By Sgt. Karl Williams 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public AffairsMarch 2, 2011
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, HAWAII - Inside the Makua Military Reservation (MMR), positioned in the middle of a lush green field, sit three ominous shapes.
Upon closer inspection, these "silhouettes" are no more threatening than cardboard boxes.
Soldiers from 209th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), assisted in moving three detailed replicas of enemy fighting vehicles into the valley to assist in enemy target engagement simulations recently.
Made to scale, these detailed replicas mirror a BMP-2 (infantry fighting vehicle), a BTR-80 Armored Personnel Carrier and a T-72 tank. They are built with plastic and framed with aluminum to prevent rust that would damage the environment. The "vehicles" replace three white panel targets that have been used for laser operations conducted by OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Jackson, master gunner, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th CAB, describes the training aids as necessary and expresses the importance for U.S. Army aircrews to conduct this type of training in support of "overseas contingency operations."
"We can emplace these types of environmentally friendly targets that do not contain or use petroleum products, which could possibly damage the environment," said Jackson. "In addition, it's an inexpensive alternative for combat aviation preparation without sacrificing hands-on, realistic experience."
"Moreover, MMR is isolated from close proximity to any major civilian thoroughfare and is not obstructive to quiet island lifestyles."
According to Dr. Laurie Lucking, cultural resources manager, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, MMR is part of a sacred landscape that extends from Pokai Bay to Kaena Point. The Army has identified and catalogued over 100 archaeological sites in Makua, including temples, dwellings, enclosures, burial grounds and agricultural terraces.
"These sites are of great importance to the Hawaiian community. They are an intrinsic part of their history and a place where their family members are buried," said Lucking.
The Army incorporates the habitat as part of its training scenario by designating it as a mine field or other hazards Soldiers must avoid.
"Consideration for Makua Valley's cultural significance and its environment are important when training [there]," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Pete Mansoor, tactical operations officer, HHC, 25th CAB.
As a precaution, we coordinated with Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, and staff members from the Directorate of Public Works, Cultural Resources Division, to come out and verified that the area was clear and the vehicles were placed outside the Improved Conventional Munitions area."
He added, "Some of those cultural treasures have been around for thousands of years, and we want them to be around for future generations to enjoy them."
United States Army, Pacific shapes, prepares, responds, sustains and protects in concert with other U.S. government agencies, allies, and partners to contribute to a stable and secure Pacific Command area of responsibility (AOR). It is the Army's largest Service Component Command and has over 63,000 Soldiers throughout its AOR.