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All in a Year’s Work: Reservists, Guardsman plan premier PACOM conference

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennie Chamberlin
  • 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
A year's worth of planning by a team of reservists and a guardsman culminated in a three-day conference for the Chiefs of Defense from 26 Asia-Pacific nations.

The 2008 Chiefs of Defense conference was held November 11 - 13 in Bali, Indonesia. This year, the annual conference was co-hosted by United States Pacific Command and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia, or Indonesian Defense Forces.

The conference is a forum for Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff or their equivalents in the Asia-Pacific region and other nations who have an active military presence in the area, said 2nd Lt. Kenny Ruggles, CHOD conference coordinator.

Behind such a large mission is the planning that makes such a forum possible. Lieutenant Ruggles, a reservist with the 624th Regional Support Group, served as the conference coordinator and was responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of the conference.

While the conference is only three days, many details must be attended to and coordinated throughout the whole year, said Lieutenant Ruggles. Conference facilities, lodging, and support staff for the distinguished visitors must be managed seamlessly.

Part of the difficulty in planning such a large event is dealing with people globally, said Chief Master Sgt. Art Gragasin, deputy conference coordinator and an Individual Mobilization Augmentee with Pacific Air Forces. Working through time differences and differing priorities can be challenging, he said.

With challenges come rewards, and Lieutenant Ruggles said he found his in working with the Indonesian military to overcome obstacles that came up along the way.

"It was rewarding to work through hurdles with another country to execute a successful conference," he said. "It's an example of two countries working together successfully."

The end result is a place where leaders can come to talk and work collectively, said Chief Gragasin. The military leaders discussed common issues such as energy, piracy, disaster response and the environment, he said.

General Djoko Santoso, Commander-in-Chief of the Indonesian Defense Forces and co-host of the conference, also said he felt the conference was an important forum for bringing Asia-Pacific and other military leaders together.

"From such positive discussions and presentations, all the participating Chiefs of Defense Forces gained lessons learned in how to keep up with the dynamic development in the region and how to get a common perception on various crucial issues of mutual concern."

The year-long planning is all to ensure that the conference attendees can have a productive and pleasant conference, said Chief Gragasin.

"Its nice when people come back to you and tell you how they appreciate the effort you've provided. When the people that you work with are happy, I think that gives you the biggest sense of accomplishment," he said.