In February, the U.S. Navy took delivery of the first CMV-22B Osprey aircraft as the primary aircraft to conduct Airborne Re-supply/Logistics to the Sea Base. The CMV-22B platform will eventually replace the C-2 Greyhound across the Navy.
Modernization of any program, regardless of service, is a complex process to ensure the proper manpower, training and equipment meets the highest standards for operation. At times, this requires creative solutions and opportunities to train service members and ready the force.
U.S. Navy sailors, who will eventually transition to the CMV-22B Osprey, are currently deployed to the Middle East with the California-Based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey squadron. The squadron currently serves as the Aviation Combat Element for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.
“The Navy sent us some of their best sailors,” said Lt. Col. James “Johnny” Ford, the ACE Commander.
“These Sailors have seamlessly filled many manpower gaps in our maintenance department, which increased our crisis response readiness.” Lt. Col. James Ford, ACE Commander
Typically, sailors are assigned to Fleet Marine Force units to provide medical and limited administrative support. However, qualified naval aviators, aircrew, and maintainers have embedded within VMM-166 to gain a better understanding of V-22 operations, achieve qualifications, and meet operational milestones nascent to the future of the Carrier Onboard Delivery Mission.
“When we transition to the CMV-22B, we will fully understand the requirements and nuances of day-to-day Osprey operations and maintenance,” said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class Corey Black. “It is a rare opportunity for Sailors in the aviation field to deploy with our Marine brothers and sisters.”
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Yeargin, a legacy C-2 Greyhound pilot who has already transitioned to the V-22, is currently assigned as the ACE’s executive officer. He is tasked with managing the day-to-day activities, such as maintenance and logistics to free the commanding officer so he can concentrate on tactical planning and execution.
“Working with over 500 Marines and Sailors is an incredibly humbling experience,” said Yeargin. “From the executive officer’s position, I have been given the opportunity to help make this deployment a rewarding experience not just for the Sailors of the Navy detachment, but for the ACE as a whole.”
The ACE provides assault support, logistics, and control of aircraft in support of crisis response missions across U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The operational experience Sailors gain from deployments with the Marines helps set the foundations for the Navy to safely fly and maintain CMV-22B, Yeargin added.
About a dozen Sailors have deployed with the Marine unit in support of crisis response operations across the Middle East. Marines with VMM-166 made an effort to immediately include them on the team.
“VMM-166 and all of their Marines have truly taken in our Sailors and treated us as their own,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Apprentice Cody Wild. “As the most junior Sailor in the unit, I believe we add value to the mission.”
SPMAGTF-CR-CC is a crisis response force designed to rapidly respond, utilizing organic aviation, ground, and logistics assets at a moment’s notice.