriad of tasks had to be accomplished in the early stages, and multiple tasks were being worked and completed by the entire team,” Blanchard said. “The mission was more complex than (it) first appeared. The reality of accomplishing 100-percent accountability of all Army and military elements in Japan was more of a challenge than anticipated.”

The 8th HRSC trained HR personnel across Japan on DTAS. The geographical dispersion of units and the location of service members traveling in and out theater of operations proved to be difficult.

“We had to establish a system to help account for personnel by location,” Cornelius said.

“Establishing the Army Reception Center was one of many initiatives employed to establish accountability of personnel moving in and out and around the (area of operations),” Cornelius said.

“I am extremely proud of my Soldiers, as they stepped their game up and operated on a professional level the entire time,” Blanchard said. “These young Soldiers are what have made this mission a success, and it is these young Soldiers that will lead our Army into the future.”

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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