25th ID HAST ready to help Pacific partners

| January 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
KWAJALEIN ATOLL – 25th Infantry Division’s HAST members, Capt. Brandon Murphy, Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Roman and Staff Sgt. Joel Rivera re-test the team’s communication system after their regular duty day. HAST teams regularly work in civilian clothes while in other countries to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves. (Photo by Maj. Barbara Burger, 25th Infantry Division)

KWAJALEIN ATOLL – 25th Infantry Division’s HAST members, Capt. Brandon Murphy, Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Roman and Staff Sgt. Joel Rivera re-test the team’s communication system after their regular duty day. HAST teams regularly work in civilian clothes while in other countries to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves. (Photo by Maj. Barbara Burger, 25th Infantry Division)

By Staff Sgt. Sean Everette
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — A tsunami hit one of the United States’ Pacific partner nations. Communication is damaged or completely down. Water supplies have been interrupted. Power is out. The partner nation government expects many of its citizens will run out of food within a couple of days. They need help, and they reach out to the United States. The United States Agency for International Development and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance ask the Department of Defense for assistance, but the disaster just happened, therefore, what is needed is not yet known. U.S. Army Pacific and I Corps send word to the 25th Infantry Division, Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team, or HAST, on call, and within 24 hours, the HAST team is in the air and on its way to assess the situation.

A tsunami hasn’t really hit a Pacific nation, but if it did, the above scenario could play out just as described with the 25th ID HAST team being one of the first relief efforts to enter the area affected by the disaster.

KWAJALEIN ATOLL – The 25th Infantry HAST members pose for a group photo before taking a bicycle tour during their validation exercise. The validation exercise ensures HAST can accomplish its mission if a real disaster strikes the Pacific region. (Photo by 25th Infantry Division)

KWAJALEIN ATOLL – The 25th Infantry HAST members pose for a group photo before taking a bicycle tour during their validation exercise. The validation exercise ensures HAST can accomplish its mission if a real disaster strikes the Pacific region. (Photo by 25th Infantry Division)

“The HAST team is very crucial in supporting disaster and humanitarian assistance,” said Sgt. 1st Class Manolito Woodard, 25th ID G9 Civil Affairs and the noncommissioned officer in charge of HAST A and B. “We’re going to be the link between OFDA and the military. When OFDA says, ‘DOD, we need you to provide personnel,’ it goes through the flow from USARPAC to I Corps, then I Corps might delegate it to us and tag us as the personnel to carry out the mission. In order for 25th ID to be properly fitted for the disaster-affected area, they’ll send an advance team. That will be us.”

“The Pacific theater is a disaster supermarket, using the words of one of our partner nations,” said Lt. Col. Winston Marbella, 25th ID assistant chief of staff, G9 Civil Affairs, and HAST A leader. “It’s not a matter of if it will happen. It’s just a matter of when. We want to be ready to respond and assist our partners during their time of great need. One thing about humanitarian assistance is that it transgresses politics, political sensitivities and it’s a universal humanitarian requirement that we help each other during times of great need.”

USARPAC has three units with HAST teams. 25th ID is one. I Corps and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command are the other two. The 25th ID teams just recently stood up and successfully conducted validation exercises. HAST A validated in the Philippines and HAST B validated on the Kwajalein Atoll.

“One of Maj. Gen. Flynn’s pieces of guidance was to never be late and to be able to fight off the ramp as soon as we land,” Marbella said. “We answered the mail on that one. The HAST A that went to the Philippines was airborne in nine hours and arrived in the simulated disaster area in 21 hours, and began reporting within 24 hours of arrival. When HAST B’s validation came, we erased the challenges by doing the N-hour alert on a weekend, flying via mil air, and going to a communcationally expeditionary environment. Kwajalein doesn’t even have cell phones, so we had to rely on our expeditionary comms gear.”

The HAST teams are one more way the 25th ID proves to nations throughout the Pacific that they are a force for peace and stability in the region.

“It’s greatest significance is portraying to our allied partners that besides combat operations, we are willing and will be there at their time of need during a disaster,” Marbella said. “You cannot surge trust. There has to be continuous communication and training with our partner nations for them to have the confidence that if they call, the United States Army Pacific will be there to assist.”

 

 

 

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