MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marine Air Control Group 28 conducted a Marine Air Command and Control System Integrated Simulated Training Exercise Dec. 14 – 16 to prepare for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
When deployed, MACG-28 and its subordinate squadrons will act as communications middle-men between aviation and ground combat elements operating in the same battle space.
The MISTEX exercise simulates real missions from Afghanistan that have already occurred and replays them on computers so the squadrons of MACG-28 can go through the motions of coordinating air and ground units to complete those missions.
“Most of the Marines that come out of communications school have a good general idea of how things work,” said Lance Cpl. Martin W. Cook, a data network specialist for Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28. “But when you do a MISTEX like this, they have a chance to get to see a lot of situations that have happened in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s a learning experience for everybody, even for people who’ve already been over there like myself.”
Capt. Shane A. Bladen, the weapons training and tactics program officer for Marine Air Support Squadron 1, played a major role in ensuring the effectiveness of the training. According to Bladen, the MISTEX exercise works by setting up MACG-28 as if it were deployed.
The heart of the MISTEX exercise is in the White Cell tent, where Marines and civilians pretend to be pilots and ground units involved in combat operations. They communicate with the components of MACG-28 such as the Direct Air Support Center and the Tactical Air Operations Center.
The DASC is the direct link between air and ground forces. They process requests for immediate air support. When air assets are allocated for a specific request, the DASC will maintain coordination between the forces on the ground and the air units.
The TAOC tracks all allied air operations and all aircraft locations. They allocate the appropriate aircraft for the requests that come in through the DASC.
The Tactical Air Command Center is the central component of MACG-28. There, commanders make the decisions on how the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Forward’s assets will be used and send those decisions back down to the DASC and TAOC.
MWCS-28 will provide the means to maintain open communications channels between 2nd MAW (Foward) and other units involved in Afghanistan. Without the ability to communicate, important information will never make it to and from the frontlines, therefore compromising the mission.
“We try to make it so that we have 100 percent reliability on everything,” said Cook. “Without comm, all communications cease and your only option would be to carry it by foot.”
According to Bladen, the group will be very well prepared for the upcoming deployment.
“MACG-28 has some experience in Afghanistan,” said Bladen. “With the MISTEX and other training there’s no doubt that this group is going to be ready to deploy.”