FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. --
After years of estrangement from Marine expeditionary units, 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company personnel, or Anglico, the Corps' air controllers, are once again back with the 11th MEU to do what they do best: Bring death from above.
Due to constant operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Anglico Marines and sailors have been engaged in coordinating close-air support and indirect fire there.
MEU leaders requested a detachment from 1st Anglico to deploy with them later this year. Subsequently, when the 11th MEU deploys later this year, it will be the first of the three West Coast MEUs in several years to take such a detachment, said Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice, 11th MEU operations officer.
As resident experts in all things that go boom, Anglico personnel are highly specialized at directing and controlling air support, not only from U.S. aircraft, but allied aircraft as well.
“Anglico is a phenomenal asset,” said Maj. Brent Johnson, the MEU’s air officer. “They’ll provide a greater capability. Operationally, we can provide better air support with Anglico personnel.”
Over the past several years, Anglico units have been very air-centric; that is, their focus has been on calling in aircraft instead of naval guns and artillery to destroy enemy targets.
Even though some systems are not widely used, Anglico personnel are proficient in all aspects of fire, including mortars, artillery and naval gunfire, said Capt. Robert Suarez, the officer in charge of the MEU’s supporting-arms liaison team, or SALT.
Though small in number, the MEU’s Anglico detachment has as much air controlling capability as an entire infantry battalion, said Suarez.
The MEU’s Anglico complement consists of 18 members. Three officers serve as joint-terminal attack controllers, or JTACs, and are the only ones certified to authorize fire missions. Two fire control teams consisting of five Marines each set up observation posts and engage enemy targets. Overseeing the FCTs and operating as a fire support coordination center is the SALT.
Even though combat operations are Anglico’s bread and butter, they bring greater capabilities to training as well.
“We provide the MEU commander with the capability to plug into any allied unit operating in theater,” Suarez said. “But if we do bilateral training, we have the ability to liaison with them too.”
With all the contingencies a MEU faces, having an Anglico detachment with a catchy motto means one thing: No matter where they go, “Lightning from the sky, thunder from the sea,” is only a call away.