Several hundred Marines and sailors are headed for Central and South America aboard an amphibious ship in October, according to military officials.
The deployment will be comprise of the command element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a platoon of grunts from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and a detachment of MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, according to a news release.
The primary mission of the deployment will be to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief across Central and South America.
The Corps would not disclose what countries the 13th MEU would visit in Central and South America.
It’s not common for Marines to deploy to South America aboard amphib ships, a Marine official told Marine Corps Times. And the 13th MEU has traditionally operated in the Indo-Pacific and U.S. Central Command area of operations.
The 13th MEU’s 2018 deployment made history with the first combat strikes in Afghanistan by the high-tech stealth fighter F-35b.
The command will serve in a headquarters role for what has been dubbed the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Wasp, according to a release.
The Corps would not confirm what amphibious ship would deploy with the 13th MEU, but the unit name bears the name of the amphibious assault ship Wasp.
“SPMAGTF - WASP is the latest in a long line of engagements with our Central American and South American partners,” Maj. Sean Williams, SPMAGTF - WASP operations officer, said in a command release. “The SPMAGTF - WASP mission will strengthen the interoperability between the Navy-Marine Corps team and partner nations.”
The South American deployment will not be the first deployment there. The Corps said it carried out a similar deployment in 2018 to Peru. The Wasp MAGTF deployment is expected to build upon that experience.
And about 300 Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Southern Command carried out a deployment to Honduras from June 2018 to November 2018.
The Marines helped train partner forces in infantry skills and carried out various engineering projects.
The deployment will provide extra training opportunities to work with other countries and bolster humanitarian disaster response capabilities in the region, the release said.
"We look forward to serving alongside our Navy counterparts and training with our Central American and South American partners during several humanitarian-themed events, Col. Andrew Priddy, SPMAGTF-Wasp commander, said in the release.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.