In addition to their tactical and technical skills, all Marines maintain the art of being expeditionary. Marines, no matter their role, are expected to be able to react in any environment. Supporting units must be able to continue to provide support while forward-deployed or in the field. Being able to support operating forces away from a home station is vital to mission accomplishment. Without support, the assets directly assaulting the objective would not be as effective; which can result in mission failure or the unnecessary loss of life.
To maintain their expeditionary mindset and continue building on this art, Marines assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, conducted a field training exercise aboard Marine Corps Auxillary Landing Field Bogue, Nov. 30 through Dec. 9.
During the two-week-long field, the squadron was be evaluated according to the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation System standards. The exercise also allowed Marines new to the unit to learn their role, see how the squadron functions while in the field, and gives them an opportunity to see how the different entities within the squadron come together to accomplish its support mission; all while providing an opportunity for them to gain experience in other job fields.
While operating during the field exercise, several MWSS-271 platoons, such as motor transportation, air field operations, engineer, and headquarter and headquarters support Marines, all work together to accomplish the mission.
"Here we train to fight," said Capt. Robert Brown, the company commander of Engineer Company, MWSS-271. "We want to show the Marines what right looks like, so when they are deployed in an unknown environment they can fall back on this training that we do in the field."
Marines used the first four days establishing the facilities of a forward operating base in order of precedence similar to how they would prepare an encampment while deployed. In all, the simulated FOB had personal accommodations such as living, laundry, shower, and mess facilities. The FOB also included an operations center, aircraft re-fueling area, and a Vertical Take Off and Landing pad.
The VTOL pad is an expeditionary landing pad that is 96-feet by 96-feet. It allows rotor-wing aircraft and aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing to have a solid, flat surface to land on when a runway is not available.
Construction of the pad required Marines from different military occupational specialties to work together to construct the final product. Engineer Marines cleared and flattened an area 120 feet by 120 feet. Once they completed this task, Marines responsible for airfield operations surveyed the space and, after ensuring it was level and clear of foreign object debris, or FOD, they installed the pad for use.
While in the field, Marines with the unit also used the time to conduct instant action drills and classes specific to their MOS.
"Being out here is really good training," said Lance Cpl. Travis Debello, a combat engineer assigned to Engineer Company, MWSS-271, MAG-14. "It helps us test our strengths in a field environment. These two weeks are especially important because we recently had new Marines come to the unit. Doing this type of training with them helps us show them how we operate together in the field as well as get them hands-on experience."
While executing the two week field exercise, Marines assigned to Food Service Company, MWSS-271, were evaluated on their field mess performance for the Major General W.P.T Hill Memorial Awards competition. The awards are used to recognize four categories of food services throughout the Marine Corps: active duty field mess; reserve field mess; Marine mess hall; and the contracted mess hall. Marines being assessed were evaluated on preparation, presentation, sanitation, taste and theme. Marines chose the remembrance of Pearl Harbor as their theme for the evaluators.
"MWSS-271 is here to support the wing," said Brown. "This means we support flying squadrons, so we need to go where they go and support them at all cost. I think the training we are doing is essential for the new Marines. It’s their building blocks. Whether it’s good or bad, they are learning what they need to do in this environment within their MOS and the Marines are able to see how they all work together. The training we are doing here is essential, because it shows the Marines how their roles come together as a whole in providing support for the squadrons."