Okinawa Marines coordinate air and surface strikes for the first time with Navy aircraft carrier

A member of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment prepares an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, during Exercise Noble Jaguar at Central Training Area, Okinawa, Thursday, September 30, 2021 (Frank Andrews / Stars and Stripes )

CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa – The Marine Corps has taken a big step in developing the commander’s island combat doctrine by coordinating simulated air and surface strikes with Sailors aboard an aircraft carrier.

Exercise Noble Jaguar began Sept. 28 and involved approximately 60 Marines from 3rd Marine Division, 12th Marine Regiment, rocket crews from 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Regimental operations officer Lt. Col. Joshua Montero told the Stars and Stripes at Camp Hansen Thursday.

For the first time, Navy planners and intelligence officers from the USS Carl Vinson joined the 3rd Marine Division Headquarters staff for the exercise. Meanwhile, the crew of the nearby aircraft carrier participated in the communication exercise alongside other units from the 7th Fleet.

“We’ll have a Navy or Navy plane in the air, find a target, communicate that, sometimes through the Navy, sometimes through the Air Force,” Montero said. “And then finally at our level, we will have all the missiles on the same [target], so we combine these strikes together.

“In my opinion, this is college level stuff. It’s not easy to do and the only way to do it after is to practice, and that’s what we’re doing right now.

A member of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment provides security during Exercise Noble Jaguar at Central Training Area, Okinawa, Thursday, September 30, 2021.
A member of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment provides security during Exercise Noble Jaguar at Central Training Area, Okinawa, Thursday, September 30, 2021. (Frank Andrews / Stars and Stripes)

Some Navy and Navy communications systems are compatible, while others are not, Montero said. Developing “patches” or making connections before any engagement is key to preparation.

“The main objective is communication; how do we talk to each other and how can we find workarounds when we run into problems, ”he said.

The exercise, scheduled to end on Friday, began with the loading and unloading of two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, from the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick, Captain Nathanael Wasik said Thursday. , commander of the HIMARS platoon.

The platoon moved towards the central training area and set up a fire direction center concealed under a camouflage netting to coordinate strikes against air, land and sea targets.

The Marines dispersed to make themselves difficult to target. They had to support themselves for several days with a limited amount of food, water and fuel.

It was all part of the Corps’ new island combat doctrine, known as Forward Expeditionary Base Operations, Wasik said.

Commander General David Berger introduced the doctrine in July 2019. He calls on Marines to move within the range of an adversary’s “long-range precision fire” and establish hard-to-target forward bases.

This doctrine results in the capture and detention of territory, the support of naval units at sea, the supply, rearmament and release of aircraft and the prohibition of sea lanes to the adversary.

The III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa has developed each phase of advanced expeditionary base operations, month by month, with each exercise, Navy officials told Stars and Stripes previously.

Typically, a gunnery mission arrives at the command center from higher headquarters, Wasik said. Its chief of operations and its fire management officer process the information and then load the launchers.

The radio crackled Thursday morning with a fire mission.

A few minutes later, a HIMARS rolled down one of the paved roads in the training area. He suddenly stopped next to a concealed common light tactical vehicle. An engine purred as the rocket tubes rose from the bed.

Moments later, the tubes came back down and the truck rolled down the street to hide again. No rockets were fired in this simulation.

“There will always be issues that we have to sort out with communications,” Wasik said. “However, our guys did a really good job of troubleshooting.”

Chief of Operations Sgt. William Botelho said the peloton did not encounter any insurmountable problems during the exercise.

“We shoot; we move; we cannot be detected and are just using the terrain and our surroundings to hide to the best of our ability, ”he said. “There is always a way to get around the challenge presented to you and complete the mission. “

Matthew M. Burke



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