MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The U.S. Marine Corps is the nation's crisis
response force, forward deployed and poised to rapidly respond to crises within
the arc of instability and within regions of anticipated future conflicts.
The ability to provide support from the air is
predicated on the ability to bring airpower as close as possible to the fight.
There isn't a force more capable of responding quickly in any environment
around the world than the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. It is the adaptable,
rapidly deployable nature of Marine Aviation that makes this possible.
Marines with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing began
refocusing training requirements on near-peer adversaries by conducting Tactical
Air Command Center operations during Wing Exercise 16, at Marine Corps Air
Station Cherry Point, Oct. 13-16.
“The idea behind the exercise was to train the
battle staff,” explained Col. Kenneth Woodard, exercise director and 2nd MAW operations
officer. “The MAW must be ready to deploy and employ as a wing-level
headquarters in a major theater war … WINGEX provided us an opportunity to test
the battle staff and prepare it for this requirement.”
The battle staff is composed of primary and special
staff sections across the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. It supports the aviation combat
element’s capability to operate, plan and execute all functions of Marine
aviation across the range of military operations.
While it is not possible to plan and be prepared for
every future engagement, 2nd MAW plans to optimize its readiness and
continuously enforce and maintain standards in an effort to increase the
capability of defending the homeland and supporting the ground combat element.
Although the exercise lasted four days, the planning
phase and coordination required spanned 10 months. Marines assigned to battle
staff positions participated in operational planning teams requiring staff
input across the entirety of 2nd MAW. In
effort to make the constructive simulated exercise realistic, planners from the
II Marine Expeditionary Force Battle Simulation Center integrated the ground
combat element, logistics combat element as well as higher commands such as II
MEF and host nation militaries, forcing the ACE Marines to coordinate not only among
themselves, but also across the entire MAGTF.
Performing defensive and offensive measures to
counter both traditional and irregular threats based on today’s real-world
adversaries, the Marines and Sailors learned to work together to accomplish various
“Working with the different agencies across the wing
and outside entities was a major takeaway from this exercise,” explained Capt.
Kevin Tingley, the future operations rotary wing planner. “It allowed many of us who haven’t actually
deployed in this capacity to truly see the inner workings of what makes the
While the purpose of the exercise is to strengthen
war-fighting capabilities, the exercise will help key personnel identify training
achievements and deficiencies to prepare for future combat operations.
“After several years of sustained combat operations,
we need to continue training and executing our mission requirements so that we
can ensure we are equally as responsive tomorrow, as we were in past
operations,” said Maj. Gen. Gary Thomas, 2nd MAW commanding general. “Outstanding
support to the MAGTF is a mindset. There is a global demand for forces to
remain ready, and if we are going to do something, we are going to do it well.
This exercise speaks to the quality of the battle staff’s preparation and execution
to make it happen.”
Although WINGEX has come to an end, the continuous
training and betterment of 2nd MAW Marines and Sailors will continue to evolve when
2nd MAW participates in the II MEF-wide exercise, next year. Nonetheless, if
the nation calls for the rapid insertion of ground units or the need for close
air support -- the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing will be there to answer the call.