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HistoryVP-4748 HistoryHistory

Circa 1991

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-MAU History..." Contributed by AMCS Jerry L. Ogg Oggdog@AOl.Com [01FEB98]

Master Augment Unit Disestablishment Ceremony
17 August 1991
NAS Moffett Field, California


To direct, supervise, and coordinate the training of assigned squadron personnel and augment unit aircrew personnel to attain and maintain maximum combat readiness. The primary goal is to achieve and lo sustain a level of personnel and equipment readiness which will ensure availability to the patrol wing or individual squadrons for immediate employment in the event of war or national emergency.


Patrol Squadron Master Augment Unit (VP-MAU), Moffett Field was established by the Secretary of the Navy on 20 December 1986 to "direct, supervise and coordinate the training of the personnel assigned to attain maximum combat readiness for immediate employment with Fleet Patrol Squadrons".

Prior to the establishment of the MAU at Moffett, Reservists intended for augmenting Moffett's active duty patrol squadrons in a national emergency were assigned to several Squadron Augment Units (SAU's). Each SAU was colocated with a P-3A or P-3B Reserve Force Squadron at a Naval Air Station in the western United States. SAU personnel typically trained on P-3A and P-3B Reserve aircraft fifty weeks of the year and performed a two week 'Annual Training" period with their "gaining command" that is, the Moffett P-3C squadron that they were intended to augment in the event of a national emergency.

In November 1985, the Chief of Naval Operations realigned the SAU's in an effort to encourage their interaction with active duty gaining commands, and thereby designated VP-4748. Reservists from VP-4748 quickly qualified as P-3C aircrew and maintenance specialists, performing multiple two-week Annual Training periods in early 1986, augmenting a VP-48 deployment to Adak, Alaska.

The day to day interaction between VP-48 and the Moffett SAU became a practical foundation for expanding combined (Reserve/Fleet P-3C operations and training. Late in 1986, Commander, Naval Air Reserve Force and Commander, Patrol Wings Pacific signed an agreement providing basic guidance for the organization of Patrol Squadron Master Augment Unit, Moffett. This agreement established the policies under which VP-MAU Moffett Reservists could operate and maintain Fleet P-3C aircraft for maritime patrol training on a continuous basis. These policy guidelines effectively permitted VP-MAU Moffett to assume permanent custody of Fleet aircraft.

Several significant accomplishments highlighted the first year of VP-MAU Moffett's existence. Under the operational direction of Commander, Patrol Wing TEN and the administrative control of the Naval Air Reserve Center, Moffett, the MAU began recruiting Reservists with P-3C experience and conducting transition training for P-3A/B qualified personnel. Operational training plans focused on optimizing the integration of Reservists into normal gaining command evolutions.

During nine two-week Annual Training periods MAU aircrews flew 765 flight hours in conjunction with Fleet operations while MAU maintenance personnel completed more than 7500 hours of on-the-job training and flight support. Four fully qualified flight crews with maintenance support detachments deployed to the western Pacific. Three of these augmented VP-48 in the Republic of the Philippines and one augmented VP-47 in Misawa, Japan. The VP-47 contingent was the first in the Naval Reserve fully qualified in the P-3C Update III aircraft. Nearly half of the 392 sorties flown in the fiscal year 1987 employed combine Fleet/Reserve aircrews.

In 1988, MALI operations increased in size and scope. Ten Reserve aircrews and 120 maintenance personnel completed Annual Training, augmenting Fleet squadrons. To the mutual benefit of the Fleet and the Reserves, MAD crews operated where they were needed at the time that they were needed most - flying over 3500 flight hours. In the summer of 1988 the MAD "pooled" its aircraft with VP-40, VP-46, and VP-50 to ensure the availability of "Mission Capable" aircraft and aircrews during an unexpected budget shortfall. The net effect was an improvement in MAD readiness to the highest possible rating (R-l), while maintaining Fleet squadron operational "currency". Additional, numerous mission were flown in support of drug interdiction operations which later led to the squadron being awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation and Special Operations Service ribbons.

In 1989, as the organizational structure and command relationships of the MAU matured, the traditional "individual readiness" concept usual for reserve augment units was combined with the maritime patrol aviation concept of "crew readiness". The composition of each MAU Combat Air Crew was formalized to ensure stability at key positions. Tactical training and operational flights were increased by 35% to maintain the integrity of crew qualifications. "Real World" tactical operations in demanding environments became the norm as deployed MAU crews completed 36 operational flights in the northern Pacific and another 35 in the eastern Pacific during their Annual Training. In 144 Annual Training sorties the MAU logged 875 mishap-free hours, gaining 40 "basic" and 26 "advanced" crew qualifications. Seven MAU crews flew tactical events in the largest joint Pacific exercise, PACEX 89, while others performed extra Active Duty Training, moving the specially designed Mobile Operational Command Center to exercise sites across the Pacific.

