AL ASAD, Iraq --
Being able to see and assess a situation in a combat environment is essential for success.
Sometimes service members wish they had an extra pair of eyes, or eyes on the back of their heads. Thanks to one unit, the Al Qaim ground units have an extra pair of eyes.
Those extra eyes are provided by the Marines and civilians that analyze information and operate the Scan Eagles flown by Marine Unarmed Aerial Squadron 2, Detachment B.
“The basic mission here is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support via the Scan Eagle UAV for supporting units such as (1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment) or (1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion),” said 1st lt. Devin Scully, VMU-2 Detachment B, Scan Eagle officer in charge and mission commander. “It is a number of different things depending on what the units need from us. We do anything from area scans, group scans, target development, battle damage assessment, whatever is needed.”
The VMU-2 detachment works closely with the Marines on the ground to provide them a support that saves lives and provides real-time intelligence.
“Our capabilities afford them so many things, in terms of providing overwatch, various types of missions, like helping to mark for air strikes and artillery strikes,” said Scully. “We are basically their eyes 24/7. We go into areas that are either to hostile or if they don’t want to send in ground units right away they send us in and we can fly at altitudes where (the enemy) can’t see or hear us.”
Some Marines military occupational specialties require them to work alongside civilians, but for VMU-2 that relationship is pivotal. To successfully complete the VMU-2 mission, the Marines and civilians work hand in hand.
“We have the Scan Eagle contractors who are the operators of the aircraft and the intelligence Marines who work with them,” explained Scully. “The contractors fly the aircraft and work the camera, and the intelligence Marines sit next to them disseminating all the intelligence out. They direct that operator on the target and where to go. The contractors and Marines work very close together in order to accomplish the mission.”
The sound working relationship the Marines share with the civilians also extends out to their brothers on the ground. The Marines of VMU-2 attribute their success to the ability to work them.
“There is great coordination between that ground unit and our ability to work that makes us extremely successful,” said Scully. “The Marines have been flexible, every time that we need to support a new mission or operation, they have been flexible to provide that.”
Scully believes that the VMU-2 detachment has continually provided quality service to whoever has needed it. Constantly flying missions in support of the Marines on the ground, the detachment is embarking on something new.
“We have never flown so many hours before and provided so much coverage,” said Scully. “We are really pushing the envelopes for the UAVs and providing maximum coverage. The things that we have done have been tremendous support for the units on the ground.”
At the end of the day, the VMU-2 Marines and civilians can look back and know they are having am impact. For some, it is even a reason to hold their heads up high.
“With us watching for IED placement or providing over-watch, the Marines feel more secure and safe as they go out on the road,” said Sgt. Jamal Lee, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for VMU-2 Detachment B. “It is not easy to travel without coming across some kind of difficulty. Knowing that we play a strong role in the system gives you pride.
Whether it is as a supply clerk or admin clerk, we have our primary duties and we all play a key role in this war.”