News: Tactical air command center demonstrates stand-alone reserve force
Story by Lance Cpl. Chelsea Anderson
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. – The Marine Corps is bringing new meaning to the operational reserve concept during Operation Javelin Thrust 2011 exercise.
After almost two years of planning, for the first time ever, Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 48 Marines participating in JT-11 set up, organized and ran a complete tactical air command center, or TACC as part of a reserve Aviation Combat Element, or ACE.
“Javelin Thrust is the first time that the Marine Corps has had a stand-alone reserve force,” said Col. Kevin M. Iiams, Marine Aircraft Group 41 commanding officer and JT-11 ACE Commander. “It is setting the tone for an operating reserve.”
Prior to this, the Marine Corps has never had a TACC that is run solely by reserve Marines in support of an all reserve ACE during an exercise of this magnitude. The success of the exercises during JT-11 gives reserve Marines the opportunity to show the Marine Corps they are capable of performing in an operational environment on their own.
The JT-11 TACC is one of the most complete ever achieved, with the technology to keep all the elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force operating smoothly and efficiently.
The basic purpose of the TACC is to keep communication flowing between each of the elements of the MAGTF. Sgt. Robert C. Voelker, Marine Air Control Group 48 air control electronics operator from Chicago, ensures maintenance issues don’t impede the flow of communication.
“People depend on a working network,” said Voelker. “Without our work, minor problems become big ones. Then the job doesn’t get done effectively.”
The TACC possesses the ability to maintain visibility of all aircraft within the operational area. Additionally, Marines can gather the speed, direction and altitude of the aircraft, as well as the Marine aircraft’s mission. This allows accountability of friendly and enemy forces.
The various operating elements tap into the information obtained through the TACC’s radar data link technology to stay informed on current missions.
“We are basically the heart of operations,” said Cpl. Jordan M. Schoon, MACG-48 tactical data systems administrator from Watsea, Ill.
The TACC isn’t just useful for the aviation combat element of the MAGTF, it provides a bridge between the ground and the air components.
“We help provide feedback to the ground and get them support if they need it,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Ohlsen, MACG-48 air support operations operator from Gurnee, Ill. “It gives them comfort that they’re not alone and removes any limits on them through good communication.”
Through a mess of high tech antennas, linked radars, wires and computers, the TACC also provides command and control oversight between the three training locations during JT-11 to keep the exercise running smoothly.
In addition to being the first independently reserve TACC; the exercise is unique because of its diversity of forces.
“Marines are coming from all over the United States to participate in this exercise,” said Col. Barry E. Federici. MTACS-48 commanding officer. “They are learning to work together smoothly and efficiently.”
Unlike active forces where Marines regularly work alongside others in their unit, the exercise is taking Marines from locations scattered across the states and creating one unified, self-sufficient force.