Hawaii military exercises help to better response in times of crisis

The waters off Windward Oahu turned into a training ground for military exercises Wednesday.

About a dozen ships from more than two dozen countries took part in the week-long exercise in Hawaii called “Culebra Koa.” It was part of the inaugural U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium, as military officers learned about developing amphibious capabilities and operating together.

The first-of-its kind symposium came as territorial disputes over islands are growing more heated in the Asia-Pacific region.

KHON2 News got a chance to travel by helicopter to several of the ships that were taking part in the exercise.

One of the goals of the seafaring exercise is to be able to quickly transfer a large amount of equipment and personnel from sea to shore in times of combat or humanitarian need.

So the ship that we have over my left shoulder is the USNS Montford Point, MLP1,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Tague of Military Sealift Command Pacific. “It’s the first of its kind. It’s a mobile landing platform.

“So we’re standing on the USNS Dahl, an LMSR. This ship that we’re on is a floating warehouse. It allows vehicles to transfer down the ramp across the mobile landing platform and on to the LCACs, the hovercrafts which will take that cargo, supplies, personnel to the beach.”

The crew of about a thousand people on board the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship, was also taking part in the exercise, providing manpower, transportation needs, and logistical support.

The ship’s commodore, Capt. Clint Carroll, said “to watch us put forces ashore by aviation and surface assets is really impressive. It requires a lot of planning, a lot of foresight to get the right forces, the right gear to the right place at the right time, and the ability to do that across the force is really impressive.”

“Culebra Koa” also gave military personnel a chance to test out new technology and better the efficiency and effectiveness of its response in times of crisis.

The exercise concluded Thursday, May 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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