MORON AIR BASE, Spain -- A platoon of Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response – Africa completed an unscripted alert drill to test the unit’s ability to rapidly respond to regional crises, Jan. 29.
“At any given time we have an alert force ready to [respond] to crises in Africa,” said Capt. Daniel Lakhani, the platoon’s company commander.
“Rehearsals keep the Marines focused on the mission at hand. They’re professional. They’re resilient. They’re mature, and they’re able to focus their attention on each specific mission with the different profiles they require, from embassy reinforcement to tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel to [quick reaction] missions.”
SPMAGTF-CR-AF received an alert for a simulated medical evacuation mission at nearby Rota Air Base, Spain, early in the afternoon and gathered its on-call alert force to respond. The Marines assembled at a prearranged staging area, completed planning for their mission, and boarded two MV-22 Ospreys on Morón Air Base. The total time for conducting the rehearsal had to meet the requirement for the Marines to depart Spain within six hours of the order to begin their mission.
The platoon had no foreknowledge of the specific mission they would carry out. Every minute is methodically used to assemble their gear, arrange transportation, and run through the mission requirements passed on by the unit’s command.
The two Ospreys, laden with Marines, departed the air field less than four hours after receiving the initial warning. Less than 30 minutes after landing at Rota Air Base, the Marines had successfully secured the area, pushed several hundred yards to their objective, and extracted the simulated casualty. The process was designed to test the command and alert force’s ability to come together, adapt, and react to the wide range of missions SPMAGTF-CR-AF was created to handle.
On any given day, the unit could participate in multinational training operations, respond to natural disasters, provide humanitarian aid, or evacuate an embassy by direction of U.S. Africa Command.
“This mission is different from other missions or deployments the Marines have been on, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan, where they were conducting combat operations for a sustained period of time,” noted Lakhani. “We’re being welcomed by the Spanish. We’re interacting with them and other host nations within Europe and Africa, conducting partner training as well as [remaining ready] to respond to multiple contingencies within Africa.”