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40th Infantry Division conducts joint operations in the Pacific from Camp San Luis Obispo

By Lt. Col. Christopher L. Elson September 14, 2020

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2020) -- California Army National Guard's 40th Infantry Division soldiers invaded Camp San Luis Obispo in the late days of August. Computer systems were setup and secured network lines snaked throughout the footprint, connecting the newly constructed command post to support U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) joint operations across the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Theater.

From Cal Guard's post in the rolling hills of San Luis Obispo, the Division is demonstrating a key capability of a command post exercise (CPX); command and control of multiple operations across a large, diverse area of responsibility. This is one component of Defender Pacific 20, a joint exercise.

"The Sunburst Division's talented Soldiers are once again demonstrating their ability to provide mission command in integrate operating environments," said Maj. Gen. Laura L. Yeager, commanding general of the 40th ID.

The Division, while supporting the Governor with wild land firefighting efforts and COVID-19 response in support of California, has conducted joint planning with America's First Corps and USARPAC over the past few months.

Joint Marine and Air Guard planners were also brought in as part of the California team. Planning for Defender Pacific 20 included communication and collaboration with forces in Guam, Palau, Hawaii, Washington, Alaska, and other areas throughout the Pacific.

"The collaboration demonstrated during this joint exercise demonstrates our readiness", said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Trevor Phillips, the operations officer for Cal Guard's 40th ID. He remarked that planning and communicating with forces throughout the Pacific is an incredible demonstration of our capabilities.

"The Sunburst Division will be a part of all future Army operations in the Pacific. Continuing the long and honorable lineage from World War II and The Korean conflict, the 40th Infantry Division will always be ready and always be there," Phillips said.

USARPAC, acting as the Joint Task Force (JTF) Headquarters, is the lead of this CPX, which is designed to practice and demonstrate the ability to command and control multiple operations across a large, diverse area of responsibility. The CPX is just one component of Defender Pacific 20, a joint exercise that demonstrates strategic readiness by deploying combat credible forces across the theater, contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

"Defender Pacific also builds total Army readiness through the participation of United States Army Reserve and National Guard Forces, "said Yeager. "The scope and complexity of this exercise, combined with the vast distances we must span to conduct command and control allows us to learn valuable lessons and be better in times of crisis. "

All participating forces have implemented strict protective health measures to train safely during COVID-19.

The Division works diligently with Camp San Luis Obispo base operations and the California Military Department to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 through 100% testing, personnel separation, mandatory masking, and quarantine measures.

"Over the last year, the 40ID excelled during the Yama Sakura exercise in Japan, Warfighter 20-03 at Joint Base Lewis McChord, and statewide activations for wild land fires and civil disturbances," said Yeager. "Their sustained superior performance is a testament to their professionalism and dedication to duty."

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