ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Marine aircraft squadrons, who arrived in Guam to participate in excercise Valiant Shield 2014, pushed on to conduct Forager Fury III and have now reached their official half-way point on schedule, meeting their training objectives.
Forager Fury III is an overarching training exercise, which began on Sept. 24 and is scheduled to end Oct. 6, emphasizing on tactical aviation and aviation ground support in order to further develop a distributed, expeditionary combat capability within the Marianas Island range complex.
“We try to integrate the six functions of Marine Corps aviation,” said Maj. Chris J. Denardo, the incoming operations officer for Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We have done close air support, forward air controller training, air interdiction, air-to-air missions, defensive counter-air, offensive counter-air, and we are about to transition into practice air-to-surface and air-to-air missile shootings.”
Guam and Tinian were ideal places to hold Forager Fury III since Japan is physically unable to accommodate the scale of the training events the Marine aircraft squadrons from MAG-32, who are assigned to the unit deployment program, and MAG-12 were participating in, according to Denardo, from Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Even though they were ideal places, they are still at the mercy of the weather.
“This area around the equator is a breeding ground for tropical storms,” said Warrant Officer Jason R. Tyx, a meteorology and oceanography officer with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, III MEF. “Out here, where safety is the number one concern, tropical storm conditions will cease operations or suspend them.”
Operations on Tinian have been reduced to minimum due to safety purposes because of the nearing tropical storm.
It is dangerous because communication gear and other tall objects become potential lightning rods and anything that can pick up wind, like tents, can potentially become a projectile, according to Tyx, from Buffalo, New York.
“Weather has been our main issue,” said Denardo. “We have tried our best to transition to different missions or other air space, but each unit has its own unique mission essential task and overall the squadrons work pretty well.”
With the winds picking up speed and the showers more frequent, the Marines are only half-way through Forager Fury III. Due to their ethic, they still push to train whenever the risk is not too high.
“What makes us Marines is that we are always ready, which is a big thing because we are our country’s 911 emergency forces,” said Denardo. “We are expeditionary and can go wherever, whenever. The MAG has certain missions to accomplish and these exercises keeps us ready, keeps us on edge in case our country needs us, we are prepared to fight.”