2nd MAW (Fwd) ensures operational readiness

8 Feb 2011 | Cpl. Rashaun X. James

Elements of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) at Cherry Point participated in the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s mission rehearsal exercise Jan. 24 through Feb. 4. 2nd MAW (Fwd.) will serve as the air combat element for II MEF operations in Afghanistan.

“The MRX is used to provide II MEF (Fwd.) a realistic training venue to prepare for the upcoming deployment,” said Maj. Brad Magrath, a Marine Air-Ground Task Force staff training program observer and trainer.

Lt. Col. Dirk Cooper, a senior watch officer for 2nd MAW (Fwd.)’s tactical air command center, explained that the MRX is all about refining skills and developing relationships with other combat elements. “The purpose of the MRX is to ensure and maximize the effectiveness of Marine air assets by assuring as much tactical efficiency as we can,” said Cooper.

“So far, the MRX is a huge improvement over previous exercises. We’ve stepped up the size and players involved in the scenarios and everyone has a good knowledge of our area of operation. This has been a tremendous workup.”

The TACC is the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) commanding general’s command and control center. From there all aviation activity within the area of operation can be monitored including British Royal Air Force activity.

Military officers from the United Kingdom served as observers and advisors during the exercise as well.

During the scenarios TACC personnel monitored and reacted to situations involving the aircraft in their AO. They coordinated medical evacuations, responded to troops in contact and solved problems concerning reduction in fuel incidents. Cooper said prior training allowed personnel to fine tune the relationship between the MEF and the MAW.

“We helped the MEF mature in their integration of aviation,” Cooper said. “The fact that we had already trained together allowed us to focus on integration vice internal learning. The relationship developed between us and the MEF was the biggest benefit of this exercise.”

“There’s always room for improvement,” said Magrath. “We try to make it as realistic as possible given exercise limitations and what the units will actually encounter while in country.”

Cooper praised the execution of the exercises scenarios as well.

“I don’t think I’ve personally participated in a more realistic exercise,” said Cooper. “Ten years at war have helped us train how we will fight. MSTP’s abilities have really come a long way.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point