USN-USMC “Ready Now” Capabilities
By Ed Timperlake
03/23/2011 – An old saying comes to mind when looking at the UN action against Quaddafi and Libya—“Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure.” Regardless of the outcome, some very important 21st Century military lessons learned are already being seen. The USMC for over two decades kept the visionary flame of the need for unique capabilities of the MV-22 Osprey burning. In Afghanistan, it has been a potential war tipping technology and in today’s headlines in the Libyan “adventure” a life savor.
As a fellow Marine Fighter Pilot said to me about rescuing pilots who go down- “I can remember a brief to my squadron (VMFA-451) two days before the start of Desert Storm by a SEAL who had to be all of 21-22 years old, telling us how HE was gonna get US out if we got bagged. This is why US pilots walk confidently to their planes and their competitors may decline to launch; US Marines, USAF PJs, and US Navy SEALs.” With the success of the USMC “TRAP” (Tactical recovery of Aircraft and Personnel) operation to rescue an Air Force pilot on the ground, the 26th MEU time line and distance flown by the MV-22 and AV-8 Harriers is impressive. Let us review the operational timeline of this effort.
With the success of the USMC “TRAP” (Tactical recovery of Aircraft and Personnel) operation to rescue an Air Force pilot on the ground, the 26th MEU time line and distance flown by the MV-22 and AV-8 Harriers is impressive.
Ø 2333B 21 Mar: USAF F-15E goes down, pilot and WSO eject safely
Ø 0050B: 22 Mar: 2xAV-8Bs launch USS Kearsarge (KSG)
Ø 0055B: JFACC approvesTRAP
Ø 0120B: MEU KC-130J launch Sigonella IOT refuel TRAP aircraft
Ø 0120B: AV-8Bs overhead downed pilots with F-16 in comm with F-15 pilot.
Ø 0130B: (quick reaction force) QRF 2xCH53E ready for launch with 46 Marines
Ø 0133B: AV-8Bs drop 2xGBU-12 ISO F-15 pilot
Ø 0133B: 2xMV-22s launch KSG
Ø 0151B: QRF (CH-53E) launch KSG
Ø 0219B: MV-22s overhead F-15 Pilot
Ø 0238B: MV-22 lands LZ recovers F-15 Pilot
Ø 0300B: MV-22s recover KSG with F-15 Pilot
Ø WSO reported in-hands of opposition forces at safe house.
Recently, senior policymakers have called into question the need for Marine Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) and also put the USMC F-35B “on probation”. But reality has a quality all of its own, even within inside the Beltway considerations.
Current combat has just demonstrated that not only did the USN/USMC capabilities in the Libyan fight save a pilot but they also are ready to live up to a famous US Navy World War I quote. When a US Navy Destroyer Squadron crossed the Atlantic and joined with the Royal Navy the US Commander was asked when his Destroyer Squadron would be ready–
“Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, asked Squadron Commander Taussig that question and he replied, ” We are ready now, Sir.”
Currently, from the deck of the USS Kearsarge and other ships off Libya, the America Navy battle cry of “ready now” is being heard. The importance of that battle cry cannot be overstated. Because of recent political squabbling, and independent of the fact that forces are already engaged in combat, current air operations against Libya from Italian Bases might be aborted.
“The squabbling continued as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini again threatened to take back complete control of Italian airbases if NATO did not take the reins of the mission.” 
So in addition to keeping faith in the Osprey, the USMC should pause to give an additional thanks to the UK for V/STOL Harrier– which the Brits unfortunately just retired – and now on to take the F-35B V/STOL off probation. The MV-22, with the coming F-35B and Marine helo modernization, “Zulu Cobras” and CH-53K, along with Marine Infantry and their combined arms will put a true 21st Century US “sovereign territory” force off any coast in the world.
Currently, today’s 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit might prove to be an invaluable military capability to shape American capabilities to get out of the Libyan mess.