Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. -- With the help of a few well-trained Marines, one officer has changed his tune from “Into the wild blue yonder,” to “From the Halls of Montezuma,” at least for a while.
Air Force Capt. Jason D. Larish traded Air Force blue for olive drab green, joining Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 in October 2014 to begin a three-year inter-service exchange program at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
During the first year of the assignment, Larish, who is trained to fly in the Air Force EC-130H Compass Call, will learn the protocols of Marine Corps aviation from instructor officers with VMAQT-1. As an electronic warfare officer, Larish must learn the differences between operating in the EC-130H, which is similar to the Marine Corps’ KC-130, and the much smaller four-seat EA-6B Prowler.
“In general, the biggest difference is the type of aircraft that I’m flying in,” said Larish, a native of Buffalo, New York. “I went from this huge platform carrying 18 or more people on a flight at a time, to a smaller, four-man tactical aircraft, performing extremely dynamic maneuvers vastly different than what I am used to.”
Before entering the exchange program, Larish served as a EWO and instructor for more than seven years. While at VMAQT-1, he will learn how to operate as an electronic counter-measure officer as part of a Marine Prowler squadron.
According to Larish, the most difficult task during the first three months of his year-long training curriculum at VMAQT-1 was learning the different terminology and acronyms Marine aviators and ECMOs use.
“The job I am learning now is similar to my original job,” said Larish. “As a EWO, our primary mission is communications jamming. ECMOs focus on communication and radar jamming.”
The exchange program gives officers from different military branches the opportunity to learn the similarities and differences between the services. As an Air Force EWO, Larish is learning the fundamentals before transitioning to an operational tactical electronic warfare squadron at the end of his first year.
According to Maj. Calvin R. Smallwood, though some fundamentals differ, Larish continues to learn flying the Marine Corps way.
“Each Prowler ECMO trains for a year in Pensacola, Florida, where they learn how to be a good co-pilot,” said Smallwood, a native of Noblesville, Indiana. “Since Capt. Larish did not receive that extra training, I believe that phase of training will be more difficult for him, but he hasn’t stopped advancing and learning more each day.”
According to Smallwood, the program is vital for each of the military branches and gives the Department of Defense a valuable tool during joint-service operations. Moreover, the program gives both student and instructor valuable insight into the capabilities the military offers across the globe.
“Having service members go out and learn how things are done by other branches expands their knowledge,” said Smallwood. “It’s not only the students who benefit, but the instructors as well. I believe this program is a great way to build the effectiveness and capabilities that the armed forces can have during operations.”