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USAF, Marines conduct rapid airfield seizure exercise

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, fly in formation with a U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, during a tiltrotor air to air refueling (TAAR) July 19, 2016, over the Pacific Ocean. The TAAR enabled the Ospreys to operate beyond unassisted flight range in a training exercise designed to evaluate long-range airfield seizure capability in a joint operation between the Marines and Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, fly in formation with a U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, during a tiltrotor air to air refueling (TAAR) July 19, 2016, over the Pacific Ocean. The TAAR enabled the Ospreys to operate beyond unassisted flight range in a training exercise designed to evaluate long-range airfield seizure capability in a joint operation between the Marines and Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaun Larue, 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II loadmaster, surveys a flight line as an MC-130H taxis down a runway July 19, 2016, at Marine Corps Station Camp Mujuk, South Korea. 17th SOS aircrews picked up Marines assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a joint-operation airfield seizure exercise off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaun Larue, 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II loadmaster, surveys a flight line as an MC-130H taxis down a runway July 19, 2016, at Marine Corps Station Camp Mujuk, South Korea. 17th SOS aircrews picked up Marines assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a joint-operation airfield seizure exercise off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaun Larue, 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II loadmaster assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, guides a Humvee assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., out of his MC-130 cargo bay July 19, 2016, at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Larue trained the Marines how to safely load, secure, shackle and unload their Humvee in and out of the MC-130 in preparation for a long-range airfield seizure exercise. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaun Larue, 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II loadmaster assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, guides a Humvee assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., out of his MC-130 cargo bay July 19, 2016, at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Larue trained the Marines how to safely load, secure, shackle and unload their Humvee in and out of the MC-130 in preparation for a long-range airfield seizure exercise. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. transit on an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, over the Pacific Ocean. With logistics and refueling support from the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, the Marines extended their range of assault force beyond the Osprey’s built-in range of 500 nautical miles. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. transit on an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, over the Pacific Ocean. With logistics and refueling support from the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, the Marines extended their range of assault force beyond the Osprey’s built-in range of 500 nautical miles. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, drops off Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The Osprey can carry 24 combat troops, transport them with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft, and perform insertions or extractions with the maneuverability of rotor aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, drops off Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The Osprey can carry 24 combat troops, transport them with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft, and perform insertions or extractions with the maneuverability of rotor aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James Ellis, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment squad leader assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., leads his fire team toward an objective during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Ellis and other Marines of Golf Company performed a simulated airfield seizure at Iejima to test their capability for a long-range joint operation with the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Squadron assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James Ellis, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment squad leader assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., leads his fire team toward an objective during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Ellis and other Marines of Golf Company performed a simulated airfield seizure at Iejima to test their capability for a long-range joint operation with the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Squadron assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Marine Corps rifleman assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., navigates terrain during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Golf Company conducted their first long-range airfield seizure exercise with support from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Marine Corps rifleman assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., navigates terrain during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Golf Company conducted their first long-range airfield seizure exercise with support from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marine Corps riflemen assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., post a defensive perimeter during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Golf Company conducted their first long-range airfield seizure exercise with support from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

U.S. Marine Corps riflemen assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., post a defensive perimeter during an airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. Golf Company conducted their first long-range airfield seizure exercise with support from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, takes off during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The 17th SOS aircrews conducted the exercise with U.S. Marine Corps Golf and Fox Companies, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, takes off during a long-range airfield seizure exercise July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The 17th SOS aircrews conducted the exercise with U.S. Marine Corps Golf and Fox Companies, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, unloads U.S. Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C., during a long-range airfield seizure July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The Air Force and Marine Corps units combined forces in an exercise that helped build joint training relationships, enhancing interoperability of separate combat forces for contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)
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A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, unloads U.S. Marines assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C., during a long-range airfield seizure July 20, 2016, at Iejima airfield, Japan. The Air Force and Marine Corps units combined forces in an exercise that helped build joint training relationships, enhancing interoperability of separate combat forces for contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- What began as another calm and quiet summer day on a small island in the Pacific instantly turned into a vortex of dust and a thunderous bedlam of Osprey engines. Marine Corps riflemen stormed the area, neutralized multiple hostiles, and captured a landing strip for incoming cargo planes hauling additional troops and Humvee command vehicles.

Marines and Airmen completed the ground operation on schedule, in a plan designed for the same amount of time many people take for a lunch break.

“This exercise allows us to take a key piece of terrain, build up combat power there, then project follow-on forces into other places in the area,” said Marine Corps Capt. Dennis Dunbar, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment assault force commander. “We own that airfield in less than an hour.”

The Marine Corps 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (2/2), the Marine Air Group 36, and the Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group coordinated a long-range airfield seizure exercise to test combat effectiveness of joint operations.

“The primary objective is integration and interoperability with special operations forces and conventional forces as well as establishing a joint training relationship between three geographically separated forces,” said Air Force Maj. John Huntsman, 17th Special Operations Squadron assistant director of operations.

The 2/2 brought the muscle and forward air control, the MAG-36 brought insertion aircraft and gunship support, while the 353rd SOG brought fuel and heavy transport.

“This is by far the most robust airfield seizure exercise we have done for this battalion,” said Marine Corps Capt. David Faville, Fox Company 2/2 forward air controller.

The 2/2 initiated the operation by deploying scout snipers to survey the airfield. Then the platoon split into two large groups. One group went with two 353rd SOG MC-130 cargo planes, and the other half went with four MAG-36 MV-22 Ospreys.

While flying toward the target, an MC-130J Commando II air refueled all four Ospreys, which then inserted the assault force under simulated cover fire by a UH-1Y Venom gunship.

Fire teams made their way to the airfield, engaged simulated threats, secured the landing strip, then called in SOG transports to insert remaining assault forces and two Humvees to setup a forward combat operations center.

The exercise marked the first time the 2/2, MAG-36 and 353rd SOG have ever conducted a long-range airfield seizure together.

“The training enables us to assess our battalion capability for command and control for a long-range raid,” said Faville.

Huntsman stated while the SOG has refueled MV-22’s often, they have never done a long-range airfield seizure with them.

“It was definitely unique being able to do this with the 2/2 with a mixed SOG suite,” said Huntsman. “The highlight was essentially the non-special operations forces assaulters integrating with special operations forces air commandos.”

Even with the combined might of three different organizations, the exercise demonstrated only a portion of their joint operation capability.

“This is definitely a scalable concept, since we can incorporate C-17 Globemasters and KC-135 Stratotankers, enhancing our time on station, as well as increasing the amount of fuel we can deliver to a larger Osprey package,” said Huntsman.

Huntsman expressed how the training paid huge dividends, succeeded on all fronts, and everybody achieved their objectives, enabling the development of joint training relationships and trust between units.

“It’s all worth knowing in case we ever need to bring together these different forces in a contested environment,” said Huntsman. “Interoperability between all operational forces is huge in the Pacific theater.”