Monday, September 28, 2015

Readying US Marines For Africa

Exercise Trident Juncture, the largest multinational NATO exercise in more than a decade. The exercise, which will include about 36,000 participants, will run Oct. 3 through Nov. 6. One exercise is launching a ship-to-shore operation in Spain, pushing more than 300 miles inland using light armored vehicles during a mock raid. The purpose is to prepare for similar real military operations in Africa.

Marines with the Corps' crisis response force for Africa have traveled long distances from their home base in Europe to places like South Sudan to respond to embassy security threats and other emergencies. To bridge that distance, the unit is continuing to explore the use of cooperative security locations, which are temporary forward bases about the size of football fields in Gabon, Senegal and Ghana. The CSLs give Marines a place where Marines can base gear and sleep while training African forces. But if the sea basing tests are successful during Trident Juncture, it could open the door to efforts to put Marine afloat near Africa. It would be a huge advantage to have Marines based at sea in or near the Gulf of Guinea. 

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's commanding officer, Col. Robert Fulford shortly after he returned from a deployment leading Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response–Africa, (SPMAGTFCR-AF), said it would help resolve difficulties associated with being too far from targets.

Trident Juncture will also be used to revamp the Corps' post-war doctrine, Expeditionary Force 21, said Brig. Gen. Julian Alford who heads the Quantico-based Futures Directorate. Officials at Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Futures Directorate are working to update the document to include information on complex threats Marines could face in Africa.

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