MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The semiannual Desert Talon exercise began here June 9.
Desert Talon prepares the air combat element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force for Iraq deployments.
The station training is done with cooperation between Yuma County and city officials.
There are three phases of training involved in Desert Talon; academics, specific skills and an integrated exercise phase. Each phase covers important knowledge and skills that the Marines will need to complete their jobs while in Iraq.
Yuma’s climate and geography, which is similar to that of Iraq’s, provide the exercise’s participants an opportunity to experience the desert first hand, said Winn. They experience the heat and realities of life in the desert. For many of the Marines participating in Desert Talon, it is their first time in this kind of environment.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 students and support participate in the exercises, said Capt. Mary K. Flatley, adjutant Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1.
They will train using several different scenarios such as casualty evacuations, supply drops, convoy support, and equipment and troop relocation, said Cpl. Michael R. Winn, MAWTS-1 adjutant clerk.
The students go out to specific sites off station for urban exercises, to simulate the town environment they are likely to encounter in Iraq.
From what Marines have said who have been through Desert Talon, and have deployed, the training here is right on the mark, said Winn. Follow up and after action reports are always being done to see what can be improved to train Marines to better prepare them for future deployments.
“Whether they are participating in the exercises or instructing, everybody is getting something out of the training,” said Winn.
Preparation for Desert Talon begins about four months prior. Allocation of manpower, aircraft, logistics and all of the training operations takes a lot of time and planning.
Since the beginning of Desert Talon, it’s proved to be a successful training exercise, said Winn. Anything to better prepare Marines for deployment will help accomplish the mission at hand.