Simulation and training played a role in enabling Marine Corps Reservists to be mission-ready for the Integrated Training Exercise 4-22 (ITX). 1stLt Gregory Dreibelbis, Current Operations Officer in Charge, Communication Strategy and Operations for Marine Forces Reserve, noted that in one instance, Marines used various marksmanship trainers in preparation for and during completion of ITX, to include trackless mobile infantry targets, or “marathon targets.” The service media officer explained, “These targets enable Marines to engage moving targets in a realistic scenario while providing immediate feedback to the shooter.”
(Editor’s Note: Previously, MS&T highlighted the start of the US Marine Corps Reserve’s ITX.)
As with any major live training, this ITX highlighted a number of training audience firsts – with a focus for event organizers on also supporting the Service’s Force Design 2030 guidance. Among this year’s firsts, the MAGTF (Marine Air-Ground Task Force) conducted an Expeditionary Advanced Based Operations scenario to demonstrate the Reserve Component's capability of executing concepts described in Force Design 2030.
Dreibelbis noted aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group 41 flew from Marine Corps Air Stations Camp Pendleton (California) and Miramar and Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, to Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. “MAG 41 was able to extend the combat radius of an AH-1Z and UH-1Y from 130nm [209km] to 350nm, effectively tripling their area of influence. This was accomplished via air-to-air refueling from KC-130s to two MV-22 Ospreys that then deployed a Tactical Air Ground Refueling System (TAGRS) to refuel the AH-1Z and UH-1Y. The aircraft were able to land in Bridgeport due to F/A-18Cs providing offensive air support and Marines from MWSS-473 conducting a tactical landing zone (TLZ) survey. The TLZ survey and refueling of the AH-1Z and UH-1Y were accomplished in significantly less time than a traditional evolution supported by ground vehicles, reducing the opportunity for an enemy to target our forces. The entire scenario was executed with aircraft solely from MAG 41 and it was the first time the Reserve Component employed the TAGRS during an exercise.”
Asked whether this ITX scenario specifically incorporated any training lessons learned from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the media officer emphasized, that, while “this was not specifically a lesson learned from the current Ukraine/Russia war the MQ-9 Reaper drone from the California Air National Guard's 163rd Attack Wing supported ITX with close air support during the fire support coordination exercise.” To that end, the Reaper participation was part of another ITX first, whereby there was aviation-delivered ground refueling of the Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center via an MV-22 Osprey from VMM-764. “It was the first time a Marine Corps aircraft has refueled a Reaper, only the second refueling of the Reaper from any other aircraft,” Dreibelbis explained, and pointed out, “This is significant because the Marine Corps is currently procuring MQ-9 and this type of event will have similar benefits of extending the range and duration of the MQ-9 with the small footprint and rapid response of an MV-22.”
Dreibelbis concluded, “MAGTF-23 has integrated active-duty units into this year’s ITX in support of Force Design 2030 as the Marine Corps seeks to find more opportunities to integrate the Active and Reserve Components. Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, was integrated with 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment and approximately 45 Marines from 10th Marine Regiment out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, augmented 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment. Reserve and Active Marines have worked side-by-side throughout this iteration of ITX as we continue to build a more lethal force.”