Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response
|Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa|
|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 Calvert L. Worth Jr.|
Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force that is permanently based at Morón Air Base in Spain. SPMAGTF-CR-AF reports to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa under United States Africa Command. It is a self-mobile, self-sustaining force of approximately 850 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 U.S. Marine colonel (O-6).
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 Moròn 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 Nîmes, 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 and Spain agreed on a permanent agreement for use of the base to replace the year-to-year terms the task force had been operating under.
In July 2015, SPMAGTF-CR-AF 15.2 took authority for operations under the command of Col Cal L. Worth Jr. of the 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division. Col Worth's regiment staff composes the body of the CE. The ACE is Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261), 2d Marine Air Wing; the GCE is the 3d Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division; and the LCE is Combat Logistics Battalion-6, 2d Marine Logistics Group. All units are from the II Marine Expeditionary Force based aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In September 2015 SPMAGTF-CR-AF will deploy aboard various allied ships in Exercise Trident Juncture.
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. SP-MAGTF-CR-CC will remain on call for recovery of downed allied pilots conducting airstrikes during Operation Inherent Resolve.
In June 2015 the 250 Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-South are scheduled to deploy to four Central American countries.
- 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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- White, Garrett (8 June 2015). "U.S. Marines conduct TRAP readiness exercise". www.marines.mil (USMC). Retrieved 8 June 2015.
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