MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz.— Before 4,000 troops arrive to take part in the bi-annual, seven-week Weapons and Tactics Instructor course aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., logisticians with Marine Aviation and Tactics Squadron 1 have already completed months of planning and coordination.
"Two months before the start of the course, Capt. Craig Sisson, the Ground Logistics officer for MAWTS-1, and I will travel to the East and West Coasts to communicate the units' needs during a logistics planning conference to key unit leaders planning for WTI," said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Lowe, the Logistics Chief for MAWTS-1. "During each class we have approximately 12 additional units. It's our job to coordinate with them to make sure they receive all of the right gear, such as generators, fuel bladders, shower trailers, mobile laundry facilities and tactical vehicles at the right place and at the right time."
The quantity of supplies and resources it takes to successfully run a WTI course is something easily overlooked by participating units and spectators. Nearly all equipment comes from outside units.
"Approximately 3,329 tons of gear will be moved for this class," said Sisson. "This is significant, because the majority of the gear came from the East Coast. There were approximately 447 tractor trailers sourced to transport all of this gear to support the additional troops." Supporting units occupy more than 20 sites throughout the area of operation. This requires MAWTS-1 logisticians to work around the clock to meet the demand of operations. Logistics is divided into four main sections, ensuring that no detail is overlooked.
"The major sections we manage during the course are the mobility cell, which mainly consists of the embarkation of gear; motor transportation, billeting and food supply."
The course also plays an important role in demonstrating the importance of effective communication while integrating a logistical support plan for an air-ground exercise of this size.
"Communication is always a challenge when you're trying to coordinate everyone's unit's training in the same space," said Sisson. "There is such a huge scale of Marines here with a full-range of military occupational specialties."
The role of logistics changes for each iteration of WTI and depends on the training needs of the course and the fleet Marine force. It is important that logisticians are always ready to ensure mission accomplishment.
"Logistics is never the exact same task day after day," said Sisson. "It's constantly a changing scenario with every course. Logistics is crucial. If one unit does not receive its tactical gear on time, it can back up other units causing a domino effect, in turn, affecting us to ultimately fail our mission. Failure is simply not an option."
MAWTS-1 logisticians are an essential factor to the mission accomplishment of the WTI course. WTI is a seven-week course consisting of advanced tactical aviation training designed to produce weapons and tactics instructors. A WTI will serve in key training officer billets to act as training experts in the fleet, ensuring Marine aviation units continue to train effectively and to a standard across the Marine Corps. It is courses like WTI that maintain the Marine Corps' role as the nation's force in readiness.