3-25th Avn. practices noncombatant evacuation

| March 9, 2015 | 0 Comments
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM—Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, playing the role of civilians, exit a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the deck of the ex-USS Tarawa at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as part of a non-combatant evacuation operation exercise. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM— Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, playing the role of civilians, exit a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the deck of the ex-USS Tarawa at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as part of a noncombatant evacuation operation exercise. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Sean Everette
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, picked up close to 60 refugees from a muddy field by Dillingham Airfield on the North Shore of Oahu, Sunday (March 1), and evacuated them to the safety of a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor.

The refugees, however, were not as they seemed.

They were Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team role-playing as civilians, and the evacuation was a planned part of a noncombatant evacuation operation, or NEO, built into Lightning Forge 2015, a huge exercise conducted by the 25th Infantry Division.

“What’s happening today is an opportunity for us to be able to exercise both aviation and ground components in the evacuation of what we call noncombatant personnel,” said Lt. Col. Hunter Marshall, 3-25th Avn. commander. “In some cases, it could be an embassy or American citizens living abroad in a country that may be torn up by storms, a tsunami or hurricane, or strife within that country.”

DILLINGHAM AIRFIELD — Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, play the role of civilians being evacuated via an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter to a U.S. Navy ship during a noncombatant evacuation operation exercise that is part of a larger exercise designed to ready the 3rd BCT and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, for their upcoming deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

DILLINGHAM AIRFIELD — Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, play the role of civilians being evacuated via an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter to a U.S. Navy ship during a noncombatant evacuation operation exercise that is part of a larger exercise designed to ready the 3rd BCT and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, for their upcoming deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

There are 49 countries and seven of the world’s largest armies in the Pacific region, and the U.S. has recently shifted its focus to this theater of operations. That makes this NEO and Lightning Forge a crucial piece of Army training.

“The largest population in the world is located in this theater,” said Col. Ken Hawley, 25th CAB commander. “While there is a lot of water, there’s also a lot of land. The likelihood of some kind of humanitarian assistance or disaster relief exercise,s or even a noncombatant evacuation, having to evacuate to a Navy ship or a port facility somewhere to get folks out is highly likely. So, having that capability to execute with our helicopters is one of those key things, and this is an opportunity for us to make sure that happens.”

“The 25th Infantry Division has done a great job with creating a package of personnel, Soldiers, aircrew and aircraft to respond to something like this in a 96-hour period, which is impressive,” said Marshall. “What’s extremely unique about this mission set is that it not only gives us an opportunity to go abroad and to, quite frankly, build relationships with folks, and hopefully, preclude something as horrific as war, but additionally, even here in Hawaii, is the opportunity to provide direct support to civil authorities should we be asked. So, should something happen here, a hurricane or tsunami, there’s that opportunity to be able to correlate and apply our training even on Oahu.”

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM— Staff Sgt. Misty DiChristina, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, signals a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to land on the deck of the ex-USS Tarawa. The Chinook is one of two helicopters carrying Soldiers who are playing the role of civilian refugees in a noncombatant evacuation operation. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM— Staff Sgt. Misty DiChristina, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, signals a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to land on the deck of the ex-USS Tarawa. The Chinook is one of two helicopters carrying Soldiers who are playing the role of civilian refugees in a noncombatant evacuation operation. (Photo by Capt. Heba Bullock, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

The next step for 3-25th Avn. is even more intense training with 3rd BCT.

“(Lightning Forge) is our last training exercise before 3rd BCT, with our aviation battalion, deploys to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana,” said Hawley. “This is really our ‘get ready to go’ for that exercise.”

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Category: Exercises, News, Safety, Training

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