JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing executed a first-of-its-kind exercise partnering with the Nevada Air National Guard, 15th Wing, and 354th Fighter Wing Airmen March 3-6.
The exercise name, Ho’oikaika, originates from the Hawaiian language, meaning to strengthen and to encourage, as it challenged total force Airmen to mobilize and generate stealth airpower from three locations throughout the multi-island state.
In a rapid dispersal of F-22 Raptors, the training relied heavily on airlift capabilities, provided by local C-17 Globemaster IIIs and visiting C-130s from Nevada, each delivering support packages to the forward-operating locations at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe and Hilo International Airport.
“Ho’oikaika is a new way of conducting exercises,” said the 154th Wing inspector general,” gently getting rid of as many simulations as we can by uniquely challenging the skill sets of our Airmen. We’ve never seen an exercise that is being challenged in multiple locations for a single organization.”
Teams of support Airmen poured out of each cargo aircraft, setting up a mobile infrastructure to provide for aircraft maintenance, weapon systems, navigational equipment, communication stations, security details, a single pallet expeditionary kitchen and more.
Capt. Jonothan Harris, 15th Wing Agile Combat Employment chief and Kaneohe MCB exercise lead, explained the top three goals: to continue generating airpower from airlift, evaluate command and control decisions and actions and test their interoperable communications.
“Having airlift compete with inter-theater requirements versus what the hub and spokes need, and seeing leadership command team make the decisions process of how could we get the people and parts in the right place at the right time to get F-22s airborne while still their ATO missions, definitely tests that airlift opportunity,” said Harris.
Unlike previous exercises, participants were challenged to step outside the boundaries of their specialized career fields as part of the Air Force’s multi-capable Airman initiative. Members on the ground parted with their regular duty sections and assisted with critical flight line operations, granting new levels of authority to exercise ‘players’ and making a more autonomous force.
While only three days, Ho’oikiakia was an exercise within an exercise, with all activities in between the routinely held dissimilar aircraft training event, Pacific Raptor 22-1.
Past iterations of PR focused on locally generated combat training between the Hawaiian Raptors, enabled by full-time staff and visiting partners, such as the 18th Aggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons from Alaska. But for the duration of Ho’oikaika, most of the 154th Wing was activated to employ the same airpower from each alternate location.
“Our mission is to be able to deploy anytime, anywhere,” said Airman 1st Class John Vasko, radio frequency transmission systems apprentice, 292nd Combat Communications Squadron. “We have to be able to set up communication links from one point to another anywhere in the world. Being able to communicate enables the rest of the services to work more effectively together.”