Army, Marine Corps work to improve training area

| January 21, 2011 | 0 Comments
Maj. Gen. Joseph Chaves (center), deputy commanding general, Army National Guard, USARPAC, and Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow (right), deputy commander, MarForPac, untie a maile lei, an indigenous Hawaiian plant, Jan. 10, at PTA, during the Cooper Airfield ceremony. The maile was used in lieu of a ribbon to honor local Hawaiian culture and rituals.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Chaves (center), deputy commanding general, Army National Guard, USARPAC, and Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow (right), deputy commander, MarForPac, untie a maile lei, an indigenous Hawaiian plant, Jan. 10, at PTA, during the Cooper Airfield ceremony. The maile was used in lieu of a ribbon to honor local Hawaiian culture and rituals.

Story and Photo by
Cpl. Juan D. Alfonso
Marine Forces Pacific 

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA — Officials with U.S. Army-Pacific and U.S. Marine Forces Pacific came together, Jan. 10, for the Cooper Airfield opening ceremony, the first of several planned improvements to the Pohakuloa Training Area, or PTA.

The training area, owned by USARPAC and located on the Big Island, is a 108,683-acre facility used by numerous Hawaii-based Army and Marine Corps units for annual training requirements and preparation for deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and other obligations around the world.

Despite being the largest training facility in the Hawaiian Islands, the proximity of Quonset huts, built in 1956, to the facility’s primary airstrip, Bradshaw Airfield, limits the kind of training and aircraft that can be used on PTA.

In an effort to modernize training on the facility by using unmanned aerial vehicles, MarForPac and USARPAC pooled their resources to construct Cooper Airfield.

“Operating unmanned aerial vehicles is a new capability that we’ve added to PTA,” said Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow, deputy commander, MarForPac. “We could have operated off of Bradshaw, but now we have a strip that’s dedicated to what’s becoming a very important capability for both the Army and the Marine Corps.”

Broadmeadow and Maj. Gen. Joseph Chaves, deputy commanding general, Army National Guard, USARPAC, attended a Hawaiian purification ceremony, known as a Pikai, to signal the completion of the Cooper Airfield project.

“There are some great advantages to improving the training facility at PTA,” Broadmeadow said. “We have the Army’s 25th Infantry Division and several III Marine Expeditionary Force units stationed here in Hawaii, so we all see the need, collectively, to make a world-class facility out here in PTA.”

PTA’s environment replicates several of the high-altitude conditions Soldiers and Marines experience when deployed to Afghanistan, Broadmeadow said.

But, to accommodate the full range of aircraft the Marine Corps and Army have at their disposal, numerous improvements still must be made.

“Since we do the majority of our training at PTA, it only made sense to build Cooper Airfield there and to improve the runway already located on the facility,” said Andrew Hofley, MarForPac’s aviation training consultant.

In addition to joint aviation goals, officials hope to develop an ammunition supply point and equipment storage sites, thus eliminating the need to ship all equipment to and from the other Hawaii installations for each exercise.

USARPAC hopes to improve more than 35 miles of road, build guard towers and repair 58 firing points located on PTA.

Another project being discussed is digging a well to provide fresh, potable water to units training at PTA, and potentially to the local population as well. The well could alleviate or even do away with the cost of transporting water.

With more than 135 projects proposed between the two services, USARPAC plans to use Marine Corps and Army engineering units to offset the cost of the improvements while providing engineers with additional real-world training, according to Lt. Col. Chad Walker, officer in charge of the 14th Engineer Detachment, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, a unit tasked with overseeing and developing a five-year plan for improving the facility.

“The goal is joint capabilities as opposed to single-service capabilities,” Broadmeadow said. “The Army asked MarForPac for its support in establishing that five-year plan to help develop those joint-service priorities. I believe that’s very important and look forward to working with USARPAC.

“It’s also important to remember this is more than a partnership between the Army and Marine Corps; it’s a partnership with the local community as well,” he continued. “The blessing that was done at Cooper is something that is very unique to Hawaii. That respect for local customs is as important as the cooperation between the Army and the Marine Corps, and it’s something we are very mindful of here in Hawaii.”

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Category: News, U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa (USAG-Pohakuloa)

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