IZU OSHIMA ISLAND, TOKYO, Japan -- Crowds gather to watch an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft land in the middle of a baseball field. The rear exit ramp lowers and U.S. Marines working with Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force members and Japanese volunteers from the local hospital and fire departments quickly move 600 pounds of disaster aid supplies from the aircraft onto a truck waiting nearby. An ambulance drives to the side of the now empty Osprey which becomes a scene of controlled chaos as simulated patients are moved inside it on stretchers. Within eight minutes the entire process is completed and the aircraft lifts off and speeds away into the sky, showing the groups’ combined capability to respond to a crisis.
Members of the Northeastern Army, JGSDF and U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in Tomodachi relief exercise 15.2 Nov. 6-9 across multiple area in Japan.
TREX 15.2 is an annual, bilateral training exercise that simulates a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response in Japan. The exercise showcases the response capabilities of the bilateral force and provides a clear demonstration of the capabilities of assets such as the Osprey to the government of Japan while strengthening the U.S. and Japanese alliance.
The exercise included an HADR training mission, a simulated casualty evacuation, and an Osprey flight demonstration for several Japanese officials, including the Japanese Minister of Defense, as well as a static display.
“I personally feel that the MV-22B Osprey is far better than the CH-46” said Eto, from Towada, Aomori, Japan. “What’s good about it is its speed and range. I believe these features will be very helpful [in saving lives during ] operations in remote islands.”
The demonstration portion of the exercise consisted of volunteers from the Oshima Fire Department, JGSDF members, and U.S. Marines performing a supply drop and simulated casualty evacuation. Because there may not be easily accessible airfields during a real disaster, the Osprey landed on a baseball field, designated Landing Zone Oshima, where members of the three organizations could easily work together to unloaded necessities including water jugs, food pallets, medical aid supplies, and blankets. Following the offload of supplies, an ambulance quickly pulled to the side of the Osprey and simulated patients were loaded and secured for transport.
“We talk a lot about the capabilities of this aircraft, but actually seeing it in action is something that will register with people,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Brian D. Psolka, from Yuma, Arizona, an operations officer for VMM-265 and Osprey pilot during the exercise. “We came in fast with relief supplies and evacuated, in this case, two notionally wounded people back to the base where they would have received medical treatment.”
The exercise was extremely successful in providing the opportunity to further perfect response plans and demonstrate capabilities that will result lives being saved, according JGSDF Maj. Tochi Henruiee, one of the members who assisted in the offload of supplies and immediate loading and medical care of the notionally wounded patients.
“This was my first time on an Osprey,” said Henruiee from Osaka, Japan, and a coordination officer with the Central Readiness Force, Northeastern Army, JGSDF. “I think it can be very useful for HADR missions as well as domestic missions that require fast deployment of an aircraft.”