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How the wing fights: 3rd MAW participates in MEFEX-18

By Sgt. Brytani Wheeler | 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing | March 16, 2018

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Marines and Sailors with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing wrapped up Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise March 8, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, where they tested their readiness to support I MEF during a deployment.

The exercise tested the ability of 3rd MAW to employ their Marines and aircraft in an effective manner to support I MEF in a scenario-based operation. This training gave units within 3rd MAW the knowledge of how to successfully respond in a real-life situation.

“3rd MAW’s mission was to learn in practical terms how to employ the wing in a warfighting scenario,” said Col. Vincent Ciuccoli, G-3 assistant chief of staff.

Conducting exercises like MEFEX ensures the major subordinate commands of MEF build an experienced staff who can work alongside partner nations in a combined force and accomplish their mission with a positive end state of defeating the enemy.

“Having a joint Marine air control system of augments and fulltime 3rd MAW staff and having us all here in one location kept the team focused,” said Ciuccoli. “Really it’s the entire wing and all of the subordinate elements like logistics, administration, medical and everyone else who make the operational aspect successful because we see how each piece plays a role.”

Although no aircraft actually conducted a mission during the exercise, the Marines developed action plans in which the units would notionally respond to the scenarios provided.

“When you’re committed to the exercise, it feels real for every mission,” said Ciuccoli. “There is a huge sense of realism on the operations floor, which helps make the team successful even though it’s scenario-based.”

Beyond the simulated air missions 3rd MAW conducted, Marines with 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, provided another crucial element to the accomplishment of 3rd MAW’s mission.

“Having 14th Marines out here on the Tactical Air Command and Control Center floor brought more situation awareness to the overall MEF fight,” said Ciuccoli. “They had to coordinate [High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems] through our airspace and the integration proved vital and it gave us a greater appreciation of MEF fires not just from aviation.”

This is the first time 14th Marines has participated in a MEF exercise.

“MAW has never had an organic surface fire asset,” said Sgt. Christopher Wynn, the force artillery headquarters TACC liaison chief. “We provide direct tasking to suit 3rd MAW’s mission rather than going through a division unit every time surface-to-surface fires are needed.”

Ciuccoli deemed MEFEX a win for the personnel within 3rd MAW.

“We learned the wing’s place within MEF and how capable we can be,” said Ciuccoli.

These lessons will not be stored away until next time, explained Ciuccoli. The lessons learned here will refine the tactical standard operating procedures and forever document how to fight the wing successfully.

“Team building cannot go unnoticed,” said Ciuccoli. “When everyone has one focused mission, you have the ability to leverage not only the military occupational specialty functions as experts but also make the wing better.”


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