PUSLATPUR, Indonesia --Pacific Pathways, an innovative concept established to capitalize on several existing bilateral training exercises, is in full swing within the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
The training deployment method overcomes some of the logistical obstacles associated with transit back and forth across this vast region for each separate exercise by providing a "pathway" for U.S. Army Pacific forces to maximize training opportunities.
Beginning with their home station training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Yakima Training Center in Washington, then a decisive action-focused rotation at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., elements from 2nd Infantry Division's "Lancer" Brigade have been selected to spearhead the second waypoint here with Garuda Shield 2014 in Indonesia.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment are currently participating in the month-long bilateral-exercise in East Java to help strengthen regional capabilities, understanding, and interoperability.
Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Michael Trotter, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Reg., expressed what it means to command one of the battalions participating in this Pathways concept.
"When we talk about the future of the Army, this is a microcosm of where our force is trying to go," said Trotter, a Brooklyn native. "We are very proud to be here. This is a big deal!"
With Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment currently participating in Keris Strike in Malaysia, the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team has a unique opportunity to be involved in series of exercises that offer realistic training in a variety of climates, terrains, and environments necessary to maintain its training readiness.
Company Commander, Capt. Sean Stroh, Bravo "Blackwatch" Company, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Reg., reflects on Garuda Shield, conducted alongside soldiers of the Tentara Nasional Indonesia's 411th Raider Infantry Battalion, and the relevance of not only executing operations in this environment, but being a part of this training pathway.
"This is a good opportunity to display the unit's training readiness," said the Lancaster, Penn., native. "How well can you take a company and its equipment, deploy to another country, get it operational, and fight alongside [combined] partners. There isn't a better opportunity to do that than here."
Whether reinforcing the fundamentals of being in tactical field environments, operating more than 30 vehicle and aircrafts during scenario driven operations, or participating in live fire exercises with militaries from multiple countries, Trotter explained the most rewarding part of Pacific Pathways.
"What I really enjoy is watching Soldiers who have never experienced any of this, exercising the fundamentals through the operations we are doing, and integrating procedures done over the last 13 years in combat … you are seeing Soldiers grow right in front of you eyes," Trotter said. "This training, this experience is what they will draw upon when they become leaders in the future."
Following Garuda Shield and Keris Strike, "Blackwatch" Co., will join Charlie "Chosen" Company, 1st Bn., 17th Inf. Reg., in Japan next month for the culminating exercise Orient Shield, the final way point in Pacific Pathways before they return to their home station.