MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania -- Marines assigned to Black Sea Rotational Force 13, from the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, command element and Airmen with the 352nd Special Operations Group, joined forces for C-130 training at the airfield in Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania, Sept. 12th. The C-130 is a military transport aircraft capable of dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas and in recent years has been used for humanitarian relief. Cpl. Frankie Pagan, a motor transportation technician, maintenance chief, and Miami, Fla. native, said that the training was to prepare Marines and Airmen in the event a quick on-load and off-load of a C-130 was needed. “The scenario that we went over was that we were in an ambush, or trying to get into a place that was under attack and we needed to infiltrate to see how efficiently and how quickly we could move equipment and [Marines],” said Pagan. “We practiced on-loading and off-loading High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles and personnel as if we were trying to go undetected and trying to leave as soon as possible.” Air Force Technical Sgt. Talon Martin, a loadmaster with the 352nd SOG and St. Paul Park, Minn. native, said that joining forces for training is beneficial for both the Marine Corps and the Air Force.
“It just helps us all around achieve good inter-service interoperability,” said Martin. “It will help the Marine Corps learn the Air Force way and the Air Force learn the Marine Corps way so if something ever happens, we already have that close-knit relationship where we can hit the ground running.” Interoperability is the ability of members of military units from different countries to work together. Both Martin and Pagan agree that working with each other’s respective branch was an enjoyable experience and, all around, beneficial for both. “Working with the Marines was great. We went through a couple of drills which went [well],” said Martin.
“It was good for [the Airmen] working with people they don’t know and not only getting a mission, but performing it efficiently,” said Pagan. “For us, it’s out of our comfort zone and out of our element especially since we’re the ground element of the Marine Corps.” Pagan said that, at the end of the day, training with the Airmen is in his top five greatest experiences. Pagan also added training with them was a humbling experience and has given him a greater appreciation for not only the Air Force, but for other branches as well. Black Sea Rotational Force 14 is a rotational deployment of Marines to the Black Sea region to work with partner and allied nations to help build their military capacity, provide limited crisis response capability, promote regional stability, and build enduring partnerships throughout Eastern Europe.