'Ospreys' seize MAGTF training
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    'Ospreys' seize MAGTF training

    MV-22 "Ospreys" belonging to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, flew into the record books, March 1, when they became the first operational tiltrotor aircraft to conduct and successfully complete training -- including a simulated airfield seizure -- with all the elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force, during a series of intensive exercises placing the aircraft at the spear tip of airborne assault.

    The exercises -- conducted under the auspices of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and overseen by the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 26, Col. David J. Mollahan -- were part of a Corps-wide process designed to replace the venerated, but aging, CH-46E "Sea Knight," with the more capable and versatile MV-22.

    Lt. Col. Michael Reed, MAG-26 V-22 projects officer, said the integration was ongoing and not limited to a specified two-month exercise period, but that the airfield seizure was a culmination of the training the squadron has been doing for the last several weeks.

    He said II MEF will continue to schedule training events that would facilitate wider exposure to the MV-22’s capabilities.

    “An after-action review conference will be held following the exercise in order to capture lessons learned from participants at all MEF levels,” he said.

    During the exercises, the four MAGTF elements -- Command, Ground Combat, Aviation Combat and the Combat Service Support -- were introduced to the various operational capabilities of the MV-22 "Osprey,” when the aircraft transported Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic, N.C.

    Marines at the small unit level were given an opportunity to develop and refine tactics, techniques and procedures as part of the integration process.

    Pfc. Justin Headman, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, said the exercises gave the opportunity to familiarize him with the newest weapon in the Marine Corps arsenal.

    “I felt more comfortable in the ‘Osprey’ than I did flying in other helicopters. The ride was smoother and more stable. I just wish we could do this kind of exercise more often,” he said.

    For 2nd Lt. Dan Young, Alpha Company, 1/8, the integration process was all about strengthening unit cohesion.

    “Helicopter-borne operations incorporating flight and ground capabilities are paramount to what we do, as far as our missions are concerned,” Young said.

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