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‘Broncos’ Hold Mile High Training Exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area

Maneuver elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, found invaluable support from mortar, artillery and helicopter gunships during a fire support coordination exercise (FCX), here, June 24-26.

A Soldier assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, scans his sector with an M240B machine as part of a maneuver element during a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The battalions of 3rd BCT went through a series of realistic combat lanes during the three daylong FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The maneuvers were held on the big island of Hawaii at the more than mile high plateau between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hualalai volcanic mountains.

The purpose of the FCX is to provide realistic training, which includes maximum flexibility during the company-level maneuvers.

Second Lt. Victor Perez, a native of Snyder, Okla., and a fire support officer assigned to 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, said the FCX “allows us to practice with our maneuver element and also be able to de-conflict measures such as coordination and indirect fires.”

Perez said the training with close air support assets such as the AH-64 Apache helicopter provides excellent planning to de-conflict the use of air and indirect fire assets.

“We get down here to really train and focus on for when the next war that happens,” he said. “It’s not exactly being overseas, but allows us to get really good training out here.”

Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, act as a maneuver element during a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The battalions of 3rd BCT went through a series of realistic combat lanes during the three daylong FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Capt. Trent Sutterfield, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., and commander of Blackfoot Troop, 3-4th Cav. Regt., said it was a great experience for his troops on PTA.

“It’s a chance to not only work with your platoon leaders, which you work with quite a bit, but that external audience such as your FSO, your fire support coordination piece with the artillery and mortars,” Sutterfield said.

He stated the ranges were doable on the island of Oahu, but they’re a great many constraints for training on the highly population island.

“This allows us to build again not just shoot our maneuver elements or normal direct fire systems such as the M2 machine gun and Mark 19 grenade launcher, but also emphasis our fires capabilities and air platforms,” he said. “We have the land and the ability without constricting training of other units on Schofield.”

Spc. William Holt, indirect fire infantrymen, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, applies camouflage face paint prior to the start of a fires coordination exercise (FCX) lane at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on June 25, 2017. The Soldiers provided indirect fire support during near pitch-black conditions to maneuver elements during the FCX. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The company-level leadership involved their FSOs during their operational planning.

“We involved them in our planning process, and directly through our fire support officer and fire support NCO,” he said. “They develop the fires plan as we conduct the maneuvers piece, and build that on top in support of us.”

Spc. Matthew Blankenship, a native of Sparta, N.C., and a fire support specialist assigned to 3-4th Cav. Regt., worked directly with the maneuver elements on the simulated battlefield.

Blankenship stated the tight constraints on the ranges on Oahu make it difficult for the M777 150 mm howitzer to fire with full affect during training.

“There’s a lot of wide open places so we can use some of our larger caliber weapon systems,” he said. “You can’t really fire that well Schofield because there isn’t enough range to. So when we come to PTA, we get to actually use the larger caliber weapons in the way it was designed to be used.”

With his second rotation at PTA, Blankenship’s views on the PTA ranges were highly positive.

“I never imagined Hawaii being like this,” he said. “It’s sort of a desert climate, and it’s really different. It’s a really good place to train.”

Video – 25th Infantry Division Training at Pohakuloa Training Area

Report about soldiers from 25th Infantry Division training at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The soldiers are training with both 60mm and 120mm mortars, and do a variety of drills.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/sYp2feD7ibs]

Available in High Definition.

Big Island Police Arrest Volcano Man After Bizarre Incident Involving Military Gas Canister

Big Island police have charged a 49-year-old Volcano man with several firearms-related offenses stemming from an incident in Puna on Sunday night (August 19).

Keith Kapena Hulihee

Keith Kapena Hulihee was initially arrested when police responded to his home in Mauna Loa Estates after receiving reports of shots being fired in the area. Police contacted Hulihee, who allegedly informed police that he had an explosive device in his possession and wanted to turn it over to police. Officers located an item that they believed to be an explosive device on Hulihee’s property and subsequently evacuated nearby residents.

Hulihee was taken into custody and held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

No one was threatened with the device and no one was injured during the incident.

Military explosive ordnance disposal personnel from the U.S. Marines, who are conducting training exercises at the Pohakuloa Training Area, responded to the scene. They determined that the item was a military gas canister that did not pose any danger.

Detectives did not find any explosive devices on the property during the execution of a search warrant but did recover ammunition and drugs.

Although Hulihee was released without charges for his initial arrest, he was arrested again as the result of the new information.

At 8 p.m. Monday, after conferring with prosecutors, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged Hulihee with four counts of ownership/possession prohibited (for being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition), one count of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and one count of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $120,000. He remained in the police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday afternoon (August 21).

