Approximately 150 Marines and eight aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 214 returned to the station from the annual joint service exercise Emerald Warrior 2012 March 10.
Emerald Warrior 2012, held in the vicinity of Eglin Air Force Base on the Gulf Coast of Florida was designed to improve the interoperability between the services and between the units on the ground and in the air.
“It was conducted as a simulated theater of operations and each day was a new part of the scenario which both air and ground units had to respond to accordingly, affording us different and unique situations to deal with every day,” said Capt. Stuart Wheeler, VMA-214 pilot.
The two-week exercise showcased representatives from all branches of service, but was primarily run by the Air Force. Additional Marine Corps representation came from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. with VMA-542.
Unfavorable weather conditions at the start of training nearly kept VMA-214 out of the exercise.
“The first week had terrible weather which made it difficult for the Harriers to launch on our assigned missions,” said Wheeler.Ã‚Â “By the end, the weather cleared up and we were able to participate in the exercise and gain a valuable understanding of what it takes to work with other non-Marine units on the ground and in the air.”
Overall, the exercise was successful and the Marines gained a greater appreciation for working cohesively with other services.
“More than anything, the main benefit of attending this exercise was to improve our joint operations capabilities, working through the difficulties of operating with other services,” Wheeler added.
More than likely, VMA-214 will not be able to attend exercise Emerald Warrior next year due to pre-deployment training; however, Wheeler stated anything is possible.