Marines, sailors perfect low-altitude air defense techniques

Marines, sailors perfect low-altitude air defense techniques

Cpl Kristopher Biegel, pointing, simulates locking on to an aircraft with a FI-92 stinger launcher Dec. 11 at Tinian's North Field during a professional military education class to crewmembers with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 participating in Exercise Forager Fury II. Photo by LCpl Antonio Rubio.

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands (Dec. 13, 2013) – Marines with 2nd Low-Altitude Air Defense gave a professional military education class to the pilots and aircrewmen with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 Dec. 11 at Tinian's North Field.

The training allows the squadrons to understand 2nd LAAD's implied missions including entry control points, quick reaction force, convoy security, combat patrols and base defense operations center during Exercise Forager Fury II.

FFII is a joint exercise designed to employ and assess combat power generation in a deployed and austere environment.

HSC-25 is stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The Marines are with 2nd LAAD currently assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.

"It's good joint training between the Navy and Marine Corps. It defines that 'one team to the fight' aspect," said Navy Lt.j.g. Fletcher Wasson, MH-60S Seahawk pilot, HSC-25. "The PME itself was beneficial because it gave the pilots and aircrewmen a good insight into the capabilities and limitations of stinger missiles, which is one of (the U.S. military's) assets but also one of the assets of our enemy."

The PME also covered functions and capabilities of the FI-92 stinger launcher as part of FFII, which allows Marines and sailors to join forces to expand aviation capabilities.

"Within seconds of the radio call to engage the aircraft, we can have missiles in the sky," said Cpl Kristopher Biegel, gunner with 2nd LAAD. "It's a fire-and-forget missile so after you fire you can set the launcher down and move on to the next one if necessary. It can engage multiple aircrafts including helicopter, drones and jets."

HSC-25 is participating in FFII executing close air support training as well as sea combat search and rescue, according to Capt Joshua Anderson, commanding officer with 2nd LAAD. However, close-air support would not be successful if there were no appropriate ground defense tactics.

"We're providing ground-base air defense in support of North Field on Tinian, denying the enemy to hit crucial assets on Tinian's North Field," said Anderson. "It really brings the expeditionary nature of what we do to the forefront because we're not focusing on big troop movements, were focusing on the finely-tuned applications of force throughout an expeditionary battle space."

With operations on Tinian providing unique opportunities for Marines and sailors to exercise specific unit capabilities and, FFII increases MAG-12's operational readiness and improve their core expeditionary combat capabilities.

"Working in these conditions has been challenging, but this is exactly what we do as an expeditionary helicopter combat squadron and the only forward helicopter squadron in the United States Navy," said Wasson.

Along with hosting HSC-25, FF II is the first exercise in the Pacific to have a LAAD unit involved in the training since the resumption of the unit deployment program, according to Anderson.

"This brings a lot of new environments, new opportunities and new people for the Marines to work with," said Anderson. "They're getting the opportunity to train in an austere environment, which is relatively new for us in this (military occupational specialty)."

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