280 Marines serving with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis-Response Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF) are set to return home to Camp Lejeune, N.C., later this week after a six-month deployment to Spain and Italy.
The SPMAGTF-CR-AF is based out of Morón Air Base, Spain and Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy and the unit is tasked to respond to a crisis in Africa within six hours of a call for help.
Returning home are about 30 Marines from 6th Marine Regiment, 150 Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and 100 Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261.
During the deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF traveled throughout Africa and Europe, participating in bilateral exercises, theater security cooperation missions and community service events.
A top achievement was the set-up and validation of a new cooperative security location in Dakar, Senegal, where the SPMAGTF-CR-AF can temporarily locate forces during emerging crises. Marines and U.S. Coastguardsmen also trained with the Senegalese Compagnie Fusilier de Marin Commando (COFUMACO) in a month-long training event in September 2015 that focused on infantry tactics and small-boat operations.
The Marines also worked with Uganda People’s Defense Force soldiers to conduct improvised explosive device awareness lanes in Camp Singo, Uganda in November, with Marine explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians and combat engineers supervising the UPDF soldiers identified IEDs along a patrol route.
In Ghana, the Marines taught intelligence-gathering at the Navy Trade Training School in Sekondi in October. U.S. forces completed a Tactical Intelligence Support to Maritime Operations Centers “train-the-trainer” course, the first of four planned courses set for the fiscal year.
While in Spain and Italy, the Marines also worked with NATO partners. They participated in Trident Juncture 15, working with Royal Marines and the Royal Navy on amphibious operations and patrolling tactics.
Also during the deployment, the Marines conducted a bilateral infantry training event with the Spanish Marines at the Sierra Del Retin training area, and they simulated a civilian evacuation at the the National Gendarmerie Tactical Training Center in Saint-Astier, France, with French forces.
Overall, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF participated in 62 bilateral exercises with NATO allies and conducted 17 theater security cooperation missions with partner nations to promote regional stability on the African continent during the six months overseas.
The SPMAGTF-CR-AF includes about 12 MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, four KC-130J Hercules aerial refueling tankers, a logistics and sustainment element, and infantry Marines. The Marines train for crisis response, embassy reinforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and training with allies and partners.