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Capt. Robert Diaz, I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment commander, flips through a manual outlining his daily responsibilities last Monday at Camp Zama, Japan.

Capt. Robert Diaz, I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment commander, flips through a manual outlining his daily responsibilities last Monday at Camp Zama, Japan. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

Capt. Robert Diaz, I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment commander, flips through a manual outlining his daily responsibilities last Monday at Camp Zama, Japan.

Capt. Robert Diaz, I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment commander, flips through a manual outlining his daily responsibilities last Monday at Camp Zama, Japan. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment Commander Capt. Robert Diaz, left, and First Sgt. Joseph Anastasio, observe their growing bulletin board filled with command policies and announcements at Camp Zama on Tuesday.

I Corps (Forward) Headquarters Detachment Commander Capt. Robert Diaz, left, and First Sgt. Joseph Anastasio, observe their growing bulletin board filled with command policies and announcements at Camp Zama on Tuesday. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

CAMP ZAMA. Japan — Amid the maze of halls and offices that make up the headquarters building for U.S. Army-Japan and I Corps (Forward) at Camp Zama, a new group of soldiers is hard at work.

The I Corps Headquarters Detachment started operations March 31. It’s the latest sign of progress for a command charged with supporting the defense of Japan and surrounding areas.

During a deployment, the detachment would function as a command-and-control entity for troops on the ground.

To ensure mission readiness and sustainment, detachment leaders hold training and keep its 70 soldiers updated on the latest military standards and requirements. The number of I Corps soldiers eventually will increase to 90, Army officials said.

Three men — a company commander, a first sergeant and a training noncommissioned officer — occupy the building’s second floor spaces full time. They are first-timers in those capacities.

The remaining I Corps soldiers perform regular duties for USARJ, knowing they could muster at a moment’s notice and deploy as part of the detachment.

The unit’s work spaces feel distinctly makeshift, with borrowed furniture, used storage containers and the smell of fresh paint.

Detachment leaders said the small unit makes progress every day.

Last Monday, two soldiers wheeled a gigantic monitor into the training room adjacent to the commander’s office. They had to fix it before they could use it. And to save time obtaining a unit flag, the detachment decided to go through South Korea instead of the usual District of Columbia supplier.

On Tuesday, the soldiers were pleased to get a glass cover for the company bulletin case in the hallway, where announcements are posted.

Other items haven’t been so easy to come by.

First Sgt. Joseph Anastasio brought in his own printer.

The company commander, Capt. Robert Diaz, who said he consumes himself daily with printing out schedules and Army-specific documents, has to navigate the hallways before getting those papers in hand.

"If we want to print something out, we have to print it out on the other side of the building," Diaz said.

From the time he gets in every morning, Diaz said, he has his soldiers’ interests at the forefront of his mind.

He says he’s learning as he goes, from tracking down records to ensure soldiers have the number of leave days they are requesting to brainstorming ways the detachment can raise funds for a summer field trip.

Anastasio said starting from scratch in so many areas has made the process challenging but that the unit’s teamwork philosophy of has made it easier.

"With a lot of things, you have to look at different sections, different missions; you know you have to kind of take everybody’s ideas and make one that works," he said.

Diaz pointed to his soldiers’ camaraderie as a main reason the small hiccups they’ve experienced have not become "show stoppers."

And, he asserted, he’s confident the detachment is on the right track.

Said Diaz: "This is a team. You do whatever you have to do to get it done."

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