Meanwhile, augmentation was the byword. VP-50 aircraft and personnel that were not permitted to deploy to the western Pacific because of funding constraints integrated into MAU training. VP-48 personnel transitioning to new acoustic systems were able to preview their training during MAU visits. The SAU at NAS Point Mugu, California, VP-919, integrated into 188 hours of flight training and 1520 manhours of MAU P-3C instruction. The Moffett Reserve Force Squadron, VP-91, received 269 hours of training preliminary to their transition from the P-3B to the P-3C Update III. Total 1989 augmentation: 744 instructor man-hours, 1252 non-instructor aircrew man-hours, more than 8000 man-hours direct maintenance support.

The Patrol Squadron Master Augment Unit began its fiscal year 1990 Annual Training cycle with the departure of the first two crews from NAS Moffett Field on Saint Patrick's Day. After a series of operational briefings from the Cubi Point ASWOC, the Rolling Thunder aircrews began conducting a variety of operational and training sorties. A mining exercise rounded out each crew's training. Numerous flight hours highlighted these training periods.

In May 1990 many new Fleet concepts were introduced to Patrol Squadron Master Augment Unit. The MAU had been so successful integrating with the Fleet Squadrons that the Commanding Officer of VP-19 invited the MAU to fly in their Mining Readiness Certification Inspection (MRCI). As the fifth aircraft in the flight of five, they put the perfect finishing touch on a flawless realistic mine warfare mission under the scrutiny of inspectors from Commander, Mine Warfare Command. "Big Red Five", however, had not only flown a mining mission, it had just made Naval Reserve history. For the first time ever, a reserve VP Augment crew had became a full participant in a Fleet Squadron's Operational Readiness Evaluation.

From June to October 1990, COMNAVAIRPAC was forced to ground almost a third of at-home cycle P-3 Orion aircraft in an effort to save aviation maintenance funds during the end of the fiscal year budget crisis. RADM J. J. Hernandes, Commander, Patrol Wings Pacific Fleet, proposed five aircraft be loaned to VP-MAU. This move was termed "Operation Cold Iron". With the squadrons concurrent transfer of 30 TAD personnel from Moffett Fleet both the fleet and the MAU gained significant increases in aircraft availability. By the end of "Cold Iron", fleet pilots flew over 300 hours on MAU - maintained aircraft. The MAU flew over 100 sorties for 675 flight hours on the five "Cold Iron" aircraft alone. The additional aircraft proved crucial to the MAU's achieving 100 percent on-time mission accomplishment during COMNAVAIRESFOR sponsored counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean during the month of August. This marked the first time that MAU elements had ever been chopped to a LANTFLT Commander.

Patrol Squadron Master Augment Unit, Moffctt Field achieved a significant safety milestone, the completion of four years of accident free flying on December 21, 1990. Since their first flight in 1986, the MAU has amassed a total of nearly 12,000 hours without a single flight mishap.

In 1991 the MAU flew its first combat missions in support of "Operation Desert Storm". A fully volunteer aircrew and maintenance detachment left Moffctt on February 3rd to augment the fleet squadron already deployed to the region, VP-4. During the 30 day detachment the MAD aircrew logged over 145 flight hours, including 7 combat missions tasked with locating targets of interest. The MALI was one of only two reserve patrol squadrons to have contributed to the liberation of Kuwait.

With only three months left in its brief history the MAU supplied four crews and two aircraft to support counter-narcotics operations operating from Howard AFB, Panama. In concert with the Coast Guard, the Air Force, U.S. Customs and Fleet squadrons and ships, the MAU crews accomplished all of its assigned missions during a four week period in its last successful integration with the Fleet.

With the closing of the MAU, a great experiment comes to an end. It has surpassed all expectations and done things that were not originally considered when the MAU was conceived. Every one of the original concepts came to fruition, with reserves receiving the most up to date training, on the latest Fleet compatible equipment. The MAU, through original thinking, also taught the Fleet a new concept, that of full integration. The MAU, through its ingenious approach to augmentation, was able to show that full integration should include every aspect of a squadron and all parts should be interchangeable, from maintenance personnel, to aircraft, to aircrew. This concept was proven in "Operation Desert Storm" where aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel from different wings, squadrons, both Reserves and Fleet, became interchangeable parts to accomplish a common critical mission. However, the MAU's greatest achievement may be that it broke down long held stereotypes held by both Fleet and Reserve personnel alike through innovation and hard work. Although the MAU is gone; the concept will survive and in the future units like the Master Augment Unit will undoubtedly return.

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