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Exercise shows readiness, capability

US Marine Corps News

7/29/2010 By 1st Lt. Jordan R. Cochran, Marine Corps Bases Japan

POHANG AIRFIELD, Republic of Korea — Approximately 300 Marines and sailors from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in the readiness exercise "Invincible Spirit" in and around the East Sea July 25-28 to demonstrate Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance resolve, capability and interoperability, as well as the U.S. commitment to regional security.

III MEF leadership chose to move some of its 1st MAW organic assets from forward-stationed bases on Okinawa and mainland Japan to the Korean peninsula in order to hone its expertise in rapidly deploying Marine forces to expeditionary locations, according to Col. John M. Jansen, assistant chief of staff, G-3, 1st MAW, III MEF.

In a span of eight days, Marines and sailors of 1st MAW planned and executed a self-deployment to the ROK to support Invincible Spirit. Similar exercises usually are planned and take place over the course of months rather than days, according to Jansen.

"Here we are to establish and show our adversaries that we can set up on any base in a short amount of time, in a matter of a couple days, and be up and flying sorties out of any expeditionary airfield," said Maj. James Compton, pilot and operations officer of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st MAW.

The Pohang Airfield, just beside U.S. Marine Camp Mu Juk, was bustling July 26 as elements of MAG-12 and Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, completed an expeditionary airfield in just four days.

1st MAW Marines and sailors worked with roughly 8,000 Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel also participating in the exercise. Approximately 20 alliance surface ships and submarines, including the USS George Washington and ROK naval ship Dokdo, and 200 alliance Air Force and naval fixed wing aircraft, were also part of the exercise.

Throughout the exercise 1st MAW Marines operated from Pohang Air Base and Camp Mu Juk, located approximately 250 miles southeast of Seoul.

The 1st MAW has a history of working with ROK Marines during similar exercises such as Foal Eagle, an annual exercise that began in 1961 to improve the combined and joint operational posture of the alliance.

"Invincible Spirit served as another prime example of the capabilities of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing," Jansen said. "This training helped immensely in the ongoing efforts to continually improve readiness by op-checking and utilizing expeditionary airfield equipment to include approach control radars, runway arresting gear, crash/fire/rescue equipment and satellite communications."

According to Warrant Officer Barry Clements, air traffic controller, Detachment A, Marine Air Control Squadron 4, MACG-18, effective communications were also essential, considering all the different services that were involved.

"Within four hours of landing, we're able to conduct basic airport surveillance, which includes precision approach radar and other capabilities, to help us control the airspace and ensure our pilots are safe," he said Monday.

"The experience gained from Invincible Spirit has helped improve the overall readiness of the Marines and sailors," said Maj. Andrew Burchfield, pilot and executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 542, currently assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III MEF, through the unit deployment program and home based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. "We are building on an already strong foundation of excellent cooperation between our militaries."

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