Marines brief council on next WTI exercise
Twice a year, pilots, weapon system operators, ground combat and combat support service officers from throughout the Marine Corps come to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma to take part in a course designed to hone their battlefield knowledge and expertise.
The training, which is held in the spring and in the fall, is simply known by the Marines who have attended it as WTI, which stands for Weapons and Tactics Instructor course. It is also the only training of its kind.
A highlight of the course is an exercise held in the city to give the Marines realistic training in the evacuation of noncombatants from a hostile situation — training they may need to execute in a mission. There have been 16 noncombatant evacuation operations conducted since the end of the Korean War.
The next exercise will be held Oct. 19 at Kiwanis Park and Trinity Christian Center. The simulated evacuation control center will have consular affairs officers from the Department of State participating for their own training.
Col. Robert Kuckuk, commanding officer at MCAS Yuma, thanked the Yuma City Council for the opportunity during a briefing at Tuesday's work session.
“We're kicking off the fall WTI and I'm here to personally thank the city for its support over the years, especially in the last few days with the loss of two Marines” in Afghanistan.
Mayor Al Krieger responded that the community loves its Marines “and wants the best for them. It's very hard to balance our sympathy with our anger. We take this personally.”
Maj. William Lewis outlined the exercise for the council, noting that every safety precaution will be observed. There will be strict adherence to all Federal Aviation Administration regulations, aircraft will maintain a minimum of 500 feet above ground level over the city except during take-off and landing, no ordnance will be carried by aircraft or personnel, and both civilian and military police will be on site.
He said the exercise will involve 18 aircraft over Yuma, an airborne security force and quick reaction force convoy.
WTI is being held from Sept. 10 to Oct. 28. It begins with an academic phase for the first three weeks, then transitions to a flight phase. It then gets to major evolutions, where all of the departments first develop a plan and then execute their plan.