Enduring cold temperatures, high winds and rain, 800 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks are honing their skills at Pohakuloa Training Area.
For two and a half weeks, the light infantry soldiers practiced live fire training day and night at the nearly 109,000-acre area, the largest United States Department of Defense installation in the Pacific, hunkering down in small tents in their respective areas.
Maj. Jimmy Sheehan said the conditions at Pohakuloa Training Area provide the exact requirements and conditions for training.
“Our mission is Indo-Pacific with deployments over large bodies of water,” he said. “This makes it more realistic.”
Personnel and equipment are brought over from Oahu by boat and transported to the training area.
On Wednesday, troops engaged in squad live fire, simulating an attack on an enemy bunker, sniper training up to 800 meters in gusting wind and TOW missile deployment both manually carried and vehicle mounted.
At sniper training Sgt. Emilio Ray said the windy conditions are conducive for training.
“We don’t want to be comfortable. This challenges us,” he said. “It helps us stay sharp and hot so we can function as a well-oiled machine.”
Col. Neal Mayo observed the training, offering encouragement to the troops.
“It is a great experience to be here,” he said. “The training environment is different. You can’t replicate this terrain in Oahu.”
Training troops regularly perform community service while at PTA.
At the start of their training, soldiers descended upon Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path at Old Kona Airport Park cleaned the site’s main anchialine pond. Previously soldiers have taken part in reforestation projects, path clearing and building and more.
Mayo expressed gratefulness for the support they receive from the local community.
“We are thankful for the relationship we have with the community and have to sustain that connection,” he said.