Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
As the Marine Corps moves closer to its expeditionary roots, Marine Aircraft Group 24 is imparting this mentality on their current combat-level deployment training aboard the Combat Center.
MAG-24, based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is the leading Aviation Combat Element for the ongoing Integrated Training Exercise 5-13.
MAG-24’s ITX training provides an opportunity for the air element to continuously cultivate their expeditionary readiness and mindset for any mission the Marine Corps gives them.
“It’s good training for us too,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Forbes, aviation supply officer, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24. “We’re not always going to be in an environment with established power. I’ll throw curve balls every once in a while just to see how my Marines will act.”
The ACE, made up of 16 different units, is an integral part of the Ground Combat Element’s overall deployment training. They will also be coordinating with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One and the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group.
“ITX provides an opportunity for MAG-24 to refine (tactical training procedures) in preparation for the aviation plan-directed growth of the MAG and for possible operational deployment of the MAG and MAG-24’s likely role in future crisis response scenarios,” said Col. Paul A. Fortunato, commanding officer, MAG-24. “As MAG-24 continues to grow in accordance with the Marine Corps’ aviation plan, ITX presents an initial, but significant opportunity to build capabilities and identify and solve gaps and shortfalls as MAG-24 stands ready to provide composite and integrated capabilities not seen before in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.”
More than 1,400 Marines and sailors make up the ACE which continuously supports the GCE throughout the 29-day ITX evolution.
“Most of the MAG is just a training aid for the two battalions out here,” said Lt. Col. Eric R. Olson, operations officer, MAG-24. “We’re coming together with the composite MAG, with the amount of teamwork; it’s almost as if they’ve been a team before.”
As the composite ACE is broken down at the Combat Center, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 8th Marine Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, will come in contact with multiple aviation units from across the Marine Corps.
“The deployment cycle is slowing down,” Forbes said. “Now we’re driving toward this readiness all the time. So when there’s something like Hurricane Katrina or Operation Tomodachi, the Marine Air Ground Task Force is right there, ready to go. This is what the Marine Corps is all about, this 9-1-1-force type stuff. Readiness is what enables the Marine Corps to accomplish that mission.”