AL ASAD, Iraq --
The “Untouchables” of Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 got their nickname by surpassing any other squadron’s when comparing the amount of sections and missions they fulfill. They are the go-to guys because they support just about every type of mission a unit might need.
Maybe a squadron needs a building repaired or even built in a “jiff,” they ask the combat engineers. Or maybe a squadron needs aircraft topped off before heading out on a mission, they call dispatch and ask the refuelers.
The Untouchables recently arrived at Al Taqaddum to support base operations and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).
The mission of the Untouchables is to provide all of the aviation ground support to the airfield in Al Taqaddum.
“We still provide the same aviation ground support that we did back in New River, however we've beefed up more on capabilities and personnel,” said Lt. Col. Terrence O’Connell, MWSS-272 commanding officer. “We have a very robust medical section, we have a mission with the incident response platoon and we have military police out here. We're doing right now what we're built to do, but don't always get to do. Like building helicopter landing zones and conducting the maintenance on them. Back in the (United States) that mission is few and far between for us, but out here it's taken us outside the wire many times.”
The squadron’s sections are incorporated into four companies that all support the aviation combat element.
The first company is airfield operations. Its sections include fuels, which support aircraft and ground vehicles, expeditionary airfield, who build aircraft landing zones and repair the flightline, and crash fire rescue, which provides firefighting support. Also, weather works out of the flight control tower and provides weather information and forecasts to the area of operations.
The engineer company also has several sections including the combat engineers, utilities, constructions and heavy equipment. The combat engineers build or repair almost anything. The utilities section conducts maintenance on base utility systems ensuring units have power and communications. Construction builds a variety of hard stand structures and the heavy equipment section uses earth moving vehicles to develop land for construction.
The squadron also has their own motor pool allowing the unit to utilize nearly every tactical motor transportation vehicle in use by the Marine Corps. They have four classes of vehicles including light, medium, heavy and recovery. They have more than 120 rolling assets including the Corps’ latest battle wagon, the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected.
Like any unit, the Untouchables also have a full compliment of headquarters shops like administration who ensures all of the administrative needs of the unit are taken care of and the operations section which ensures every Marine is fully trained and the unit’s anti-terrorism force-protection needs are met. The unit’s incident response platoon and explosive ordnance disposal sections also fall under the headquarters company. Working hand-in-hand the two sections react to off base threats that have endangered service members or local Iraqis.
For a squadron containing several hundred personnel with a selection of MOS’s ranging from cooks to computer technicians, the Untouchables can complete nearly any task.
“My Marines are top-notch,” said O’Connell. “They've been trained hard and they know their military occupational specialties. They've worked on integrating their particular skills with those of the rest of the squadron. They're confident and they are doing outstanding.”
The squadron has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the past, but it is their first rotation to Al Taqaddum. Since taking over from the previous squadron, MWSS-371, they are putting their best effort towards taking and maintaining the operational tempo.
“There have been many challenges since arriving, but nothing we couldn't handle,” said O’Connell. “Our predecessors 371 had a lot of projects going on that we inherited and we're trying to make it a seamless transition from one squadron to the other. The biggest challenge has been hitting the ground running without any noticeable stop in the services we're providing. These Marines and Sailors are outstanding, they are motivated and committed. I have all the confidence in the world they are going to do whatever they have to in order to be successful.”