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VFMA(AW)-224 conducts close-air support training during Exercise Haribon Tempest

By By Lance Cpl. Luis A. Ramirez | | February 26, 2014


Enduring intense heat and punishing humidity, Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 traveled to the Crow Valley Range Complex, Republic of the Philippines, Feb. 26, as part Of Exercise Haribon Tempest 2014.

Focused on increasing both mission readiness and combined combat capabilities, HT 14 is a small-scope bilateral exercise between the United States Marine Corps and the Philippine Air Force.   

At Crow Valley, Marines with VMFA(AW)-224 joined members of the Philippine Air Force to run through scenarios, which required them to call in air strikes on targets or call in a medevac to a designated location within a time limit. These situations included: personnel on the ground encountering engagements by one or multiple threats; calling in air strikes while maneuvering through the terrain; and taking care of casualties while moving or during a firefight.

“This exercise and the training we do is just as important as some of the large scale ones,” said Maj. Jason Erbecker, executive officer of VMFA(AW)-224. “Size does not reflect the quality of work that will come out of it. Just by the virtue of our presence here and the fact that we are invited back time and again by the Philippine government speaks volumes to the relationship we have built here.”

Erbecker said teaching our allies these skills are essential for future endeavors to strengthen bonds and improve military presence.

As participants completed drills, Marines evaluated Philippine Air Force airmen on their performance, judging them on speed, precision and overall impact. With each evaluation, Marines had a one-on-one conversation with each of the Filipino service members, and explained the importance of learning these skills.

“I’m impressed with how quickly they become adept to the skills presented to them,” said Capt. Daniel DeVito, Marine air liaison officer for the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group in the Republic of the Philippines. ”Aside from the language barrier, these men are more than able to perform with impeccable aim and precision.”

DeVito said seeing improvement in service members he taught justifies the heat they endured; proving exercises like HT 14 provide allies with skills that will benefit them, and they can use during future joint military exercises.