Realistic military training newly available in Yakima

  • Published
  • By Airman Mikayla A. Heineck
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to McChord was the first to land, since 2003, on the Selah Airstrip Nov. 15 at Yakima Training Center (YTC), Washington.

A C-17 carrying two U.S. Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicles and a support vehicle from Joint Base Lewis-McChord landed on the newly renovated airstrip in Yakima.

Within minutes of a tactical landing the HIMARS were offloaded and headed to the artillery launch site about 3,500 feet away, still in view of spectators on the hill overlooking the airstrip.

“What was shown here today was Air force and Army working hand in hand in planning and training in what we call an artillery raid,” said Lt. Col. Joe Hansen, 17th Field Artillery Brigade battalion commander.

The new airstrip allows for more training opportunities and increased readiness. The environment is the closest to a realistic combat zone in the Pacific Northwest that troops can practice in without actually being deployed to a combat zone. 

The Selah Airstrip at YTC was closed in 2003 when it had deteriorated to the point that aircraft could no longer land safely. Renovations for the airstrip began in 2017.

Prior to the airstrip re-opening, to perform exercises at YTC, HIMARS had to be flown to Moses Lake, Washington, first, then driven to YTC to conduct tactical exercises.

“I think with the airfield opening this is a great opportunity to continue to demonstrate our joint capabilities and continue to get proficient on that capability,” said Maj. Brian Reynolds, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade battalion operations officer, “it provides a whole new level of realism.”