By Marine Corps Cpl. Ryan Mains
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
PAYA LEBAR AIR BASE, Singapore, June 3, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his staff flew with U.S. Marines aboard an MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to get a bird’s-eye view of the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Singapore, May 29.
Carter’s visit to Singapore and the flight to observe one of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes was part of his 10-day trip in the Asia-Pacific region.
Singapore Summit Meeting
In Singapore, Carter attended the 14th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. At the summit he met with important leaders in the defense and security community and spoke about the United States’ advocacy for equality in economic opportunity.
“The United States wants a future in which an Indonesian fisherman, an energy executive from Malaysia, an entrepreneur from Singapore, a small business owner from California or a Chinese business woman, just to name a few, have the security and opportunity to rise and prosper,” Carter said at the summit.
The highlight for the Marines was the opportunity to fly Carter aboard an MV-22B Osprey to survey the strait.
‘The Marines Did an Outstanding Job’
“The Marines did an outstanding job,” said Marine Corps Maj. Brian Psolka, the operations officer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“We were able to accomplish the mission,” Psolka said, by enabling Carter to obtain an aerial view of the Strait of Malacca as hundreds of ships were passing through the waterway.
The Marines worked around the clock to get the aircraft ready for the flight.
“I feel that as a crew, we couldn’t have performed any better,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Charles Covington, an Osprey crew chief with VMM-265 (Rein.), 31st MEU.
“The pilots were on top of everything,” Covington added.
Utilizing the Osprey’s airplane mode, the Marines were able to take off and fly Carter to the Strait of Malacca in a timely manner. Then converting to helicopter mode, the Secretary of Defense was given a better view of the ship-congested waters.
“I don’t think there would have been any other aircraft we could have used,” said Covington, who hails from Sykesville, Maryland.
“There are no other aircraft out there that could have pulled off this mission in the timely manner that we did,” he added.
Secretary’s Facebook Page
Carter discussed the flight on his Facebook page, which he launched after he returned with the Marines.
“Hi, I'm Ash, Secretary of Defense,” Carter wrote. “I am here in Singapore and today I got to fly with some of the best pilots in the military aboard a MV-22 Osprey as we flew over one of the most important waterways in the world.
“I am launching this page today, after my first 100 days in office, so that I can highlight all the great things our people do and talk to you about the force of the future,” the secretary continued. “Let's start the conversation.”