The Marine Corps may be reducing its once- heavy presence in Afghanistan, but Marines are not sitting at their home bases looking for
something meaningful to do. Instead, units ranging from
a few Marines to battalion size are engaging in a large
number of bilateral and multinational exercises and
engagements with allies and partners all over the world.
And the size and number of these engagements are
set to grow as forces are freed from the 13-year deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marine officers said.
A major example is a planned exercise in Korea this
spring that will team a Marine Expeditionary Brigade
(MEB) — which could have as many as 5,000 U.S.
Marines and Sailors — with Republic of Korea Marine
and Navy units.
“We haven’t done any MEB-size operations since the
1990s,” said Col Doug Pasnik, director of regional
operations and plans at U.S. Marine
Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC),
headquartered in Hawaii.
That is only one of the 67 significant exercises and joint training
events involving at least 22 different nations MARFORPAC has on
its schedule, on top of dozens of
small theater security cooperative
training missions in allied or
friendly neutral countries in the
vast Asia-Pacific region.
On the other side of the globe,
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe
and Africa will oversee scores of
similar exercises and training missions of all sizes in countries
stretching from Norway to central
The Stuttgart, Germany-based
command conducts many of its engagements with Marines and Sailors temporarily assigned to two
sub-commands — the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP MAGTF) Africa and the Black
Sea Rotational Force. It supports others with personnel
from Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) passing
through the Mediterranean or sent directly from the
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) at Camp
The command also supports the recently formed SP
MAGTF Crisis Response, currently based at Moron,
Spain. But that unit, with about 500 personnel and
MV-22s and KC-130Js for rapid transport, is intended
to respond to regional crises, particularly in Africa. It
recently was used to help evacuate Americans from
civil war-ravaged Southern Sudan.
Small Marine detachments also conduct training
missions in Latin America under U.S. Southern
Command, led by Marine Gen John F. Kelly.
U.S. Marines step up size and number of exercises
with allies and partners all over the world
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
As part of the January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance’s directive to “develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives,” the U.S. Marine Corps is
undertaking numerous exercises and engagements with strategic
partners around the world that span the spectrum of combat
skills, complexity and size.
■ U.S. Marine Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) has 67 significant
exercises and joint training events involving at least 22 different
nations on its schedule.
■ U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa will oversee
scores of similar exercises and training missions from Norway to
■ The Marines’ contribution to developing partner nation capacity “depends on where that partner is, what they desire,” according to Col Doug Pasnik, director of regional operations and plans
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 24 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014