By Sgt. Ricardo Branch, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsApril 28, 2009
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii -- One year ago, Soldiers from the 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion returned from a long deployment in Iraq. No strangers to training, the Soldiers traveled to Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) in April to hone their war fighting capabilities for any future deployments.
Located on the island of Hawaii, PTA is the largest installation in Hawaii and is used for various types of training for units stationed in the Pacific. PTA covers more than 50,000 acres and is 10 times the size of the Schofield Barracks training area.
"You train as you fight," said Lt. Col. Leona Knight, commander, 524th CSSB. "You can't be prepared for combat if you don't train for it and we have simulated the situations many of the Soldiers can face in combat."
The Soldiers arrived on Hawaii April 3 to begin the process of improving on much existing knowledge, and refining the war-time capabilities of the battalion. During the training, they worked on reflexive-fire drills, combat lifesaver courses, room clearing techniques, convoy live fires, and weapons qualification courses.
Spc. Michael Sullivan, a logistics specialist with the 540th Quartermaster Company, values the training as an opportunity to learn skills outside of his military occupation specialty that can benefit him downrange in areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
"When you are in Iraq, it's close quarter combat that the enemy likes to hide in," he said. "So we need this training because you never know what you could be faced with."
His teams moved into a two story building and practiced room clearing techniques with enemy hiding around many corners waiting to ambush them.
"We don't do this kind of training that often so this is an excellent opportunity to be familiar with situations that could possibly happen," Sullivan said.
The training simulated many conditions the service support Soldiers will operate in during a deployment. Each morning, vehicles stage outside of gates, team leaders brief their squads and practice the many essential tasks to better themselves in combat.
"Every Soldier out here is our priority," said 2nd Lt. Janelle Jones, 540th QM Co. "The techniques of the enemy are changing. We know longer fight the enemy from a distance anymore, so we're training in house-to house operations to meet the enemy face-to-face."
Although sustainment support Soldiers do not routinely find themselves in front of the enemy, the unit is taking the time to make sure they know what to do when faced with any situation.
"Knowing what to do in the heat of battle is very important," Sullivan said. "When the situation becomes chaotic, Soldiers will have to rely on their training, and the skills we are learning here will make that happen."
The 524th CSSB wrapped up their training but already the command sees results from the training since arriving on the island in March.
"The Soldiers have performed fantastically, there's no better way to say it," Knight said. "Every Soldier here has put forth their best effort and come to each part of the training with a great attitude and ready to learn. Every Soldier has become even better, and we've not only honed their individual skills but also our collective skills as well."