AL ASAD, Iraq -- Command of the Air Combat Element for Multi-National Forces-West was transferred to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) during a Transfer of Authority ceremony Feb. 4.
Brig. Gen. Timothy C. Hanifen, 2nd MAW(Fwd) commanding general, assumed command of the ACE and Al Asad Air Base from Col. Jonathon G. Miclot, the 3rd MAW(Fwd) commander.
Hanifen and Sgt. Maj. Danny Smith, the 2nd MAW(Fwd) sergeant major, believe they are blessed to be the senior commissioned and enlisted Marines of the Wing.
“We have over 6,000 Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen either here at Al Asad or at one of our FOB’s that are all doing great things in support of MNF-West 24/7,” said Hanifen. “Like any unit, you hope that you fall in on a unit where you have to pull the reins back on them instead of motivating them. Our folks are competent professionals at every level, and they are focused and their morale is very high.”
During the year-long deployment to Iraq, the Marines and Sailors of the Wing will be responsible for providing aviation support for II Marine Expeditionary Force, according to Smith.
“Our mission is to support the focus of II MEF,” said Smith. “Our second goal is to get our service members back home safe to their families.”
To summarize his goals for the Wing during it’s time in Iraq, Hanifen created a motto.
“To boil it down, we’re going to ‘Fight to Win, Win the fight’ in support of the MAGTF (Marine Air Ground Task Force),” said Hanifen. “All of that boils down to putting the right aviation capability at the right place, at the right time, for the right accomplishment. That’s what ‘Fight to Win’ is all about, and we’re going to do it aggressively. We’re going to do it the way Marines do. When we go to a fight, we’re going to win that fight - tactically, operationally, and strategically.”
The Wing’s area of operations in MNF-W is approximately the size of North Carolina. Hanifen compares providing air support for a space that large over a year to running a marathon, and he expects the service members in the Wing to take care of themselves so they can make it to the finish line.
Despite being in theater for only a short time, Hanifen said he is pleased with what the Wing has already accomplished.
“I’m very proud of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) and its accomplishments to date,” said Hanifen. “Even though we are only in our first month, we are already amassing a pretty impressive record. We have to keep focused and we have to ensure the safe execution of all our missions.”