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Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K King Stallion assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One prepares to take off during a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation exercise as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-24 at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, April 12, 2024. The NEO, provided by MAWTS-1, gives students the opportunity to execute scenario-based training as part of their certification and preparation for real-world incidents that require a quick reaction force to extract personnel from hostile situations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Richard PerezGarcia)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Richard PerezGarcia

The Combat Center conducts noncombatant evacuation operations to prepare Marines for global missions

12 Apr 2024 | Lance Cpl. Aidan Jones Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

U.S. Marine Corps students with Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One conducted a noncombatant evacuation operation exercise as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-24 at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, April 12, 2024.

WTI is designed around the six functions of Marine aviation: offensive air support, control of aircraft and missiles, assault support, aerial reconnaissance, anti-air warfare, and electronic warfare. Prospective WTIs from a variety of aviation military occupational specialties in the Marine Corps participate in WTI along with students from the ground and logistic combat elements.

The NEO exercise highlights the Marine Corps ability to de-escalate a situation and relocate personnel to a safe location in the event of an emergency.

The exercise utilized CH-53K King Stallions and CH-53E Super Stallions to land and extract civilian role players. The role players portrayed both non-hostile and hostile civilians who applied pressure to the security of the landing zones for the aircrafts.

“We're simulating that our students have to evacuate American citizens from a foreign country,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Katrina Lamsa, an instructor pilot with MAWTS-1. “This is probably one of the biggest noncombatant evacuation operation exercises that the military does.”

MCAGCC teams up with MATWS-1 to conduct this training twice a year, each time with different scenarios to accomplish in different locations which allows for Marines to be able to train in various austere environments.

“The pilots don't get a lot of opportunities to land in urban environments,” explained Lamsa. “It's an opportunity for us to practice landing in an urban environment, which provides some different challenges to pilots without disturbing a city or civilian population.”

Skills learned in this training have been utilized in several real-world events such as the humanitarian NEO which occurred at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in March of 2024.

Recent international events not only show why it is beneficial for Marines and other service members to undergo training, but it also emphasizes the Marines’ capabilities beyond warfighting, highlighting the importance of humanitarian, diplomatic, and evacuation missions.

“The Marine Corps deploys all the time, and all over the world,” said Lamsa. "We're always there and we're ready to execute the mission when the nation needs us.”
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms