MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Marine Air Control Squadron 1 has undergone recent changes to expand their capabilities with a new detachment, compound and equipment at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz.
Air Traffic Control Detachment D is the newest addition to MACS-1, which has three other ATC detachments already in operation.
While the detachment only has 26 Marines now, they should be at full strength by the time they are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in late 2010.
The unit will have five officers and 86 enlisted personnel, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Timothy Hoban, detachment maintenance officer. Most of the Marines will be straight from air traffic controller school while others will be drawn from existing ATC units Corpswide.
ATC units have been consistently deployed since 2002, said Hoban. With this detachment standing up, the strain should ease.
Work on the detachment’s new facility at the station's Cannon Air Defense Complex finished in October. The new buildings include offices for administrative staff and officers, and a maintenance bay for the Marines to work on their equipment.
“It’s actually the nicest maintenance facility I’ve seen,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Glodowski, detachment radar chief. “We can roll the Humvees into the bay and that allows the Marines a better place to work on their equipment.”
In addition, Detachment D is the first MACS-1 detachment scheduled to receive the latest in radar, communications and navigational aid equipment in January of 2010, said Hoban.
“This new equipment is us evolving to meet the Marine Corps’ needs,” said Hoban. “If we don’t evolve, we won’t be able to function as effectively as we need to.”
With the new gear, Marines will be able to set up air control operations much faster.
“Before it would take us five to eight hours to set up our equipment and become operational,” said Hoban. “What we have in these three Humvees is the equipment to go anywhere in the world and set up a fully functioning air traffic controlled airport in 30 minutes to an hour.”
Marine air controllers will have the ability to provide 60 miles of primary radar and 120 miles of secondary radar, said Hoban. These capabilities match the older equipment without the reliance on heavy support.
“We would need cranes and big transport trucks,” said Hoban. “Now we can just pull up, park and go.”
When the detachment deploys, it is part of the Marine Air Control Group, providing ATC support for units in Afghanistan, said Hoban.
The Corps is always moving to a quicker, more maneuverable mindset, said Gunnery Sgt. Felix Ovalle. Detachment D staff noncommissioned officer in charge. With the new compound, gear and Marines, they are going to be able to meet that demand.