May 14, 2014
US crisis response Marines mobilized for north Africa threat
About 180 Marines and sailors, along with two KC130s and four Ospreys, were moved Tuesday to NAS Sigonella in Sicily. The base is a strategic launching pad that offers quick access to potential hot spots in northern Africa. The team is ready to respond if needed to undisclosed security concerns at U.S. installations in the region.
The concerns are centered on Libya.
The Morón, a Spain-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit, formed last year in the wake of the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, is mobilized periodically in connection with potential threats in Africa. The unit took part in embassy evacuation efforts in South Sudan last year.
The latest alert comes at a time when there are security concerns stretching from Mali, where French forces have been fighting Islamic militants, to Nigeria, where U.S. military personnel are assisting in the search for girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram regional terrorist group.
By moving Marines to Sigonella, the troops are now a short flight from Libya, where there also has been widespread concern over Islamic militants taking root there. In Yemen last week, the U.S. suspended operations at its embassy, citing security concerns. Last month, U.S. officials killed two armed Yemenis who were trying to kidnap them.
In March, the Defense Department announced it would boost its presence in Spain, adding more Marines, slating to grow from 500 to 850 Marines.