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Mobility Exercise prepares MWSS-172 for rapid deployment

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud, Marine Corps Bases Japan

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 pulled out all the stops to conduct a mock squadron embarkation, a force-readiness exercise on Camp Foster Oct. 21-28.

The squadron, part of Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, practiced a rapid-deployment scenario to ensure their ability to quickly support 1st MAW’s mission.

“The squadron must be operationally ready when called to support (Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW), and 1st MAW operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kevin J. Warmath, embarkation officer, MWSS-172. “The scenario is designed to train, educate and exercise Marines in the embarkation of our squadron; from the identification, packing and staging (phases, to the) onward movement of gear.”

The unit may be required to deploy on short notice in support of expeditionary operations in the region, he said.

“Readiness to deploy and having a plan to deploy is a mindset we are trying to instill into our Marines and sailors,” said Lt. Col. Darin J. Clarke, commanding officer, MWSS-172. “We are currently forward deployed and we are strategically placed to support contingencies and operations in the (U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific’s) area of responsibility.”

The embarkation exercise was designed to realistically simulate the deployment of MWSS-172 in support of combat operations.

“It is easy to load things into containers and stage them for embark,” said Maj. Jason P. Kaufmann, operations officer, MWSS-172. “We are taking this exercise a step further by planning and identifying capability sets and force flows, which drive the embarkation and satisfy operational requirements.”

The Marines examined all individual and unit equipment during the exercise, as well as inspecting unit medical, security and family readiness.

“In order to sustain readiness, personnel have conducted an administrative and training review, and their individual equipment has been inspected and inventoried,” said Clarke. “The squadron also embarked every piece of equipment according to capability sets identified through the Marine Corps planning process. Any shortfalls or deficiencies will be identified and submitted to higher headquarters for planning considerations.”

Going through the exercise step-by-step allowed MWSS-172 leaders to identify areas in their current embarkation plan that could be improved.

The operation directly supported the squadron’s mission, which is to support the operational capabilities of 1st MAW.

“This exercise reinforces our mission and our purpose to each Marine who participates and witnesses it,” said Kaufmann. “Beyond the intangible benefits, it identifies processes, timelines and checklists that will expedite the squadron’s embarkation procedures should a real-world scenario require a rapid deployment.”

This exercise, along with similar future training exercises, left the Marines ready to execute their mission, said Clarke.

“(The unit goal) is to be operationally ready to deploy the entire squadron within 96-hours of notification,” said Clarke. “This exercise is the first of many like it. Readiness is not focused on the past but the future, and we will be operationally ready to support future operations.”

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