Increased Army artillery training at Schofield sign of 'new normal' following coronavirus shutdown

Soldiers from Hawaii's 25th Infantry Division train at Dillingham Airfield, Oahu, July 30, 2019.


By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: June 3, 2020

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(Tribune News Service) — The sound of a lot of artillery fire from Schofield Barracks will be ushering in a “new normal” for stepped-up training as coronavirus numbers remain low in Hawaii.

The 25th Infantry Division said it will conduct “Operation Thunder Strike,” an artillery live fire exercise, starting Wednesday at Schofield and running to June 17.

“The exercise is a training event that builds combat skills among cannon crew members in America’s Pacific Division and is essential to our mission of building and maintaining our combat readiness,” the division said in a release.

Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard, commander of the 25th Division, said during a Facebook community update last Wednesday that “as we continue to manage the COVID crisis, we are doing very well here in Hawaii as everybody I’m sure is aware.”

Challenges remain, but “the thing that I would like to let everybody know is that we are going to start increasing the amount of training we’re doing here on Schofield — and I think other units outside the 25th Division are doing as well,” he said.

“We have some collective training events in the fall for 2nd Brigade, plus several other of the brigades have units that will be traveling to the (the) Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., in October,” Jarrard added.

As a result, there are training steps that have to be taken before that.

“So we will start increasing our level of training here in the month of June,” Jarrard said, and “significantly so” for 2nd Brigade and division artillery.

“But others will be increasing as well, and we’ll very slowly start to get back to a new normal,” the two-star general said.

As Operation Thunder Strike requires both day and night artillery live fire, residents on and around Schofield Barracks can expect to hear the sounds of guns firing and the reverberation of impacts anytime between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m., the Army said.

”The volume of noise and amount of artillery shells fired will be greater than what residents are accustomed to,” the service said.

Additionally, residents can expect intermittent military convoys traversing public roads between Schofield Barracks proper and Schofield East Range. Exact routes will vary, but military convoys will generally move within a window of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. in order to minimize impacts on civilian traffic, the Army said.

Though artillery will not be used within the Schofield East Range, exercises there will utilize training pyrotechnics, which will be heard by the surrounding community.

“While this exercise will be highly audible, the sound of training noise represents the 25th Infantry Division’s efforts to maintain a mission ready force capable of deploying worldwide at a moment’s notice,” the service said. “The Army takes seriously its role as an integral and responsible member of the local community and we appreciate the community’s continued support and understanding as we work to maintain readiness.”

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