OITA, Japan—U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 joined forces with U.S. Navy Seabees and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force service members to conduct expeditionary refueling of U.S. and Japanese aircraft, exchange firefighting and first aid tactics, and conduct airfield damage repair during distributed operations as part of the field training exercise portion of Resolute Dragon 23, from Oct. 17-29, 2023.
“This exercise is pretty big, there’s a lot of firsts going on with our Naval and Japanese counterparts,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Stevenson, a combat engineer officer with MWSS-171. “It’s been the first time that we’ve been able to demonstrate a lot of important capabilities, and we’re excited to continue building relationships with our Japanese counterparts in the future.”
A detachment of approximately 80 Marines from MWSS-171 divided into three groups and traveled separately to Vice-Camp Takayubaru, Camp Jumonjibaru, and JGSDF Kirishima Training Area. During Resolute Dragon 23, they focused their individual sections’ efforts on expeditionary operations, supporting multiple aircraft platforms.
At JGSDF Vice-Camp Takayubaru, MWSS-171 and JGSDF service members with the Western Army Aviation Fire Group exchanged crash, fire, and rescue techniques. During this cross training, MWSS-171 and JGSDF service members demonstrated gear and equipment use, and shared tactics for evacuation of casualties in emergency situations. The troops also conducted rescue drills and medical evacuation scenarios, including a tactical combat casualty care class, to maintain a high level of readiness.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Travis Carr, a translator working alongside the Marines and JGSDF, said supporting the collaborative effort and witnessing the service member’s shared dedication to enhancing emergency response methods and safety protocols was extremely rewarding, especially seeing them work side-by-side, learning from each other.
Meanwhile at JGSDF Camp Jumonjibaru, Marines with MWSS-171 and JGSDF service members with 1st Battalion, Western Army Helicopter Unit, Western Army Aviation Group, established a forward arming and refueling point. Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 coordinated with MWSS-171, landed multiple MV-22B Ospreys and refueled the aircraft, demonstrating the combined capabilities of expeditionary refueling. U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. David Chavez, a bulk fueler specialist with MWSS-171, said executing a FARP provided an opportunity to support multiple platforms of aircraft from expeditionary locations and facilitated the distribution of fuel and ordnance as necessary.
“It also allows us to build relationships with our host nation and to familiarize ourselves with the gear that the Japanese forces have,” said Chavez, a native of El Dorado Hills, California. “So, if we have to build off of that, we know what to bring out here, whether it’s the personnel, the gear, or just the fuel source in general.”
Simultaneously, combat engineers with MWSS-171, alongside the first ever bilateral integration of Sailors with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, U.S. Naval Commander Task Force 75, and JGSDF service members with Amami Area Security Forces, Engineer Platoon, cleared brush and flattened terrain to create a landing zone, prepared to receive aircraft, and performed airfield damage repair at a newly placed cement pad that was jointly built a few weeks earlier at JGSDF Kirishima Training Area.
During the last few days of the exercise, Marines, Sailors, and JGSDF service members teamed up to focus their efforts on the airfield damage repair training. The teams used power tools to cut into the newly finished cement pad to simulate damage to the runway. After each large chunk was removed, teams would remove any loose material and pour in wet cement, smoothing it out to be even and stable for flight operations.
After its construction, Marines with VMM-262 flew to the newly cleared landing zone and landed multiple MV-22B Ospreys, demonstrating rapid development and implementation of landing zones. The airfield damage repair is a primary focus for Marines in Iwakuni, such as U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Connor Huften, a combat engineer with MWSS-171, who said training and implementations like this are vital to continued operations, ensuring that should disaster strike, units like MWSS-171 would still be ready to fight now.
Resolute Dragon 23 is an annual bilateral exercise in Japan that facilitates III Marine Expeditionary Forces’ ability to rehearse and strengthen the command, control, and multi-domain capabilities alongside allied Japan Self-Defense Force personnel.
This work, Resolute Dragon 23: MWSS-171 spearheads distributed operations across Kyushu, by Cpl Chloe Johnson, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.