News: 1 Step closer: VMAQ-3 Completes Red Flag training
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - More than 100 Marines from Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 returned to Cherry Point Aug. 2, after completing Red Flag 10-4, a two-week, advanced aerial combat training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Red Flag was a portion of predeployment training for the Moondogs of VMAQ-3 to prepare for their scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in October.
“Red Flag was a critical team building exercise for us as well as an opportunity to practice integration with joint aircraft and joint aviation assets, which we rarely get to do,” said Lt. Col. Kirk D. Nothelfer, commanding officer of VMAQ-3.
In the two weeks that VMAQ-3 Marines spent in the dry Nevada desert, they trained with service members from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Singapore and the U.S. Air Force.
“Our ability to integrate with joint assets is a force enabler for us prior to our upcoming deployment,” Nothelfer said.
Red Flag is considered a large force exercise, and Nellis Air Force Base puts on the exercise four times a year. Nothelfer explained the conditions in Nev. are much different than at Cherry Point, which provided for a unique training opportunity for VMAQ-3 Marines.
“Being able to fly out of Las Vegas more closely simulates the type of environment that we’ll fly out of in Afghanistan,” he said.
Red Flag proved to be an excellent opportunity for the squadron Marines to see how they’re going to operate as a team when they go forward.
“The new guys got a lot of experience out of this,” said Sgt. Norman W. Hinman, powerline mechanic with VMAQ-3. “The squadron was able to get a better understanding of how everybody works together.”
Between now and October, the Moondogs plan to refine their training plan and begin to focus on the tactics that will be used in Afghanistan.
“The past two weeks validated that we’ve got a world class team with great potential, and great aiming points to refine from a tactical perspective,” said Nothelfer. “We’d absolutely like to participate in Red Flag again.”