Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Alexander Stensland, left, signals good to go to Lt. Col. Roger T. McDuffie who is piloting an AV-8B Harrier on the flight line at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Sept. 10, 2014. Stensland is an aircraft powerline mechanic and McDuffie is the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 223. Stensland is a native of Hastings, Minn.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Grace L. Waladkewics

VMA-223 Marines train during Exercise Green Flag

16 Sep 2014 | Lance Cpl. Grace L. Waladkewics The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

More than 170 Marines with Marine Attack Squadron 223 departed Sept. 10 for a month-long exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev.
Green Flag is an exercise , which occurs 10 times per year and serves to support ground combat forces, according to Lt. Col. Roger T. McDuffie, commanding officer of the squadron. Eight of the squadron’s AV-8B Harriers took to the skies to conduct offensive close-air support missions and to create better communication between air and ground forces.

“The training our Marines are conducted during this exercise is very similar to what they would do while conducting a mission in an austere environment,” said McDuffie. “This is a building block for any future mission this squadron is tasked with.”

While our Marines conduct Green Flag, we are simultaneously supporting the Weapons Tactics Instructors course and currently have a Harrier presence with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is forward deployed supporting Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), said McDuffie.

During the exercise, the Marines will learn mission essential tasks, which will enable them to perform any future missions they are tasked with, said McDuffie.The squadron will be conducting air-to-surface and joint operations training, integrated with Air Force Strike platforms to provide support on the ground for special forces.

 Nellis Air Force Base provides Marines the ability to perform live-fire training, which can’t be easily duplicated on the east coast, said Maj. Jason D. Egan, executive office of VMA-223.

“Performing the live-fire training, and employing the weapons, while testing rapid deployment capabilities, builds confidence in the interoperability of our forces,” said Egan. "If VMA-223 were called to action tomorrow, it would be ready."

The squadron is training with precision weapons, which will limit collateral damage and civilian casualties when employed during a mission.

“The sun doesn’t set on the Marines of VMA-223,” said McDuffie. “We are working hard day and night to increase our squadron’s proficiency.”