U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Cody Keller, a landing support specialist with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, stands on the flight line at Morón Air Base, Spain, during an external-lift drill with an MV-22 Osprey Jan. 19, 2015. The long-range, vertical-lift capabilities of the Osprey make it a versatile aircraft for supporting transportation missions in places such as Africa.
The U.S. government recently signed an expanded basing agreement with Spain that will significantly increase the number of troops and aircraft permanently based quartered there. The deal also includes a provision to allow an extra 800 Marines to be stationed there during times of crises.
The agreement, signed Wednesday, boosts increases the overall permanent U.S. military presence allowed to be based there from 486 to 2,200 personnel. That total will include , including the 850 Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Africa already there on what was until now a temporary basis subject to annual renewal by Spain.
"The amendment changes the current deployment of the U.S Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Crisis Response based at Móron Air Base in Spain from temporary to indefinite," said a State Department spokeswoman in Europe, who spoke on background.
The new deal also allows the Corps wins Marines the ability to expand the number of crisis response Marines surge the crisis response force to a total of 1,650 and to base Marines and an additional 14 aircraft in Móron during contingency operations that could require SPMAGTF-CR-AF to deploy in order to protection of U.S. facilities and personnel in Africa.
While the change provides Marines already deploying to in Spain a sense of stability and permanency, the increase will not apply be made exclusively to the Corps of Marines. The agreement allows Among others, it will include a bump in Defense Department civilians from 43 to 500, and aircraft from 14 to 40. The increase, "includes the crisis response force and the legacy Air Force presence," the State Department official said.
Marine officials at the Pentagon and in Europe did had not respond to detailed questions about how the agreement might ultimately increase the size of the Corps' crisis response unit, shift personnel or alter missions by press time.
It would appear, however, that the agreement will not immediately change the size or organization of the more than 1,600-strong unit, SPMAGTF-CR-AF which is currently split between Spain, Italy and Romania with roughly 850, 265 and 500 Marines in each country, respectively.
The new agreement builds on bilateral one signed in 1988 that allowed a U.S. presence in Spain, but required annual renewal. Signing of the new agreement was delayed after Secretary of State John Kerry had a May 31 bike accident in France that fractured his leg and resulted in an early return to the U.S. for medical care. The agreement was ultimately signed in Washington by Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ignacio Ybanez and Deputy Secretary of State Antyhony J. Blinken.