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Marine Air Control Squadron 2: small det, big job

By Pfc. Jason D. Mills | | May 19, 2006

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Not unlike a movie stage crew, whose members rarely get any camera time but still play a vital role in the big picture, the Marines of Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Detachment A are critical to the success of keeping Fightertown’s hornets in the sky. Similar to Marines on the ground, the Marines in the air require support from other units unique in aviation support. The Marines of MACS-2, Det. A provide pilots an edge by acting as their eyes on the ground in all types of environments. They are indeed the “eyes” of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.“One aspect of our mission here is to support the Air Station with air traffic control,” said Capt. Robert Walker, the new commanding officer of Det. A - one of the smallest units stationed here - who assumed command May 3. “We also support Marine Aircraft Group 31 with air defense, such as surveillance, air traffic control and weapons.”Marine Air Control Squadron 2 has many tools in their arsenal, but perhaps the most potent is their ability to increase the pilot’s spectrum of vision and guide flights to either takeoff or approach, according to Walker.“Basically we help build the pilots situational awareness, so that they can figure out how to best defeat the enemy,” Walker said.The detachment only has about 125 Marines and at any given time up to 30 of them could be deployed. The MACS Marines are outfitted with navigational equipment that tells pilots coordinates, direction and distance in deployed environments. “We support the MAG’s training of their pilots here and also support the airfield operations by providing Marines to the Air Station, who therefore help train our Marines,” Walker said. Due to their critical skills, Marines from the detachment are deployed almost constantly and can be deployed to almost anywhere. Over the past six years the detachment has been deployed to Kuwait, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Djibouti and Kurjistan, just to name a few. “I’ve been here since September of 2003 and we have had a small contingent of Marines deployed almost constantly since I’ve been here,” said Master Sgt. Mark Kayser, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of MACS-2 here. “Air traffic controllers are in very high demand.” The MACS-2 Marines are typically forward deployed to support airfields or other missions requiring their talents. “If you come to MACS-2 you’re going to go places and see things,” said Capt. Christopher Coble, the former commanding officer of MACS-2.MACS-2 is somewhat a jack of all trades, ready to support many different facets of air support.“We control air space and we control air traffic and we do it very well,” Walker said. The Marines of MACS-2 recognize the fact that it takes more then just one player to make operations run smoothly, rather it takes the whole team.“We serve an important function and we try to be the best because we want the flying squadrons to call us; but, we are certainly not invaluable,” said Coble. “We are part of a bigger system and you need everybody in the system for things to run smoothly because if we didn’t have pilots then we wouldn’t have a job.”
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