Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2017, as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course 1-18.
The NEO exercise simulates real-life scenarios where non-combatants are evacuated from a potentially hostile area. In this case, several MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions took part in landing in areas aboard the Combat Center, including Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field and De Valle Track and Field, which were staging areas for role-players acting as non-combatants to be evacuated.
“Our main landing zones at Gray Field and down at the track are being used as a pretend consulate,” said Master Sgt. Matthew Dank, air traffic control chief, MAWTS-1. “The operation consists of the rapid deployment of forces to secure vital areas and effectively evacuate civilians from hostile areas.”
The NEO has been a crucial part of WTI for years now. The exercise falls under the guidance of the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, which provides plenty of training areas for MAWTS-1 to conduct different training scenarios aboard the Combat Center.
“MAWTS-1 and the Combat Center have a great relationship, and that relationship definitely helps contribute to making the training effective,” Dank said. “This is one of my favorite exercises.”