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Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373 return from their guard post and prepare to conduct an area damage assessment as part of the base recovery after attack training (BRAAT) evolution during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-17 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 23. ITX is a combined-arms exercise enabling Marines across 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing to operate as an aviation combat element integrated with ground and logistics combat elements as a Marine air-ground task force. More than 650 Marines and 27 aircraft with 3rd MAW are supporting ITX 3-17. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. David Bickel/Released)

Photo by Sgt. David Bickel

Aviation assault: Aces repel and repair

5 Jun 2017 | Sgt. David Bickel 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373 conducted a base recovery after attack training (BRAAT) evolution during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-17 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, May 23.

The BRAAT exercise allowed MWSS-373 to experience an attack on a strategic expeditionary landing field (SELF), requiring them to take defensive action and repair any equipment or runway space which may have been damaged.

“We have a simulated airfield attack taking place today at the airfield,” said 1st Lt. Trevor Isbell, MWSS-373 support company executive officer. “We have positioned Marines to defend against the attacks and have units standing by to assess the repair work when we are given the clear.”

At the start of the attack, Marines with MWSS-373 manned defensive watch positions, mounted light machine guns on tactical vehicles and returned fire.

“Our job was to provide security for the wing and defend the airfield from simulated hostiles,” said Lance Cpl. Taijonathan Collins, an MWSS-373 water support technician. “The primary focus for the guards in the watchtowers is logging the enemy positions and calling them into headquarters so the armored vehicles could provide defensive fire.”

Following the counter-attack, Marines assessed the damage and worked to return the SELF to an operational status.

“Once the attack ceased, headquarters gave the order and accountability was taken,” commented Isbell. “At that point, we transitioned from the defensive portion, to the base recovery. During the base recovery, teams assess assigned sectors for damage then relay that information back to headquarters.”

“We survey the area on foot and in vehicles so we don’t miss any portion of the flight line,” said Collins. “You play how you practice and if we practice hard, we are going to do it right when it comes game time.”

ITX 3-17 is primarily focused on direct Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) integration. The BRAAT exercise gave MWSS-373 the opportunity to bring together the ground combat element (GCE) and the ACE, allowing both elements to operate effectively.

“The ACE and the GCE are vital to this exercise,” said Isbell. “The ACE helps with specific repair work to get birds in the air for a counter-attack and the GCE aids as a quick reaction force that can be called if the threat was large enough. They both play key roles in MAGTF integration at ITX 3-17.”

“We have this training because a deployed unit consists of more [military occupational specialties] than just the [infantry Marines],” said Collins. “We need to know how to put down our normal tools, pick up a rifle and get on post.”

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