New commander will oversee Marines from the Arctic to Africa
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 9, 2019
STUTTGART, Germany — Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hermesmann took command Tuesday of U.S. Marines in Europe and Africa, overseeing a mission that involves everything from countering Russia in the High North to improving the combat skills of allies involved in counterterrorism fights in Africa.
Hermesmann replaced Maj. Gen. Russell A.C. Sanborn during a ceremony at Devil Dog Field at Marine Forces Europe and Africa headquarters in Boeblingen, Germany.
“It has truly been my privilege to serve with the outstanding Marines, sailors, civilians, and families of MARFOREUR/AF,” Sanborn said, according to a statement. “Looking back at my 33 years of service, I couldn’t be prouder of all of you, for who you are, and what you have done.”
During Sanborn’s tenure, a focal point for the Corps has been the expansion of the mission in Norway, as the Marines expand cold weather and mountain warfare training. The mission in Norway began in 2017 with about 330 Marines and now involves up to 700 troops who keep a steady rotational presence in the country. The mission emerged as U.S. European Command put increased emphasis on deterring potential Russian aggression across Europe.
However, the Germany-based Marine headquarters also is involved in scores of activities in Africa. In addition to large-scale drills, like the annual Africa Lion exercises, Marines also serve as a quick reaction force for the continent. Based in Moron, Spain, the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa was formed in the aftermath of the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Libya.
Hermesmann, who recently relinquished command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea, said he will carry the missions forward.
The command “has clearly shown that we can train, deploy, and operate Marines throughout Europe and Africa who are ready to respond to crises in any clime and place,” Hermesmann said, according to a statement. “I know that our Marines will continue to live up to the high standards we have set, and will continue to raise the bar through tough, realistic training.”