News: Marines conduct vital site-survey mission
Story by Lance Cpl. Anne Henry
CLARK AIR FIELD, PAMPANGA, Republic of the Philippines - Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, part of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s aviation combat element, conducted a site-survey mission Sept. 17 utilizing two MV-22B Ospreys above Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac, Republic of the Philippines during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014.
The mission helped the Marines develop a better understanding of the area as well as provided them with training they cannot conduct in other parts of the Pacific.
“Today, we took off out of Clark Air Field and flew over to Crow Valley, which is where the majority of the field operations will be taking place throughout PHIBLEX [14.1],” said Capt. Joshua E. Smith, an MV-22B Osprey pilot with the unit. “Our goal is to take a survey of the landing zones and to get an idea of how functional they will be for other aircraft to land.”
Upon arriving at the destination, the Osprey touched down for about five minutes before flying back to Clark. This gave the pilots enough time to judge whether the landing zone would be adequate for use throughout the exercise.
“We must be able to ensure that other aircraft will be able to land here,” said Sgt. Devon Morris, a crew chief with VMM-166. “This area will most likely become one of our primary landing zones and casualty-evacuation areas.”
The site-survey was successful; information was relayed that the area is safe for other aircraft to land in, according to Smith.
“After we left, we were able to pass off information to another Osprey which was set to do a casualty evacuation run-through,” said Smith.
In addition to providing the Marines with information about the landing sites, the day also provided unique training opportunities, according to Smith.
“These exercises really allow us to learn a lot by allowing us to do the type of sustainment training we need to be able to conduct,” said Smith. “We can do this because the training area in the Philippines is larger and allows us to widen our training, such as what was done today.”
Forces from the 13th MEU, 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade and III Marine Expeditionary Force are participating in PHIBLEX 14. PHIBLEX is an annual, Philippine-U.S. training exercise that enhances security and stability within the region while also helping to prepare for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
With the rebalance to Asia, strengthening ties and relationship with the Republic of the Philippines is very important for both of us, said Smith.
“This has been a great experience for us so far, and we are very grateful that we are able to conduct this type of training here,” he added.