As an MV-22 Osprey neared the rocky earth beneath it, a cloud of dust surrounded the airframe, obscuring it from sight. Before the dust cleared dozens of U.S. Marines had exited the Osprey and were conducting tactical maneuvers to clear the area of enemy threats.
The men, assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, were conducting an operation to exercise the tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, April 5, 2017.
Just moments before the exercise began, the Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165, took off from the flight line of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group to conduct the mission.
The Marines are part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, which is collocated with the 407th AEG and coalition partners working together to support Operation Inherent Resolve in the fight against ISIS.
“The Air Force airfield operations flight provides the SPMAGTF a safe and expeditionary airfield environment to operate out of,” said Capt. Jeremy Constantineau, Marine Air Control Squadron detachment officer in charge.
Constantineau, who is a U.S. Air Force exchange officer leading a Marine air traffic control mobile team said, “Due to the tremendous downdraft caused by the MV-22 Osprey’s large rotors, FOD (foreign object debris) can be a greater issue for other aircraft operating on the same runway and taxiway surfaces.”
This presents a severe danger on the 407th AEG’s airfield because the host-nation and coalition fighter jets operating there are particularly susceptible to damage from debris on the runway.
“By conducting frequent airfield inspections, the Air Force Airfield Operations Flight ensures that the U.S. Marine Corps is able to operate their MV-22s without risking damage to host nation or coalition aircraft.”
It is important that the two platforms are able to operate at the same location because their missions are dependent on one another.
Without the rescue capabilities provided by units such as the SPMAGTF, coalition partners would not be able to fly missions into hostile territory with the confidence of knowing the TRAP force is on standby.
“If someone becomes isolated from friendly forces, for any reason, it is imperative that person is safely recovered in an expeditious manner, specifically prior to enemy capture,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Thomas Frey, SPMAGTF/TRAP coordinator and officer in charge for this training event. “Any TRAP force is prepared to rapidly recovery personnel or aircraft/aircraft components once they have been authenticated and their location has been confirmed.”
In addition to the value we place upon our people, according to Joint Publication 3-50, personnel recovery is important because “adversaries have historically exploited captured personnel for intelligence, propaganda, or as leverage during negotiations. Personnel recovery intends to reduce those options.”
For this reason, the TRAP mission is a critical capability provided to commanders within U.S. Central Command’s area of operations and requires the full support of the joint force when necessary.
“Service integration is not just nice to have, it’s a reality in the world we are in right now,” Constantineau said. “Integration with the Air Force at the 407the AEG has given the SPMAGTF a centrally located base of operations from which to conduct its mission.”
Story by Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson