News | Sept. 18, 2019

California Marines heading to Central and South America on Amphibious Ship

By U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.- Approximately 200 U.S. Marines and Sailors will embark on a U.S. Navy amphibious ship heading to Central and South America for the month of October.

Marines and Sailors from across I Marine Expeditionary Force will participate in various humanitarian assistance and disaster relief-focused events in Central and South America.

The command element for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, will serve as the headquarters, forming the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - WASP team.

"Embarking Marines and Sailors from the 13th MEU and I MEF aboard an amphibious ship is both an excellent training opportunity for the Navy and Marine Corps team and continues our efforts in Naval Integration," said Col. Andrew Priddy, SPMAGTF-WASP commander. "We look forward to serving alongside our Navy counterparts and training with our Central American and South American partners during several humanitarian-themed events."

In December 2018, a similar task force was formed to conduct a bilateral engagement in Peru. This iteration looks to build upon the previous training and seeks additional opportunities to support other partner nations in the region.

"SPMAGTF - WASP is the latest in a long line of engagements with our Central American and South American partners," said the SPMAGTF - WASP operations officer, Maj. Sean Williams. "The SPMAGTF - WASP mission will strengthen the interoperability between the Navy-Marine Corps team and partner nations."

Units participating from I Marine Expeditionary force include the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element; a platoon from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division; a detachment of MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing; and various logistics enablers from across 1st Marine Logistics Group.

Training opportunities such as SPMAGTF - WASP allows the U.S. Marine Corps to work together with partner nation militaries and creates a unified effort to respond to contingencies such as humanitarian crises and natural disasters.

Media interested in covering SPMAGTF - WASP engagements should contact Capt. Josh Hays, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Communication Strategy and Operations (formerly Public Affairs), at joshua.hays@usmc.mil or the MARFORSOUTH public affairs chief, Gunnery Sgt. Michael Cifuentes, at michael.s.cifuentes.mil@mail.mil.

Imagery available at: https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/SPMAGTFWASP