MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) activated in a ceremony aboard Cherry Point, Nov. 23.
The wing activated under the command of Brig. Gen. Glenn M. Walters in preparation for a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan scheduled for early 2011 when the unit will relieve 3rd MAW.
“2nd Marine Aircraft Wing has once again been called upon to defend this nation,” said Walters. “We have demonstrated our capabilities and combat power repeatedly in Iraq. This time we will deploy to the Helmand and Nimroz providences of Afghanistan.”
During the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) deployment to Afghanistan, the wing will provide all six functions of Marine Corps aviation, from assault support to aerial reconnaissance.
“It is 2nd MAW (Fwd.)’s job to provide all aviation support assets,” said Col. Russell A. C. Sanborn, the assistant wing commander of 2nd MAW (Fwd.) “We are there to literally support that lance corporal on the ground. We will provide anything from air assault, kinetic fires and casualty evacuation to transporting food, supplies and water.”
In the months leading up to deployment the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) leadership said it places great emphasis on ensuring Marines and Sailors are preparing for the fight through training and family readiness.
“Marines have their personal side and their military side, first you have to take care of your family and set them up for success during the deployment,” said Sanborn. “You also have to be proficient in your job, be a subject matter expert.”
Sanborn said he feels resources available to Marines, like unit family readiness officers, help to ensure troops and their families are ready for deployment.
“This is my first deployment and I feel pretty good about going,” said Lance Cpl. Reinaldo J. Contreras, an administrative clerk with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2. “I have been doing all of my predeployment training and it’s really helpful.”
The last time the wing activated was for a 2009 deployment to Iraq, but this will be the first time that 2nd MAW (Fwd.) headquarters is deploying to Afghanistan.
“I think this deployment is significant in that regard,” said Col. Ben D. Hancock, the chief of staff for 2nd MAW (Fwd.) .
While Marines and squadrons with 2nd MAW have deployed to Afghanistan, the wing has never deployed as a headquarters unit.
The primary mission of 2nd MAW (Fwd.) will be to command and control all Marine Corps aviation assets and to conduct aviation operations.
“If it flies and it has Marine Corps colors on it, it will be under to command of Brig. Gen. Walters,” said Hancock.
“This marks the fourth time 2nd MAW (Fwd.) has been activated in the War on Terror. I am honored to have the privilege of leading our Marines into combat. 2nd MAW (Fwd.) will continue to bring the fight to enemy by doing our most important job, supporting fellow Marines,” said Walters.
On the individual Marine level, Sanborn said that understanding the culture of the Afghan people will be one of the largest challenges.
“While we are over there we almost have to stop thinking like an American,” said Sanborn. “We are going to be on their land and we have to understand their ways.”
The Marine Corps mission in Afghanistan is to defeat the insurgency in partnership with our allies and a blossoming Afghan government, said Sanborn.
“We are going there to help them,” said Hancock. “We are also giving the Afghans the tools to help themselves.”