In April 2021, Col. Jeremy Bartel, the US Army‘s Kwajalein Atoll Garrison Commander, stood in front of a group of newcomers during an island orientation. Employees had traveled thousands of kilometers to serve the Army’s mission in all areas of range and base operations. Now their tour was just beginning as his got shorter.
Bartel shared a glimpse into the Kwajalein mission – a venture he and the Garrison contract partners had supported without fail for two years. Then he gave them some tips on time management.
âGo out and do things,â Bartel told the newcomers. âMost of your contracts are for one year. That’s 52 weekends. By the time you turn off the disease, you are 48 years old. Subtract vacations, mandatory social events, home calls, bad weather, and work, and you only have 25 weekends left to do things you bragged about when you moved to Kwajalein, be it diving, fishing, snorkeling, golf or fitness. â
As Bartel could attest, time flies. His tour of Kwajalein began in 2019 when he and his wife, Regan, joined the garrison. Working with the host country team and civilian support staff, Bartel immersed himself in his work, engaging with local and national RMI heads of government to explore solutions to the atoll’s unique challenges.
For many months, Bartel discovered the rich culture of RMI and met with leaders and luminaries of Kwajalein, visited Iroijlaplap Senator Michael Kabua, fished with the local government of Kwajalein Atoll, Major Hirata Kabua and worked alongside staff at the U.S. Embassy in Majuro.
Members of Nitijela praised Bartel’s persistence and work ethic in tackling difficult issues. Bartel just didn’t slow down, they said. Some of his long-term strategies for the benefit of Marshallse Garrison employees will be implemented pending further development, and others were initially raised as tough issues at Town Hall: Laundromat maintenance. suburbs, transit issues on Ebeye and Enniburr, questions about grocery and restaurant services. on Roi and playground maintenance on Kwajalein.
In the community, Bartel has supported the MWR All Atoll Veterans Day Fishing Tournament and the RustMan Triathlon. During the softball season, he and Regan led the basics with the Mayday team at Brandon Field.
Bartel started recording dives. He was looking forward to seeing his son who would soon graduate from college.
Then came 2020.
Bartel, who had distinguished himself in Special Operations Command-Europe, would now define his USAG-KA tour with service during an emerging global health crisis.
After the RMI closed its borders to inbound travel to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the way forward proved to be a team effort: a coordinated effort between national and local government staff in RMI, US Space and Missile Defense Command, Installation Management Command, U.S. Embassy Majuro and contractual partners.
For several weeks, quarantine plans were tentatively developed and implemented, and Bartel played a key role in advising executives on relevant security and logistical needs.
During his frequent trips to Majuro, Bartel discussed proposed repatriation program plans with community members. In the months that followed, the team refined operational procedures, tested security during quarantine drills, and prepared island facilities for quarantine. Meanwhile, staff shortages in core operations have strained the resilience of most of Kwajalein’s workforce departments, especially emergency and medical services.
In March 2020, Bartel joined U.S. Ambassador to RMI Roxanne Cabral and Kwajalein Atoll local government staff for a special town hall for residents of Ebeye. He sought the consent of the community and its traditional leaders before repatriating a small number of mission-critical emergency service personnel. The small step had a big impact and inaugurated the repatriation.
The continued operation of the mission under such reduced conditions would have posed a significant challenge without the Marshallese employees of Kwajalein. Bartel expressed his appreciation for the valuable mission role they played during his last RMI town hall on June 25.
âThere is nothing we can accomplish on this atoll without what you give, every day, without your professionalism and hard work. “
After the first installment, USAG-KA employees, family members and RMI citizens began to arrive, and the garrison and its contract partners provided services to the community while continuing the quarantine operations. In progress.
Milestones have been reached and exceeded. In February 2021, Kwajalein received its first delivery of Pfizer vaccine. In March, the quarantine time required in Kwajalein for incoming residents was reduced to 14 days.
As a result, families were reunited with loved ones stranded outside the atoll.
âI think it’s great news that we can reduce the quarantine,â Bartel told Kwajalein City Hall on March 27. âI see other reductions in the future, especially on the vaccine route. Let’s hold on and do the right thing.
After months of no travel, Bartel’s encouragement inspired USAG-KA residents who became restless in their isolation without Covid, reminding them to stay the course and focus on their priority: supporting the mission .
Today, Kwajalein’s travel restrictions remain in place, as do the current quarantine requirements. The atoll remains one of a handful of communities in the world with zero spread. Strict adherence to the atoll’s Covid-19 quarantine procedures resulted in zero transmission in RMI.
His persistence and hard work earned Bartel the appreciation of Bartel throughout the atoll. On Majuro this spring, he was honored in a rare motion by the Nitijela.
One year after the arrival of the first tranche of EMS personnel on the atoll, island life is returning to a new normal. ATI and United Airlines flight schedules are being restored. The number of repatriated Marshallese citizens, Kwajalein employees and new residents is increasing. The USAG-KA relentlessly continued mission support operations for the Ronald Reagan ballistic missile defense test site.
Two years after Kwajalein, things go quickly.
âDon’t waste your time,â Bartel said. âThere is so much to do on this island. Time will pass. I speak from experience. I pass this experience on to you.