Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 deployed to the Western Pacific Thursday as part of the Unit Deployment Program. The Marine Corps seeks to have balanced strategic capabilities in the Pacific theater so we can train with allies, respond to crises and promote security cooperation across the region.
The squadron and their jets will support multinational exercises over a six month period to improve our ability to work well with our allies, and to expose our Marines to various training environments.
We have one mission to support all friendly aerial elements and ground forces, said Sgt. Maj. James Hagle, the squadron sergeant major for VMFA-122. The interaction is helpful to get different people, different cultures and aircraft, which do things in different ways to learn and work together toward a common goal.
VMFA-122 was commissioned on March 1, 1942 and has served in World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror. The squadron has a long and distinguished history in the Pacific Command area of responsibility, having participated in 13 Unit Deployment Programs to the Pacific Theater.
These types of deployments offer a plethora of training and experience for all Marines throughout the squadron, said Capt. Albert Garcia, the squadrons assistant operations officer. We get to work alongside many of our allies in a short time period, which allows everyone to become more familiar with how everyone conducts operations.
To reduce the number of unaccompanied tours and improve unit continuity, the Commandant of the Marine Corps established the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) in October 1977 to deploy units to the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) for periods of approximately six months.
The UDP was reduced in scale in 2003 due to increased personnel and equipment demands in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. With the recent reduction of those requirements, the Marine Corps intends to resume the normal UDP deployment cycle of units rotating from U.S. home stations.