By Sgt Robert M England (2nd BCT, 25th ID )November 18, 2011
KAHUKU, Hawaii -- The commander stepped from the vehicle into the open air and surveyed the scenery. A vast expanse of rolling mountain ranges and deep ravines crowded with towering trees stood before him. The view, as eye-catching as it may have been, was not the center of attention. It was the vacant buildings in his near vicinity that were the main point of interest for the commander.
Col. Christopher Vanek, the brigade commander for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, "Warriors," 25th Infantry Division, conducted a reconnaissance of a range in Kahuku on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on Nov. 9. The commander, accompanied by several members of the 2nd BCT staff, surveyed the range for future training operations.
"The purpose of this recon is to give brigade leadership the opportunity to see this new training resource that we have available so that we understand the capabilities, limitations and potential risks to our Soldiers when utilizing this site," Vanek said.
Vanek said that all the battalions within the Warrior brigade would be able to utilize the range in Kahuku, but that training would most likely be geared toward smaller-sized elements.
"This range will be utilized for maneuver training primarily for company and platoon maneuver, and situational training exercises," he said.
Ken Torre, the training support manager for the Range Division -- Hawaii, added that the training site boasts new equipment and facilities for units training in Kahuku.
"I will tell you from past experience, not just as a civilian, but also as a Soldier, Kahuku allows the battalions to train as a pure training unit," Torre said. "It encompasses a lot of training area, about 9,000 acres, and the new capability that is out there, the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, will enhance their training."
The CACTF, a series of multi-level vacant buildings, provides a suitable location for units to train in urban combat, Torre added.
This training site in Kahuku comprises one of many options available to commanders interested in conducting training. Vanek said that the range in Kahuku compliments the ranges at Schofield Barracks, East Range, Ewa and the Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii.
Having so many available training sites offers commanders a variety of training resources to best meet their training goals for their units, Vanek said. Certain locations create better training environments for specific tasks, such as weapon qualification or entering and clearing a room.
"Each location in Hawaii has unique capabilities that provide opportunities for unit commanders to focus their intents," Vanek said. "For example, Kahuku is not certified for live-fire training, but it's a great area to do maneuver training. Schofield Barracks ranges are very good for live-fire training, but not as good for maneuver training."
Multiple Department of Defense organizations have full operating bases in Hawaii. With that in mind, another benefit for having so many available training locations is not having to compete for training space, Vanek added.
In order to reserve any of the available ranges in Hawaii, Torre said that the brigade commander must schedule the use of the property. Range Control's responsibility is to provide training resources and support for the military, Torre said. That includes maintaining the ranges and ensuring the ranges are within regulatory requirements throughout the Army, he added.
Vanek agreed upon the importance of adhering to environmental standards and regulations, adding that he expects the Soldiers in the Warrior brigade to help maintain the training environments while in use.
"We want to be in compliance with all environmental considerations, and we want to be good stewards," Vanek said. "Our goal is to leave the training area better than we found it."
As the brigade prepares to enter its next training cycle, training resources like the range in Kahuku will give commanders more options, expanding the Soldiers' skill sets and better preparing them for future combat operations.