MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A group of Marine Air Control Squadron-1 Marines here will leave their air wing-related jobs for a while and deploy to the Middle East soon as a security force.
To prepare for this new mission, the Marines received extensive classroom and practical application training on station and at the Cannon Air Defense Complex (P111) over the past three weeks.
The security force is comprised of all the squadron's deployable Marines ranked sergeant and below that are not essential to the completion of its mission on station, said Staff Sgt. Christopher Main, air defense controller and former infantryman.
"They're getting training right now that is vital to keeping them alive in whatever country or environment we're going into," Main said.
The training reminded the Marines of their roots.
"Everybody here is pretty much of different (military occupational specialties), but now we're all part of a security force," said Cpl. Michael Heneghan, an air control operator.
"Every Marine is a rifleman, and that's what they wanted to instill in us that you might be supply, radar or whatever, but you're still a rifleman first."
From Aug. 9-12, the Marines received lectures and powerpoint presentations in the station theater on convoy operations, improvised explosive devices, principles and techniques of patrolling, crew-served weapons, vehicle and personnel search procedures and other topics.
On Aug. 13 the Marines headed out to the Cannon Air Defense Complex, where they applied what they learned during the classroom instruction by establishing a perimeter, building defensive positions, mapping their fields of fire, patrolling the perimeter, performing inspections at the gate and reacting to aggressors who tested the Marines' knowledge and skills, said Heneghan.
Basically, the Marines provided security for the Cannon Air Defense Complex exactly as if it were a base in hostile territory.
The Marines also went to Yuma Proving Ground's North Pad Firing Range on Aug. 18 to get some hands-on experience with the crew-served weapons, including the M249 squad automatic weapon and M240G and M2 .50 caliber machine guns. Many of the Marines experienced these weapons for the first time.
According to Main, the Marines took to their new duties earnestly.
"It was a shock to take Marines that normally work in an air-conditioned environment, throw them in the field for a week and teach them how to be security Marines," he said. "That's a little bit of a shock, but they've really adapted very well and I couldn't ask to be working with a better bunch of people."
The training doesn't end here, said Heneghan.
"This has been a good base for us a good starting point," Heneghan said. "When we get over there, we're still going to be training. Every day we'll be doing some training when we're not on post, so it's a continuing process. But here, they've given us a really good idea of what it's going to be like over there."