MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Marine Air Support Squadron 1 conducted an air support element drill, a smaller version of a direct air support center drill, outside the squadron’s headquarters building July 26.
Currently, more than half of the unit is deployed to support 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) overseas contingency operations as part of the lead aviation combat element for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in southwestern Afghanistan. The exercise allowed MASS-1 Marines to practice providing the voice and data requirements to effectively provide communication support to air and ground units.
“Our Marines were interested to see what we can do with our limited personnel and resources,” said Lt. Col. Alfred Sanchez, the commanding officer of MASS-1. “It’s an opportunity to train, and it’s always a good chance to see what our Marines can do.”
The unit’s main focus during the drill was effective communication and making sure all troops are safe in a combat environment, said Sgt. Abayomi Adeniyi, an aviation communications system technician with MASS-1.
“All of the Marines participating are important because they are needed to direct and help other troops,” said Adeniyi.
The air support element relies upon the direction and professionalism of the troops, as it is the hub for all data connectivity operations, said Sgt. Timothy Fowler, the data chief for MASS-1.
“The air support net system provides chat, share drives, connections and it even gives us a picture of tracks and overlays,” said Fowler. “In other words, it basically shows us where the aircraft are.”
Another purpose of the drill was to process immediate flight support, said Lance Cpl. Douglas OConnor, an air support net operator with MASS-1.
“We deal with requests such as assault support, which we then transmit to each other through transverse chat, kind of like text messages back and forth,” he said.
At the end of the day, the Marines of MASS-1 were able to provide ample support to notional air and ground troops, even with their limited resources and personnel.
“Even with limited personnel and equipment, the Marines worked hard and as a team,” said Master Gunnery Sgt.
Anthony Magallanes, the communications chief for MASS-1.
“They have definitely learned the crucial capabilities that are
needed to support warfighters.”