OKINAWA, JAPAN --
In December 2022, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Air Support Squadron (MASS) 2 deployed to five dispersed locations across United States Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility to operationally connect unit-level exercises to theater-level exercises. The squadron utilized Direct Air Support Centers (DASC) to connect the exercises due to their high degree of mobility, which allows them to be employed on multiple fronts.
One DASC deployed on a Marine Aircraft Group 12 KC-130J to support the 7th Air Force and 8th Army’s Large Force Exercise in the Republic of Korea. Within days, another DASC stood up on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, in support of 1st Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment's Stand-In-Force Exercise. Concurrently, MASS-2 established a DASC in the Okinawa Central Training Area, increasing internal, core combat skills to train for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations. They maintained unit readiness by conducting field-unit training, which resulted in twenty-eight positional qualification recommendations.
MASS-2 demonstrated additional employment concepts and capabilities by pushing out four aviation command and control (AC2) nodes, simultaneously, across Okinawa and Korea. These provided DASC functions to both III Marine Expeditionary Force Stand-In-Force experimentation and U.S. Forces Korea operations. The squadron linked these sites – utilizing long-haul communications – to the center of command in order to maintain situational awareness and perform reporting and battle tacking functions. This wide range of digital capabilities allows their Marines to innovate and improve ground-based AC2 operations for real world operations.