Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response (SPMAGTF-CR) unit
was created as result of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound
in Benghazi, Libya on 12 September 2012; which resulted in the deaths of four U.S.
citizens. The attack and the lack of an immediate U.S.
military response prompted the creation of the SPMAGTF-CR unit specifically tasked
with “crisis response” (Hlad, 2017). Initially, its mission was focused on
embassy reinforcement, the role has however expanded significantly
the past few years (Hlad, 2017). After that attack and others throughout the region, U.S.
leadership called for an even faster response than the MEU/ARG (Friedman, 2013).
SPMAGTF-CR is capable of responding across
a broad spectrum of ROMO and provides limited defense crisis response in
support of U.S. Embassies, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP), support of non-combatant
evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations,
search and rescue (SAR), and other missions as directed (Delaporte, 2014). SPMAGTF-CR
provides a self-command and controlled, self-deployable, and highly mobile
maritime force that helps mitigate the gap in the Mediterranean or Gulf of
Guinea left by the absence of the MEU due to a lack of amphibious shipping (Benedict,
SPMAGTF-CR are considered a rapid response force by combatant commander’s (CCDRs)
however; a SPMAGTF-CR does not replace an ARG/MEU and lacks the combat
power, medical, and logistical sustainment tail that an ARG/MEU provides. They
mitigate a capability gap for the CCDRs; and are tailored to respond to crisis and also conduct
security cooperation activities with partner nations in order to develop
interoperability, facilitate access, build partner capacity and security
relationships, and gain regional understanding (Lesson 4 Expeditionary
In a 19 May 2015 presentation, Colonel Jason Q. Bohm, USMC spoke to his experience in commanding Special
Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command
(SPMAGTF-CR-CC); he commented that SPMAGTF-CR-CC’s performance codified the
relevance and versatility of the MAGTF concept and USMC Warfighting Doctrine. He
additionally stated that 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 ROMO while engaged
in operations supporting OEF and Inherent Resolve. A recurring theme in Col Bohm’s presentation
was his Marines flexibility and adaptability (Bohm, 2015).
Colonel Bohm continued to say that 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 served not as a substitute for the
ARG/MEU team in CENTCOM but a complement until more ARG/MEUs become available.
The SPMAGTF’s organic crisis response
capability provides CCDR’s with the ability to support civil-military
operations and foreign humanitarian assistance, reinforce U.S. Embassies, and
conduct noncombatant evacuation operations.
However, it is important to remember that the crisis response capability
of the SPMAGTF is limited and is not intended to replicate the capabilities
inherent in our forward deployed MEUs.
Similar to other
MAGTFs, the SPMAGTF–CR includes a command element, a ground combat element
(GCE), an aviation combat element (ACE) and a logistics combat element (LCE); is
composed of approximately 500 Marines and sailors, six MV-22 Ospreys and two
KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which allow the force not only to be
self-sustainable, but also self-mobile and therefore self-deployable (Delaporte,
2014). A standard SPMAGTF-CR rifle company will
carry no organic fire support larger than a 60mm mortar and will have only a section
of those. For sustained operations after the SMAGTF-CR is committed, it will
need significant support from a MEU or some other organization in order to
remain in place (Friedman, 2013).
SPMAGTF-CR fills a critical
deterrent/force of choice role due to its high mobility, self-deploy
capability, ability to self-sustain, and vertical lift capability – unique
among crisis response forces in theaters where no ARG/MEU is available (Benedict,