MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. --
More than 500 Marines completed the first Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course with Marine Aircraft Group 31 support from Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.
The course prepares fleet aircraft crews to go out and train the rest of the fleet for aerial combat operations, to include providing close-air support, air-to-air missions, general troop support and casualty evacuation.
The students received four weeks of classroom instruction combined with a rigorous flight curriculum. The Marines worked 12 hour days, Monday throughSaturday, to provide support for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. WTI operations.
“We were able to flush out our ability to complete air combat element operations to include command and control operations,” said Col. Michael Cederholm, MAG-31 commanding officer. “Ultimately, this operation will affect all of Marine Corps aviation.
“Now, the MAG has learned how to provide support while in a deployed environment.”
The training encompassed different combat phases which allowed Marines to work with other aviation units. Marine Aircraft Group 31 led the exercise in El Centro. While serving as the air combat element command, MAG-31 served as higher headquarters for all subsidiary units from both the East and West Coast taking part in the exercise from the air facility.
Many squadrons from throughout the Marine Corps aviation community took part in the exercise including: Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167.
According to Maj. Lance Patrick, MAG-31 operations officer, the squadrons, their aircraft and maintainers accumulated more than 1,300 total flight hours and approximately 800 individual flights were completed under the command of MAG- 31during the course of the event.
“(This course) is a great exercise,” said Cederholm. “The construct of this event allowed us to incorporate every unit into the WTI syllabus, and train together.
“We were able to learn and assess every platform’s training and readiness allowing us to take on any of their mission sets in a time of need.”