Mission readiness is an essential part of an amphibious ready group (ARG). The composite Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced) aboard the forward-deployment amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) is a great example of the mission readiness the U.S. Armed Forces strives for.
“The mission of VMM-265 is to bring in support by utilizing the MV-22 Osprey, AH-1W Cobra, UH-1Y Huey, and CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft providing all their different capabilities such as combat assault transport, close air support, deep air support, and more,” said Marine Capt. Brian Spillane, CH-53E weapons and tactics instructor. “All those different pieces make a stronger squadron instead of just having a single platform to work with.”
With so many different elements in VMM-265 squadron supporting the Bonhomme Richard ARG, there is a great need for communication and integration.
“Everyone has a different mission set”, said Spillane. “The fact that everyone is professional and proficient in their specific mission set means that we are able to come together and execute while working together as a combined Aviation Combat Element [ACE].”
Much of the success in integrating between the different units has been due to the time they have spent together every day completing missions with the Bonhomme Richard ARG.
“We have integrated very well, and that is based on all the exercises we have done since being embarked,” said Spillane. “We’ve been able to establish good working relationships and understand the capabilities and limitations of everyone’s aircraft, what their abilities are, and how we can tier our missions towards best utilizing their assets.”
The unique capability of each aircraft benefits the overall mission of VMM-265.
“The abilities we have as an ACE for any kind of mission, whether it is humanitarian aid or if we were to go into armed conflict with another nation, gives us the capability to do anything from inserting large ground forces to transporting large amounts of cargo,” said Spillane.
VMM-265 would not be able to send a single aircraft out if it wasn’t for the competent and skilled work of their maintenance crews.
“The majority of the hard work and the reason we can do what we do is because of our maintainers,” said Staff Sgt. Heninger, CH-53E Super Stallion crew chief. “Having a professional working environment and understanding everyone’s capabilities and limitations enables us to successfully execute the mission.”
Hours of maintenance are required for the aircraft of VMM-265 to take flight.
“Our helicopters require about 30 hours of maintenance for every hour we’re in the air,” said Spillane. “That’s 30 hours of Marines turning wrenches in good weather, bad weather, day or night to make sure that we can fly. Thanks to them we’ve had flawless performance from our aircrafts.”
There will be difficulties in any area of operations when a group of people have to come together to complete a mission. What is important is how those problems are overcome in a professional manner.
“One of the biggest difficulties we have is the dynamic work environment that we’re in,” said Heninger. “Our mission can change at the last minute and to be able to adapt to it, whether it’s getting another helicopters to launch, or being able to react and adapt to a situation during a mission, we are able to maintain a professional work environment and to adapt to the scenario at hand.”
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is conducting amphibious operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Commander Amphibious Squadron 11.
Press Release, April 16, 2014; Image: US Navy