Pacific Pathways enhances Stryker unit's readiness

By Sgt. Brooks Fletcher, 16th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentSeptember 30, 2014

Garuda Shield Pathways
Members of Indonesia's 411th Raider Infantry Battalion join Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, for an AH-64 Apache familiarization brief by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jake Uber, of the 25... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PUSLATPUR, Indonesia (Sept. 25, 2014) -- Pacific Pathways, an innovative concept established to capitalize on several existing bilateral training exercises, is in full swing with exercises Garuda Shield and Keris Strike ongoing, and with exercise Orient Shield scheduled to being next month.

The training deployment method is designed to overcome some of the logistical obstacles associated with transit back and forth across the vast region of the Pacific for each separate exercise. Instead, it provides a "pathway" for U.S. Army Pacific forces to maximize training opportunities.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, are currently participating in a month-long bilateral exercise in East Java, Indonesia. Garuda Shield began Sept. 1, in Indonesia, to help strengthen regional capabilities, understanding, and interoperability.

The 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, of 2nd Infantry Division's "Lancer" Brigade, began with their home station training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Yakima Training Center, in Washington State. Then they went on to a decisive-action-focused rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.

"When we talk about the future of the Army, this is a microcosm of where our force is trying to go," explained Lt. Col. Michael Trotter, a Brooklyn native and battalion commander, about commanding one of the battalions participating in this Pathways concept. "We are very proud to be here. This is a big deal!"

With Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, also currently participating in Exercise Keris Strike, in Malaysia, the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, has a unique opportunity to be involved in a series of exercises that offer realistic training in a variety of climates, terrains, and environments necessary to maintain its training readiness, leaders said.

Capt. Sean Stroh, commander of Bravo "Blackwatch" Company, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Regt., reflected 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 Stroh, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 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 vehicles and aircraft during scenario-driven operations, or participating in live-fire exercises with militaries from multiple countries, Trotter said the most rewarding part of Pacific Pathways is watching his Soldiers develop.

"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 your 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" Company will join Charlie "Chosen" Company, 1st Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., in Japan next month for the culminating exercise Orient Shield, the final waypoint in Pacific Pathways, before they return to their home station.

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