Osprey Left Its Mark

Maintaining order and security across Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, which includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, was a difficult task for the Marines of Multi National Force-West several years ago, says Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the unit’s former commander. But the arrival of MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in late 2007 made a difference in being able to cover the more than 50,000 square miles of desert, Kelly told reporters during a meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C. “I could dominate that place, because I had, frankly, V-22s which are an amazing, amazing capability,” he said and added, “I couldn’t do what I did with just helicopters.” Kelly, who served three tours in Iraq and is now deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., also said intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance forces were critical in helping to turn the tide in the once-restive Iraqi province. Tracking the insurgent cells that produced and laid improvised explosive devices with overhead assets like F/A-18 Hornets and unmanned aerial vehicles helped to crack the cells, proving more valuable than just striking the insurgents each time they appeared, he said.