News: Marine units across Europe combine to train in Spain
Story by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain - Four Marine Corps units from across Europe came together for Theater Marine Integration Training in Spain, Nov. 18-20, 2013. The training combined diverse Marine Corps assets to accomplish a single mission: unify Marine forces in theater under a single command to plan, coordinate, and execute a crisis response exercise.
“The focus of this exercise was to improve the interoperability between SPMAGTF-CR and other Marine forces in theater. We also wanted to set up and operate our expeditionary command and control systems. Using these systems, along with integrating other Marine forces, allows us to rehearse our operational capabilities - particularly as we look at ways to support theater contingency plans. During this training we were able to plan, coordinate, and employ our forces in a simulated crisis scenario.
This included practicing our procedures to evacuate personnel from a notional embassy, conduct site security and execute a simulated recovery of a downed pilot,” said Lt.Col. James Lively, operations officer for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response.
The participating units included Black Sea Rotational Force 14, from Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania; Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, from Moron Air Base, Spain; Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, from Naval Station Rota, Spain; and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa, from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.
BSRF-14, FAST, and SP-MAGTF Africa arrived in Moron, Spain on Nov. 17 and received their respective missions for the exercise. Within hours of mission receipt, these units traveled to Naval Station Rota, Spain via KC-130 and MV-22Bs, to reinforce a notional embassy and establish evacuation control centers.
The exercise scenario required the independently functioning ECCs to coordinate with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response and FAST in order to ensure the safety of the evacuated U.S. citizens, said Capt. Jake Grader, the ECC commander with SP-MAGTF Africa.
Each ECC developed an effective system of processing people and moving them quickly through the process, despite working through some minor complications.
“With practice we’ve gotten better,” said Staff Sgt. David M. Childress, an embarkation chief with BSRF-14. “When we first started we really didn’t have an idea of how many evacuees we’d be able to process. The more we practice, the more repetitions we do, we are getting more and more through.”
This scenario allowed the participating units, whose core missions are complementary, to work through conflicting issues in organization, communication, and logistics.
The units benefited greatly from the training as it afforded each unit to learn techniques and procedures from each other, all under one command, said Staff Sgt. Shaun Doyle, a platoon sergeant with BSRF-14.
By the end of the training, the Marines and sailors demonstrated the expeditionary mindset that is the hallmark of every Marine. Despite not routinely working together prior to the exercise, the participating Marine units validated their ability to easily come together and accomplish a new mission.
“We’re on the president’s call,” said Childress. “Wherever he deems fit for us to be, he’s going to put us there and we’re going to excel. We’re out here now and we’re steadily practicing and refining those skills. We’re going to be ready to respond whenever he calls.”
By the close of the training, the units effectively combined to complete the mission under a single command element.