04/09/2014:Marines with Weapon’s Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines assigned to Black Sea Rotational Force ride in Latvian Bandvagn 206 tracked vehicles during Summer Shield, 7 April 2014, aboard Camp Adazi, Latvia.
The tracked vehicles allow the Latvian military to mobilize their 82mm mortar systems.
Credit: Black Sea Rotational Force:4/7/14
The Black Sea Rotational Force is a yearly program where United States Marine Corps units based in the continental United States perform rotational deployments to U.S. military bases on the Black Sea region. Black Sea Rotational Force participates in security cooperation to build military capacity, provide regional stability, and develop lasting partnerships with nations in the region. It is an outgrowth of the previous Joint Task Force East, which was planned to be a rotational brigade-sized Army force.
And a recent news item from DOD discusses the force as well in the context of the current Crimean crisis:
U.S. Sends More Marines to Romania, Navy Vessel to Black Sea
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2014 – The Defense Department is deploying additional Marines to enlarge a rotational crisis response force based in Spain, and is also dispatching a naval vessel to the Black Sea to conduct exercises with U.S. allies in the region, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters that 175 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., will augment the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response force based at Moron Air Base, Spain.
“We’re increasing the number from 500 to 675,” Warren said, adding that the move had been planned since late last year.
The expeditionary force falls under U.S. Africa Command but can be deployed anywhere. It enables the United States to conduct a range of military operations including non-combatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as support for U.S. embassies.
While the additional Marines will be part of the Spain-based force, Warren said they are being stationed in Romania to allow greater flexibility. They will join nearly 300 Marines already in the country who are part of the Black Sea rotational force.
Warren emphasized the decision to send the additional Marines to Romania is not related to developments in Ukraine. However, he also announced that a U.S. Navy vessel is heading to the Black Sea for exercises to reassure American allies of the U.S. commitment to the region. That move, he said, is a direct result of the current situation in Ukraine. Warren did not rule out a role for the vessel in exercises with the Ukrainian military.