- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2013

U.S. Africa Command will get a new Marine Corps rapid response force as part of a plan to beef up its crisis response capabilities.

More Leathernecks will be at the ready after the military was unable to get timely aid to Benghazi, Libya last year, during a terror attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and members of his security detail.

Gen. Carter Ham, Africom’s commander, told Congress this week about the planned new force, Stars and Stripes reported Friday.


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“The Marine Corps have proposed a new … Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force specifically tailored for crisis response in Africa,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The force had not yet been formally approved, he said, but added, “we think that that will be available in the relatively near future.”

Sgt. Michael Murphy, a reconnaissance Marine with Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, poses as he jumps out of a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter Jan. 22. (Credit: U.S. Marine Corps)
Sgt. Michael Murphy, a reconnaissance Marine with Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine ... more >

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had previously told lawmakers that U.S. forces were unable to quickly respond to the Benghazi attack.

“Without an adequate warning, there was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond,” Mr. Panetta testified last month.

Africom was also looking to station other special operations teams in three strategic locations in southern Europe, and east and west Africa to bolster the command’s response capabilities, Gen. Ham said.

Added Ham: “I’m most appreciative to [Marine Corps Commandant] Gen. [James F.] Amos for making that force available.”