About 1,750 North Carolina-based Marines have deployed to Europe for a six-month rotation, including a brand new contingent that will operate in Bulgaria amid growing Russian aggression.
About 150 Marines will be the first to form the Combined Arms Company, which will operate out of Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria. The new force is designed to soothe European allies concerned by Russian saber-rattling, but they can also respond to crises in Europe and Africa.
The company will be assigned to the Romania-based Black Sea Rotational Force, and will include Marines from these five units: 2nd Tank Battalion; 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion; 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, CLB 6 and 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, according to a spokesman for the task force.
The unit will be equipped with four Abrams main battle tanks, six light armored vehicles and three howitzers. It's the first of three planned six-month rotations of the Combined Arms Company.
The Marines in Bulgaria are expected to train with local troops during the deployment.
Also deploying is the new iteration of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Africa. That unit, headquartered in Móron, Spain, and responsible for responding to crises in Africa, will relieve the roughly 1,600 Marines currently deployed with the task force.
That unit will be split between Spain, Italy and Romania. It will include 6th Marine Regiment as the headquarters element; 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines; CLB 6; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, and elements of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron.
Marines with the last version of the Africa crisis response were expected to begin returning to Camp Lejeune, on July 18.