News: SP-MAGTF Crisis Response Arrives in Spain, Awards Excellence
Story by Staff Sgt. Lukas Atwell
MORON DE LA FRONTERA, Spain – Approximately 500 Marines and sailors arrived at Moron Air Base here, May 5- 13, to serve as Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, a new expeditionary unit positioned forward to respond to limited crisis within U.S. Africa Command’s area-of-responsibility.
SP-MAGTF Crisis Response is a rotational force of Marines and sailors sourced from a variety of units from II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C., temporarily positioned on Moron Air Base, Spain.
The scope of the Marines' mission is to ensure the security of U.S. government personnel and augment the physical security of our embassies and diplomatic facilities if requested by the Department of State.
“The reason we are here is to provide a scalable force to respond to unexpected crises,” said Maj. Zane Crawford, the SP-MAGTF Crisis Response operations officer. “We can rapidly deploy to support missions, such as embassy reinforcement, tactical recovery of aircraft, and personnel and non-combatant evacuation operations.”
A Marine Air-Ground Task Force is a balanced, expeditionary force with built-in command, ground, aviation and logistics elements and while this is nothing new for the Marine Corps, a SP-MAGTF is organized, trained and equipped to accomplish specific missions, according to Crawford.
“Standing up a SP-MAGTF is not easy and building this task force required everyone to put forth their best effort,” Crawford said. “We recently took the opportunity to recognize a few of the Marines who made it possible for 500 personnel, six [MV-22B] Ospreys and two KC-130Js to move forward meet all of our requirements.”
The SP-MAGTF Crisis Response commanding officer, Col. James Christmas, held an awards ceremony, May 11, presenting one Navy Commendation Medal and five Navy Achievement Medals to those Marines and sailors in recognition of their service.
Captain Timothy Drieslein, a KC-130J pilot with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and a Lacrosse, Wis., native, was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his role as mission commander during the historic transatlantic flight of the SP-MAGTF’s aircraft.
Sergeant Daniel Bell, a heavy equipment operator with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and Castleton, Vt., native, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for managing the movement and organization of the force’s cargo upon its arrival at Moron.
Sergeant David Branch, an airframe mechanic with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and Hickory, N.C., native, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for coordinating aircraft maintenance needs prior to the arrival of the aircraft on Moron Air Base, enabling the task force’s aircraft to reach a state of readiness ahead of schedule.
Sergeant Ryan Graber, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of special equipment for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for coordinating and instructing much of the unit’s pre-deployment training, including live-fire exercises.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Leasiolagi, a corpsman with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for planning and preparing the medical readiness of the task force’s ground combat element, ensuring the unit exceeded all medical requirements.
Lance Corporal Kaleb Johnson, the embarkation chief for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and Pirre Part, La., native, was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for coordinating multiple logistic efforts across various agencies aboard Moron Air Base in order to provide the main body of the task force with what it needed to be effective upon arrival.
“These awards are a reflection of the hard work all of our Marines and sailors put into moving this unit forward,” said Sgt. Maj. Joel Collins, the sergeant major of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response. “This was a team effort.”