US Army, Marine forces conduct response exercise in North Africa


This was the first full dress rehearsal for the Army-led North and West Africa Response Force since taking over for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa in early October.

Elements of the US Army, Marines and Air Force conducted a full dress rehearsal of US Africa Command’s crisis response capability between 6 and 9 November.

Exercise Judicious Activation kicked off early Friday morning (6 November) with a no-notice alert to participating US forces in Italy, Spain and Germany. The participants assembled at Naval Air Station – Sigonella in southern Italy under the command and control of the Southern European Task Force (SETAF).

There, paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade boarded US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft which shuttled them across the Mediterranean to North Africa.

“We successfully demonstrated a critical capability available to the Africom combatant commander,” said Major General Andrew M Rohling, the SETAF commanding general. “We are stronger as a joint team and this structure enables swift and agile response to crises on the continent.”

SETAF deployed its early entry command post to coordinate the crisis response force, made up of paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and a US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey squadron based in Moron, Spain. SETAF and the 173rd’s “Sky Soldiers” are based in Vicenza, Italy. These elements make up Africom’s North and West Africa Response Force, which is tasked to protect US persons, property and interests in the Africom area of responsibility in case of crisis.

Personnel assigned to the response force mission completed necessary COVID-19 screening immediately upon alert.

“Even in an environment degraded by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the North and West Africa Response Force successfully deployed validated its capability to alert, marshall, deploy, conduct deliberate and dynamic planning, and conduct operations at a moment’s notice,” Rohling said.