U.S. Marines with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, currently attached to the 4th Marine Regiment as part of the Unit Deployment Program, departed Marine Corps Air Base Futenma on a C-17 Globemaster III from the l Air Force to participate in Exercise Iron Sky on November 4, 2021.
Iron Sky is an exercise that tests expeditionary forward base operations capabilities. EABO is a form of expeditionary warfare that involves the employment of a mobile, low-signature, easily serviced and maintained naval expeditionary force to carry out sea denial, support sea control, or enable maintenance of the fleet. The Marine Corps relies on exercises like Iron Sky to enhance force protection and expand the capabilities of Marines in the Pacific.
“We are testing the capabilities that we can get a small force into an isolated area and be able to secure it quickly,” said US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Robert Stauffer, a platoon sergeant with 3rd LAR. “Our mission is to come from the defensive position. We work from limited information in an isolated area and see exactly how well we are able to defend it.
This mission is part of Marine Corps Force Design 2030. Force Design 2030 is the latest effort to adapt, stay relevant, and maneuver adversaries. Iron Sky demonstrated joint integration and operational mobility that also allowed the Marines to refine expeditionary airfield security operations.
“Iron Sky is an exercise that has never been done before. It involves determining whether or not there will be a simulated threat and being able to quickly establish ourselves in a defensive position on a location. US Marine Sgt. Henry Couch, 3rd Marine Logistics Group Combat Engineer Squad Leader
This exercise was conducted for the very first time in Marine Corps history. Service members from different branches gathered in Okinawa, Japan to depart for Wake Island for the first time. Wake Island is primarily used as a mid-Pacific refueling stop for military aircraft and as an emergency landing area. Entrance to Wake Island is heavily restricted and requires a Special Use Permit to visit.
“Iron Sky is an exercise that has never been done before,” said US Marine Sgt. Henry Couch, Combat Engineer Squad Leader at 9 ESB, 3 Marine Logistics Group “It’s all about determining whether or not there will be a simulated threat and being able to quickly establish ourselves in a defensive position on a location. “
Exercise Iron Sky offers different military occupational specialties a chance to work together and support a single mission – to modernize the Pacific region’s approach to defence. The joint integration included Marines from the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd LAR, and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. The exercise also includes the integration of Air Force Airmen with the 4th Airlift Squadron, the 62nd Airlift Wing, which provided air support, and the Army’s 311th Signal Command who provided communication support.
The Marine Corps relies on exercises like Iron Sky to enhance force protection and expand the capabilities of Marines in the Pacific.
Couch explained that since Wake Island is a secure location, it was essential to conduct joint training with the Army and Air Force to properly run Iron Sky since the island is administered by the Army. air. Participating service members were able to complete the advanced training in a controlled location, in the event of an emergency.
“Not many military or civilians get the chance to visit Wake Island,” Stauffer said. “In fact, being on the island, being able to train there and being able to see the historical significance of the island is an experience we won’t soon forget.”