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Oregon Air Guard Security Forces Squadron Trains in Hawai'i

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar,
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

OAHU, Hawai'i - Is spending two weeks in Hawai'i shooting machine guns on a military range on anyone's bucket list? Twenty-eight 173rd Security Forces Squadron defenders did just that in early May for their annual training.

Maj. Ryan Fisher, the 173rd SFS commander, said qualifying on light and medium machine guns is an annual requirement for security forces defenders.

"The Kingsley Field range (in Klamath Falls, Oregon) is not rated to support these weapons systems, which force us to travel to other ranges to meet this requirement," he said. "Additionally, with the upcoming deployments, we needed to train on specific combat-focused topics to ensure that our defenders are as prepared as possible."

The training started with three days of classroom instruction and hands-on weapons classes while still at Kingsley Field. Then, the group flew on a C-130J from the 123rd Airlift Wing to Oahu.

"Based on our experience at other ranges and facilities, Hawai'i quickly rose to the top of the list as (a) viable option for great training facilities at a low cost," said Fisher. 

The 173rd SFS Combat Arms Team coordinated directly with the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay and secured a training area with "pop-up" targets rated for the weapons systems.

Fisher said it wasn't your typical Air Force Hawai'i TDY. 

"The defenders were sleeping in 10-person tents in an Army training area on Schofield Barracks and meals were coordinated through the Army and Marines' dining facilities," said Fisher. "And the ranges were some of the most picturesque I have been on."

Fisher said one of the most significant benefits of the training was the exposure to a joint environment.

"Many of Security Forces' deployments are in a joint service environment with the Army and Marines," he said. "While we didn't have any official training with the other services, we were shoulder-to-shoulder with them on their bases" and observed a live fire of some of the Army's 105 mm howitzers.

The squadron also worked on team building — living and working closely in a small space for multiple days.

"Exposing some of the younger members to different aspects of the military outside of Kingsley Field was huge; it was the first time for many that they had flown on a military aircraft," said Fisher.

The group also hiked to the top of Koko Head, 0.8 miles in each direction, with 900-plus feet of elevation. 

"Koko Head is a physical challenge for everyone. Walking up such a steep hill is a tangible metaphor demonstrating the value of doing something challenging to gain a new perspective, like being able to see half the island," he said.