And, recently, there have been multinational exercises that include China, involving nonthreatening
humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations.
“A lot of what we had done in the past we tended to
do bilateral,” Pasnik said. “As we see the region opening
up, there is a lot more interest in becoming multilateral,”
including two annual exercises sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The size of the Marine participation ranges from
“what we call ‘sneeze,’ a small number of Marines,” up
to “the high end now is MEU-level ops,” using the
Okinawa-based 31st MEU or other MEUs transiting the
region aboard amphibious ready groups, he said.
The events are getting larger as more Marines become
available with the drawdown in Afghanistan, which has
allowed the 3rd MEF, on Okinawa and mainland Japan
to regain battalions that had been diverted to Operation
The Corps has become more in demand as more of
the Asian partners have shown interest in developing
Marine-like capabilities, Pasnik said, citing Japan,
Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
“Malaysia is another country interested in developing a Marine Corps-like capability. We’re excited about
what we can do with the Malaysians as they develop
their own capabilities, because there’s some great training areas there,” he said.
Although the focus is on developing the partners’ capa-
bilities, Pasnik said the Marines also benefit from the ex-
changes, pointing particularly to the upcoming MEB-size
exercise in Korea, called Ssang Yong or “Twin Dragons.”
“We are challenged by our service to do more training
at the MEB level. … As we help build partner capacity,
we’re also getting our high-end training,” he said.
Similar tradeoffs occur with the wide-ranging
engagements managed by Marine Corps Forces Europe
The command has a sizable exercise in each of its
main areas — African Lion that takes about 350 U.S.
service members, mostly Marines, for desert training in
Morocco, and Cold Response, a multinational and
joint exercise involving about 425 U.S. troops in
Norway. Those exercises usually use Marines flown in
from Camp Lejeune, the command said in a statement.
But most of the command’s partner capacity missions are carried out by its two sub-units.
SP-MAGTF Africa usually has about 150 Marines
and Sailors assigned on a rotational basis to the U.S.
Navy Base Sigonella, on Sicily.
“The task force works with partner nations in order
to assist U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Africa
Command in strengthening and building relationships,
increasing military capacity and promoting a more stable region,” the command statement said.
The current rotation is manned by 3rd Battalion, 8th
Marine Regiment, from Camp Lejeune.
Most of the task force’s engagements are small training units sent to friendly African countries, including
Uganda and Burundi.
The Black Sea Rotational Force (BSRF) usually has
about 200 Marines on temporary assignment and is
based in Romania. BSRF recently had a four-man team
in Finland for cold weather and mountain training. It
has at least seven other engagements scheduled for this
year, under the name of Platinum Lynx.
These usually involve small numbers of Marines,
squad size or smaller, working with Romanian soldiers
and marines in small unit tactics, combat lifesaving
and shooting competitions.
BSRF Marines also participated in Romania’s National
Day parade and provided lectures at the Romanian Naval
Academy on core values, leadership and the relationship
between leaders and subordinates.
They also conduct similar training in Bulgaria and
“Following a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq,
the Marine Corps is returning to its core maritime com-petencies, providing CCDRs [combatant commanders]
with scalable, highly mobile, rapid deploying maritime
forces. … Marines provide CCDRs with an innovative,
light footprint approach to theater security cooperation.
As the demand for security cooperation engagements
grows, the Navy and Marine Corps require better collaboration in pooling resources as forces and ships decline,”
the headquarters statement said. ■
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 26 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014
A Mongolian Armed Forces service member fires a non-lethal, 40mm rubber ball grenade from the M32A1 MultiShot Grenade Launcher at Five Hills Training Area,
Mongolia, Aug. 23. The training took place as part of the
Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar field training
exercise, hosted annually in the Pacific region and led in
2013 by U.S. Marines with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force.