RIMPAC Training
PHILIP KUSCHE
© 2014 FrontLine Defence (Vol 11, No 1)

It was June 2012 when the main body of A Coy 2 PPCLI left Winnipeg 17 Wing and headed for the Hawaiian Island of Oahu to participate in RIMPAC 2012. We landed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe after a long flight and, after loading our kit into the shuttle, headed to our temporary living quarters – hoping to get to the Mess hall before it closed!

RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) is the world’s largest multinational maritime ­warfare exercise. Every two years, Units from more than 20 nations participate in exercises that are designed to foster cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety and security at sea.

The first day was filled with briefings about safety and what was going to happen during the weeks to come. That night I toured the USS Essex, where we’d be living and working during some the exercise. The living space was tight and the food was mostly edible, but it was an experience that I was glad to have endured.

For obvious reasons, all personnel staying on board the Essex would have to complete water evacuation training of a downed helicopter. This exercise involves being flipped upside down in a basic simulator to complete the drills and then evacuate the trainer... an exhilarating initiation to RIMPAC.
 
The next couple of days included conducting ranges – from zeroing our rifles, pistol shots, Fighting In Built Up Areas, and the Platoon sections doing dry and live fire section attacks.

Canada Day was spent enjoying sun sand and a BBQ at one of the base’s beautiful beaches. In between Canada Day and Independence Day we participated in fast roping training which included multiple slides out off the mock tower. Once that training was completed, we moved to an area where we would be conducting fast roping out of a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter. This was an excellent experience.

Additional training was completed over the next few days at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site, such as the use of simunition. On the 11th of July we left Pearl Harbour on board the USS Essex to continue our training at sea and on the Big Island of Hawaii. We conducted training such as Close Quarter Combat while at sea.

On the Big Island, our training was conducted at the Pohakuloa Training Area. During this time, more ranges were conducted such as Fighting in Built Up Areas, machine gun ranges, and more.

I was able to follow one of the platoons as they conducted a live fire platoon attack and this is where the cover photo was taken. I managed to get in front of the platoon and take some pictures of commander Capt Mason while he was directing his platoon into position. The image captures the intensity of the training and I was very pleased that the VCDS chose it as his ­personal favourite of the 2013 CAF Photo Contest submissions.

After the exercise on the Big Island was completed, we moved back to the Essex for our next exercise – being airlifted back to the Military Operations in Urban  Terrain on the island of Oahu.

The training and experiences during RIMPAC 2012 are some that I will never forget. The many opportunities to train with so many other nations, in an area that offers a variety of tough terrain, had a great impact on our team.

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Sgt Philip Kusche deployed to Bosnia in 2003, and to Afghanistan three times. He is currently a section commander in C-Coy 9 Platoon.
© FrontLine 2014

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