MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (March 16, 2012) --
Casing the unit’s colors, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) officially deactivated during a ceremony aboard Cherry Point, March 16, bringing an end to its role as the aviation combat element in southwestern Afghanistan.
Activated Nov. 23, 2010, the wing spent more than a year conducting combat missions in Afghanistan for Regional Command Southwest, which was responsible for Helmand and Nimruz provinces under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The wing aggressively conducted counterinsurgency operations, supporting coalition and Afghan forces on the ground, integrating with allied nations, and experimenting with new technologies – all under the command of Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, the commanding general of 2nd MAW (Fwd).
Walters said during his tenure in Afghanistan he witnessed a shift in a region that was once rife with violence and insurgent activity, specifically mentioning the city of Marjah, a community in Helmand province where fierce fighting dominated news headlines in 2010.
“Night and day difference in Marjah. A year ago there were bloody battles and gunfire,” Walters said. “When we left, you could go visit the schools, see the girls going to school, walk through the bazaar. Commerce is growing and booming.”
The wing was able to accomplish its objectives in large part because of the implementation of new technological initiatives. Among the most memorable was the use of iPads during helicopter flights, Walters said.
“If the pilot takes all the maps he needs, he’s actually taking a set of maps that’s 3 feet long,” he said. “There’s no room for all that in a cockpit. Get rid of all that, get an iPad. Now he can zoom in, zoom out, draw lines. It made it so those pilots could deliver aviation fires in support of the Marines who needed them now, and they could do it because they had that capability.”
Walters described technological developments that counteract the enemy’s use of roadside bombs. Under 2nd MAW (Fwd), the Marine Corps tested an unmanned helicopter capable of making cargo deliveries, reducing the need for ground convoys.
Throughout the duration of the deployment, 2nd MAW (Fwd) maintained an excellent relationship with coalition and Afghan forces, said Walters. The wing integrated with British forces, which also operated helicopter assets in the region. With their allies from across the pond, the wing worked to ensure every member of the coalition had vital, life-saving air support.
Cpl. Aine A. Feaser, a Marine Air-Ground Task Force plans noncommissioned officer with 2nd MAW (Fwd), said she was impressed with the might of the coalition.
“I was surprised on how cohesive we are with the Brits,” said Feaser. “It was pretty interesting working with them. They do things a little different and it’s hard to understand them sometimes, but it was pretty cool.”
This was Feaser’s first deployment, and as a MAGTF plans NCO, she took part in big picture operational planning for the wing. She said the deployment was a unique and good experience.
She volunteered to deploy for the yearlong deployment with 2nd MAW (Fwd). She said she appreciated her job because she felt it made a difference in Marines’ lives in subordinate units.
“When I saw Marines make it home on time, it was because I did my work the right way,” she said. “Getting Marines back home to their families in a timely fashion, that’s why I like my job.”