IWAKUNI, Japan – Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 continued to conduct simulated field training exercises at Penny Lake July 28.
The squadron is slated to continue training until Wednesday. Combat engineers were called out during the first few days of
the exercise to help set up the exterior.
“We help set up a lot of the forward operating bases on deployment,” said Pfc. Tyler Teigen, MWSS-171 combat engineer. “We specialize in everything from wood-framing to demolition, building fortifications and taking fortifications down.”
Marines also set up work sites and secured the outside perimeter before simulated operations began.
“We had to set up concertina wire to protect everything on the inside, so enemy cannot breach it,” said Teigen.
Inside the small combat operations center, Marines set up tents with sections for each department to conduct operations, including a briefing room for periods of instruction.
MWSS-171 conducts field training exercises at Penny Lake periodically to familiarize Marines with equipment and procedures to building a combat operations center in a forward-deployed environment.
Marines familiarized themselves with proper tactical data systems, hardware and software.
“As a data section, we incorporate the internal network as far as pulling different services, and then we also incorporate radio to go through our network to actually work through smart cables so each individual can listen to the network and be up to speed with what’s going on,” said Sgt. Cody Bowden, MWSS-171 tactical data network technician.
The training is applied directly to operations conducted during various exercises including the annual Amphibious Landing Exercise in the Philippines and Southern Frontier in Australia.
During deployments, MWSS-171 falls under the command element, Marine Aircraft Group 12, and provides the combat service support element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force in forms of logistics, engineering, communications and other support elements.
“There are five main things that MWSS-171 does,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Kelly, MWSS-171 radio chief. “We do expeditionary air fields, which means we have the capability to build airfields out of nothing. We have aircraft rescue firefighting so if a plane crashes we are there to put the fire out. We provide fuels to refuel the aircraft and we have explosive ordnance disposal, which deals with ammunition for the aircraft.”
Kelly said operations are fairly easy for MWSS-171 to set up, and the squadron is trained to operate anywhere in any environment. COCs are built for operational flexibility and tactical employment.
What started off as training for the upcoming PHIBLEX deployment to the Philippines turned into a training opportunity for the squadron at home.
“It started off as a communications exercise for just the S-6 section, and then it turned into watch officer/watch chief certification and training for our air-to-ground forward operations,” said Kelly.
Kelly said training is also important for new Marines as they prepare for upcoming exercises and deployments.
“Because PHIBLEX got dwindled down, it also turned into an operation so the new staff and officers with MWSS-171 can see how we operate and what we do for air-toground support.”
Marines were also briefed on security measures and procedures to allowing only personnel with secret clearances entrance access to the COC.