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Train together, fight together

U.S. Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Cali., prepare to mount an ordnance on a F/A-18C Hornet Nov. 18 on the Tyndall flight line. They participated in the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Weapon System Evaluation Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa)

U.S. Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Cali., prepare to mount an ordnance on a F/A-18C Hornet Nov. 18 on the Tyndall flight line. They participated in the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Weapon System Evaluation Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

It takes more than one military branch to defend America's freedoms. Joint tactics play a key role in warfighting missions today.

U.S. Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Cali., spent time at Tyndall testing their weapons during a Weapons Systems Evaluation Program with the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.

During this time VMFA-232 also employed joint tactics training with F-22 Raptors assigned to the 94th Fighter Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Va., who were also at Tyndall participating in a WSEP.

"This is multi-fold training," said Marine Corps Maj. Patrick Moran, VMFA-232 pilot training officer and F-18 Hornet pilot. "We get to test our weapon systems and get the joint training needed."

The joint training implores 4th and 5th generation aircraft working together.

"Rarely do we get to work with 5th gen. aircraft," said Moran. "In all lines of the schedule outside the missile and gun shoots, we get to conduct training, whether it be dog fighting, where we get to see what it is like fighting an aircraft with all the thrust and advanced capability like the F-22, or 4th and 5th gen. integration where we train different mission sets like defensive and offensive counter air."

This method of joint flying allows both branches to utilize advance tactics to maximize lethality.

"In a perfect world, we would have enough Raptors to fight everything, however we don't," said Moran. "So we augment with 4th generation aircraft. The Air Force has the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Falcon, and we have the F-18. If we were to ever go to war, we would be fighting together so it's important we train together."  

These joint training exercises prepare the Marine Corps to work hand-in-hand with the 5th generation F-22, and prepares Air Force pilots for Marine F-18 tactics for maximum effectiveness.

"The Navy and Marine Corps fight different tactics than the Air force, so it's important we take a look at where we can work together and utilize good ideas from all our services," said Moran. "No one service will be fighting a war so it's important to see how each branch operates."

For most of the Marines, it is the first time they have been able to fight with Raptors. As well as the first time a lot of the Raptor pilots have worked with the Marine F-18.

"We fought four large force employments, which is fighter integration with the Marines, but every day we did smaller dissimilar training, which is training with aircraft that are different than in usual training." said Air Force Maj. Marcus McGinn, 94th FS F-22 pilot. "We do this fighter integration everywhere we go, but very rarely are we at a place with the Marines. Doing these integration sorties here is a unique experience that we don't necessarily get on Air Force bases or other TDYs we do."

"This is a great opportunity for us to train," said Moran. "It builds valuable knowledge."