MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2011) --
Two 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing helicopter squadrons departed Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Nov. 12 and 18 for Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. to endure Enhanced Mojave Viper 2-12.
The two squadrons are part of approximately 12 units under command element Marine Aircraft Group 26 out of MCAS New River, N.C., and the units range from battalion-sized elements to a Marine Wing Support Squadron, said Maj. Chris Kotlinski, EMV coordinator for MAG-26.
Located in the deserts of Southern California, the three-week training evolution is considered to be the closest environment to what Marines and Sailors will face in Afghanistan making MCAGCC Twentynine Palms an ideal venue.
“An advantage of having EMV in MCAGCC Twentynine Palms is that it is a multipurpose live-fire range, providing squadrons the opportunity to conduct air-ground fire integration training with other units deploying to Afghanistan,” said Kotlinski.
The training gives the Marines from MCAS Cherry Point and MCAS New River an opportunity to train in an environment not found on the east coast, explained Maj. Brian Taylor, executive officer of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, one of the two squadrons that left recently for EMV.
The primary mission of the training is to put Marines in combat oriented situations that include live-fires, coalition level integration and urban operations to prepare service members for operational force readiness.
“Each unit provides a critical role in the safe and successful completion of EMV 2-12,” said Kotlinski. “This holds true for every Marine Air-Ground Task Force operation, including those being conducted in Afghanistan.”
In addition to the field training, there is a fair amount of classroom work and planning before the execution of missions during the three-week EMV, said Taylor.
“This provides an opportunity for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 to ensure that we are ready as a Marine heavy helicopter squadron to operate in theater,” Taylor said.
Mojave Viper is the culminating exercise in a squadron’s predeployment training program, ensuring all final preparations are made before deploying.
“This assessment will oversee the squadron’s ability to conduct aviation integration, coordination and tactical execution of core competencies in support of MAGTF missions,” said Kotlinski.
“The biggest piece of EMV is the opportunity to train as a single unit with our counterparts from HMH-466,” said Taylor. “Working together as a single unit, planning missions, performing aircraft maintenance and functioning as a single squadron in an austere location provides a terrific training opportunity.”