RICHLANDS, N.C. (WNCT) — Marines from Eastern North Carolina are taking part in a weeklong training exercise to make sure they are ready for future deployments.

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing is conducting Distributed Aviation Operations Exercise One (DAO EX-1) at various locations throughout Eastern North Carolina through Friday. The exercise began Monday and will validate warfighting concepts in support of Force Design 2030 initiatives, ensuring 2nd MAW is ready now and for the fight of the future.

Helicopters were taking off and landing at Albert J. Ellis in Richlands on Monday as part of the exercise, which includes Marines from Camp Lejeune, New River and Cherry Point.

“We know that operating in a distributed environment is most likely going to increase our survivability,” said Capt. Dan Kearney with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464. “So by increasing our survivability, we’ll be able to continue to fight the enemy.”

DAO EX-1 is the first exercise of a planned, multi-exercise lifecycle. DAO EX-1 will include eight 2nd MAW aviation units operating across four locations, civilian and military, including Albert J. Ellis Airport, Marine Corps Outlying Field Oak Grove, Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, and Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic.

DAO EX-1 will allow 2nd MAW to safely and effectively conduct the training required to validate the logistical, communication, and operational requirements necessary to carry out the six functions of aviation in a decentralized, distributed manner.

“What we’re going to be doing is utilizing pre-approved pathways and communication in order to try and address the logistics requirements that we have for this exercise, and then get them brought out to us,” Kearney said.

This is all done to make sure these service members are prepared when deployed in different countries.

“On the larger spectrum of the execution of this is in order to operate in multiple sites in an austere environment, and then be able to account for the logistical strain that we may have on the system,” Kearney said.

“We just appreciate all the community’s support out here. And we really hope that we’re not intruding on anybody’s spaces and not waking anybody up at night.”