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BSRF-11 officially comes to a close in Romania

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda, Black Sea Rotational Force

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania -- U.S. Marines and sailors stood alongside Romanian sailors, naval infantry and soldiers in a large formation to commemorate Black Sea Rotational Force 11’s deployment in the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions.

The closing ceremony was attended by Brig. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of Marine Forces Europe and Africa, Brig. Gen. James Lariviere, commanding general, 4th Marine Division, and Romanian Vice Adm. Aurel Popa, Chief of Navy Staff, as well as other officers of other nations that participated in BSRF.

“[The ceremony] was put together to highlight the five-and-a-half months of engagements here in the [European] theater with all these countries,” said Chiarotti.

“We had [dignitaries] from Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine present at the ceremony. They represent only a fraction who we’ve reached out to; there was a total of 13 countries,” he added.

The Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force has been operating in Eastern Europe since April, participating in the security cooperation between American and regional partner nations to build military capacity, provide regional stability, and develop lasting partnerships with the allied countries, to include; Romania, Bulgaria, the Republic of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia.

Along with the closing ceremony was combined-forces counterinsurgency demonstration between U.S. Marines and Romanian Marines to display the interoperability aspect of the mission.

“We’ve been building relationships but we also want to make sure they are proficient at conducting COIN operations if they have to,” said Lt. Col. Nelson S. Cardella, commanding officer, BSRF-11.

“They’ve been training in COIN and peacekeeping operations before, so they were very familiar [with operating together] at the squad and platoon level,” added Cardella.

The Marines traveled throughout the region conducting military-to-military engagements to advise and work with partner nations in COIN and PKO as well as a Non-Commissioned Officer Academy that spent the tour helping allied nations understand the importance of a strong NCO Corps. In addition, the SP-MAGTF spent their time promoting regional stability with community relations projects, creating a lasting legacy in cities and villages throughout the Black Sea region.

“This was done on the back of our Marine Corps reserve,” said Chiarotti.

“I think that’s a hallmark of our Marine Corps establishment; one seamless, integrated team,” said Chiarotti.

“That what it’s all about and that’s what was demonstrated here.”

The MAGTF is composed of reservists from all across the U.S.; ninety-six percent of the unit was comprised of Marine and Navy reservists sourced from more than 40 units.

“It all goes back to how we are all Marines and how we do business,” said Cardella.

“We’re small, but we have a big effect everywhere we go. Marine Corps history is full of examples like that.”

BSRF-11 is slated to redeploy back to the states this month. BSRF-12 is slated to return for the next iteration of the Black Sea Rotational Force program next year.

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