News: Army Aviators become Sea Warriors
Story by Staff Sgt. William Sallette
KAUAI, Hawaii —The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade added a different twist to the primary joint training exercise Koa Kai 14-1 around the islands of Kauai and Ni’’ihau Jan. 22-31. "Koa Kai," Hawaiian for "Sea Warrior," is an integrated maritime exercise that prepares independent deployable units in multiple warfare areas, while also providing training in a multi-ship environment.
One of the major changes to this year’s exercise was integrating the 25th CAB rotary wing aircraft aboard the naval ships.
Participating units included Hawaii and San Diego-based surface ships and submarines as well as aviation forces from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps as they conduct integrated flight operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine training.
“Koa Kai provides an opportunity to exercise multiple warfare disciplines to ensure our ships maintain war fighting readiness and the capability to operate forward on short notice,” said Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and Navy Region Hawaii, Commander. “Koa Kai is integrated, challenging, state-of-the-art training for our sea warriors here in the Middle Pacific that helps us achieve full deployment readiness.”
The 25th CAB conducted multiple operations throughout the exercise including transport, security, MEDEVAC and scout operations utilizing the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and the UH-60 and HH-60 Black Hawk air frames.
Koa Kai demonstrates the Army’s contribution to the U.S. Pacific Fleets forward readiness as they prepare Middle Pacific ships to meet current and future challenges as part of the rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
“The 25th CAB supported the joint exercise through movement of personnel from ship to shore, conducting deck landing qualifications to build our capabilities for future Navy integration operations and conducting operations with our scout weapons teams which provide the Navy with security and reconnaissance when they do movement through transits or confined areas as well as countering small boats and special operations forces,” said Maj. Mark Fulmer, 25th CAB assistant operations officer.
Planning for the exercise began more than a year ago and this is the ninth iteration of the exercise.
“We’re extremely pleased with the level of commitment from the joint commands on island to support Koa Kai 14-1,” said Capt. Chris Bushnell, commander of Destroyer Squadron THREE ONE. He said, that the participation of all the supporting commands added great value and depth to the exercise.