4th MAW instrumental to New Horizons
By Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
/ Published June 06, 2014
BELIZE CITY, Belize -- Scores of U.S. Marine Corps engineers traveled to Belize starting in April for New Horizons Belize 2014, a multinational exercise providing training opportunities for the host nation, as well as Canadian and U.S. military members, in the fields of civil engineering and medical care.
Typically scattered throughout the U.S. with their respective units, Marines from different Marine Wing Support Squadrons came together in Belize as they constructed additions for Belizean schools.
"A total of 120 Marines are scheduled to come through by the end of the exercise," said U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Robb, officer in charge of New Horizons Marine Corps engineers. "Each of the Marine Wing Support Squadrons is broken into detachments and some of them are as far apart as California and Massachusetts."
The 4th Marine Aircraft Wing encompasses Marine Aircraft Groups 41 and 49. And subordinate to the MAGs are the various Marine Wing Support Squadrons with Marines currently supporting New Horizons: MWSS 471, MWSS 472 and MWSS 473.
"All of the squadrons and detachments are represented here, and that's unique because these Marines rarely get to work this closely with one another," Robb said. "You really notice a camaraderie here, which is something that usually takes a long time to develop. Each group is only here for two weeks, and we saw that camaraderie develop in only three days. There's been almost an instant bond.
"The way they came together and worked together as a team is remarkable," he added.
The camaraderie extended beyond Marine lines as they also worked with engineers from the Belize Defence Force, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army.
"The joint world we're living in is how we're going to fight from now on," said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Tray Ardese, MAG 41 commander, during a visit in May to see the work Marines had accomplished. "It's very refreshing to see them jumping in and pulling their weight in this joint environment."
Partnerships were forged as the multiservice, multinational engineer teams worked toward a common goal: providing quality structures for expanding schools.
Once construction was nearly complete on the mainly Marine-built addition at Edward P. Yorke school in Belize City, Marines were scattered to three other construction sites in the region to assist fellow engineers.
"It's important for all the services to be afforded joint training opportunities because more and more, this is where our missions take us -- alongside our sister services," Robb explained. "New Horizons has been a fantastic training opportunity and learning opportunity as we work with different services."
The MWSS mission is to provide aviation ground support, enabling the MAW to provide aviation support for expeditionary operations. Specifically, combat engineers are often called upon to provide temporary structures for use in more austere environments, but a combat engineer may often be called upon for a range of needs.
"Out of all the fields in the MWSS, they are probably the most versatile," Robb said of his fellow engineers. "They are typically called upon to build structures that are more temporary in nature, or field expedient. Another of their missions is to set up forward arming and refueling points to double the reach of aircraft supporting troops on the ground.
"Our missions differ from what we've done here in Belize. This is more of a permanent structure than you would see the Marines build," Robb explained, "but it's important that we build these skills because there may be a time that these skills are called for."
From learning and honing new skills to building partnerships with fellow engineers from other services and other nations, the Marines under the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing have displayed exemplary professionalism. Their fervent work ethic has led to the success of New Horizons Belize 2014.
"As a whole, I couldn't be more proud of the work they've done here," Robb said.