MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, UNITED STATES -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373 “Aces” provided security at a field aircraft refuel point (FARP) during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-17 on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, May 20.
While MWSS-373 is part of the aviation combat element (ACE), it often supports missions on the ground – which can include providing security to aviation assets. During the training, MWSS-373’s Marines traveled to the FARP site, dug fighting holes, disguised their vehicles and established defense positions to guard against potential enemy attacks during aircraft refueling operations.
“We want our Marines to provide organic, defensive support to our squadron,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler Cerrato, MWSS-373 security element commander during ITX 3-17. “It is key for ACE elements to have this training in case ground units are employed elsewhere.”
This ability enables an ACE and ground combat element (GCE) to overlap in certain duties and fulfills part of MWSS-373’s mission in the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing: to provide essential aviation ground requirements to a designated fixed-wing component.
“This training allows our Marines to expand their skill set and build off what they learned during [recruit training and Marine Combat Training],” said Sgt. Pedro Henriquez, a motor vehicle operator with MWSS-373.
Marines gained experience employing skills they’ll most likely use during future deployments and field operations.
“When we are forward deployed, we can fill various billets outside [of] our [military occupational specialty],” said Henriquez. “This prepares Marines for real-world scenarios they wouldn’t be ready for without this training.”
ITX is an opportunity for both air and ground combat elements to combine, preparing them to operate as a Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) long before the necessity arises – whether forward-deployed, in combat or in another training environment.
“This allows us to showcase what our Marines are capable of and what we can bring to the fight,” said Cerrato. “It ensures all units have cohesion and open lines of communication to operate seamlessly in a forward-deployed environment.”