U.S. Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response visited with the Ghanaian Air Force in Accra, Ghana, May 7-8, 2014.
During the visit, the Marines and the GAF met together in an effort to learn more about one another’s capabilities and to promote cooperation and interoperability between the two military forces. This was the first time that SP-MAGTF Crisis Response had sent the Ospreys to Ghana.
The 2,800 nautical mile flight to Accra provided the Marines with an opportunity to demonstrate their aviation element’s long-range response capabilities to their Ghanaian partners. SP-MAGTF Crisis Response relies on their aircraft to respond to a broad range of military operations in support of U.S. Africa Command, including U.S. Embassy reinforcement, non-combatant evacuation operations, theater security cooperation and other missions as directed.
The Marines conducted a static display the first day with their MV-22B tiltrotor Ospreys – the unique aircraft used by the Marines, capable of travelling distances significantly farther than a helicopter but still able to vertically takeoff and land. “We had an excellent opportunity to meet with the maintainers and crew chiefs of their helicopter squadron and show them the MV-22B,” said Capt. Nathan Frame, an Osprey pilot with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and the mission commander for the Ghana visit.
Following the display by the Marines, the GAF also provided a static display of various aircraft used by their forces. The various maintenance and operations personnel for the aircraft were able to meet with their foreign counterparts and learn more about how they performed their jobs.
“We did a maintenance exchange with them where their maintainers met with our and split up by individual shops,” said Frame. “They took us to their hangar and showed us their aircraft. We were able to build on the knowledge and experience that they had, understand that we do very much the same stuff and that we have the same sort of procedures. It was a welcomed experience for both groups.”
The second day of the event incorporated familiarization flights hosted by the Marines aboard the MV-22B Ospreys.
“We flew several of their high ranking military officers, their senior enlisted advisors and other Ghanaian Air Force members,” said Frame. “We also were able to get U.S. Embassy personnel there, which was great for showing them our capabilities.”
In addition to learning about foreign aircraft and meeting with the GAF, the Marines and their Navy medical personnel were able to develop contacts in Ghana for its possible use as a forward positioning location should they need to respond to a crisis in Africa.
“We were able to meet with local people and build a network for medical response and other functions,” said Lt. j.g. Edward Agbevey, the medical planner for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, and Ghana native. “We were able to see what we or future units would need to know if we have to come back or temporarily land here during a crisis response mission.”