45th Special Troops deploy to PTA

| May 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
45th Sust. Bde.

A line of 45th Sust. Bde. Soldiers fire M9 pistols on the range at PTA, May 2.

Story and photos by Spc. Erin Sherwood
45th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
8th Theater Sustainment Command


POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA — More than 130 Soldiers from the 45th Sustainment Brigade deployed to Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, April 27-May 1, for a long tactical training exercise designed to prepare them for future missions in the Pacific region and overseas (PTA simulates a potential deployment to Jordan for the troops).

The training was also meant to prepare some units for Pacific Pathways, an exercise developed to enhance quick responses to humanitarian or regional threat requirements.

Other units are already scheduled to support operations across the world.

“The purpose of this training is to challenge and stress Soldiers, equipment and systems we have in place that allow us to operate as a team,” said Maj. Justin Redfern, executive officer for the 45th Special Troops Battalion. “It is also to leverage the training environment here on the Big Island and get a full picture of our battalion’s capabilities operating together.”

The exercise officially began April 20, with the transport of training supplies and tactical vehicles to the Big Island on the 45th’s logistic support vessels out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Participating personnel were transported via helicopter throughout the week. Preparation for the exercise began weeks before for most of the Soldiers were involved.

“We are using our actual vehicles, so we had to train our Soldiers on tasks like how to use radio sets, how to properly put the vehicle harness on, and how to enter and exit the vehicle in a tactical environment before we actually got to Pohakuloa,” said Sgt. Jose Serra, 18th Movement Control Team, 45th Sust. Bde.

The first week of the training was focused on weapons qualifications and individual/company-level tasks. Soldiers had a chance to qualify on multiple weapons systems, including the Mk 19 grenade launcher, the M2 machine gun, the M16 rifle, the M4 carbine and the M9 pistol. They will also practice warrior tasks and battle drills, such as casualty evacuation and first aid.

“(May 3), we got a chance to train on the M9 pistol,” said Serra. “Most of us haven’t held on to an M9 much, so it’s fun, it’s exciting and we are definitely taking advantage of all the weapons training for the exercise.”


Brigade troops board a Marine Corps CH-53E Sea Stallion at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, April 30. They were transported to PTA on the Big Island for a three-week long training exercise that will prepare them for future missions in the Pacific region and other areas of the world.

The second week, all personnel were slotted to move to the Big Island’s Forward Operating Base Warrior for a two-week field training exercise that includes night driver’s training, medical evacuations with helicopters and a joint convoy live-fire exercise with the Marines.

“What we really want to focus on is becoming an expert in the tactical trade. As a sustainment brigade, sometimes it’s hard to balance Soldiers’ sustainment skills with tactical skills,” said Redfern. “We want to bring about a level of confidence in the tactical environment.”

“There are things you run into that are immediately fixable, and other things you have to get done with more flexibility during the exercise,” said Staff Sgt. Raven Monroe of the 18th MCT, 45th Sust. Bde. “As a noncommissioned officer, your job is to make it happen though, and make sure the mission is successful at the end of the day.”

The days are long, with many skill sets and plans to develop over a short time. The intense schedule requires a lot of discipline and good leadership to ensure things run smoothly.

“We want to develop that expeditionary thinking where Soldiers develop their own sense of what their capabilities are, and leaders develop a sense of what their subordinates can do, so we can effectively defend across the Pacific,” said Redfern.

“Our main goal with the field training is to get Soldiers in the field mindset and make sure they are confident in what they’re doing if we ever have to deploy in the future,” said Monroe.

As the collective exercise draws closer and Soldiers train with their individual companies, everyone is eager to see how all the pieces of the puzzle will fit together with the relocation to FOB Warrior at the end of the week.

“Everything will come together with the culmination phase,” said Redfern. “This training is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both our Soldiers and leaders.”

Lightning Support Soldiers

The PTA exercise involved multiple warrior tasks and drills, and unique hands-on training for each company deployed to the Big Island, including the 73rd Signal Company, the 259th Human Resource Co.’s unit medical staff, the 125th Finance Co., the 18th Movement Control Team, and the 536th Maintenance Co.

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Category: Deployed Forces, Exercises, News

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