Story by PO2 James Mullen on 10/02/2017
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii Gen. Eduardo Ao, Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, met with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), for the Mutual
Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) at PACOM headquarters Sept. 28.
The MDB-SEB helps coordinate the framework for defense and security cooperation between the U.S.
and Philippine militaries.
"The armed forces of our two nations have reinforced our historic alliance - a special bond rooted in
shared values, shared commitments, and shared security threats such as ISIS," said Harris. "We must
continue our mutual efforts to protect our nations and provide the very best defense possible."
One focus of this year's MDB-SEB was a new counter-terrorism initiative which enhances the current
level of assistance the U.S. provides.
The agreement to establish the MDB was in 1958 while the SEB was established in 2006. The two boards
came together as both countries shared a common goal of improving interoperability of the parties'
While in Hawaii, Ao also observed 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment Marines as they conducted urban
operations at the Marine Corps Training Area in Bellows Beach. The Marines demonstrated their
capabilities in urban environments to Ao and component commanders.
The successful completion of the MDB-SEB ensures cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines
will continue in areas involving humanitarian assistance, maritime security, cyber security, disaster relief
and other national security interests.
"We are trying to put the traps in strategic areas, especially where cargo is offloaded or where aircrafts are parked," said Keevin Minami, Land Vertebrates Specialist for the HDOA. "In the past we've found a few snakes on runways and even found a live one that made it all the way to Schofield Barracks."
Story by LCpl Isabelo Tabanguil on 09/25/2017
Air traffic controllers (ATC) with Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay conducted training and monitored flight operations at the air traffic control tower, MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Sept. 20, 2017.
ATC's work to safely organize and regulate the flow of air traffic, and prevent collisions between aircraft.
"If you look at an airfield and see multiple planes in the sky, they all need to land at some point and typically at the same time," said MSgt. Jason Frisch, the ATC staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MCAS Kaneohe Bay. "It's up to us to make sure that those aircraft are sequenced and separated for safe landing."
Frisch said retaining information is very important for air traffic controllers.
"There's a lot of knowledge you need to obtain, a lot of studying, test taking and information that you always have keep with you," Frisch said. "Not only do you need to be proficient for your own control ability, but once you start to get qualifications, you're going to become an instructor and start teaching the next group of Marines.
Cpl. Corey Tanner, a local control tower supervisor with MCAS Kaneohe Bay, said in air traffic control certain words can change.
"There are little changes that'll happen periodically two to three times a year," Tanner said. "You have to make sure you stay up to date because you could be saying phraseology wrong."
Tanner said ATC's must also always remain vigilant in their job.
"They have to be alert and aware," Tanner said. "People get looked at annually, and they'll just get looked over the shoulder for whatever they're qualified on to make sure they're still operating everything appropriately. We have a whole list of things that we check and the second on the list is awareness. If you can't pay attention or be aware to everything that's going on around you, then you can't do your job."
Lance Cpl. Dustin Hesse, an ATC trainee with MCAS Kaneohe Bay, said multi-tasking is something ATC's have to deal with on a daily basis.
"[The most difficult thing is] probably staying focused, not letting it conflict and take too long," Hesse said. "It's almost like solving a really difficult math problem; you're always looking for a certain solution, but at the same time you're going to have different mathematical equations on the side that you have to handle."
Hesse said air traffic control provides the opportunity for new experiences.
"I like that every day there's something new you get to see," Hesse said. "We have aircraft from all the different branches: Coast Guard, Air Force with the heavy C-17 Globemaster. We even had some F-22 Raptors that did flybys last week.
Hesse said the job is fun but it could be hard to make your planning around new situations.
"These are people's lives in your hands every day," said Hesse. "So you have to make sure everything is flawless and well-coordinated for safe and expeditious flow of air traffic."
Story by Cpl Jesus Sepulveda Torres on 09/20/2017
From the land down under, where kangaroos and koalas call home, MV-22B Osprey aircraft with their crews arrived back in Hawaii from their deployment with Marine Rotational Force, Darwin (MRF-D), Australia.
U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM 268 nicknamed the "Red Dragons," returned from a 6-month deployment to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Sept. 19, 2017. The "Red Dragons" supported the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as the aviation combat element for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).
Crossing over 5,300 nautical miles with air refueling, VMM-268 was also the first osprey squadron to complete the journey from Hawaii to Australia and back.
Col. Christopher Patton, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 24, said multiple squadrons from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay deployed to Australia to support the ADF and to be part of the aviation combat element of the MAGTF. He also said that this is an annual deployment to help improve the partnership and training between the two nations.
Several elements with MAG-24 deployed to Darwin, which included four MV-22B Osprey aircraft from VMM-268, five AH-1W Super Cobras and four UH-1Y Venom helicopters with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, elements of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 and Marine Wing Support Detachment 24.
Patton said the Trans-Pacific flight of Ospreys is a milestone for the United States and its allies in the Western Pacific.
Lt. Col. Patrick Robinson, the commanding officer of VMM-268, said the 5,300 nautical mile flight was historic for being the very first for Osprey aircraft.
"Not only was it historic, but it showed how this aircraft in Hawaii is operationally relevant to any crisis in the Pacific," he said. "We can go anywhere, and this flight shows the importance of having this aircraft active and here."
Capt. Joseph Raines, a pilot training officer with VMM-268, completed the trans-Pacific flight as one of the Osprey pilots, and also said it was a good training opportunity to support the ADF and show case the squadrons capabilities.
"We flew from Darwin to Guam to Wake Island to here in about 21 hours, which shows the reach of our air assets and the huge distances we can cover in such a short time," he said. "While in Australia, we integrated with the ADF to make us better war fighters and the results of our partnership will show on the battlefield."
Patton said having the capabilities of Ospreys in Hawaii deter enemies and let allies know Marines have the means of reaching greater distances during a time of crisis or conflict.
"This is strategically significant because anyone who wants to be an adversary will find out that the U.S. Marine Corps can now aggregate power anywhere in the Western Pacific in a matter of days," he said. "No shipping required, we just pack up and fly straight there."