They are part of more than 1,700 mMembers of the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines began deploying in early January to support two rotational deployments based out of Europe.

The Marines operating with the two units fall under one headquarters element and will spend about six months overseas. In the past, the Marines deployed under the Spain-based headquarters element have filled three different missions.

The crisis response unit, which focuses on flashpoints throughout Africa, comprises about 1,000 Marines from the combat arms, aviation and support communities. They have responded to calls for boosted security at embassies and assist with the evacuation of diplomatic personnel in places like Libya and South Sudan. An unspecified number of Marines with that force also provided security reinforcement at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, until it was evacuated last summer.

About 500 form Black Sea Rotational Force, which trains with troops from places like Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania. They are based at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania.

The theater security cooperation TSC mission was previously conducted by SPMAGTF-Africa which was a separate entity from the crisis response unit. But the crisis response force SMPAGTF-CR-AF absorbed SPMAGTF-Africa in late September "for ease of communication within our command," said 1st Lt. Danielle Dixon, a spokeswoman for the unit.

"As a SPMAGTF, we are able to complete a variety of missions, including security cooperation with partner and host nations," she said.

The Marines with supporting this round of SPMAGTF-Crisis Response-Africa, including the support and air combat element, will be and is split between Spain and Italy, Dixon said. About 850 will be based in Morón, and 265 in Sigonella, Dixon said.

Both missions now fall under a single commander — Col. Thomas B. Savage, 2nd Marine Regiment's commanding officer.

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