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Black Knights bring unique capabilities, history

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr., Marine Corps Bases Japan

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa, Japan -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, which arrived here April 1, has brought with it many capabilities and a forward presence of a combat-capable squadron to III Marine Expeditionary Force’s area of operation.

Currently attached to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the Marine Corps’ Unit Deployment Program, the Black Knights of VMFA-314 are deployed to Japan.

The UDP focuses on rotating combat-capable units to bases throughout Japan to bring a forward presence to the Pacific theater of operations, said Capt. Bradley Rothman, a F/A-18 Hornet pilot with the squadron.

“We are both a fighter and attack squadron,” said Rothman. “We conduct three of the six functions of Marine aviation.”

The six functions of Marine aviation are anti-air warfare, offensive air support, aerial reconnaissance, assault support, electronic warfare and control of aircraft and missiles.

Of the six functions of Marine aviation, VMFA-314 provides the Marine Corps with anti-air warfare, offensive air support and aerial reconnaissance.

Anti-air warfare destroys or reduces enemy air and missile threats, while aerial reconnaissance is used to gather tactical information on terrain, weather and the enemy situation.

Rothman defines offensive air support as anything done to destroy the enemy’s ability to fight. This includes close air support, which is the employment of ordnance in close proximity of ground forces with detailed integration.

“In combat, we are able to fight the enemy within visual range and beyond visual range,” Rothman said.

VMFA-314 also conducts escort flights in and out of target areas, added Rothman. The squadron has the capability to provide air support to ground forces by dropping ordnance in a close but safe distance to their position, he added.

As a pilot, Rothman is trained to use these techniques.

During his time with the squadron, he trained in Tampa Bay, Fla., and deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Strike and Operation Mountain Round Up.

Rothman said Japan offers the squadron another opportunity to advance its skill set and work in a different environment -- an environment many in the unit have never experienced before.

This unit has a lot of history dating back to World War II and the Battle of Okinawa, said Staff Sgt. Phillip Tomaszweski, a maintenance controller with VMFA-314.

Tomaszweski has been a Black Knight for a collective time of more than 10 years, first attaching to the unit in 1997 to 2005, leaving the unit from 2006-2008 and returning from 2008 until now.

Tomaszweski has seen the capabilities of the squadron firsthand.

He was with the squadron during Operation Southern Watch where the squadron patrolled the southern half of Iraq following the Gulf War.

VMFA-314 has a tradition of high standards and excellent performance, said Rothman adding the unit takes its work seriously.

VMFA-314 is an integral part of the Marine Air Ground Task Force concept, coordinating and integrating with the ground combat element, said Rothman.

The Black Knights will aid in the mission readiness in this region, Rothman added.

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