Blackhawk Helicopter View of Mauna Kea

I found this video of a Blackhawk Crew Chief 15T lifting off from Pohakuloa Training Area on Mauna Kea pretty unique because we don’t normally get a view of this part of Mauna Kea because it’s restricted from tour helicopters.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/6dM7DfPw5eI]

The caption on the clip that was uploaded last month stated:

Flight from PTA on the big island of Hawaii headed back to Oahu.

High-Tech Trash Disposal System (MAGS) Being Tested at Camp Smith, Hawaii

In partnership with the Office of Naval Research(ONR), Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii, are testing a high-tech trash disposal system that can reduce a standard 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of harmless ash.

Called the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS), the unit is currently undergoing evaluation by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) as a possible solution to help Marines win their daily battle against the increasing trash at remote forward operating bases (FOB).

Lt. Col. Mike Jernigan, a Marine combat engineer who recently commanded a logistics battalion in Afghanistan, said waste disposal in the field is a problem.

“Right now, there are really only two solutions: burn it or bury it,” Jernigan said. “Any potential solution must reduce the security and logistics concerns of trash disposal, and help the environment…that’s a good thing for the Marine Corps.”

MAGS is both environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. A controlled decomposition process, which thermally converts energy from biomass is the key to MAGS’ effectiveness. “The system essentially bakes the trash and recovers a high portion of combustible gas byproduct, which is used to fuel the process,” said Donn Murakami, the MARFORPAC science adviser who leads the Marine Corps’ evaluation team.

Developed under the Environmental Quality, Discovery and Invention program at ONR and in collaboration with the Canada’s Department of National Defence, MAGS was designed to meet the need for a compact, solid-waste disposal system for both ships and shore facilities.

“Decades ago, the idea of harvesting energy from trash was just a side show in the environmental movement,” said Steve McElvany, the MAGS program officer at ONR. “Now, the technology is mature enough to where the Department of the Navy is seriously evaluating its practical and tactical benefits.”

The energy-efficient and clean-burning properties of MAGS make it attractive to expeditionary units. It has a low carbon footprint, and emissions are not visible, which is a tactical plus. Waste heat can also be used for practical purposes, such as heating living quarters or water.

“What we are doing for FOBs can be applied to schools, hospitals or an office building,” Murakami said. “We are talking about disposing our waste in a different manner, rather than just sending it to the landfill.”

Testing of MAGS will continue through March. Next summer, phase three of the evaluation will address the system’s expeditionary aspect at the Pohakuloa Training Area.  Hawaii.

MAGS is an example of how ONR energy programs are helping the Department of the Navy meet its ashore goal of producing 50 percent of installation energy requirements from alternative sources by 2020.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/CyRNWeQNGO8]

Developed under the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Environmental Quality Discovery & Invention program, the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) is a solid waste disposal system that enables individual units to efficiently manage their own solid waste stream in an environmentally friendly manner.

Goat Takes Out Humvee Carrying Hawaii Army National Guardsmen

Media Release:

A 44-year-old Hawai’i Army National Guardsman from Ewa Beach, Oahu, was critically injured in a Humvee crash on the old Saddle Road, .3 miles west of the 36-mile marker, which is between the old main gate at the Pohakuloa Training Area and Bradshaw Army Air Field.

Responding to a 6:56 p.m. call Tuesday (June 7), South Hilo patrol officers determined that the victim was operating a Humvee and traveling west on the old Saddle Road when he attempted to avoid a goat that had jumped onto the roadway.

Flikr photograph

The Humvee ran off the right side of the road, up an embankment and overturned.

The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and pinned underneath.

The driver was extricated from under the vehicle and taken by Fire Rescue personnel to North Hawaii Community Hospital, where he wad listed in critical condition.

A 21-year-old passenger who is also a guardsman from Kalihi, Oahu, was not injured.

The driver was later flown to The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu for further treatment.

Army Miscommunicated Big Island Copter Training Plans

There has been a lot of confusion on the expansion going on up at Mauna Kea and the Army released the following statement.

From the Army Times:

The Army says it miscommunicated its Big Island helicopter training plans and intends to clear up any confusion it may have caused.

U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii said in a statement Friday that the Army doesn’t plan to expand the land it uses during training, contrary to public perceptions.

The statement attributed the problem to graphics in an environmental assessment the Army prepared for its training proposal. These graphics depicted flight paths but were labeled “project area” on the map’s legend and caused some to believe the Army wanted to use more land for training.

The service wants to train with helicopters at Pohakuloa Training Area but use the same three landing zones on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa that it used to train for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2004.