MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- More than 170 Marines and Sailors from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 left Fightertown, May 18, for Zaragoza, Spain, to participate in NATO exercise Dynamic Mix.
"Every two years, each NATO nation comes together to participate in Dynamic Mix," said Capt. Matt Pearce, a VMFA-312 pilot participating the operation. "It is a cooperative effort by all nations to help familiarize them with joint operations."
At approximately 4 a.m., 22 pilots and four weapons system officers flew directly from Beaufort to Spain, refueling in the air as the traveled across the Atlantic. The remaining Marines and Sailors boarded a bus at 11 a.m. to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point for their trans-Atlantic flight.
"This exercise is similar to a Combined Arms Exercise, except on a global level," said Cpl. Jason Silvia, administrative clerk, VMFA-312. "Nations will work together to provide ground, air and sea support."
More than 15,000 service members, 50 ships and 150 aircraft from 13 nations are participating in the three-week exercise. The Checkeredboards and military elements from around the world are training in defense, crisis response, and humanitarian assistance operations.
"We don't expect it to be much different from what we do every day," said Gunnery Sgt. Jersey Bray, quality assurance representative for VMFA-312. "We will continue ensuring aircraft are ready for flight and combat operations."
By working with every command throughout NATO's Southern Region, Dynamic Mix integrates multinational forces to work together for any real world situations. Despite maintaining combat readiness within NATO, the goal of this and other live exercises is to help preserve peace.
"It's important to get the chance to see the way other countries work," said Lance Cpl. Ashley Bradt, aviation technician for VMFA-312. "However, I'm not looking forward to the weather."
Marines participating in Dynamic Mix will be working throughout Spain and the Canary Islands, the Western Mediterranean, Southeast Atlantic and Turkey. They will be working hand-in-hand with service members from Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy and more.
"We are looking forward to seeing the sights," Bray said, "and meeting and training with the people of other countries around the globe."