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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.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Pettway

MAG-31 establishes deployment operations

10 May 2012 | Cpl. Josh Pettway

 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.”