Hawaii’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, is building a joint capability in cooperation with the Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and Destroyer Squadron 31.Over the past year, a team of Army CH-47F Chinooks, UH-60M Black Hawks, HH-60M Medevac Black Hawks and OH-58D Kiowa Warriors has collaborated alongside U.S. Navy cruisers, destroyers and amphibious ships in Hawaiian waters. The combined effort honed the skills required for aviators and crews to conduct maritime operations overwater to include performing deck landing qualifications (DLQs), embarking Kiowa Warriors on ships, providing medical evacuations with Medevac Black Hawks, and conducting logistics operations with Black Hawks and Chinooks. These maritime operations expand the capability of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) to conduct inter-island operations and integrate with Navy forces. This joint maritime operations capability supports DoD’s shift to the Pacific at a tactical level.The pilot and crew chief DLQs were executed during the day and at night with night-vision goggles. Individual and crew train-up consisted of dunker and helicopter emergency egress device training, ship familiarization, maritime academics, simulator training and deck-landing practice conducted on dry ground. Single-point DLQs were conducted aboard Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific (MIDPAC) cruisers and destroyers, while multipoint DLQs were conducted aboard amphibious ships from the Navy’s San Diego-based 3rd Fleet.The 25th CAB’s proximity to Navy and maritime resources and senior leadership involvement have been two key reasons for the joint team’s success in Hawaii. Army and Navy forces permanently stationed on Oahu have allowed for the establishment of several DLQ aviators and a proficient system for maintaining long-term currency. In addition, the leadership of the 25th CAB, MIDPAC and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 has developed a relationship of understanding and trust, fostering a learning environment of collaboration to create joint solutions to joint mission sets.Building a bench of DLQ aviators created a capability in the 25th CAB formation to support individual ship training such as the USS Lake Erie’s underway mission last November, followed by Navy operation Koa Kai this past January. The training exercises served as building blocks for the capstone Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2014 (RIMPAC), which is scheduled to begin June 26.During the USS Lake Erie’s underway training, two Kiowa Warriors and crews embarked for three days to conduct flank security and live-fire exercises while simultaneously under support from a shore-based Black Hawk for logistics and personnel movements. The embarkation on the USS Lake Erie revealed several challenges and lessons learned in Mission Command, aviation maintenance and aircraft tactical employment.Most of the lessons learned were applied during MIDPAC’s deployment readiness exercise, Operation Koa Kai. This operation allowed the 25th CAB to provide a supporting role to MIDPAC’s fleet of cruisers and destroyers and the Canadian Navy Oiler, HMCS Protecteur.The 25th CAB built upon previous maritime integration by providing embarked Kiowa Warriors to support security, attack craft interdiction, and other reconnaissance and security tasks. The Black Hawks supported Koa Kai with logistics and personnel movement of sailors, trainers and maintainers throughout the operations area. Although the exercise was lacking in ships capable of multipoint landings, the Chinook was utilized with great effect in an opposing force role as a low, slow flyer.The medevac crews provided standby coverage for the exercise, which included a real-world evacuation. A sailor aboard the USS Port Royal off the north coast of Kauai, Hawaii, was evacuated more than 105 nautical miles to Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu.The successful integration of Army Aviation into the maritime environment set the stage for the 25th CAB’s role in support of RIMPAC. The exercise is the way forward in building the 25th Infantry Division’s maritime interoperability. From humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations to the War at Sea Exercise, elements of the 25th Infantry Division and 25th CAB will provide a supporting role to the Navy.Chinooks and Black Hawks will support both logistics operations and tactical operations to include air assault, helocasting and special operations forces parachute drops. The Medevac Black Hawk again will provide standby medevac coverage and serve as a primary transport for training patients during the HADR portion of the exercise. The Kiowa Warrior will be utilized in the security and reconnaissance role.A significant addition to the aviation task force arsenal is the introduction of the AH-64E Apache during RIMPAC. This will mark the first time the “E” model of the Apache will be integrated into maritime operations. The Apache crews will arrive in Hawaii early this summer to train on individual and crew tasks prior to executing DLQs and supporting the maritime security, attack craft interdiction, and other reconnaissance and security tasks during RIMPAC. The Kiowa Warrior and Apache will team up to engage a decommissioned Navy ship with live ordnance during a sink exercise.RIMPAC is scheduled to include the presence of 23 nations and more than 40 vessels from 3rd Fleet. This large diversity will provide ample single and multipoint ships to continue building proficiency in deck landings and maintain a maritime-capable combat power. This will allow the 25th CAB to provide support to the contingency combined task force commander and, ultimately, the combatant commander.The national strategy of rebalancing to the Pacific region in a budget-constrained environment will require the joint force to seek innovative ways to collaborate and harness limited training resources. The brigade is maintaining the ability to operate shore-to-ship or ship-to-shore from a carrier strike group, expeditionary strike group or surface strike group. This provides the combatant commander flexibility when deciding how to project combat power from a sea-based platform to execute missions throughout the full range of military operations.The ability to harness the synergy of the joint force from HADR support along the Pacific’s “ring of fire” and perform strike operations is similar to the British military’s 2011 employment of four Apaches from the HMS Ocean off the coast of Libya during Operation Ellamy. The 25th CAB will continue to lead the way in this joint effort with DESRON 31 and MIDPAC to ensure that the 25th Infantry Division is prepared to execute decisive action operations in the Pacific Theater.