The US Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response (SP-MAGTF CR) began their redeployment to Moron, Spain, on March 2, 2014 after completing a forward deployment in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
When conflict erupted in Juba, South Sudan, on Dec. 15, 2013, operations at CJTF-HOA dramatically increased.
Over the following weeks, as violence spread to areas throughout South Sudan, U.S. citizens in those areas needed to be evacuated. While the East Africa Response Force was providing security for the embassy, additional forces were required to continue the evacuation mission.
Under the auspices of “the new normal,” which refers to the heightened threat U.S. Embassies face throughout the world, the SP-MAGTF CR arrived from Moron, Spain on two KC-130Js and four MV-22B Ospreys, on Dec. 24, 2013.
“We were very fortunate to have had the services of these great teammates right when we needed them,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr, CJTF-HOA commanding general. “They’re an incredibly well-trained, highly-capable team of professionals, and their quick-response ability was a tremendous asset for us.”
The SP-MAGTF CR is a self-deploying, self-mobile, and self-command and controlled crisis response force. They provide the combatant commander a scalable force of Marines with the ability to respond to a wide variety of missions, as well as aggregate other forces under its command in response to crises.
“We were tasked by U.S. AFRICOM to reposition a platoon sized element and a KC-130J aircraft in Entebbe, Uganda, said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. D. Oliver David, Special Purpose MAGTF Crisis Response public affairs officer. “This forward posturing provides the combatant commander additional options and the ability to quickly respond to help protect U.S. personal and facilities. This movement was made with the full knowledge and cooperation of Ugandan authorities.”
The movement of approximately 150 Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Marines from Spain to Djibouti and Uganda served as the longest insert conducted by the force since its inception. The pre-positioning of the force totaled more than 3,400 nautical miles from Spain to Djibouti, and an additional 800 nautical miles from Djibouti to Uganda.
A key aspect of this operation is that command and control of all force movements falls under the CJTF-HOA commanding general. All units communicate with each other, either directly or through the joint operations center at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
“Coordination and collaboration for this mission has been essential,” Hyland said. “The Marines with Special Purpose MAGTF Crisis Response have conducted face-to-face coordination with the EARF in the U.S. Embassy in Juba, as well as with the Ambassador there and the country teams, to include augmenting adjacent security forces within the embassy.”
Marines remain ready to respond to a variety of missions if called upon by national and command leadership, but their focus remains on deterring crises in the area.
“I want to emphasize that the positioning of Marines in the area affords diplomats an added confidence in doing their job and provides a resource that can be exercised, if necessary, in support of their diplomatic mission,” Hyland explained. “Our actions will not resemble those that Americans are used to seeing over the last twelve years in Iraq and Afghanistan. They will instead reflect the professional and swift capability Americans expect of their Marine Corps.”
The Marines and Sailors are grateful to have served with the professionals of CJTF-HOA in support of this operation said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert Freeland, SPMAGTF-CR mission commander.
“This has proven to be a tremendous growth opportunity for the unit. We look forward to rejoining the team in the future if the need should arise,” Freeland said.