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Guam To Host Large-Scale Marine Training Exercise
‘Forager Fury’ begins Thursday, focuses on aviation operations

By Joy White

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 27, 2012) – Approximately 700 Marine personnel will participate in a training exercise on Guam starting this week. Exercise Forager Fury will begin Thursday, Nov. 29 and will continue until Dec. 18. The exercise will include three MV-22Bs, or Ospreys, from the Marines’ base in Okinawa.

Anderson Air Force Base will serve as the Marine Aircraft Group 12 forward operating base and will be the venue for the unit’s operations center.

Forager Fury also includes exercises on Tinian's West Field and Farallon De Medinilla Target Range, with 100 Marine personnel participating in the training on Tinian.

According to the Marine Pacific Force Forward Public Affairs Office, the exercise is an aviation training relocation event intended to meet U.S.-Japan bilateral goals.

It will provide the opportunity for Marine forces to test their ability to displace rapidly and generate combat power in an expeditionary environment. The exercise also aims to improve aviation combat integration and heighten expeditionary readiness.

The personnel that will participate include the Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 152, 1st MAW, III MEF; Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, III MEF; Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 265, 1st MAW, III MEF; 5th Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III MEF; 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division (3rd MARDIV), III MEF; and an element of 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd MARDIV, III MEF.

Osprey

The MV-22B Osprey will be included in Forager Fury. The Osprey is a hybrid military aircraft with tilt-rotors which enable it to take off vertically like a helicopter, but it also has the flight capabilities of a plane.

The three Osprey aircraft that will be on-island will operate from Andersen Air Force Base but will conduct training operations throughout the MIRC and Northern Marianas Islands.

The Osprey has caused controversy in Okinawa, where 12 were stationed since October.

Okinawan protestors have called the Osprey "dangerous" and "defective," citing two crashes of the aircraft in Morocco and Florida early this year.

However, Lt. Col. Aisha Bakkar, public information officer of the Marine Pacific Force Forward, assures that the aircraft is safe, adding it is not accident-prone.

In response to inquiries about the safety of the Osprey, Bakkar wrote, "The MV-22 is a very safe aircraft to fly in and far safer now than it ever has been. Through material solutions, biannual software updates and enhanced pilot training; we have improved the safety of the MV-22 making it one of the safest aircraft in the Marine Corps. At this time, the MV-22 is well below the average mishap rate for the Marine Corps and all DOD (Department of Defense) tactical rotary wing aircraft."

During a previous Marines exercise in September that included the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, U.S. Marines Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, had hinted that Guam may become home to several Ospreys.

However, these three Ospreys will only be in the region for Operation Forager Fury.

Since 2003, Ospreys have successfully assisted in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti, participated in the recovery of a downed U.S. pilot in Libya, supported combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and conducted multiple Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments.

The MV-22 is replacing the CH-46 Sea Knight. Forager Fury will be the first exercise since replacing the CH-46.

The Osprey is said to be quieter than most rotary propelled aircraft and should not disturb island residents, Bakkar assured.

Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
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