Marines and Sailors with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) participate in an island hopping campaign as part of advanced naval base training during Exercise Summer Fury 21. With assets positioned across the West Coast, both on land and at sea, 3rd MAW tested components of expeditionary advanced base operations in preparation for future maritime conflicts in the Indo-Pacific region. Island hopping originated during World War II when Allied forces deployed to the Pacific theater adopted a “leapfrogging” tactic as a way to gain control of strategic, maritime islands while avoiding heavily guarded enemy targets. Leapfrogging ultimately paved the way for Marines to more efficiently reach enemy objectives with fewer casualties, leaving adversaries in Southeast Asia in a constant state of surprise and unbalance.
Using this blueprint, 3rd MAW synchronized the seizure of strategic airfields at San Clemente Island which set conditions on the objective to bypass heavily fortified islands in order to seize lightly defended locations that could support follow-on operations during Summer Fury. During the course of the evolution, Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 reinforced 3rd MAW efforts by establishing forward arming and refueling points on both San Clemente Island and at a helicopter outlying landing field. Additionally, Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 provided continuous logistical support, allowing 3rd MAW assets to continue the fight.
As warfighting remains both “timeless and ever changing,” 3rd MAW continues to make considerable progress toward the goals of Force Design 2030 through adversarial-minded war gaming and combat-driven exercises. The FARPs effectively increased the range and tempo of aviation operations within the simulated island chain increasing 3rd MAW’s ability to gain command and control of maritime islands. During Summer Fury 21, 3rd MAW units participated in evolutions such as advanced naval base training, long range strike operations, and forward air controlling exercises, enhancing readiness and lethality in support of a maritime campaign. 3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.