Marines and other service members are deployed to Spanish and Italy as part of the Africa crisis response task force may begin returning home this month after the unit is trapped in limbo due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, spokesperson for European and African Marine Corps Forces, told the Marine Corps Times in a emailed statement that there was anticipation that “the re-placement of the current rotation and the spread of the next rotation” would be completed in early June.
Rankine-Galloway said there would be a “gradual spread” and resettlement in May.
The European and African navies said it was “flexible given the dynamic global public health situation.”
Spain and Italy are the two most affected countries during the ongoing pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, on 8 May Spain had 221,447 COVID-19 cases and 26,070 deaths.
Italy has 215,858 COVID-19 cases and 29,958 deaths, while the UK registered 206,719 cases and 30,615 deaths, according to WHO.
“We are working with military organizations of related medical institutions to ensure that we can carry out this movement in a way that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our Spanish and Italian allies, communities in the United States and our Marines,” Rankine-Galloway said.
Rankine-Galloway said he would not speculate on the date when troop movements would occur, “but we are working diligently to bring our troops back home safely.”
After returning to the US and service station members each with a Africa Marine task force will begin 14 days of limited movement according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rankine-Galloway explained.
Special Purpose Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response 20.1 was deployed to Spain and Italy in September 2019 and trapped in limbo after their return date was postponed due to COVID-19 fears and a Ministry of Defense travel ban.
The Africa crisis response task force continues to train to conduct “local field exercises, direct range of firearms, and non-lethal weapons training,” Rankine-Galloway said.
The crisis response unit “is positioned to respond to various military operations in the U.S. African Command region, including strengthening of the U.S. Embassy, permanent residence security, non-combatant evacuation operations” among other missions, Rankine-Galloway explained.