On Wednesday, January 10, 2018 the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Southern Command (SPMATF-SC) as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. The SPMAGTF-SC was deployed from June 2017 to November 2017, and conducted Partner Nation capacity building and engineer projects, as well as crisis response. Commander Officer Colonel Michael V. Samarov, USMC briefed guests and staff of the Potomac Institute, and reminded us of the dedication of the Marine Corps and Navy.

The SPMAGTF-SC is comprised of 300 Marines and Sailors, and is a unique element whose construct is primarily reserve Marines. During deployment, the SPMAGTF-SC conducted operations and capacity building throughout Central America, and operated in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Capacity building helps Partner Nations provide security to their populations, and is integral to the overall SPMAGTF mission. Engineering detachments also worked with partner nations, aiding construction projects in the region.

The SPMAGTF-SC also provides humanitarian assistance, and served as the core of the Joint Task Force - Leeward Islands (JTF-LI), which was tasked with responding to and assisting partner nations following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Marines and Sailors of the SPMAGTF-SC supported humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the Caribbean Sea, and pulled together capabilities in Guatemala and Honduras to have a rapid response capability. An Aviation element was also deployed to San Juan to evacuate people during Hurricane Irma, and Americans on Dominica were evacuated during Hurricane Maria. The humanitarian assistance provided demonstrated the tremendous capability of our reserve components, and that the time spent preparing for crisis response is never wasted.

U.S. Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command board a CH-53 Super Stallion in Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 9, 2015(DoD Photo)