New U.S. crisis-response force for Africa to be based in Spain

The new crisis-response force for Africa will include about 550 Marines

From Dan Lamothe, Military Times:  The Marine Corps has begun deploying its new crisis-response force for Africa to an air base in Spain, and is now looking to develop a second force for use in the Caribbean Sea and Central and South America, said Commandant Gen. Jim Amos.

Six MV-22B Ospreys for the Africa unit departed Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., on Tuesday for Maine, to be staged on the way to Morón Air Base, Amos said during a Senate Appropriations hearing on Wednesday. The unit will include about 550 Marines and be constituted around a reinforced rifle company from II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. It will report to the head of U.S. Africa Command, Army Gen. David Rodriguez.

Amos told Congress that the new unit can train friendly foreign militaries, but its main function is to respond quickly in a time of crisis. The unit was conceived to cope with the kind of turmoil that has arisen during the past year in Mali, Algeria, Libya and other north African countries. Most famously, the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked in September by a heavily armed group, who killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other people. . . .

“Right now, they’re temporarily going to Morón, Spain, as a placeholder,” Amos said. “I think they are going to move sometime. It wouldn’t surprise me to find them moving around the African continent.”

Amos told Marine Corps Times after the congressional hearing that the new unit will be commanded by a colonel, who will have staff in Morón. It will likely deploy for about a year at a time for continuity’s sake, while the rank-and-file forces in the task force will rotate every six months. None of the tours will be accompanied, meaning Marines will not have their families join them in Spain.

Already, the Corps is looking to build a similar crisis-response force for use by Marine Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command.  (photo: U.S. Navy)

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