Officers found liable in Marine Osprey inquiry

 - November 26, 2007, 11:40 AM

Three of the eight U.S. Marine Corps officers charged with wrongdoing in the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor scandal have been found liable to some of the administrative charges. The other five officers and men were cleared of charges that they participated in a scheme to falsify maintenance records. (It should be stressed that being found in violation of a charge is not, under the code of military justice, the equivalent of criminal conviction.)

Col. James Schleining, command- ing officer of Marine Aircraft Group 26, was found guilty of dereliction of duty and received a punitive letter of reprimand, with the Marine Corps officials saying he should have known of the false maintenance reports. Col. Schleining was cleared of a charge of violating a lawful order by allegedly failing to report the suspected falsification of maintenance reports.

Squadron CO Reprimanded
Lt. Col. Odin Leberman, former commanding officer of the Marines’ only tiltrotor training squadron, was found in violation of two charges, dereliction of duty (because he was found to have known of the false reports) and conduct unbecoming an officer. Lt. Col. Leberman also received a punitive letter of reprimand but was cleared of a charge of making false official statements.

Capt. Christopher Ramsey, assistant aviation maintenance officer for the squadron, was found guilty on the charge of dereliction of duty, but no punishment was imposed. He was cleared of making false official statements and of conduct unbecoming an officer. Maj. Gen. Dennis Krupp, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, was cleared of a dereliction of duty charge. Maj. Krupp was the highest-ranking officer charged in the matter.

Also cleared were Col. Phillip Newman, assistant chief of staff for the aviation logistics division of the 2nd Marine Air Wing; Col. Laurin Eck, former assistant MV-22 program manager; Lt. Col. Demetrice Babb, aviation maintenance officer for the 2nd Marine Air Wing; and Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Smith, maintenance material control office for the squadron.

All eight men charged in the affair elected to forego a formal trial in favor of individual hearings before Lt. Gen Raymond Ayres, Marine Corps’ Atlantic Forces commander, who then ruled whether to accept or dismiss the charges.

The legal proceedings stem from allegations that records were falsified within the Marine aviation community to make the MV-22 Osprey appear to be more mission-ready than it was proving to be. The anonymous allegations surfaced in the wake of a pair of fatal Osprey crashes last year, mishaps that claimed the lives of 23 Marines and raised questions about both the aircraft’s basic reliability and design.