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An F/A-18C Hornet takes-off on the flight line aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort March 7. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 departed for the Western Pa¬cific March 7 as part of the Unit Deployment Program. The squadron will sup¬port 6 multinational ex¬ercises, which will not only increase the readi¬ness of the Marines but safeguard international goodwill and ensure we can work with our allies effectively. The Hornet is with VMFA-122.

Photo by Cpl. Jonah Lovy

Unit Deployment Program takes VMFA-122 to Western Pacific

10 Mar 2016 | Cpl. Jonah Lovy Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 departed from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to the Western Pa­cific as part of the Unit Deployment Program March 7. The squadron will sup­port multinational ex­ercises, which will increase the readi­ness of the Marines and enhance interoperability to ensure we can work with our allies effectively.

Approximately 200 Marines and sailors from VMFA-122 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 aboard MCAS Beaufort will participate in the deployment. “These types of deploy­ments offer a variety of training and experience for all Marines through­out the squadron,” said Capt. Christopher Collins, the officer in charge of the airframes division for VMFA-122. “We get to work alongside many of our allies in a short time period, which al­lows everyone to become more familiar with how everyone conducts op­erations.”

The Unit Deployment Program allows Marines to forward deploy from their base of origin to support combatant commanders around the globe. VMFA-122 will be temporarily stationed aboard MCAS Iwakuni with Marine Aircraft Group 12.

“We do the whole spectrum of the training we are given from the training readiness guidance,” said Collins. “That includes air-to-ground and air-to-air. We focus on close air support because that is mainly what we do as Marines.”

The squadron’s main­tainers enable the F/A-18 Hornets to provide close air support and provide intelligence, reconnais­sance and surveillance to friendly ground units.

“I am really interested to see how other services and countries perform,” said Lance Cpl. John Sloan, an avia­tion ordnance technician with VMFA-122. “I know that things are going to be different but I look forward to learning something new.”

The Marines will also get the opportunity to visit several different countries during the de­ployment. This is an op­portunity for Marines to experience other cul­tures and see sights oth­er Americans may never get to see.

“I am really excited to see new places and have new experiences to share when I come home,” said Sloan.

The interaction with foreign countries is help­ful for the Marines to experience different people, cultures and work with other aircraft and crews, enhancing the capability to learn and work together toward a common goal or to beat a common enemy.

“The biggest thing we will be doing out there is participating in exercises with allied foreign countries,” said Collins. “We are also working with other services like the U.S. Air Force.”

The standard deployment length for UDP is six months but VMFA-122 may be gone longer depending on the exercise schedule.

“In the Marine Corps, we need to be prepared to operate anywhere, so by training in new environments with other services we can execute realistic scenarios,” said Collins. “It is going to be helpful to train in the Western Pacific so we can get out of our comfort zone.”

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