GLOBAL WARFARE: U.S. Marines Deployed Worldwide, From the Black Sea To
Africa And Beyond
by Rick Rozoff
> Global Research, July 7, 2012
Last December U.S. Marine Forces Europe conducted a two-day conference in
Stuttgart, Germany (where U.S. Africa Command headquarters is based) to plan
this year's Black Sea Rotational Force (BSRF) deployment. Military officials
from European NATO nations were also involved in the planning process.
Black Sea Rotational Force 12 will be the longest and largest deployment of
the force, a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) first
activated in 2010. In that year the rotation was for three months; last year
five months; this year six months.
In its first year of existence the BSRF engaged in bilateral and
multinational training exercises with counterparts from thirteen nations in
the Balkans, the Black Sea region and the Caucasus, the BSRF's area of
Last year it conducted and participated in exercises in Romania, Georgia and
Ukraine with fourteen NATO allies and partners: Albania, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia,
Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.
During its increasingly lengthier deployments, the BSRF is based at the
Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield in Romania, where the complementary, U.S. Army
Europe's, Task Force East has also been deployed in addition to the latter
also operating at the Babadag Training Area in the same country and the Novo
Selo Training Area in neighboring Bulgaria.
This year's BSRF deployment includes 71 (by one count 91) training events
with 19 other nations. The five new nations (assuming the fourteen mentioned
above will still be involved) have not been divulged, except that Marine
Forces Europe reported earlier this year that BSRF-12 will participate in
the Noble Shirley 12 exercise "in the Levant." Noble Shirley is a regular
live-fire exercise held in the Negev Desert with the Israeli Defense Forces
and U.S. Marines.
The BSRF also participated in this year's Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) war
games with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany,
the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Sweden - rather far from its defined
geographical confines - including in an amphibious assault exercise in
It inaugurated this year's deployment with the two-week Agile Spirit 12
exercise at the Vaziani Training Area in Georgia in part to train native
troops for the war in Afghanistan. Seventeen of the nineteen nations being
trained by the BSRF this year have troops serving under NATO command in that
This year's rotation involves 360 Marines, which represents a doubling of
Marine Forces Europe personnel since last year. According to the Pentagon
news agency American Forces Press Service, in may Brigadier General Charles
Chiarotti, Marine Forces Europe's deputy commander, stated that he hopes
"the rotational force grows to a 600- to 700-member unit with limited crisis
response capabilities, fixed- and rotary-win."
The U.S. announced in 2009 that it would spend $110 million to upgrade two
bases in Romania and Bulgaria (of eight it acquired after the two nations
joined NATO in 2004), which could accommodate a larger Marine presence,
The BSRF is currently running an exercise at the Novo Selo Training Range in
Bulgaria with 1,000 troops from the U.S., the host country, Macedonia,
Serbia and Ukraine. The Bulgarian commander is a graduate of a military
academy in Washington. This year the BSRF will conduct training exercises at
six Bulgarian bases and airfields.
Earlier this month Marines with the BSRF conducted a training exercise in
Timisoara, Romania with local troops.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps website: "Some of the Romanian soldiers
already know what it's like to serve alongside Marines in combat from
previous tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They welcome the training as
added knowledge they can use for the future as some of them may be going to
Afghanistan within the year."
An American corporal present at the drills said, "This training is important
to them because they see American Marines as the most elite fighting force
in the world."
The BSRF will also participate this month in the annual U.S.-led NATO and
Partnership for Peace exercise in Ukraine, Sea Breeze. The two-week exercise
will include fourteen nations including NATO's Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative partners Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which provided
warplanes for NATO's six-month air war against Libya last year.
The BSRF is, as mentioned above, a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task
Force (SPMAGTF), which have previously been used in Afghanistan, Liberia,
Panama, the Persian Gulf and the Philippines.
The BSRF in turn has now become the prototype for a similar unit assigned to
to U.S. Africa Command, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2
(12.2 since this April), formed last October and based at the Naval Air
Station Sigonella in Sicily, which has been deployed to Uganda, Burundi and
Djibouti to train troops for deployment to Somalia and to Liberia to
instruct its military in "riot control and peace keeping techniques." In May
of 2010 NATO airlifted 2,500 Ugandan troops into and out of Mogadishu for
the war there and the European Union is training Somali government troops in
Uganda for the same purpose.
The U.S. Marine Corps website reported that the SPMAGTF African deployment -
which "could become more commonplace as troop levels in Afghanistan drop in
line with an approaching 2014 combat mission end date" - is to be followed
by an SPMAGTF mission in the Asia-Pacific region with troops stationed in
The Marine Corps is the Pentagon's preeminent expeditionary combat branch
and one which increasingly is being used to integrate the militaries of
former socialist Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region into the U.S.'s
worldwide military network.
Received on Sun Jul 08 2012 - 00:33:08 EDT