Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response conduct rope suspension training from an MV-22B Osprey at Morón Air Base, Spain, on Dec. 6. Spain has greenlighted a more than 50 percent increase in the crisis response force at the air base. (Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III/Marine Corps)
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Sgt. Jeremy R. Rutherford, a scout sniper with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, explains the M110 semiautomatic sniper system to other Marines and sailors in Entebbe, Uganda, on Dec. 27. The crisis response unit is deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, and Entebbe, Uganda, to better respond to any threats against U.S. personnel and interests in South Sudan. (Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III/Marine Corps)
The Spanish government will allow an additional 300 Marines to be based in Morón to respond to crises in Africa, the Defense Department announced Monday.
The Corps has the go-ahead to boost the size of its Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response from about 550 Marines to 850, said Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman at the Pentagon. Spain will also allow the unit to remain at Morón Air Base for another year.
The land-based crisis response force was stood up last year to fill a gap in available Navy amphibious ships in the region. The crisis response Marines can be tapped to carry out a variety of operational missions — including embassy reinforcement — throughout Africa.
The unit typically comprises about 550 Marines, six MV-22B Ospreys and two KC-130J aerial refuelers.
Spain also approved Ospreys and refueling tankers, Lainez said.
Eighth Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., currently forms the unit’s headquarters element. They coordinate responses to crises in U.S. Africa Command, said Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.
Members of Alpha Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, currently make up the up the ground combat elements for the task force. They’re slated to be replaced by members of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, in April, said Capt. D. Oliver David, a spokesman with the crisis response force.
The air combat element is Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced), out of Marine Corps Air Station New River. The two KC-130s in the air combat element are from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, out of MCAS Cherry Point.
The logistics combat element is currently comprised of Marines from Combat Logistics Regiments 25 and 27. They will be replaced by Marines from CLRs 2, 25, and 27, along with members of 8th Engineer Support Battalion, in coming months, David said.
The additional Marines Spain approved will come from 3/8, David added. Additional members of 3/8 currently comprise two other rotational units based in Europe: SPMAGTF Africa, which is based at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, and the Black Sea Rotational Force, which is based at Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, Romania.
Lainez touted the strong partnership between Spain and the U.S. In addition to the Marines based in Morón, one of the Corps’ Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams is forward-based in Rota.
“Spain is a solid ally and steadfast partner,” she said.