MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, JAPAN -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112, also known as “The Cowboys,” returned to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 28, 2013, after completing Exercise Air Warrior, which took place at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth.
The Cowboy’s mission while participating in Air Warrior was to engage in dissimilar air-combat tactics with the Malaysian Air Force and enhance interoperability between forces.
Malaysia offered VMFA-112 Marines many unique opportunities they would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
“One of the more tactical reasons for us going was to look at and fight (Mikoyan MiG-29s) and (Sukhoi Su-30s), which is an unusual opportunity for American military,” said Lt. Col. David Boland, VMFA-112 executive officer. “Both those aircraft were former Soviet Union airplanes, so it is unusual for us to do that.”
Boland added the aircraft are still a huge threat to the American military because they are proliferated throughout the world.
“We train against those threats all the time, but it’s all simulated, so having the opportunity to actually go out and fly against those threats is pretty unique,” said Boland.
The exercise not only benefited the aircrew, but also helped enlisted Marines progress in their individual military occupational specialties.
“They had an opportunity to provide training to some of the foreign avionics technicians,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Wine, VMFA-112 avionics chief. “It was kind of an eye-opener for them because they saw things that they did that we don’t do, and they saw things that we can do better. They started to realize why we put so much emphasis on the basics and safety.”
The squadron activated April 1, 2013, and continues to show the ability to operate the same as their active-duty counterparts.
“It’s a snapshot in time of 10 days, but in those 10 days, you can see just how effective your Marines are being with regards of them not missing a sortie and making sure that the transition movement to and from Malaysia went as smoothly as possible,” said Wine. “We transitioned eight aircraft on time with no delays. It was a lot of fun to watch.”
The Marines were in Malaysia for only 10 days, but still got the opportunity to enjoy liberty in a foreign country.
“Marines got to go to Penang and see some of the sights,” said Wine. “It was a really good opportunity for them to go and experience a new place that very few Marine Corps entities have ever seen before.”
Boland added that some of the Marines even got to experience Oktoberfest while on liberty.
The Cowboys may have just returned from one exercise, but they aren’t putting their guns in the holster yet.
“We have about three weeks before we head out of here again,” said Boland. “The next thing for us is Pusan, Korea. We are going over there with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 and Marine Attack Squadron 214.”
The Cowboys performed well during the first half of their activation and are looking to continue with their success.