Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Airman, Soldiers partner for first ever Stryker airlift validation exercise in Hawaii

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs

10/29/2013 - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii  -- Airmen from the 15th Wing and Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division loaded Stryker combat vehicles onto C-17s for the first time during an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise in Hawaii Oct. 17.

In this first practical demonstration, the C-17s successfully uploaded two of the Army's Stryker combat vehicles and flew to Pohakuloa Training Area on Kona for the exercise, which included the Army's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and the Air Force's 535th Airlift Squadron and 15th Wing.

The Stryker, the Army's Interim Armored Vehicle, is used to provide quick response maneuvering capability, enhanced survivability and lethality and expand fight versatility.

Until now, the Army has always moved their Hawaii based Stryker vehicles via ships.

"We all knew the C-17 can carry Strykers, but this is a very big deal for us," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pettengill, 380th Ground Liaison Detachment. "It is the first time we have loaded the Strykers onto the C-17 and conducted a fly-away mission with them."

The C-17 Globemaster III is known for being able to rapidly deploy troops and cargo all over the world; however, this recent validation exercise confirmed the 535th's ability to extend the range of Hawaii based armored units.

Army Warrant Officer Danny Thurman of the 2nd SBCT/ 25th ID said though the initial purpose of the exercise was to simply validate the ability to transport the Strykers, the short timeline enabled the 25 ID to test the Army's ability to deploy a quick reaction force.

"The timeline for this exercise was extremely short. In less than 24 hours we were able to plan, coordinate and execute the mission," said Pettengill. "This would not have been possible without the close relationship between the 15th Wing and the 25th ID. This training validated 2 SBCT's proficiency as a quick reaction force, further enhancing USARPAC's rapid deployment capability as USPACOM's response force in the Pacific AOR [area of responsibility.]"

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