The USMC Path to Innovation: The Osprey and Medical Evacuation


2014-01-25  We have written extensively over the years about the introduction of the Osprey and the USMC approach to learning as you deploy.

It is not about the Inside the Beltway “reviewers” determining the point of delivery of capability to the warrior, it is about the warriors themselves shaping combat innovation with the aid of new systems.

In September 2007, the Osprey was deployed for the first time to Iraq.  The USMC Commandant Conway and Deputy Commandant of Aviation Castellaw announced and made the decision to deploy the Osprey into combat although virtually all public commentators thought this was too early for an “untested” airplane, as one critic put it. 

The plane has not only done well, but in 5 short years has demonstrated its capability to have not only a significant impact on combat but t0 re-shape thinking about concepts of operations.

Ed Timperlake has observed that not only did the Marines introduce the aircraft and generate change literally on the fly, but the training manuals changed as well reflecting the evolution of medical evacuation practice. 

The MV-22 was introduced into Combat in 2007 AND immediately was identified in USMC training courses in 2008. 

Already in 2008, the Marines had incorporated the MV-22 into battlefield medical evacuation. The manual adds the training for the MV-22 to the range of capabilities, which can support the medical evacuation mission.

Figure 14 in 2008 USMC training manual. Credit: USMC
Figure 14 in 2008 USMC training manual. Credit: USMC

MV-22 Osprey 

– Tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically but flies like a plane.  This aircraft is designed to eventually replace the CH-46. 

– When configured for litter racks, able to carry 12 litters or 24 ambulatory casualties.     

 NOTE:   The Marine Corps does not have dedicated CASEVAC aircraft.  Any of its aircraft can be utilized as a “lift of opportunity” upon completion of its primary mission. 

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:  Field Medical Training Battalion 
Camp Lejeune

FMST 1423: Coordinate Casualty Evacuation

In short, you get the new technology into play, use it, and train to the mission.

That is key method whereby innovation occurs for a combat force.