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Marine Corps' Southern Command to end rotational deployment

U.S. Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command board a CH-53 Super Stallion in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 2015. Photo by Cpl. Katelyn Hunter/U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command board a CH-53 Super Stallion in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 2015. Photo by Cpl. Katelyn Hunter/U.S. Marine Corps

June 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps will end its involvement in training troops of Caribbean and South and Central American countries, in an apparent budgetary move.

Ending the rotational deployment of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command, as described in the U.S. Navy's overview of the Fiscal 2022 defense budget, will save about $3 million annually, according to Marine Corps Times and Military.com.

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"U.S Marine Corps Forces, South supports the deployment of approximately 300 Marines and sailors to Latin America and the Caribbean [annually]," the Pentagon's Defense Visual Information Distribution Service said in an explanatory statement.

"The purpose of SPMAGTF-Southern Command is to conduct security cooperation training and engineering projects with partner nations, while being on standby to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises," according to the statement.

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The task force has been active since 2014 in a theater of operations with typically little U.S. military presence, though the U.S. Coast Guard is actively involved in the area, notably with drug interdictions.

Task force personnel, currently headquartered at Soto Cano air base, Honduras, will be reassigned to Marine Forces Command, based in Norfolk, Va., according to officials.

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The Marine Corps, however, will continue other special purpose deployments, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. J.A. Hernandez told Marine Corps Times.

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"U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South will continue to support exercises and training events with our partners in accordance with our mutual objectives and security cooperation plans," Hernandez said.

The Marine Corps is engaged in realigning its resources with an eye toward possible conflict with China. It ended its tank units and began reduction of infantry battalions in 2011, and faces a reduced budget in 2022.

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