U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command prepare for take off in an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel drill in Central Command’s area of operation March 5, 2015. The TRAP force’s mission is the rescue or extraction of downed aircraft and personnel in the event of an in-flight emergency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tony Simmons)

Commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command

19 May 2015 - The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies as part of its U.S. Marine Corps Returning Commander Speaker Series hosted the commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC), Colonel Jason Q. Bohm, USMC for a presentation on his unit’s mission challenges and accomplishments as a mission tailored Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). During their seven month deployment, Colonel Bohm led 2,300 Marines and sailors to accomplish a wide range of missions throughout the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR). SPMAGTF-CR-CC served as the inaugural crisis response force for CENTCOM and improved CENTCOM’s ability to respond to crisis and to support Theater Security Cooperation events such as partner-nation exercises.

In his presentation, Colonel Bohm highlighted the inherent strength of the MAGTF concept that proved its capability, adaptability, and flexibility during their deployment, “We can take to the fight anytime, anywhere in the AOR. We are a force to be contended with inside the area of operations.” The SPMAGTF-CR-CC’s performance codified the relevance and versatility of the MAGTF concept and USMC Warfighting Doctrine. Additionally, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC complemented the capabilities of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Special Operations Forces operating in the region and enabled rapid and sustainable support on a wide range of mission sets in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. Key enabling capabilities included the versatility of the MV-22 coupled with the KC-130 which provided the required operational and tactical mobility to cover missions over 11 countries. Long range communications also supported operations as elements of the SPMAGTF-CR-CC was based in 6 countries. A recurring theme in Col Bohm’s presentation was his Marines flexibility and adaptability.   “I told my Marines before we deployed,” as Bohm recounts, “We do windows. We do whatever our country needs us to do.”

In May 2014, the Marine Corps began to form the  SPMAGTF-CR-CC for its initial deployment in in September of the same year.  While deployed in response to the ongoing events in Iraq and Syria, the unit quickly became involved in what would become Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the coalition campaign focused on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).  The command’s support to OIR included kinetic and non-kinetic strike capabilities, aviation logistics support to operations across Iraq, a dedicated Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel force, and the insertion and sustainment of the Advise and Assist and Build Partner Capacity (BPC) missions aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

The command’s wide range of missions, executed in or over 11 different countries, made SPMAGTF-CR-CC an invaluable asset to CENTCOM operations. As part of its deployment, the command accomplished the following significant achievements: its aircraft conducted strikes in Iraq and Syria, provided the OIR personnel recovery force, and it executed and sustained the first BPC mission in Iraq.

The current capability provided by the three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) remains one of America’s preeminent crisis response forces; providing deterrence and creating decision space across the range of military operations. However, as shortfalls in the amphibious warship inventory and availability limit the number of ARGs available to support Geographic Combatant Commander requirements, CENTCOM identified a requirement for a rapidly-responding, self-deployable crisis response force.

In response to this need in an evolving and dynamic security environment, the Marine Corps created SPMAGTF-CR-CC to protect U.S. citizens, interests, and conduct other designated missions within CENTCOM’s are of responsibility. This regionally focused, shore-based, expeditionary MAGTF is capable of conducting crisis response and limited contingency operations and is intended to fill the crisis response gap when ARG/MEUs must accomplish other missions in support of the CENTCOM theater. As such, SPMAGTF-CR-CC serves not as a substitute for the ARG/MEU team in CENTCOM but a complement until more ARG/MEUs become available.

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