KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — Marine Aircraft Group 12 and Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 instructors continued to implement operational risk management during the Marine Division Tactics Course here June 13 as the course completed final week.
The goal of MDTC is to provide the aircrew and Marine Air Intercept Controllers with ground and airborne instruction in the doctrine, tactics and weapons considerations for the successful employment of Marine fighter attack aircraft in a complex air-to-air environment.
Command selected F/A-18 pilots and weapon systems operators from Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadrons 533, 225 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 314 and 232 are slated to graduate Tuesday.
MAG-12 played a vital role to ensure the safety of all the Marines under its charge including squadrons and maintenance personnel.
“Our major role was to identify risks and support operations,” said Maj. Anthony Baggs, MAG- 12 safety officer.
“We looked at issues and advised the commanding officers. Once we identify risks, we took a course of action to mitigate the risks. It’s very important to training,” he added.
MAG-12, MAWTS-1 and MDTC students worked together to identify hazards, their causes and to implement controls a over the entire operation.
Hazards included hypothetical incidents during flight operations, foreign object debris on the flight line and liberty risks.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to mitigate such risks, said Baggs.
According to Maj. Bennedict G. Buerke, MAWTS-1 MDTC instructor, operational risk management is a huge component of basic fighter maneuvers as well.
“Operational risk management is simply asking, ‘How do I get the most amount of training out of what I am doing that day, be as tactical as possible but also not cross the margin into an unsafe area?”’ said Buerke. “We are teaching them to really toe that line.”
When conducting simulated basic fighter maneuvers, it is important for pilots to understand the power and capabilities of their aircraft to ensure it is handled with safety and care.
Dogfighting, a term popularized during World War II, has changed over time in the way aviators implement planning and execution of various basic fighter maneuvers.
“In terms of operational risk management, I have to understand not just where my aircraft is pointed but also where it is going and be able to deconflict from the other aircraft, which may also be at that depleted air state,” said Buerke.
During World War II, most military aircraft were monoplanes with limited basic fighter maneuver capability compared to the modern, all-weather, various weapons capable F/A-18 fighter jet designed to attack targets in the air as well as on the ground.
“World War II was a very level-playing fight where whoever could turn the fastest would win,” said Buerke. “Now-a-days, we actually use geometry in a three-dimensional platform, so it is no longer a two-dimensional fight.”
ORM becomes especially important because Marines have to consider not only the capabilities of their own aircraft, but also the capabilities of other platforms.
MAG-12 command elements, MAWTS-1 instructors and aviation students brief every day prior to conducting flight missions to implement proper planning of simulated scenarios and possible situations.
“The point of this dogfighting exercise is to access and predict what a student might do, which might potentially cause an unsafe situation and to think two or three steps ahead to prevent that,” said Buerke. “They will instantaneously see that scenario or that situation developing and prevent a close pass, potentially hitting the ground or potentially hitting another aircraft.”
Since this is the first time MDTC has been conducted outside of the continental U.S., Marines were also faced with training in an unfamiliar environment. Marines were able to mitigate all risks to ensure a successful mission during MDTC.