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Pohakula Training Center Army North Central Hawaii, HI Hawaii Military Bases
Base Contact Information
Pohakuloa Training Center 808-449-7110
Admin Office 808-969-2401
Public Affairs 808-969-2411
Geography and Area Information
The Pohakuloa Training Center is located on the island of Hawai’i at 19.756°N 155.547°W. The 108,863 acre (170.1 square mile) facility is nestled in a high plateau in the north central area of the island. The northern boundary of the base is formed by Mauna Kea and the southern by Mauna Loa. The western border of the Pohakuloa Training Center is marked by the Hualālai volcanic mountains. The eastern edge of the base borders the Hilo Forest Reserve that is home to several endangered species including the bird Palila (Loxioides bailleui). The remote location of the base leaves it accessible by only one road, the Saddle Road, which has a parallel running tank trail. The Pohakula Training Center sits at 6,800 feet and rises to 9,000 feet in some areas. The climate of the training area is humid with sparse vegetation ranging from open māmane forest to grassland and low shrubs.
The Pohakuloa Training Center was first used in 1943 by United States Marine Corps artillery units from the 5th and 2nd Marine Divisions. The area at this time was known as the Waikoloa Maneuver Area and was comprised of 91,000 acres (142 square miles) leased from local rancher Richard Smart. The openness of the area provided optimal conditions for live fire artillery training and spotting for forward observers. Following World War II the Marines left Pohakuloa Training Center and control of the area was turned back over to Richard Smart. In place of Waikoloa Maneuver Area a smaller live fire area, the Lalamilo Firing Range, was established under control of the Hawaii Territorial Guard.
In 1953 the Department of The Army purchased the previously leased 91,000 acres and established the Pohakuloa Training Center. Starting in 1955 the 65th Engineer Company began construction of permanent structures including the Quonset huts that are still in use today. By the end of construction the Pohakuloa Training Center was able to support 2,000 personnel with necessary supplies and equipment. In 1956 a small airfield, Bradshaw Army Airfield, was constructed with a 3,700 foot runway that is still in use today.
Primary and Ancillary functions
The primary mission of the Pohakuloa Training Center is to serve as a live fire training range for Army and Marine Corps ground and air units. It is the largest Department of Defense training area anywhere in the Pacific and the State of Hawaii. The multiple ranges of the Pohakuloa Training Center allows for crew served and small arms qualification, familiarization and training in addition to artillery and mortar live fire operations. The remoteness and openness of the impact areas allows for almost any weapons system to be used including the Davy Crockett nuclear rifle in the 1960s.
In March 2009 a 51,000 acre (80 square mile) section of the base was refurbished to be an impact area for helicopter aerial gunnery and bombing practice. The base also features a level 32,000 acre (50 square mile) area of land that is open enough for large scale combined arms operations and is frequently used by the 3rd Marine Regiment and 25th Infantry Division.
In addition to being a multipurpose training area for the Army and Marine Corps the Pohakuloa Training Center also serves as a conservation district. The training center is home to 10 endangered species of plant and animal life within its boundaries. The Pohakuloa Training Center employs a staff of over 50 professionals tasked with protecting and researching the endangered species within its boundaries.
Visitors to the Pohakuloa Training Center are required to check in at the security office at the main gate on mile marker 36 of Saddle Road. More information can be found by contacting the operations clerk at 808-969-2423. The area is periodically opened for hunting on non-active ranges. Hunters are required to check in at one of the two hunting stations found between mile marker 43 and 44 or at mile marker 28. Hunting passes can obtained from the check in stations and all hunters are required to leave the area no later than 1930.
Pohakuloa Training Area
Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) is located on the island of Hawaiʻi in the high plateau between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hualālai volcanic mountains. It includes a small military airstrip known as Bradshaw Army Airfield.
PTA was first used during World War II as a Marine corps artillery live-fire training area. U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Division and the 5th Marine Division trained at PTA and on the western side of the Big Island in preparation for the Iwo Jima and Saipan campaigns.
During World War II, few permanent structures existed; when the Marines trained at PTA, they slept in tents. After the war, PTA fell under the control of the Hawaii Territorial Guard, and in the mid-1950s, the Army took over PTA. From 1955-58, Soldiers from the 65th Engineer Company built the distinctive Quonset huts, which are still in use.
PTA’s 133,000 acres include an 80-acre cantonment area with a fuel yard, fire and police departments and an airfield with a 3,700-foot runway. The cantonment area also provides units with task-force headquarters, dining facilities, a troop medical clinic, a theater and the only Quonset-hut chapel in the Army.
The installation can support up to 2,300 military personnel with rations, ice, fuel and transportation.
PTA’s firing ranges allow units to conduct small-arms and crew-served weapons familiarization training and qualifications, as well as artillery and mortar live fire. Through the years, PTA’s ranges and training areas have helped Army, Marine, Air Force and Navy units maintain their combat readiness and prepare for war. Most recently, 25th Infantry Division units, Kaneohe-based Marines and Hawaii Army National Guard Soldiers prepared at PTA for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to being a prime training area for military forces in the Pacific region, PTA is a vanguard of environmental and cultural protection. PTA Natural and Cultural Resources staff include more than 50 professionals dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered and threatened plants and safeguarding cultural resources at PTA.
Today, PTA stands as the premier military training area in the Pacific region. Units from all U.S. military services, as well as allied militaries, train at PTA, because it offers realistic training opportunities not found elsewhere. With several new construction projects underway, PTA stands ready to support military training well into the future.
The PTA command team and staff embody the IMCOM motto: “Sustain, Support, and Defend.”
Pohakuloa Training Area provides a quality joint/combined arms facility that provides logistics, public works, airfield support, and environmental and cultural stewardship in support of the USARPAC training strategy while maintaining an enduring partnership with the local Hawaiian community.
Provide and maintain an austere but safe training facility that supports realistic training.
Setting the standard for environmental compliance as well as natural and cultural resource stewardship.
As an active member of the community, develop productive relationships with state, county, and civic organizations