MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI,Japan -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232 “Red Devils” left Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, March 11, 2017, and arrived at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, March 15.
The squadron is in Iwakuni for a six month rotation under the Unit Deployment Program helping provide air support to III Marine Expeditionary Force through training and combat operations.
“We are here to support U.S. Pacific Command in the UDP and are going to do what is called ‘theater security cooperation engagements’ throughout the Pacific,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Richard Behrmann, executive officer with VMFA-232. “We are also here to support our Japanese allies should any combat contingencies arise.”
The F/A-18C Hornet squadron is the oldest and most decorated squadron in the Marine Corps. They train to support ground and maritime forces to fulfill the commander’s intent by participating in Exercise Northern Edge, a biannual Pacific Command contingency exercise in Alaska that helps American Forces prepare for calamity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“The training opportunities we have at Northern Edge are second to none,” said Behrmann. “We’ll be training with the F-35B Lightning II while we’re out here, and that in itself is an opportunity.”
The squadron plans to use daily challenges to strengthen their readiness.
“It’s the day-to-day grind of accomplishing the mission,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Joseph Standifird, sergeant major with VMFA-232. “Getting the pilots the training they need and keeping the aircraft in the air to help get things done.”
Standifird also said they are working on cohesion with the Japanese. He wants Marines on the deployment to learn about the relationship the U.S. has with Japan.
“You have the challenges of being away from your family,” said Behrmann. “But on the other hand, it allows you to focus more on the task at hand. We can really drill down and get better at what we do.”