Tag Archives: PACOM

Univ. of Hawaii – U.S. Pacific Command Partnership

The University of Hawaii (UH) and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the two organization's collaborative efforts to improve and solve sustainability and resiliency issues in the Asia Pacific region. The three signatories of the MOU were UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Both Admiral Willard and President Greenwood admitted when the group first got together in January 2011, both organizations were apprehensive about how this relationship would take shape, if at all. Historically the relationship between the University of Hawaii and the U.S. military has seen it's ups and downs. President Greenwood said, "We are the two most influential and powerful institutions in the State of Hawaii, and yet we have not found the ways and connections to work together." But as a result of the conference in January, the two groups were able to craft a framework for an ongoing partnership. Colleagues commented later to Greenwood that this should have been done a long time ago. The MOU identified three key area for immediate focus: Energy, Water and Disaster Management. Some of near term partnering areas include:
  1. Examine implementing alternative energy sources for PACOM installations and on certain humanitarian assistance projects;
  2. Leverage UH capability and training to complement and support PACOM roles in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work around the region;
  3. Build on UH and PACOM capabilities in a variety of water projects, particularly leveraging interests in the lower Mekong;
  4. Define partnership projects in some aspect of ocean fisheries and maritime security.
They each emphasized taking immediate action on near term projects so that the success of working together would create traction. One project that comes to mind is the School of Nursing working with the Pacific Partnership and the hospital ship USN Mercy. Key members of the steering committee include Rear Admiral Robin M. Watters, Dr. Rich Berry for PACOM and Dr. Gary Ostrander and Dr. David Lassner for the Univ. of Hawaii. It will be interesting to see what projects result from this relationship and whether or not they achieve the traction needed to keep a partnership like this viable over the years. If they can accomplish this Hawaii will certainly benefit. * Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White

Mission: C-17

C-17 Air DropThis has been the month of RIMPAC 2010 and the PACOM and PACAF offices are working overtime to expose the media to all the varied activities taking place around Hawaii. This past Friday, several of us joined the crew of the C-17 on a practice mission over Hawaii Island. We met at the Hickam Gate at 4:45am and the flight left at 6:30am early Friday morning from Hickam Air Force Base. According to Lt. Col Andrew Lashikar, Commander of the 535th Airlift Squadron, there are a total of nine C-17's assigned to Hickam Air Force base. Lashikar said, "Participating in RIMPAC gives us a great opportunity to conduct joint exercises with our fellow branch services." The mission over Hawaii Island was for two C-17s to drop off a simulated cargo load of about 12,000 pounds each. The transport planes flew to the military training area Pohakuloa, on the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The C-17 went from an altitude of 5000 ft. to 500 feet to facilitate the drop. Two 6000 pound palettes were then jettisoned from the rear of the plane and parachuted to Marines below from Kaneohe Bay, 2nd Battalion. I shot a batch of photos and posted this video of the palettes as they flew out the back of the plane. Lashikar told me that the exercise over Pohakuloa is very much like a mission to Afghanistan. The hilly, rocky terrain is very similar to what you might find in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan. But in addition, Hawaii's environment is also similar to recent C-17 relief efforts to Haiti and American Samoa. The C-17, which is not armed, participates in both support mission in battle zones as well as humanitarian efforts in the Pacific region. C-17 Air DropAfter a brief touchdown in Kona, the second part of the exercise involved an intercept by a squadron of four F-16s from Hickam. The planes could practice escorting a distressed or hostile aircraft with flanking maneuvers and close proximity flying. It was quite the sight to see these fighters flying along side our plane. The photo to the right is out the rear door of the C-17. The challenge for the F-16 was to match the speed of our plane. Quite slow compared to what the F-16 can muster. Several members of our flight got the chance to venture to the edge of the rear of the plane tethered to a cord. To me it was a thin veil of safety as the thought of how futile it might be if you were dangling outside the plane flapping in the wind attached to that tether. Thankfully that scenario only existed in my mind. We safety returned to Hickam, personally much richer for the experience and appreciation of the C-17s support capabilities.