The U.S. Marines of the SPMAGTF-CR-AF (Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa) participated in the ORION 2016 exercise between June 17 and July 2 that included a 35-man contingent and focused on crisis response and non-combatant evacuation. This is the first time U.S. forces have been able to participate in the exercise.
ORION is an annual Portuguese Army training exercise, scheduled by the Army Chief of Staff and conducted by the Land Forces Command focused on the execution of crisis response operations, with a joint, combined framework support.
During the exercise, one of the Portuguese Army brigades is certified in preparation for contribution to international engagements, such as NATO, EU, or UN missions. This is also a great opportunity for the U.S. Marines of the SPMAGTF to train and rehearse aspects of their real-world crisis response mission, including participation in a joint shooting exercise and a non-combatant evacuation operation. As a result of this exercise all parties (Portugal, Spain, U.S.) increased interoperability through the familiarization of equipment and processes, and exchange of ideas and best practices, and demonstrated resolve and commitment to work together to address complex security problems.
The exercise also served as an cultural immersion opportunity for the U.S. Marines through a brief visit to the Templar Castle in Tomar.
In addition to the U.S. Marines, the Portuguese Red Cross, Portuguese Air Force, and Spanish Army also participated in this exercise.
Other photos of this exercise can be found here: