WASHINGTON — More Marines will be temporarily based in Spain to respond to potential crises in Africa, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Spain has agreed to the extended presence of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response in Morón, Spain, for one year until April 2015. The SPMAGTF-CR will grow from 500 Marines to 850. The Defense Department did not provide a timeline for when the additional 350 Marines will arrive in Morón.
The SPMAGTF-CR was created in the wake of the Sept. 1, 2012, attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The Obama administration and U.S. military leaders were heavily criticized for not responding more quickly to launch a rescue operation. The Pentagon said that forces were not available to reach the scene in time.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters said the augmentation of the crisis response unit was not driven by specific threats.
“It’s not necessarily an increase in threat, we don’t believe. But it’s an increase in demand for them,” Warren said.
The task force has deployed four times since its inception last year. The most notable example was the December deployment of a Marine contingent to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, and Entebbe, Uganda, as the crisis in South Sudan escalated and American civilians and diplomatic facilities were deemed to be in danger. In early January, the Marines positioned in Entebbe evacuated U.S. diplomatic personnel from Juba, South Sudan.