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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan


Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

By Staff Sergeant Timothy LeMaster | | July 20, 2000

Marine Wing Service Support Squadron 171 finished up the force-on-force portion of Cloud Warrior 2000 at Camp Fuji, Mount. Fuji Japan.

Marines units from MCAS Iwakuni and Okinawa split into four platoons, making up a red team and blue team.

The teams spent five nights and six days in a tactical field environment during the exercise.

"The force-on-force was the way to test all of the training they had received," said Staff Sgt. Bradley T. Reilly, Cloud Warrior 2000 chief instructor. "I want them to learn they can survive in the field. The only way to learn is to go live there. They learn the little things like waterproofing their wallets and keeping their feet dry."

During the force-on-force portion, Marines conducted 24-hour patrols, practiced basic survival skills, defensive postures and learned the importance of land navigation. All of these subjects were taught during the first phase of training.

"A classroom environment is on paper. Not everything you need to know is going to be in the book, situations dictate. Sometimes you need to adjust. Experience is the best way to learn," said Cpl. Sammy Villarreal from CSSD-36 supply. "Land nav was the main skill we used. We had to give sitreps and grids to headquarters all the time so they would know our status."

The survival lessons came in handy for many people. "There was one time we were waiting on our resupply of water," said Lance Cpl. Michael Wright of CSSD-36 supply. "It wasn't going to be delivered for a couple hours so we got it from the creek. Corporal Lobo brought it back up, and it tasted better than the water we were being supplied with."

The Marines conducted numerous patrols ranging from a few hours to several days. Sergeant Michael Pluger a combat engineer from MWSS-171, took a small team out on a three-day patrol in an effort to track and harass the enemy. According to Lance Cpl. Christopher Zampella, also from 171 engineers, their survival skills were pushed to the limits drinking purified water, moving day and night and living off one MRE a day.

Contact with "enemy" units was minimal for the duration of phase two. This lack of contact made for many long hours of simply looking for enemy during reconnaissance or security patrols and sitting in the defense at the patrol bases.

"It can be monotonous patrolling over and over," said Reilly, "In a real environment, you don't want contact. If you get contact, you want it on your own terms."

Many of the participants of Cloud Warrior want to see this kind of training happen more often.

"I think it is very important," said Staff Sgt. Romann Pound with MACS-4 in Okinawa. "I?m going to ask if we can incorporate this training into our group or squadron training program."

"Marine Wing Support Squadron-171 and 172 are basically the only two wing organizations that do this kind of training -- the hands on application with the weapons and force on force in the field," added Pound.

"The overall value of this training is real important for the service support Marine," said Sgt. Derrick North, CSSD-36. "It was a real eye opener for me as a sergeant."