MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- For the duration of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-15 (WTI), MCAS Yuma is the temporary home for Marines of Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. MTACS-38 operates the Tactical Air Command Center, or TACC, which provides oversight and direction of aerial battles and aircraft movement in an operational environment.
“We are like a funnel,” said Capt. Heath Phillips, the officer-in-charge of the TACC detachment for WTI 1-15. “All the information going on in the air battle comes to us so we can give the commander situational awareness of what’s going on.”
As the senior agency, the TACC controls the other agencies that help manage the aerial battle space, such as the Direct Air Support Center and the Tactical Air Operations Center.
There are six functions of Marine Corps aviation: offensive air support, anti-aircraft warfare, assault support, control of missiles and aircraft, aerial reconnaissance and electronic warfare. All of these functions are vital, and without proper communication and overarching direction, proper teamwork becomes impossible.
“Without this agency and the command and control agencies that are subordinate to us, you lose the ability to control and integrate those functions of aviation,” said Phillips. “It’s not the sexiest side of aviation, but without it you can’t operate, because you’re not … all working towards a common goal.”
Marine Corps aviation works similarly across the globe. The TACC is provided for some training, but for normal day-to-day operations the TACC is not always crucial.
For WTI, the TACC is essential due to the magnitude of exercises running during this time. This type of control is necessary for WTI operations to run smoothly.
“We’re integrating aviation assets…from the West Coast, East Coast, and overseas,” said Phillips. “We’re bringing a bunch of people and moving parts, and you want to have the ability to control them.”
The capability to bring this many assets and additional personnel together for training is the strength of MCAS Yuma. In the United States, WTI is one of the few opportunities for aviators and aviation ground support units to come together to train on this level. The massive amount of land and air space available for training realistically simulates the conditions a Marine Air Ground Task Force will operate in.
Phillips expressed that this is a great opportunity for his Marines, though the environment is hot, hard and difficult to work in. Rarely do individual Marines support an exercise of this scale.
“It’s vitally important to every Marine who’s out here working…think about the value that the young Marines get from seeing all this gear set up,” said Phillips. “If they deploy, they’re going to fall back on this training, so it’s absolutely critical at every level.”