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Unmanned aerial vehicle squadron starts training at Pendleton

US Marine Corps News

By Sgt. Christopher Duncan | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | March 05, 2013

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 4 conducted its first field training exercises at Camp Talega since the unit’s official move here from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The unit held its first change of command between Lt. Col. Kyle J. Moore and Lt. Col. Matthew C. Shortal on Feb. 22, symbolizing the squadron's official move from Yuma to Camp Talega, here.

The active-reserve squadron’s relocation to Camp Pendleton is intended to position VMU-4 to efficiently support and integrate with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

“One of the unit’s goals is to be an operational ready force so that we can, as the commandant says, ‘fight today’s fight with today’s force,’” said Maj. Brian W. Cole, the site commander of VMU-4.

“The plan was for the reserve forces to have VMU capabilities and relieve some of the pressures from the active-duty VMUs who were on non-stop deployment rotation,” said Cole. “The senior (staff non-commissioned officer in charge) who helped stand-up this unit is a great example of why (this move) is necessary, since he has been on five deployments in the last seven years, and that is a typical rotation rate for these units.”

Relocating means developing new relationships with aviation assets, range operations and various other units.

Unmanned aerial vehicle technician Sgt. Derrick Williams, from VMU-4 said if you’re conducting an aerial mission or on the ground doing a patrol you’ll want UAV support. VMU-4 can provide UAV support for all of the units training here.

UAVs are drones that are controlled remotely or autonomously and are used for general surveillance, the reconnaissance of enemy forces and assets, and some are capable of delivering explosive ordinance on designated targets.

The proficient use of mutual aid assets is mission essential in combat, and thus clear communication from drones in the air creates better awareness for forces on the ground, said Cole about the exercise.

Although the unit has moved, Yuma will continue to receive visiting UAV squadrons and facilitate support with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1.

“On Yuma, we will still conduct flight and range operations and interact with MAWTS-1 and the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course,” said Cole.

Fully integrating with I MEF will enhance the capabilities of its units and VMU-4 will also provide relief for active duty UAV squadrons that are constantly deployed, said Cole.

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