By Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
Koa Kai 14-1, now getting underway near the Hawaiian Islands (now through January 2014), is an opportunity for our Sailors and their ships to participate in individual and integrated training to make them better sea warriors.
Koa Kai offers skill development and assessment in key domains – surface, air and undersea – that build the capabilities of our team. Our Sailors and other service members train in Koa Kai to be ready for any crisis, ranging from armed conflict to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Next week we will show, test and assess our capabilities in coordination with the Navy’s premier testing and training range – Pacific Missile Range Facility.
Seven of our Middle Pacific ships are part of this first Koa Kai exercise for 2014. All services have representatives participating in some capacity, and we welcome our Canadian allies, who are an important part of our team.
We’re fortunate to have a strike group staff and destroyer squadron integrated for this exercise, which further strengthens command and control and provides realistic training in an operational environment. The result is more coordination with our joint partners when it’s time to work together.
The positive opportunities for our individual warfighters participating in Koa Kai cannot be overstated.
Navy leaders are focusing increasingly on the importance and value of realistic and relevant training that builds capability to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.
New techniques and platforms are coming on line, so we need ongoing, adaptive training.
Our leaders are also committed to rewarding our Sailors – individuals and their unit commands – who demonstrate capability and adaptability. The rewards can translate to retention, promotion and more leadership career opportunities for those who demonstrate new skills and abilities.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert is challenging all of us to improve quality of service. We can achieve that goal by focusing on improvements in quality of life, work and training. Koa Kai does that for sea warriors here in the middle of the Pacific.
This training is close to home for our Hawaii-based ships, so there is less time away from home and more predictability for service members and their families. Preventing weeks away from home – whenever possible – directly supports quality of life for us, and when mainland-based Sailors visit Hawaii it improves quality of life for them!
Koa Kai provides the type of disciplined, relevant training we need not only to support the fleet but also to assist type commands now and over time in what is becoming a progressively more complicated warfighting environment. That links directly to improved quality of work/service for our shipmates and our ability to defend America at all times.
The bottom line: Koa Kai gives Sailors tools to help them become better sea warriors now and build their skills over time. Our ultimate goal is to be warfighting-ready to operate forward where, history shows us, presence matters.