Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2014)|
|Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response|
|Active||21 April 2013 – present|
|Type||Marine Air-Ground Task Force|
|Role||Forward-deployed, rapid-response force|
|Part of||U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa (MARFORAF)|
|Colonel Robert C. Fulford|
Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force that is currently postured at Morón Air Base in Spain. SP-MAGTF Crisis Response reports to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa under United States Africa Command. It is a self-mobile, self-sustaining force of approximately 500 Marines and sailors, capable of responding to a range of crises. The unit is specifically trained to support U.S. and partner interests throughout the United States Africa Command area of responsibility, to include embassy reinforcement, support to noncombatant evacuation operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. The unit also takes part in bilateral and multilateral training exercises with regional partners. It is commanded by a Marine colonel.
In 2013, following the 2012 Benghazi attack, Lt. Gen. Richard Tryon, Marine Corps deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, announced the creation of a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force that could fly in a company of Marines on MV-22 Ospreys to respond to crises in Africa. However, this will require political work to secure a ground base nearby that the amphibious ships operating in the global commons of the world's oceans do not require. The task force self-deployed to Morón Air Base on 27 April 2013.
USMC spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan has listed the responsibilities of the task force to be a first responder for American embassies in the area, to help evacuate Americans, and to provide humanitarian and disaster relief.
In July 2013, Col. Scott F. Benedict, the commander of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, took over command of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and brought much of his staff from the 24th MEU. As of July, SP-MAGTF Crisis Response consisted of a Command Element from the 24th MEU, a Ground Combat Element (GCE) from Bravo Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.; an Aviation Combat Element (ACE) from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (VMM-365) out of New River, N.C.; and a small Logistics Combat Element (LCE) from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, also from Camp Lejeune.
One of the primary objectives of the new commander was to establish relationships among American and foreign military and civilian leaders within Spain and the surrounding area. To this end, the unit conducted a bilateral exercise from July 29 to Aug. 1, when infantry Marines trained alongside Spanish paratroopers from the Brigada de Infantería Ligera Paracaidista at the Principe Training Camp near Uceda, Spain. Later that month, there was another bilateral event as the GCE again joined Spanish paratroopers and U.S. Sailors for a free-fall training exercise near Naval Station Rota Spain, August 12–16.
Between August and September, the unit saw its aviation and infantry units conduct turnovers as VMM-162 replaced VMM-365 as the ACE, and Alpha Company replaced Bravo Company (both from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion) as the GCE. Shortly after, on Sept. 25, the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Mr. James Costos, visited Moron and received a brief regarding the capabilities of the force and a ride in an Osprey.
From Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, SP-MAGTF Crisis Response Marines flew north to Camp des Garrigues near Nimes, France, to take part in a bilateral training event with French Legionnaires with the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment. The five-day event aimed at developing a working relationship with the French military and was the first event between SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and the French. The training was also historically significant because it was the first time an MV-22B Osprey landed and operated in a tactical environment on French soil. The Osprey had only been in France once before, at the 1995 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.
Another significant event in November was the insert of personnel to Dakar, Senegal, Nov. 13. The mission consisted of the movement of a contingent of Marines from SP-MAGTF Africa using SP-MAGTF Crisis Response Ospreys and a KC-130J Hercules. The movement was over 1,500 nautical miles and marked the first time Osprey aircraft landed in West Africa. There was a static display and demonstration flight for those in attendance, which included the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, Mr. Lewis Lukens, and senior members of the Senegalese military.
In March 2014, Spain agreed to an expansion to 850 marines and an extension of the mission for another year.
In May 2014, a 200 Marine detachment was again sent to Sigonella in response to "a deteriorating security situation in North Africa".
In October 2014, Marines and Sailors with SPMAGTF Crisis Response Africa traveled to Liberia from Dakar, Senegal, to support OPERATION UNITED ASSISTANCE. The operation is part of a comprehensive U.S. Government effort, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to respond to and contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa as quickly as possible.
In 2015 the United States sought a permanent agreement for use of the Spanish base to replace the year to year terms the task force had been operating under.
The USMC has considered setting up two additional such units. One based in the United States for United States Marine Corps Forces, South, and another in Bahrain for United States Marine Forces Central Command. However the Congress is considered unlikely to vote for the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative funding needed. The United States House Committee on Armed Services voted to transfer the needed funds from operations and maintenance accounts instead, risking a hollow force.
In 2014 SP-MAGTF Central Command deployed a two thousand Marine force to the Persian Gulf with their aircraft.
- Marine Air-Ground Task Force
- List of Marine Expeditionary Units
- Organization of the United States Marine Corps
- 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
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