U.S. Marines and Sailors participated in a socially distanced transfer of authority yesterday, marking the passing of the torch from the outgoing Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa to the new contingent.
Col. Denise M. Mull, commander of the outgoing Combat Logistics Regiment 25, passed the SPMAGTF-CR-AF colors to Col. Paul C. Merida, commander of 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. 22nd MEU will serve as the command element for the incoming force, which is comprised of units from across II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“I am proud of the hard work and dedication of all of the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-CR-AF 20.1,” Mull said of the outgoing force. “Especially during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Marines, Sailors, and their families back home have shown an unfaltering resiliency and professionalism that enabled the SPMAGTF-CR-AF to continue to stand the watch, ready to respond – no matter what.”
The transfer, originally scheduled for early April, was delayed in order to safeguard the health of local Spanish, Italian and U.S. communities, as well as the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-CR-AF, who operate out of Moron Air Base in Spain and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy. Marines and Sailors at both locations continue to abide by Department of Defense and local health and safety regulations in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
SPMAGTF-CR-AF 20.2 will be postured to respond to a broad range of military operations in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations, including U.S. Embassy reinforcement, fixed-site security, noncombatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, theater security cooperation. SPMAGTF-CR-AF plays an important role in working with African partners to achieve shared security interests, stability, and prosperity.
“We’ve had a very productive turnover with the 20.1 team and we’re ready to take over the mission,” said Merida.
SPMAGTF-CR-AF 20.2 will continue to work closely with relevant military medical organizations in light of the global public health situation to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to Spanish and Italian communities, as well as its assigned Marines and Sailors.