Defense

March 6, 2013

Unmanned aerial vehicle squadron starts training at Pendleton

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Sgt. Christopher Duncan
Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Cpl. Andrew Smith, left, Sgt. Derrick Williams, center, Sgt. Michael Lomartire, right; prepare the RQ-7B Shadow, an unmanned aerial vehicle, for a launch conducted here, Feb. 27. Williams was the plane captain and quality assurance chief for this exercise, and all of the Marines are UAV technicians from Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 3 and VMU-4.

Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 4 conducted its first field training exercises at Camp Talega since the unitís official move here from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

The unit held its first change of command between Lt. Col. Kyle J. Moore and Lt. Col. Matthew C. Shortal Feb. 22, symbolizing the squadron’s official move from Yuma to Camp Talega, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The active-reserve squadronís relocation to Camp Pendleton is intended to position VMU-4 to efficiently support and integrate with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

One of the unitís goals is to be an operational ready force so that we can, as the commandant says, fight today’s fight with todayís force, said Maj. Brian W. Cole, the site commander of VMU-4.

The plan was for the reserve forces to have VMU capabilities and relieve some of the pressures from the active-duty VMUs who were on non-stop deployment rotation,î said Cole. ìThe senior (staff non-commissioned officer in charge) who helped stand-up this unit is a great example of why (this move) is necessary, since he has been on five deployments in the last seven years, and that is a typical rotation rate for these units.

Relocating means developing new relationships with aviation assets, range operations and various other units.

Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 4 prepares RQ-7B Shadows, unmanned aerial vehicles, for launch during a training exercise held here, Feb. 27. The unit first launched the Shadow in 2010 while stationed in Yuma and have recently moved here.

Unmanned aerial vehicle technician Sgt. Derrick Williams, from VMU-4 said if you’re conducting an aerial mission or on the ground doing a patrol you’ll want UAV support. VMU-4 can provide UAV support for all of the units training here.

UAVs are drones that are controlled remotely or autonomously and are used for general surveillance, the reconnaissance of enemy forces and assets, and some are capable of delivering explosive ordinance on designated targets.

The proficient use of mutual aid assets is mission essential in combat, and thus clear communication from drones in the air creates better awareness for forces on the ground, said Cole about the exercise.

Although the unit has moved, Yuma will continue to receive visiting UAV squadrons and facilitate support with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1.

On Yuma, we will still conduct flight and range operations and interact with MAWTS-1 and the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course, said Cole.

Fully integrating with I MEF will enhance the capabilities of its units and VMU-4 will also provide relief for active duty UAV squadrons that are constantly deployed, said Cole.




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