MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- More than 120 Marines with Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point from a six-week exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. March 7.
Exercise Broken Resolution helps prepare AV-8B Harrier student pilots for air-to-surface and close-air support missions.
The exercise is one of three training evolutions the squadron conducts per year. The squadron’s main purpose is to train new fixed-wing aircraft pilots to operate and fly the Harrier before they transition into a fleet squadron. Training in Yuma gives the student pilots a chance to fly in an environment unlike those found around Cherry Point, according to Capt. Derek A. Mills, an instructor pilot with VMAT-203.
“VMAT-203 Marines execute the same daily duties that you see at Cherry Point, but in an environment and airspace that is more conducive to simulate tactical operations,” said Mills.
The training gave the student pilots in the squadron a chance to hone their skills in an austere environment, identifying and eliminating training targets with ordnance not usually employed around Cherry Point.
“We bring the students to Yuma because of the live fire ranges in the vicinity and because of the generally good flying weather as compared to Cherry Point,” said Capt. Trevor Sutton, the aviation life support systems officer-in-charge with VMAT-203. “[In Yuma] they get to employ live weapons such as general purpose bombs, laser guided bombs, global positioning system guided bombs, rockets, firebombs and cluster bombs."
Exercise Broken Resolution gave the student pilots an opportunity to apply operational fundamentals outside of a garrison environment, according to Mills. Working with ground crews, planners, other student pilots and instructors gave the students practical experience with flight operations that reflect the operational tempo of real-world operations, according to Sutton.
The training the Marines received in Yuma served as building blocks for future advanced training, according to Sutton.
Squadron training is important because it builds unit camaraderie and strengthens unit cohesion, according to Sutton.
“The training builds camaraderie because the detachment is away from home field and away from distractions of home life,” said Sutton. “For many of our junior Marines who have not deployed before, this was their first taste of operating in a foreign environment.”