US Marines expanding missions in Africa
The Marine Times reports: A select group of Marines is quietly battling terrorism across a wide swath of Africa as part of the first wave of what could become a long-term mission for the Corps.
The 180 members of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 12 are serving in the Trans-Sahel region of Africa, which stretches across the center of the continent’s oil-rich north along the Sahara Desert. The unit has also deployed farther east, in countries such as Djibouti.
The unit, made up mostly of reservists, is supposedly focused not on combat but rather team-building with militaries scattered throughout this region. Members of 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company make up most of the ground combat element, and it’s assisted from above by two KC-130T Hercules, one each from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 and VMGR-234. Rounding out the SPMAGTF are a variety of Marines from 41 other drill centers across the Reserve, plus some active-duty Marines and corpsmen.
The Africa unit activated in June, conducted pre-deployment training through September and deployed in October to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Marines have since been deploying to the Trans-Sahel region to train foreign militaries on various missions.
“Basically, we’re putting a presence in another country,” Master Sgt. Bill Simpson, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said. “We’re putting a face for the United States of America.”