KAUAI, Hawaii (NNS) -- As the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 17, the CSG's Air Wing Commander credited the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) with improving the group's readiness seven months earlier as it prepared to deploy.
"The Hawaii Range Complex provided realistic and challenging training opportunities for our air wing," said Capt. Dale Horan, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, embarked aboard Stennis.
The strike group returned to Hawaii on its way home from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. Last summer, the strike group conducted more than 200 hours of training in Hawaii waters. On deployment, Horan believes the strike group demonstrating the value of the range complex to the Navy.
"It allowed us to further hone our strike and close-air support skills and procedures, helping us to operate at a high level of effectiveness throughout deployment as we provided support to forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.
PMRF on Kauai, an element of the Hawaii Range Complex, continues to be an asset for the Department of the Navy due to the range's ability to provide integrated range services in a modern, multithreat, multidimensional environment, from space to the ocean floor that ensures the safe conduct and evaluation of training and test and evaluation missions.
"PMRF, located Hawaii, is ideally situated to support training to meet readiness requirements for Navy and joint forces based on Hawaii, as well as for U.S. Naval Forces transiting to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean for deployment. The range has capabilities to support training in all Navy primary mission and warfare areas," said Bob Kay, PMRF's deputy range operations officer. "As a diverse and important training, test and evaluation resource, PMRF furthers the Navy's ability to protect and serve our nation and our allies."
PMRF has also been the primary location for Missile Defense Agency testing since the 1990s and while these test and evaluation missions gather much of the spotlight, the critical training value of PMRF to U.S. and allied military forces is often overlooked. Last year, the Stennis Strike Group was just one of the groups to use PMRF. In 2011, PMRF supported 22,337 training hours which included 788 unit training events and 640 aircraft.
According to Kay, PMRF's training opportunities benefit not only the U.S. Pacific Fleet but also allies and friends of the United States.
The largest training exercise held in Hawaii waters is the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multi-national event, which has been conducted since 1971. The RIMPAC 2010 exercise involved approximately 20,000 Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen from the joint services of 14 allied and partner countries. PMRF provided exercise participants the opportunity to conduct live-fire events. This opportunity is cited as a major reason many of the allied forces participate; because they do not have such capability at home.
"They are looking forward to the next RIMPAC training event because it brings their proficiency up as a real test of their capabilities," said Ron Sakoda, Sen. Daniel Inouye's Kauai field representative who embarked Stennis Feb. 16-17 as they made their way to Hawaii, to see, first-hand, the benefits of training.
"It was an experience second to none," said Sakoda, who observed flight operations as Stennis approached Hawaii. "The Sailors were very dedicated to their work and they bring our Navy to a higher level."