Ex Mountain Tiger: Air Force, Marines integrate to deliver swift, agile air support

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Adaptability and flexibility are one of the first lessons taught in Basic Military Training. In some cases, it’s adapting to a new base; in other cases, it’s reacting quickly to a problem that wasn’t there before.

Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 271 and Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, landed at Mountain Home AFB for exercise Mountain Tiger, in early September, and worked closely with the 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels flight to provide aviation fuel, heavy equipment and utility support.

MWSS-271 and VMA-452 planned to set up three fuel bladders to hot refuel their AV-8B II Harriers as if they were stationed at a forward operating base down-range to test their capabilities.

After loading fuel into their bladders, it was discovered that the bladders were leaking. In order to stay on target, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Forest Hanke, MWSS 271 detachment SNCO in charge, coordinated with Mountain Home AFB Airmen to train his troops on how to hot refuel using Air Force equipment.

“The plan was to have them ride along on fuel runs and also go out there to hot refuel their aircraft with the help of our Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Roth, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of fuels service center.

Roth explained that this sudden change in plan took an immense amount of organization from the control center to coordinate with the fuels section to set up assets ahead of time and get the Marine Corps troops out there to learn the new process.

“We have integrated the Marines fuel flight into our fuels flight here at Mountain Home AFB and have trained them on Air Force operations as well as how to use and be certified on our equipment for certain refueling tasks,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patrick Barlow, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron, NCO in charge of fuels distribution.

In addition to Airmen teaching Marines the ins and outs of Air Force equipment, the Marines offered their own training to show the Air Force what they are about.

“The Marines led a class teaching our Airmen combatives and it brought a lot of cohesion, not only between two different services but also within our own unit,” Roth said. “They taught our guys helpful training techniques with how they operate equipment and processes. It’s been great that our Airmen have learned these new techniques!”

Cross training is the forefront of the U.S. military and allows for a new perspective into the language the other branches speak; this is vital for in-theatre communications.

“These opportunities are not always available, especially at home station bases,” Barlow said. “This joint training lays the foot work for the betterment of possible working relationships and understanding cross service needs in deployed locations.”

Exercise Mountain Tiger provided an opportunity for Airmen to witness first-hand multi-force adaptability to complete the mission.