January 29, 2013 (by SSgt. Stephany Richards) - The 421st Fighter Squadron from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is participating in the U.S. Marine Corps Integrated Training Exercise Jan. 21-Feb. 2.
USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0460 from the 4th FS practice air to sea maneuvers over the Pacific Ocean by Miramar Marine Corps Base on January 25th, 2013. The F-16s flew and trained in support of the USMC ITX 13-1. [USAF photo by SSgt. Stephany Richards]
The 421st FS
participation enables Joint Tactical Air Controllers to experience controlling different aircraft rather than just the standard Marine Corps' aircraft. Integrated Training Exercise ITX 13-1 is the Marines' final training exercise before deployment.
"Twentynine Palms is an important Marine Corps base since it facilitates the practice of the skills needed before deployment," said Glen Helm, joint exercise planner for Tactical Exercise Control Group at Twentynine Palms.
"There is nowhere else in the Marine Corps that [troops preparing for deployment] can do everything in one place," he said. "Every unit comes here at some point."
During the exercise, Air Force fighters conduct close air support and provide an F-16 pilot as a liaison to assist with planning and communication.
"Every morning we commit four F-16 Fighting Falcons to the Twentynine Palms range with live 500-pound-class munitions," said Air Force Capt. Jason Clugston, a 421st FS pilot. "We provide Airpower support to increase our joint training and theirs."
"The Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force can operate differently," said Sgt. Vincent Scognamiglio, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine, 134-I Company joint tactical air controller here. "It is nice to work with the different services to practice talking to each other."
Air Force Maj. Timothy Scariano, 421st FS assistant director of operations, said supporting ITX provides an opportunity to operate jointly in a very realistic training environment.
"Operating and training with the Marines provides us a better idea of what their mission requirements are so when we go down range we are better prepared to help them. CAS
is vital to combat, because it brings a lot of fire power and requires detailed integration," Scariano said.
"Once you're close to the enemy, there is no better feeling than knowing you have a 2,000 pound bomb ready to drop."
Working hand-in-hand with other services is proving to be a positive experience for everyone involved.
"It's good to be here, and it is an experience pilots don't get unless they deploy," Scariano said. "Joint operations could be the future of the military, and the more we train in partnership with our sister services, the better off we will be for our Nation's defense."