MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Using the Air Station as a base of operations, the Fightertown flight line and the skies over the Atlantic simulated realistic combat training in a joint environment Aug. 15-17, as Marines and other services took part in a Large Force Exercise here.
During the exercise, which was called Coastal K-Bar, Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 122 and 312, and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadrons 224 and 332, worked together with joint assets from the Army and Air Force.
“It went very well,” said Capt. Matthew Kave, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312. “It was good to work with a large number of aircraft doing multiple missions.”
The LFE was conducted over the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System range in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, and Townsend Bombing Range, Ga.
The purpose of the exercise was to train aircrew for the most likely missions they would encounter while deployed, according to Maj. Sean DeWolfe, an officer with the MAG-31 Training Officer Cell.
The LFE provided realistic training for the aircrew, giving them a taste of what they could expect when they deploy, according to DeWolfe.
“I had several people tell me that this LFE was the closest thing to Iraq since they had flown there,” DeWolfe said. “I think we were very successful in providing training to prepare the aircrew for contingency operations.”
The exercise trained aircrew in all aspects of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat; from air interdiction and offensive counter air tactics to close air support and strike coordination and reconnaissance.
The main focus of the exercise was to prepare the aircrew for working with assets from other services, something they will inevitably do while deployed. Some of the joint assets included two Marine Reserve Hornet squadrons, Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers, and Army AH-64 Apache helicopters.
“You rarely get an opportunity to work with the assets we had at our disposal, let alone sit down and compare notes with those operators,” DeWolfe said. “For me, that was the most valuable aspect of the training.”
Other aircrews of MAG-31 said the exercise was an opportunity to train in a joint environment and allow other services a chance to see how Marines operate.
“It’s good that we go to work with outside agencies,” said Capt. Jamison Renaux, a pilot with VMFA-312. “It was great to work with non-Marines and see how they do things, how they differ from us.”
Overall, the LFE was a success, according to Col. Dave Beydler, the MAG-31 commanding officer.
“Coastal K-Bar was a great exercise for MAG-31 aircrew – it offered our Marines the chance to sharpen their skills working with joint assets and refine skill sets that are commonly called upon in combat today, all from our flight line right here at the Air Station.” Beydler said. “This is the type of training our aircrew need to prepare them for missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism.”