Honing their skills: 2nd IBCT, 25th ID trains at Pohakuloa

  • A mortar team fires a round from a 60 mm mortar at Pohakuloa Training Area, giving soldiers the opportunity to hone their craft with varied weapons systems on difficult terrain. (Photos courtesy/U.S. Army)

  • A soldier participates in live fire training at PTA.

  • Soldiers prepare to launch a TOW missile for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area.

  • Soldiers perform squad live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area.

  • Soldiers perform squad live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Soldiers perform squad live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Sniper rifles are ready to be used for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Snipers and spotters hone their skills at live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Snipers and spotters hone their skills at live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area.

  • Troops sleep in tents adjacent to their training area for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Troops sleep in tents adjacent to their training area for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Soldiers prepare to launch a TOW missile for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area.

  • Soldiers prepare to launch a TOW missile for live fire training at Pohakuloa Training Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A mortar team fires a round from a 120 mm mortar at Pohakuloa Training Area, giving soldiers the opportunity to hone their craft with varied weapons systems on difficult terrain. (Photo courtesy/U.S. Army)

Enduring cold temperatures, high winds and rain, 800 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks are honing their skills at Pohakuloa Training Area.

For two and a half weeks, the light infantry soldiers practiced live fire training day and night at the nearly 109,000-acre area, the largest United States Department of Defense installation in the Pacific, hunkering down in small tents in their respective areas.

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Maj. Jimmy Sheehan said the conditions at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) provide the exact requirements and conditions for training.

“Our mission is Indo-Pacific with deployments over large bodies of water,” he said. “This makes it more realistic.”

Personnel and equipment are brought over from Oahu by boat and transported to the training area.

On Wednesday, troops engaged in squad live fire, simulating an attack on an enemy bunker, sniper training up to 800 meters in gusting wind and TOW missile deployment both manually carried and vehicle mounted.

At sniper training Sgt. Emilio Ray said the windy conditions are conducive for training.

“We don’t want to be comfortable. This challenges us,” he said. “It helps us stay sharp and hot so we can function as a well-oiled machine.”

Col. Neal Mayo observed the training, offering encouragement to the troops.

“It is a great experience to be here,” he said. “The training environment is different. You can’t replicate this terrain in Oahu. It makes for a better-trained organization. This helps us maintain readiness and keep our skills sharp so we are ready to go whenever and wherever we are needed.”

Training troops regularly perform community service while at PTA. At the start of their training, soldiers descended upon Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path at Old Kona Airport Park to give back to the Big Island community by providing some much-needed muscle and care to the site’s main anchialine pond. Previously soldiers have taken part in reforestation projects, path clearing and building and more.

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Mayo expressed gratefulness for the support they receive from the local community.

“We are thankful for the relationship we have with the community and have to sustain that connection,” he said.

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