2nd ANGLICO long arm of allied air power

26 May 2005 | Cpl. Stephen M. DeBoard

In the Global War on Terrorism, America is not alone. Allies from nations in virtually every corner of the globe have thrown in their lot with the United States to combat Anti-Coalition Forces. This level of cooperation demands of the Marine Corps an ability to make liaison with foreign air, ground and naval assets to achieve superiority on the battlefield. The Marines of 2nd Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, specialize in making such coordination.

Though bringing air, artillery and naval gunfire to bear on the battlefield is the hallmark responsibility of 2nd ANGLICO, they make other important contributions to a tactical situation, said Capt. Robert A. Knauer, firepower control team leader, 2nd ANGLICO. The Marines of the company also contribute state-of-the-art communications equipment and experience to commanders in the field, as well as expertise in making liaison with foreign forces to bring an allied combined arms effect to the battle, he said.

"The reason for our existence is, basically, to help other units help the Marine Corps," said Knauer.

2nd ANGLICO recently participated in Multi-National Maritime Engagement-2, or MNME-II, a NATO exercise held off the North Carolina coast.

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle brought in squadrons of French air defense and ground attack aircraft, which 2nd ANGLICO capitalized upon to hone their battle-tested skills.

During MNME-II, Navy F-14 Tomcats responded to the guidance from the ANGLICO Marines, operating from a large training range on Piney Island, N.C., by striking a simulated barge moored in the water around the island with inert bombs. When the first pass by the fighter missed, Knauer radioed in a call to "adjust fire." On the second pass, a cloud of smoke billowing from the barge followed seconds later by a distant thwump signaled to Knauer's firepower control team, or FCT, the pilot had struck the mark.

Such training proved useful as preparation for his Marines to use the skills learned in the classroom in the real world during the course of the steady deployments 2nd ANGLICO experiences.

The deployment schedule for 2nd ANGLICO is busy. The company is one of only five ANGLICO units in the Marine Corps. In addition to 2nd ANGLICO here, there are two other active-duty liaison companies, as well as two reserve units. The company has several FCTs forward-deployed, with more rotations in-theater scheduled for later this year.

This hectic schedule is reflective of the high demand for the unique skill set ANGLICO Marines bring to the battlefield. ANGLICO enjoys a good reputation among coalition forces, as well as U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force units for providing cutting-edge, high-quality liaison between coalition and American air power, and troops on the ground, said Knauer.

ANGLICO's mission of serving as the link between coalition air power and American forces means their company assets are rarely tasked out to Marine Corps units. Instead, the Marines are assigned to American services and even foreign military units, said Lance Cpl. Antonio J. Castillo, radio operator, 2nd ANGLICO.

"Our specialty is working with non-Marine Corps units, like Army and coalition forces.
What we do is attach to them and provide fire support for them," said Castillo.

The need for immediate, effective and clear communication means that 2nd ANGLICO has been provided with bleeding-edge communication technology. The simple ability of allowing one unit to talk to another regardless of distance using satellite communication equipment is an additional "weapon" the company brings to the battlefield, said Knauer.

"The most important thing is our proficiency with aviation, but you can't do anything if you can't talk," he said.

These communication tools also provide an intelligence benefit.

"We provide a huge capability. Not just to drop bombs, but to use that air to support whatever mission they may be doing through surveillance and intelligence. You can be doing a raid and have a real-time picture from that aircraft," said Knauer.

In a conflict where the enemy is often hard to spot and quick to flee from decisive engagement, the long arm of ANGLICO, able to reach out, and close with and destroy the enemy through superior air power is vital. While laser guided munitions take money to build, the lives of the warriors fighting the war are irreplaceable.

"ANGLICO minimizes lives lost. It's always better to have the upper hand on the enemy," said Castillo.