CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Triple-digit desert temperatures welcomed the last of more than 2,000 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) Soldiers here, Sept.14. Hawaii's "Wings of Lightning" brigade will call Kuwait's Camp Buehring their temporary home before moving into various parts of northern Iraq later this month in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Upon arrival, Soldiers receive in-processing introductions to include Camp familiarization, and local threat level and financial entitlement briefings. From there, Soldiers are taken to their climate-controlled living quarters- large tent-like structures that house as many as 50 Soldiers. Next, few do anything other than sleep after more than 24 hours of air travel.

After rest and recovery, Soldiers get back to business. After all, Soldiers are in Kuwait on their way to their final destination, and there is still essential training to conduct.
Lt. Col. Thomas E. Lewis, deputy commander, 25th CAB, underscored the importance of the unit's transition through Kuwait as they prepare for their movement into Iraq.

"For the past eighteen months, our Soldiers have executed a deliberate and robust homestation training plan to prepare us for our mission in Iraq," said Lewis. "While here in Kuwait, all of our air crews are refining their skills and expertise by conducting day and night training flights to familiarize themselves with the unique aspects of operating in the desert environment. Soldiers are also adjusting to the new environment by conducting additional ground vehicle driver's training, as well as advanced weapons training," he said.

According to Capt. Mike Louer, training officer-in-charge, Headquarters Headquarters Company, 25th CAB, all Soldiers are also required to participate in certain additional mandatory training dictated by the Brigade Commander and Coalition Force Land Component Command (CFLCC before transitioning into Iraq. CFLCC is the primary logistic hub for all units deployed to Iraq.

"The mandatory training includes both administrative briefings and certain tactical training," explained Louer. "The administrative side includes everything from basic deployment introductions to finance classes. On the tactical side, Soldiers participate in counter- improvised explosive device briefings, vehicle roll-over training in various vehicle simulators, combat logistic patrol training, and close-quarter marksmanship, crew-served weapons and small arms ranges."

According to Louer, the 25th CAB devoted significant effort to streamlining all unit training, focusing on contemporary threats currently facing Soldiers in Iraq. 25th CAB Soldiers that have deployed multiple times appreciated the efficiency. One of those Soldiers is Sgt. Jesse Schaefer, electronics technician, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th CAB.

"Since my last deployment in 2006, quite a bit has changed here with regard to our training," said Schaefer. "For example, we all zeroed and qualified on our individual weapons back home so, here, we only needed to do weapon familiarization," explained Schaefer. "Last time I was here, we seemed to train on everything that was available even things totally unrelated to our mission," he continued.

"Because the training is more focused this time it's made the transition to Iraq a lot better. It also helps that there are more amenities here than two years ago."

The 25th CAB will shortly assume responsibility for aviation operations in the northern portion of Iraq known as Multinational Division-North (MND-N).