WASHINGTON — The United States is sending 175 more Marines to Romania to extend the U.S. military’s ability to respond to crises around the region, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
Nearly 300 Marines are already present on a rotational basis at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base as part of the Black Sea rotational force. The newly arriving troops, set to depart in coming days from Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force headquartered in Moron, Spain.
The Marine unit — which will increase in size from 500 to 675 troops — is tasked by U.S. Africa Command, but could be used elsewhere in the region if needed, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters Wednesday.
The move is unrelated to the recent confrontation between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, he said.
“We’ve been planning on sending these 175 to Romania for the last several months,” Warren said. “The reason is positioning forces in different locations allows greater flexibility. It’s strictly an operational decision.”
The United States has sought authorization to add up to 600 additional troops the approximately 1,000 now stationed at what the U.S. military calls the MK Air Base in Romania.
By Chris Carroll, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stars and Stripes, Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_