V-22 operates at Subic Bay, Philippines, during exercise Freedom Banner 2013.

V-22 operates at Subic Bay, Philippines, during exercise Freedom Banner 2013.

PENTAGON: If there were ever any doubts about the strength of the American commitment to the Philippines, they can be laid to rest by the substantial and growing military rescue forces heading into that beleaguered island state.

“The Philippines is a treaty ally and the United States stands by its friends and allies in time of crisis,” Pentagon Spokesman George Little told reporters today at an early afternoon briefing.

By contrast, China donated $100,000 for the relief effort and has reportedly flown one aircraft to the scene. As part of the US effort, four V-22 Ospreys are doing duty in the devastated landscape left by Typhoon Haiyan, Little said. A senior Marine Corps official told me the planes can fly from Futenma, Japan to Manilia non-stop. Add to that the Osprey’s ability to land in a wide array of settings and you’ve got what this Marine called “a transformational platform in the Pacific, in particular.” Filipinos have already seen the V-22 in action since they were used there in September during Operation Balikatan, a joint exercise practicing response to a large natural disaster such as the typhoon.

While they aren’t equipped for medevac duty — which would require medical facilities aboard to treat the wounded in-flight– the Ospreys are suited, the Marine said, for casevac (casualty evacuation), moving the wounded as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. Of course, they can also be loaded with medics, food and medical supplies and fly virtually anywhere in the Philippines.

The senior Marine, who has commanded the Third Division in the Pacific and helped run major annual exercises to prepare for just such an eventuality as the typhoon, said it was likely between 1,500 and 2,00 Marines would be in the Philippines within a week given the extent of the damage. There are now about 260 Marines on the ground.

I asked if he had heard from any of his Filipino contacts. He had. The message they sent was simple: “It’s bad; it’s very bad.” That’s why there are likely to be more Marines on top of the carrier strike group currently steaming full ahead for the devastated area. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, the commander of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade who is leading the U.S. military’s relief effort, told CNN earlier today he needed amphibious ships as soon as possible. The amphibs can produce large quantities of drinking water, they carry LCAC hovercraft that can move heavy equipment to shore, and they can carry more Ospreys, a variety of helicopters, small boats, trucks, food, medicine and other supplies. Some amphibs include “pretty robust medical services on board,” the senior Marine official told reporters.

In addition to LCACs, the Marine said Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) would be very useful because they can carry Marines from the ships and go just about anywhere once they hit land.

Comments

  • CharleyA

    Elements of the GW CSG left from Hong Kong, but no word on where the nearest MEU is. What might be interesting in the meantime is how well the MV-22 mesh with the GW’s cycles if the MV-22s were to shuttle between the boat and inshore. I suppose the GW would curtail normal flight ops in this crisis response to prioritize rotary wing ops.

    • Rob

      As in Haiti, they will park the troublesome V-22s ashore as their downwash is far too strong and they can’t carry much.

      • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

        Wonder why they don’t have two jet engines instead of those rotors. Seems you could get more thrust and power with better reliability and maintenance. That Osprey looks neat but also looks as a big trouble machine. Know the Marines have got it jarred into their heads it is the vehicle or at least the Manufacturer has that jarred into our paying the bill.

      • Roger

        Yep, we used the H-60s Haiti after offloading the V-22s. They have far too much downwash and can’t external safely. They were sent to Gitmo and hauled a few small loads to the big airport, where two sat broke down for weeks. Others kept busy with “aerial recon” while the helos did the work.

    • http://www.breakingdefense.com/ Colin Clark

      Don’t think you need Super Hornets flying much in this situation. Wouldn’t be surprised if they clear decks except for helos and V-22s. Use some of the space for medical. We’ll see.

    • Robert C. Rasmussen

      *Facepalm. There’s a MEB HQ already on site. Brigadier General Kennedy is the CG of the 3rd MEB. A Regimental Combat Team, a Reinforced MAG and a Combat Logistics Battalion are all deploying, along with an Amphibious Ready Group. This was all in the article. Nearest units are in Okinawa.

      • CharleyA

        Which amphibs are there?

        • PolicyWonk

          The USS Germantown and USS Ashland have been ordered to help. They both carry LCACs (I think 2 each) and a host of other vehicles, plus contingents of marines.
          They can get more help faster to places where the other assets can’t – and the marines can certainly help provide some semblance of order.
          I’d like to see them send an entire ARG. I’ve also read that the USNS Mercy has been activated, and could be underway in a few days if so ordered.

          • CharleyA

            Yes, they are departing Sasebo, Japan today or tomorrow enroute to Okinawa, then to the Philippines. But at the time I wrote the comment originally, the amphibs were not part of the immediate response – which was the point. They must have not been ready to go.

  • Tim

    wow, mixing computer sims with actual videos to fool viewers. I guess reality is too much.

  • omegatalon

    This is a perfect example of why America is “exceptional” as despite neighboring countries in the region sit on their hands, it’s the United States from the other side of the world that send the most assistance; someone should inform the President.

    • Lee Doyle

      Don’t care what the US hate mongers say, the Philippines have always been an ally and the people despertely need the USA’s help. The Military again show it’s strength. Disappointed in China’s relief effort although they have their own disasters to contend with. For all you hate mongers did you contribute to the crisis . Hell no probably not. Scum bags!

    • Harry

      Which President? Our President ordered this help. And how do you know what other nations have sent?

  • 10579

    i have no problem with helping those in need but to go and help some else before you even completed or started a task as in the face of those suffering from hurrican sandy, is just not right. it shows what this government thinks of its citizens. just fodder to give the corrupt government operating cash and party money. right GAO.

  • Rev Al Sharpton

    BHO will transfer all that hardwear and equipment over to the Peoples republic of Obamafrica when the flag is hosted up over the new nation for peoples of color!

  • LRC team

    Thank you America! You are always a good friend to us. I hope the island grabber will not send their soldiers to PI to help because we cannot guarantee their safety. The people hate them so much.