TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands - Marines with Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team, set up VS-17 marking panels on Tinian’s North Field Nov. 19 as part of Exercise Forager Fury II.
MMT, a six-man team, practiced laying visual markers for pilots to see when landing on the runway. The VS-17 marking panels are fluorescent cloth nailed into a runway and kept at a 45-degree angle by sand bags.
“Regularly, the teams that are sent out are six-man teams; four air traffic controllers, maintenance technician and communications technician,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael S. Flores from Harlingen, Texas, a Tinian co-MMT instructor, Detachment Bravo, MACS-4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We are practicing establishing a tactical landing zone, mainly for C-130s, and a trained MMT will get this set up in about 15-20 minutes.”
Tinian and FFII provide a training ground for the MMT Marines that is hard to come by in Japan, due to lack of open-flat ground.
“Here in Tinian, we are afforded opportunities that we don’t get to do in Japan,” said 1st Lt. Travis M. Powell from Albuquerque, N.M., a Tinian co-MMT instructor. “This exercise is a great opportunity for us to get the Marines more training and techniques.”
The MMT Marines complete daily exercises and class assignments to further their military occupational specialty knowledge.
“We have classes for several hours throughout the day, bringing the Marines up to speed on how we as MMTs perform in a field environment,” said Powell. “Then, we usually go out on the runway so the Marines can apply what we have been teaching them.”
Getting out in the field, and actually setting up runway patterns is exactly the type of force multiplier training they need, according to Sgt. Zachary S. Bryan from Raleigh, NC., an air traffic controller and MMT member.
“When Marines first pushed into Iraq, MMTs were some of the first (Marines) on the deck,” said Bryan. “We set up forward air refueling points and such, so the ground units could continue to march forward. You give us a stretch of dirt, we will put a runway there and you can offload a C-130 with all kinds of gear.”
The MMTs are not only used for fixed wing aircraft landing zones, but rotary wing as well.
“We can also set locations for helicopters so they can offload or re-arm and get back in the fight,” said Bryan. “We help increase flight capabilities so time is not wasted having to go back to the rear and do those things.”
With the refurbishing of runways Baker, Charlie, Dog and historic Able still underway, Marine participating in FFII continues to take full advantage of vital training that Tinian provides.