Special Purpose MAGTF Deploys to South Sudan

01/05/2014  The Special Purpose MAGTF is a very flexible instrument.

As  Brigadier General James S. O’Meara currently serving as commander, U.S. Marine  Forces Europe, and deputy commander, U.S. Marine Forces Africa, commented about the SP-MAGTF in an earlier interview we conducted with him:

The SP-MAGTF is the basic Marine Corps air ground team or MAGTF approach but applied to a Special Purpose Mission. Special means it’s uniquely tailored to a particular mission or a few mission sets.

In this case, the focus is upon security embassy reinforcements or a noncombatant evacuation.Also, it is a rotational force, which provides a crisis response force able, to deal with EUCOM and AFRICOM needs.

General Dempsey provided strategic guidance, which was looking for a force, which operates with a small footprint, and is low-cost, and rotational. 

This is the answer to that guidance.

The SP-MAGTF meets the need to respond rapidly to a developing situation either proactively or reactively with a small force with a small footprint and has its own organic air, which means that it has operational reach as well.”

Recently, the SP-MAGTF was involved in South Sudan in assisting in the removal of US personnel.

Murielle Delaporte visited the SP-MAGTF and discussed with the SP-MAGTF their training and approach in mid December just prior to their engagement in South Sudan.  Her reporting will be published later this month.

Her visit underscored the maxim that you train, deploy and train again.

According to the SP-MAGTF in a press release in late December:

Tuesday evening (24 December), at approximately 2000 CET (1300 ET) U.S. Africa Command postured a platoon sized element and a KC-130J aircraft from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response (SP-MAGTF CR), which was currently positioned at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to Entebbe, Uganda.

This forward posturing provides the Combatant Commander additional options and the ability to more quickly respond, if required, to help protect U.S. personal and facilities.   

This movement was made with the full knowledge and cooperation of Ugandan authorities.  FROM 27 DEC:  Special-Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response (SP-MAGTF CR), based out of Moron Air Base, Spain, is the lead element for the Marines currently staged in Djibouti and Uganda.

It has the ability to be augmented by additional Marine forces in the area, namely components of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 13 (SP-MAGTF AF).  

At the time of the casualty evacuation of the 4 service members, the small contingent of Marines and Sailors from SP-MAGTF AF were participating in a pre-planned, logistics training engagement with the Ugandan People’s Defense Force. 

This training began on October 23 and ended on December 20, when approximately 160 UPDF soldiers graduated.  The training was to prepare a logistics company to deploy in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia.   

The role of SP-MAGTF AF is to strengthen partnerships between the U.S. Marine Corps and African nations. Its Marines and Sailors conduct security force assistance, military-to-military engagements, and are trained to provide support to crisis response.  SP-MAGTF Africa Marines and sailors from our unit’s Theater Security Cooperation team in Uganda assisted with the casualty care and en route care of the 4 service members who were wounded while assisting in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Bor, South Sudan. 

The aircraft flew to Entebbe, Uganda, after sustaining damage and were received at the airport by our Marines and sailors.  Our team then assisted in loading the wounded service members and the provision of first aid care. 

Team members also accompanied the wounded service members aboard an Air Force C-17 to Nairobi, Kenya, to assist in the provision of en route care.

The slideshow below highlights some of the SP-MAGTF activities in support of the removal of US personnel from South Sudan.

Credit: SP MAGTF

  • In photo 1, a procession of vehicles arrives at an airfield in South Sudan during an evacuation of personnel by Marines from the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 3, 3014.  A squad-size element of U.S. Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response successfully evacuated more than 20 personnel from the U.S. Embassy in coordination with the East Africa Response Force, and under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response are specifically trained for scenarios in which they provide support to a U.S. Embassy in the form of fixed-site security, Embassy reinforcement, support to non-combatant evacuation, and other missions as directed.
  • In photo 2, Sgt. Scott G. Campbell, a Marine with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, guides U.S. citizens to a staging area on the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, after an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.
  • In photo 3, Capt. Thomas Wallin, right, the commanding officer for the Ground Combat Element, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, passes orders to Sgt. Andrew Rodriguez, a team leader with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, on the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014. 
  • In photo 4, Sgt. Andrew Rodriguez, a team leader with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, stands security on a flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.
  • In photo 5, Sgt. John T. Kelly, left, a radio operator with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, calls in a status update during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 3, 2014.
  • In the final photos, Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response guide U.S. citizens down the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.

Additional information was provided by US AFRICOM in early January:

As announced by the Department of State, due to the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, today (3 January), theUnited States has further reduced staffing at the Embassy in Juba. The Department of Defense, at the request of the Department of State, assisted in the transportation of U.S. Embassy personnel, as well as several personnel from other nations, this morning, from Juba, South Sudan to Entebbe, Uganda.

Two KC-130 aircraft assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response (SPMAGTF-CR) element pre-positioned at Entebbe, Uganda was used to move the personnel.

Soldiers from the East Africa Response Force (EARF), assigned to USAFRCIOM, and under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, will continue to provide security reinforcement to the U.S. Embassy in Juba.

The Department of Defense, supporting the Department of State, continues to work to ensure the safety and security of our citizens in South Sudan.  We will continue to monitor the security situation in South Sudan in order to be postured to respond to the any additional requests from the Department of State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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