Building an Effective Fighting Force
Reservists train for
More than 2,000 isle soldiersBy Gregg K. Kakesako
gain skills and confidence in 3 weeks
of intense instruction
More than 2,000 Hawaii Army National Guard and Army reservists survived three weeks of intense training designed to test their combat effectiveness.
"They got their butts kicked," said Brig. Gen. Edward "Butch" Correa, commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard. "But they also got a lot of accolades."
Brig. Gen. Dennis Kamimura, commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade, said the soldiers weren't graded at the Joint Readiness Training Center -- the Army's premier training center for light infantry units.
"It wasn't a test," said Kamimura, who in his civilian capacity heads the city's licensing bureau, "but a training event where we are told what we did right and where we could improve."
"The best thing they got out of their training," Correa added, "was confidence in their abilities."
The 2,000 soldiers from Hawaii joined an additional 3,000 soldiers from 25 states, four territories and Australia at Fort Polk's vast 198,000-acre training grounds in central Louisiana.
There the soldiers received training in traditional combat tactics, working against a cadre of active-duty Army soldiers schooled in tactics used by Warsaw Pact countries.
'They got their butts kicked.'
Brig. Gen. Edward Correa
COMMANDER, HAWAII ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
"Those soldiers of the opfor (opposing force) are the best," said Correa. "If you can beat them, you can beat anybody."
"Their job was to capture, kill me or take my TOC (tactical operations center)," said Kamimura, who is expected to assume the two-star post held by Maj. Gen. Eugene Imai when Imai retires in September. "But they never got through."
Kamimura also is proud of the fact that the brigade's training cycle was one of the safest, with no accidents.
"All the troops were brought home in one piece," said Kamimura.
Part of Kamimura's command includes 400 Pacific Army reservists who are members of the 100th Battalion, which racked up live-fire scores higher than their active Army counterparts.
Included in that achievement, according to Lt. Col. Howard Sugai, Pacific Army Reserve spokesman, were the scores of a platoon from American Samoa that set a training record.
The training received by the citizen soldiers was different from that experienced by 3,800 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade in January.
The Schofield Barracks Lightning Fighters underwent peace enforcement training, using lessons learned from Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia.
Sgt. Kyle Ancheta, who is normally a cafeteria worker at the Big Island's Waiakea Intermediate School, said, "The training was hard but worth it."