Fighters take flight for Cope North

by Cpl. Nathan Wicks
MCAS, Iwakuni

U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 225 arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in preparation of Cope North 17.

Cope North 17 is multi-national, bilateral training event including the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

During this exercise, Marines focus on dissimilar air combat training and large force employment, supporting security cooperation goals.

U. S. Marine Corps Maj. Daniel Knutson, executive officer of VMFA(AW)-225, said that through this exercise, he hopes to enhance their defensive capabilities as well as unit readiness.

“It’s not just us and the Air Force working on this exercise it’s other nations as well,” said Knutson. “We all work together towards bettering our theater security.”

Knutson said the next step in the exercise will involve firing off live ordnance.

“We are going to start with a missile live shoot that’ll provide good training for our Marines that we can’t get in many other places,” said Knutson. “This will build flight leadership and tactical expertise with both our pilots and air crew.”

This type of exercise not only allows Marines the training they need, but it also builds better multi-national cohesion should they ever need to rely on each other in the event of an emergency.

“The main goal is theater security cooperation,” said Knutson. “Working with our friends and allies gives us a chance to train somewhere other than where we are currently deployed, whether it be Miramar or Japan. It allows us to work with other countries and get our training to become better prepared should we ever need to respond to an enemy down range. We know we can fly on each other’s wing.”

In support of VMFA(AW)- 225, Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 will provide ordnance while gaining valuable building experience and training needed to better prepare the Marines for real world situations.

“Out here in Guam, we as ordnance Marines actually get some building experience as opposed to Iwakuni,” said Cpl. Jesse Flanagan, an aviation ordnance Marine. “This training is important because it is hands on allowing us to really do our job while becoming more knowledgeable and better prepared.”

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