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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton: More than just vertical lift

By Cpl. Emmanuel Necoechea | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | December 17, 2018


It is not uncommon these days to see a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III landing, taking off or loading and unloading cargo at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton. Just recently, Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) – 469 unloaded from a C-17 two helicopters which had just returned from a unit deployment overseas. What may have been a rare sight in the past is now a routine occurrence and there is high hopes that it can and should happen more.

MCAS Camp Pendleton has few limitations when it comes to air lift capabilities. With that being said, the air station can facilitate closer alternatives for planners in regard to special training, gear and vehicle embarking/debarking, and troop transportation.

“There is a [misconception] that MCAS Camp Pendleton is nothing more than a helicopter or tiltrotor air base, but there is more that the air station has to offer [in regard to] strategic airlift capabilities,” said Col. Richard Anderson, commanding officer, MCAS Camp Pendleton. “Right now the major tenants of Marine Corps Base use March Air Reserve Base, in Riverside, California, a lot because it is just two hours north, but we can offer the same transport out of here… and it is right in their backyard.”

In addition to reducing time on the road transporting personnel and equipment, MCAS Camp Pendleton’s strategic airlift capability provides a secluded and centralized location for movement of cargo to exercises and real world requirements without impacting traffic or telegraphing operations.

“We can multiply your capabilities,” said Capt. Jonathon Millmann, C-17 Globemaster III pilot, 729th Airlift Squadron, 452nd Operations Group, Air Force Reserve Command. “With just this airplane alone, global mobility is now within reach and with speed. Ground troops wouldn’t have to be slowed down by loading on a ship. We can be here, especially on the West coast, because we have three bases qualified and capable of using an airlift. Rapid global mobility is at the MCBs’ beck and call. I know it is something we would love to bring to your fight.”

MCAS Camp Pendleton recognizes that easily available strategic lift can lessen the time required and logistical burden for units to conduct operations. The Air Station is working hard to expand its ability to support strategic lift aircraft, and make sure that unit planners are aware the capability exists right here on base.

“It is exciting to be part of bringing these capabilities to the Marine Corps,” said Millmann. “I have a feeling once the Marines get a taste of this, they are going to want a full bite.”