The US Marine Corps continues to play a pivotal role in the nation’s defense. In addition to the Marine Corps’ historical connection to the Pacific, and recent support to post-9/11 contingency operations throughout Central Asia, the Marine Corps has a long standing storied relationship with Europe and Africa. The famous stand at Belleau Wood outside Paris in 1918, the Cold War-era Northern Flank mission in Norway, and the even deeper historical connection to Northern Africa, uniquely connect Marines to both continents. The current challenging security environment, with a revanchist Russia and always-dynamic Africa, requires a flexible amphibious option. The US Marine Corps, working with sister US services and NATO partners, is in a unique position to provide this leadership and depth.
As the security environment in Europe and Africa has changed, the Marine Corps’ Europe and Africa service component headquarters, US Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa (MARFOREUR/AF), has undergone a variety of compelling changes and growth, particularly in recent years. Now a resident 2-star command, MARFOREUR/AF facilitates multiple European and African engagements in support of global campaigns. In close concert with sister components, MARFOREUR/AF complements their contributions, and enhances the joint, and indeed combined force through NATO. In the coming years, growing US Marine Corps capability, particularly from newer platforms like the F-35 and the speed/distance offered by the MV-22 Osprey, will no doubt increase MARFOREUR/AF’s contribution to both AORs. Additionally, training and readiness enhancements in Europe and Africa contribute to the global force, and mitigate challenges in other theaters. Current and future operations and plans are designed to firmly position Marine Corps relevance in Europe, Africa and beyond commensurate with its historic relationships.