Hanging with the Leathernecks

Airmen of the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech AFB, Nev., teamed up with more than 100 marines from Marine Attack Squadron 513 based at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., for a joint training exercise at Creech from Oct. 24 to Nov. 7. The training focused on conducting coordinated strike and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance operations with the 11th RS’s MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and VMA 513’s AV-8B Harrier ground-attack aircraft under realistic conditions. Such opportunities aren’t always available, so the experience was quite valuable for both sides, since they had the chance to train as they fight together in Southwest Asia. “Creech is very similar in elevation and dimension to bases in Afghanistan,” said Marine Lt. Col. Marcus Annibale, VMA-513 commanding officer. Maj. Robert Forino, 11th RS assistant director of operations, said the airmen normally have to simulate communications with other platforms in their training, but were able to practice “radio communications and real world deconfliction … which we don’t normally get to do.” Among the activities, the Predators lased targets for the Harriers to attack and fed real-time target imagery to the marines via the ROVER video downlink, enabling the marines to engage targets beyond visual range. (Creech report by SSgt. Alice Moore)