Marine Corps Air Station Miramar -- MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – When foreign countries look for help to better train their military, they sometimes look to train with other allied countries and learn strategies to better everyone as a team.
One program offered by the British Royal Air Force is the Royal Air Force/United States Marine Corps Pilot Exchange Program.
“In the exchange program, we have about a dozen pilots in the Unites States, but only one with Marines,” said Flight Lt. Daniel Shaw, the Royal Air Force exchange officer with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and a London, native. “It’s a valuable thing to take what I’ve learned here back to the United Kingdom and it makes the Royal Air force and the Marine Corps better organizations. That’s why this program exists.”
During his three year tour, Shaw will learn everything there is to know about the F/A-18 Hornet and the tactics the Marine Corps uses to support Marines on the ground.
“The knowledge [Shaw] brings to the table is unsurpassed,” said Capt. Taj Sareen, an F/A-18 Hornet instructor pilot with VMFAT-101, 3rd MAW and a San Francisco, native. “In the exchange program they only send their best pilots. He will be absorbed into the fighter pilot community. At the end of his three-year tour here, he will know what it means to be a Marine pilot and a Marine officer.”
In the Royal Air Force, their purpose is to gain air power. However, in the Marine Corps the purpose of aircraft is to support the Marines and the ground and aid in amphibious assaults. The tactics and strategies are very different than those of the Royal Air Force, explained Shaw.
“It’s an amazing opportunity [to work with Shaw],” said Sareen. “It’s a window into another world. He brings a completely different view and set of skills.”
Not only does Shaw need to learn about the aircraft and strategies in the United States but he must also learn the culture.
“If you drive on a Royal Air Force base, you might see people standing outside of their building and smoking, but on a Marine Corps [installation], you see people practicing fighting [techniques],” said Shaw. “There is learning to be had trying to speak ‘American’. We speak the same language, but you would be surprised on the different ways we use words.”
Shaw is taking this opportunity to broaden his horizons. The training will hopefully prove to be a valuable asset for him in the future.
“The perception is that the Marines are the best of the U.S. armed forces,” said Shaw. “While I’ve been here, I have not seen anything that would make me think anything different.”