AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 28 Marines have steadily continued to improve the service that they provide here since the transition of authority on Jan. 3.
“Our mission has been to improve on a daily basis; the processes that we go through to get the right aircraft or right asset at the right time and place,” said Lt. Col. Lynn A. Stover, the MTACS-28 commanding officer.
“They are working hard to improve their position, improve what they do on the equipment and are working above and beyond their job description,” said Stover.
The MTACS Marines equip, man, operate and maintain the current operations section of the Tactical Air Command Center here.
“We talk to all the command and control agencies that are in the field,” said Stover. “We also coordinate data links and information being passed around the battlefield.”
The MTACS Marines execute the Air Tasking Order, which is basically a schedule and listing of all the missions for a 24-hour period, according to Capt. Donald Meek Jr., the MTACS-28 adjutant.
“We also assign aircraft to execute immediate requests for (casualty evacuation), (medical evacuation), close air support and troop transport for the entire Al Anbar province,” said Meek.
The MTACS mission directly supports the service members who are on the frontlines.
“The (service members) that are talking to the Iraqis and trying to find the enemy and caches, doing the interdiction mission, are really diplomats and we are one tool that they have to make their mission more effective,” said Stover.
To help support those service members, the MTACS contains military occupational specialties ranging from command and control to supply.
“MTACS is a melting pot of Marines,” said Stover. “When we are in the field we also have (Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2) Marines with us. We have really become part of the wing. It really helps us as a control group and as a unit to integrate with the wing.”
Within the short time that the squadron has been here, the Marines have already made numerous equipment improvements.
“We have some systems that will help us get early warning on different threats that will be in the air, maybe directed toward our forces in the field,” said Stover. “We have also improved our communication and coordination.”
Stover believes that the squadron has been successful so far and attributes that to the family style atmosphere that the Marines have adopted.
“I am very proud of my Marines, I am like a proud papa,” said Stover. “I took over the squadron about 10 months ago and from day one my philosophy has been the ‘MTACS family’. We really try to bring that home on everything that we do.”
The MTACS-28 Marines have a support system that closely resembles a close-knit family.
“We have looked after one another, either back in Cherry Point or out here,” said Stover. “Whether it was someone who needed help watching their child, or someone down on their luck we try and point them in the right direction and get them the help they need. I have seen that in the most junior to the highest ranks of our squadron.”
More than half of the Marines have shown their dedication to the squadron by putting aside their personal preferences and volunteering to stay throughout the year-long deployment.
“We had 60 percent of our Marines who volunteered to stay,” said Stover “That’s unusual, but it shows the camaraderie and support that they give one another. Their focus is those Marines that they are helping out in the field and their availability and means to be able to communicate command and control throughout the battle space so that we can be more effective as a wing.”
To maximize their effectiveness during their current tour, MTACS-28 spent months conducting pre-deployment training. They also spent several days learning additional skills.
“We got to go down to Camp Lejeune for (the School of Infantry) and spend a couple of days there,” said Stover. “We got the basics and a little more. We also did some convoy operations to get the Marines a sense that if they were going to be called for (individual augment) or the Lioness program that they will have the immediate action drills drummed into their head so that they could react better to situations.”
Stover feels that the early success of the squadron is a good indicator of how they will spend the year.
“They have done it all,” said Stover. “They have answered the challenge since last May. If this first three months is any indication of how we perform throughout the rest of the year, it will be good, as long as we keep focused while we’re here.”
To demonstrate the efforts of his Marines, Stover has added the phrase “MTACS-28 Raising the Bar,” to the squadron logo.
“That’s what we have been trying to do everyday,” said Stover. “We have to continue to raise the bar and do it as a family.”