ON Tuesday September 1, the Spanish Senate approved an earlier ‘in principle’ agreement for the establishment of a permanent force of 2,200 US Marines to be based in southern Spain.
The US has for some time, had a rapid reaction force of under 1,000 troops at Moron de la Frontera, near Sevilla which saw temporary action following a 2012 attack on a US mission in Benghazi, eastern Libya.
An amendment to the defence treaty between Spain and the USA allowing for the increase in forces and establishment of a permanent base had already been approved by parliament and this endorsement by the senate confirmed that the amendment would become law.
Named the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit, its main missions will be to ‘protect US embassies in Africa, evacuate civilians in difficulty, or intervene in conflicts or humanitarian crises.’
In a statement made on the same day, the US Ambassador to Spain, James Costos, thanked Spain for hosting the base which he said ‘governs our cooperation in the defence of our two nations’ adding that the base ‘protects citizens and facilities of the United States, Spain, and other NATO Allies in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.’
The Spanish government had announced in May of this year that it expected 2,200 Marines plus 500 civilian staff to man the base, with 26 aircraft. It will also be able to accept additional military personnel and aircraft on a temporary basis.