The U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division is about to embark on its first large-scale training exercise with 5,500 soldiers and increased helicopter operations as the Pentagon struggles to return to normal operations, including travel, while still coping with the stubborn coronavirus pandemic. Also taking part in the exercise will be approximately 150 soldiers from the Royal Thai Army. Exercise Lightning Forge will be conducted Tuesday to July 21 across various training areas on Oahu, the U.S. Army said. This year’s event is the first big exercise to be conducted following a gradual return to training in early May.
Last month the Defense Department released a list of “green locations” for a conditions-based, phased approach to personnel movement and travel, with Hawaii being one of those states. The focus of the upcoming Lightning Forge exercise will center on the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, augmented by support elements — an annual event that prepares a brigade combat team for a culminating training rotation to the U.S. Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. This year’s exercise will include activity at Schofield Barracks, East Range, Dillingham Army Airfield, Kahuku Training Area and Basilan Drop Zone near Helemano Plantation.
Lightning Forge is an annual brigade-level training exercise that prepares units for a deployment certification exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Training alongside the RTA during Lightning Forge works toward achieving interoperability with allies and demonstrates the longstanding relationship enjoyed by both the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States. The 25th Infantry Division, ‘Tropic Lightning’, is America’s Pacific Division. Tropic Lightning provides the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command a uniquely tailorable force with the ability to rapidly respond to contingencies across the Pacific.