Special Operations removing SEAL presence in Rota
Special Operations Command Europe will remove its Navy SEAL presence from Rota, Spain, by the end of the month, sending the 45 members of the Naval Special Warfare Unit Ten to bases in the United States as part of an ongoing restructuring, officials announced Friday.
The announcement comes a month after the Navy announced it would remove Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 2, known as VQ-2, from Rota in a move that will decrease the base population by about 1,000 sailors and family members, or about 17 percent of the base population.
The removal of the SEALs from Rota does not affect ongoing negotiations with Spain and other countries to find a headquarters for special operations in Europe south of the Alps to consolidate its Army, Air Force and Navy components, said Capt. Alan Oshirak, chief of staff for Special Operations Command Europe.
Asked whether Spanish officials should take the move as a sign that U.S. officials are favoring Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, as the potential location for a future Europe special operations headquarters, Oshirak said: “I would encourage them not to at this point.”
“All options are on the table,” Oshirak said. “Rota, in my view, remains unchanged. It’s a tremendous base. It has a lot to offer.”
In March, Marine Gen. James L. Jones, commander of U.S. European Command, told Stars and Stripes that he was considering consolidating the special operations components in Europe into a central location in Rota, Spain or Sicily. Oshirak on Friday declined to discuss if there are other locations being considered and said officials also could decide not to move at all.
The only other SEAL presence in Europe, the 60-member Naval Special Warfare Unit Two based in Stuttgart, Germany, along with the special operations headquarters staff, will assume the functions of the Rota unit, Oshirak said.
The move will end more than 10 years of SEAL presence in Rota. The unit, which contained about 20 SEALs and 25 support personnel, served as commander of Task Force 63, U.S. Sixth Fleet’s executive agent on naval special warfare operations.
The unit’s official decommission date is July 25.
“We’re taking the beach house and all the furniture to the big mansion on the hill," Oshirak said, referring to tasks once handled in Spain moving to Stuttgart. “Even though we’re leaving the beach house, we still have the keys.”