OKINAWA, JAPAN --
From Dec. 1–8, 2023, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36 deployed 160 Marines to Camp Hansen to rehearse and refine Aviation Logistics Stand-In-Force standard operating procedures in support of Expeditionary Advance Base Operations one of the key tenets of Force Design. The remaining 300 Marines, who made up the rear battle element, cycled through Camp Hansen to gain exposure to expeditionary operations without disrupting flight operations at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
"This deployment marks a crucial step in the broader landscape of aviation logistics across the Indo-Pacific Area of Responsibility,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Onuska, the commanding officer of MALS-36.
The operation aimed to address challenges in communicating with and sustaining flying squadrons operating within the First Island Chain in support of the ground combat element, 4th Marine Regiment. MALS-36 employed tactical communications and a maintenance detachment, task organized to provide sustainment tailored to operate from an austere location.
"This deployment marks a crucial step in the broader landscape of aviation logistics across the Indo-Pacific Area of Responsibility,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Onuska, the commanding officer of MALS-36. “It is groundbreaking, setting the stage for AVLOG operations across the FIC. By testing innovative concepts, we are advancing not only our capabilities but also contributing to the overall strategic goals of Force Design."
SIFEX 24 | MALS-36 INSERT
Photo by Lance Cpl. Nemos Armijo
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 prepares for takeoff during Stand-in Force Exercise 24 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 1, 2023. SIFEX 24 is a division-level exercise involving all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force focused on strengthening multi-domain awareness, maneuver, and fires across a distributed airtime environment.
Key events included rapid air insertions, ground insertions and exfiltration of personnel, command and control rehearsals, AVLOG communications, material deliveries in a communication-degraded/denied environments, and an ordnance hot load in support of flight operations. Additionally, MALS-36 tested a prototype Mission-Capable Combat Readiness Evaluation in collaboration with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Aviation Logistics Department and MALS-12.
The deployment fell under Stand in Force Exercise 24, which is a division-level exercise involving all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force focused on strengthening multi-domain awareness, maneuver, and fires across a distributed maritime environment. This portion of the exercise aimed to advance MALS-36’s ability to sustain Marine Aircraft Group 36’s flight operations in a combat environment. The insights gained will inform AVLOG SOPs for adjacent MALS units operating in a near-peer contested environment in the INDOPACOM AOR.
As the deployment concluded, the Marines of MALS-36 left Camp Hansen, having acquired valuable experience and knowledge that will contribute to their readiness for future challenges in sustaining flight operations in complex and dynamic environments.