(FORT SHAFTER, OAHU – NR 2012-10) The Honolulu District-based 565th Engineer Detachment, Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance (FEST-A) held a Deployment Casing Ceremony April 24 at Fort Shafter’s Palm Circle to mark its official deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Presiding over the ceremony, Honolulu District Commander, Lt. Col. Douglas B. Guttormsen praised the Detachment and commended the spirit of volunteerism that the team-members exemplify.
“No FEST unit that I am aware of has established a better reputation across the Corps and across the Pacific,” Guttormsen said. “The unit’s unique skills and capabilities have made a significant engineering impact in the Pacific during the last three years and will continue to make a difference when deployed downrange.”
The FEST-A consists of a Detachment Commander, a non-commissioned officer-in-charge and six Department of Defense civilians who serve in the jobs of a geographic information system specialist, and civil, structural, environmental, mechanical and electrical engineers with other engineering disciplines available for augmentation depending on the mission.
The detachment will deploy next month to Kandahar Air Base Afghanistan and will provide technical engineering support to Regional Command South, currently headquartered by the 82nd Airborne Division.
According to 565th Commander, Maj. William C. Hannan Jr., “The detachment has worked extremely hard over the past year and is ready for its Afghanistan mission. I couldn’t be prouder of this team and we all look forward to providing excellent technical engineer support wherever our mission takes us in Afghanistan.”
The original 565th was constituted on Sept. 9, 1944 in the Army of the United States as the 3090th Engineer Service Detachment. On March 20, 1951 it was designated as the 565th Engineer Welding Detachment and allotted to the Regular Army and eventually, as the 565th Engineer Detachment on April 22, 1965.
Since that date the unit has been activated and deactivated three times with the recent activation date of Oct. 16, 2007. The unit saw extensive action during World War II in Normandy and Germany and during the Vietnam War.
The current unit, which has been active since Oct. 2007, has the mission of providing responsive technical engineer planning and limited design capabilities in support of combatant commands and civil agencies for the Full Spectrum of Operations. The unit has traveled to the Philippines, the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, Germany, Korea and to Thailand in support of the Corps.
The evolution of an on-call, all-volunteer FEST-A to an established military unit was motivated by the Corps’ No. 1 goal in its Campaign Plan, which is delivering USACE support to combat, stability and disaster operations through forward deployed and reach-back capabilities.
As the Army’s needs have changed since the Cold War, the FEST-A has become a vital asset. With military deployments to nations such as Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and
Afghanistan since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Army and USACE discovered gaps in their ability to rapidly provide the facilities in these austere environments that U.S. service members need to conduct operations.
The Corps responded by ensuring the top priority was executing the concept of field force engineering. It started in 1999 with the establishment of “Legacy FEST-As”, and teams for logistics, environmental support, contingency real estate and infrastructure assessment. The Alaska District was the first FEST-A to go into Iraq in 2003. By 2009, field force engineering became a formal part of the Army.