US Marine Corps, June 23, 2015 - LIBREVILLE, Gabon - Four MV-22 Ospreys, two KC-130J Hercules tankers, more than 150,000 pounds of gear and almost 200 U.S. Marines and sailors have effectively relocated half of a continent away from their base in Moròn, Spain, effectively enabling the force to reach an estimated 400 additional miles inland, June 10-15.
The Marines worked with the government of Gabon to test the full-scale employment of the force on the continent. Their forward-staged compound, known as a Cooperative Security Location, is complete with dining, living, hygiene, and command and control facilities. The location also provides the Marines with easy access to their MV-22 Osprey and KC-130J aircraft, which are critical in providing a crisis-response capability over a geographically dispersed area.
“For this particular CSL, we planned to support up to 200 personnel,” said 1st Lt. Micah Tate, the combat logistics detachment’s executive officer. “From those personnel, we have around 20 logistics Marines who are providing direct support and two platoons of infantrymen that are able to embark on the Ospreys. That’s the point of these CSLs.”
Similar to Tate, a select group of Marines began planning weeks in advance and will remain on site to assist all personnel while resolving unique struggles.
“A lot of man power hours have gone into getting the tents up, constructing the ammunition holding area, establishing all the generators, and placing all the cabling for power,” Tate continued. “I would say that the [logistics] Marines are absolutely the unsung heroes for exactly that.”
SPMAGTF-CR-AF resources, capabilities, and strategic location allow it to accomplish a broad spectrum of missions ranging from partner nation training or disaster relief and humanitarian aid, to protecting or reinforcing an embassy at the direction of U.S. Africa Command. While in Gabon, the U.S. Marines are scheduled to conduct training with Gabonese forces as well as tour the U.S. embassy.
“By completing this mission and validating the necessary requirements to operate within Africa, our Marines and Sailors have learned what works well and what doesn't, based on our assumptions prior to deploying,” said Col. Thomas Savage, SPMAGTF-CR-AF commanding officer. “The connections we've made with the Gabonese military will open up more and more opportunities to train with these important security partners, improving readiness for both us and them.”
“Expeditionary capabilities are not new to the Marine Corps,” added Savage. “They are, however, challenging and must continually be refined. This training demonstrates the ability of Marines to recognize obstacles, adapt, and overcome them, all while coordinating with our partner nations.”