AL ASAD, Iraq -- In the Aviation Combat Element, the aircraft and the support they provide is vital, but without the coordination from a certain group, those aircraft cannot do their job.
Marine Air Control Group 28 is responsible for providing the command and control for all aviation assets in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force for Multi-National Force-West, Iraq.
“The Group’s mission is very important,” said Capt. John Krysa, the assistant operations officer for MACG-28. “As the aviation command and control, we need to get those helicopters, (unmanned aerial vehicles), fixed wing aircraft and all of our flights to the right place. Casualty evacuations, medical evacuations and strikes are controlled by the control group Marines at the squadron level.”
Group 28 assumed their responsibilities after a transfer of authority from MACG-38, Jan. 15.
To support the aviation mission here, the Group has various squadrons that specialize in separate categories: Marine Tactical Air Control Squadron 28, Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, Marine Air Support Squadron and Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28.
“If you have a ground unit that is in contact with the enemy and they need help, our guys get that aircraft up to connect that strike,” said Krysa. “If someone gets shot or injured and they need to be CASEVAC’d out, our guys get the aircraft there to get them moved.”
The Group and its squadrons support all facets of the Ground Combat Element.
“The pilots and crew fly them there and they do a good job, but we are the ones who route them there and we task them where to go,” said Krysa.
Since MNF-W has a wide area to cover, the Group has dispersed to accommodate their mission.
“We have Marines spread out everywhere in Iraq,” said Krysa. “For example, the MASS does the close air support; they have detachments of air support elements and air support liaison teams supporting each regiment and brigade out here.”
Although the Group has Marines with the normal military occupational specialties, like administrative clerks and motor transport, a big portion of it is aviation command and control.
“We have air traffic controllers to direct air support operators,” said Krysa. “We are just focused on the aviation command and control side. Other units don’t have the 7200 (military occupational specialty).”
Although the Group Marines are here for a year and are only in the first few months of their deployment, they believe that the Marines are doing an exceptional job.
“They are the finest young Americans who sacrifice their time and left their families to support our country,” said Sgt. Maj. Steven Unik, the MACG-28 sergeant major.