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U.S. Marines depart Spain in six hours

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Christopher Mendoza | March 19, 2015

U.S. Marines and Sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa conducted a surprise, quick response training exercise launched from Moron Air Base, Spain, and ending aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, March 13-14.

Approximately 60 Marines were transported to NAS Sigonella after receiving a simulated crisis response mission from U.S. Africa Command. The unit quickly coordinated and carried out the mission, demonstrating SPMAGTF-CR-AF's ability to rapid-response at a moment's notice.

"None of the Marines from my platoon, including myself, knew about the drill ahead of time," said 2nd Lt. Peter Severson, the platoon commander for the Marines conducting the drill. "This forced the Marines to execute routine procedures without any forewarning and forced us to take a hard look at the procedures we have in place."

The unit utilized a combination of ground and aviation forces to conduct the training exercise with two MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and a KC-130J Hercules tanker. Once they landed, the Marines and Sailors maneuvered to a range to conduct a low-light, live-fire exercise utilizing night- vision goggles.

Performing no-notice training exercises allows Marines and Sailors to stay proficient in their skills and remain ready.

"The Marines conducted a stress shoot," explained Severson. "Basically, they exercise before they execute the live fire. The Marines are breathing heavy and fatigued when they go to shoot, so it enforces basic marksmanship fundamentals."

Marines from all the elements of the SPMAGTF came together to coordinate, plan, and execute the mission within six hours of receiving the call. The exercise allowed the unit to rehearse the logistical process while implementing small-unit tactics.

"There is a lot coordination that needs to be done," Severson added. "All components of the SPMAGTF—infantrymen, aviation, logistics—have individual tasks that need to be accomplished, and all of the elements have to contribute to ensure the alert force gets off the deck with everything they need to be successful. We accomplished it safely and effectively."

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