MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2, also known as the “Death Jesters,” arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, in support of the Unit Deployment Program, Aug. 7, 2013.
The squadron’s mission is to revisit the roots of electronic warfare in the Pacific, bring their capabilities to this theater, and get back into the traditional role supporting the Marine Air Ground Task Force and Marine Expeditionary Force, according to Capt. Jonathon A. Leach, assistant operations officer with VMAQ-2.
“What the mission refers to is primarily more of the traditional air strike capabilities,” said Maj. Mark R. Fenwick, operations officer with VMAQ-2. “This is a much different fight than we’ve been involved in at Iraq and Afghanistan. We come to this theater based on the contingency operations that might happen, and that is what we are training to do, and postured to do, to support the MAGTF in our very important role. It certainly does get back into our roots with what the platform was designed to do and the mission set we have not been executing for the past decade or so.”
Every modern military in the world uses some sort of electronics, and Fenwick believes there is no better way to control a war than to control a country’s electronic capabilities.
“We bring the world’s greatest electronic warfare capability,” said Fenwick. “Spectrum dominance in the fight of today and the fight of the future is absolutely crucial to winning wars. We are one of the very, very few platforms in the U.S. inventory that can fulfill not only the electronic warfare role, but the electronic attack role.”
VMAQ-2 trains to improve its capabilities, regardless of familiar or unfamiliar territory, to prepare for any situation.
“You bloom where you’re planted,” said Fenwick. “The squadron is going to adapt. As Marines, we are flexible and we adapt to the mission.”
Fenwick said their mission during the past six to seven years focused on counter-insurgency support roles, and they are here to embrace their traditional mission of electronic warfare.
“I would say that our capability today, based on when we got here three months ago, is exponentially greater,” said Fenwick.
According to Fenwick, Marines with VMAQ-2 are adapting well to Japan while accomplishing their mission. Also, they are taking advantage of resources on and off base as they progress past the half-way point of their six-month deployment.
“In Iwakuni, there are a lot of maintenance resources that weren’t available in our other overseas combat deployments,” said Fenwick. “There are a lot of educational resources and training resources, such as MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) and a lot of our Marines have been taking advantage of that.”
Fenwick added VMAQ-2 Marines are also venturing out in the Japanese community during their liberty time to take advantage of their host nation’s culture.
Lt. Col. Robert M. Kudelko, commanding officer of VMAQ-2, said his Marines are participating in community relations and environmental events.
In order for the squadron to play hard, they have been working hard on supporting what comes first: the mission.
VMAQ-2 supported Exercise Max Thunder, an exercise that took place at Kusan Air Base, South Korea, and the squadron is scheduled to participate in Exercise Forager Fury in Guam.
Exercises like these allow the squadron to participate in face-to-face planning, simulation training and providing them the opportunity to work through language barriers.
According to Fenwick, these opportunities are hard to obtain at their home station, MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., and help prepare the squadron for future combat situations.
Between working long hours, supporting various exercises and dealing with the stress of being away from home, Kudelko said he sees a positive reaction from the squadron.
“I think everyone is managing it pretty well,” said Kudelko. “We have the fairly routine issues, but overall, I think the squadron is adapting very well.”
At the conclusion of their participation in the UDP, Marines of VMAQ-2 are scheduled to return home to MCAS Cherry Point, not only better trained but also a culturally diverse squadron.