U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND -- U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) are currently deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility serving as a crisis response force in the region. Additionally, SPMAGTF-CR-CC Marines and Sailors offer support for Task Force Al Asad (TFAA) and Task Force Al Taqaddum (TFTQ), both in Iraq, while they advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which focuses on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Being able to provide the vital crisis response components is a group effort throughout the SPMAGTF. The aviation combat element (ACE) and ground combat element (GCE) make up a large majority of the force.
The ACE provides the area of operation (AO) with ‘around the clock’ air support delivering troops and supplies to TFTQ and TFAA and various other locations while also taking part in coalition airstrikes all in support of OIR. The ACE consist of Marines and Sailors from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352), Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268), Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 (MWSS -372) and Marine Attack Squadron 223 (VMA-223). During the six month deployment the various squadrons logged countless hours of flight time conducting coalition airstrikes and assisting in the transportation of personnel and supplies which was an essential piece of the SPMAGTF-CR-CC mission.
The GCE provided the security force for various locations around the AO. It consisted of Marines and Sailors with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment which conducted base security operations and provided various host nation forces with various levels of training to increase interoperability and promote stability in the region. The Marines stood posts around the AO totaling more than 309,200 hours to ensure base security; they also conducted 75 patrols and treated more than 300 Iraqi casualties for wounds and injuries. The Marines were able to conduct 46 live fire and non-live fire exercises with host nation partners during the deployment in order to build basic combat skills and military tactics for the host nation forces.
“Because of the Marines’ efforts I believe that we have made this a better place now than what it was six months ago and that’s not just because of the GCE but the entire SPMAGTF”, said Lt. Col. Dave Hart, the GCE commander. “It’s been a great opportunity and I cannot be more proud of the 1/7 Marines and Sailors on what they’ve accomplished. The discipline they showed in the conditions that they served in and how dynamic and dangerous it is in the region was exemplary.”
The various units that make up the SPMAGTF have come together in order to provide a force of readiness that is able to respond to any crisis that may arise thanks to the efforts of every Marine and Sailor. With SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.1 slated to return home in the coming months, the next rotation of Marines and Sailors will hit the ground running to keep the SPMAGTF’s mission of increasing interoperability throughout the region.
“I’m blessed to have the team that we have, our leaders have done a great job across every element within the SPMAGTF, from the NCO (noncommissioned officer) level on up,” said Col. William McCollough, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.1 commanding officer. “We arrived in theater with the intention to make a positive difference and I truly believe that we have accomplished that task.”