US Marine Corps (USMC) personnel have carried out a series of training activities to hone their warfighting skills during recent exercise, Steel Knight 2023.

The participating marines and sailors in this exercise were from the Marine Air Control Group (MACG)-38 unit, positioned across California and Arizona, US. 

The primary objective of the exercise was to elevate skills and tactics of participants, preparing them for the future maritime conflicts in the Indo-Pacific region.

During the exercise, MACG-38 personnel evaluated Aviation Command and Control components together with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s (MAW) ‘Hub, Spoke and Node’ model to prepare for the next fight.

Under this model, the MACG-38 unit acted as a ‘Hub’ and established a Tactical Air Command Centre (TACC) aboard the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.

Once TACC was fully operational, MACG-38 and 3rd MAW personnel and leaders facilitated command-and-control of air assets in the battlespace.

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Simultaneously, another Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field was set-up by MACG-38 representing ‘Spoke’ element of the model.

Located at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre, Twentynine Palms, California, the supported the requirements of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16’s Assault Support unit.

MACG-38 installed Forward Arming and Refuelling Points for MAG-16’s MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions along with MAG-13’s F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

MACG-38 also integrated 3d Low Altitude Air Defence (LAAD) Battalion marines with the 11th Marine Regiment to obtain certification for Marine Rotational Force-Darwin’s future deployment in Australia.

To acquire certifications, LAAD gunners conducted a variety of live-fire shoots during the exercise.

Steel Knight’s latest iteration further involved establishment of organic Air Control Companies under 3rd MAW. Other activities included advanced naval base training and supporting maritime campaigns.

The MACG-38 also transferred personnel and equipment from MACS-1 Air Defense Company Bravo to MASS-3 to reorganise Marine Air Support Squadron 3 into three air control companies and a headquarters company.