Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Marine tanks, artillery arrive in Bulgaria for training rotation - News - Stripes

Marine tanks, artillery arrive in Bulgaria for training rotation - News - Stripes: Marine tanks, artillery and light-armored vehicles arrived Tuesday in Bulgaria as part of a new Corps training rotation in the Black Sea region.

The Combined Arms Company of roughly 160 Marines will be stationed at the Novo Selo Training Area in eastern Bulgaria for six months. Created to train with forces in the region, the company will fall under a Marine battalion based at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, which oversees the Corps’ Black Sea Rotational Force.

Four Abrams tanks, six light-armored vehicles and three howitzers arrived with the Marines in Bremerhaven, Germany, from the U.S. East Coast last week, according to Marine Forces Europe-Africa. The company moved the equipment east by rail over the past week.

Marine leaders say the new company adds to U.S. and NATO reassurance efforts in eastern Europe, where countries remain nervous over recent Russian assertiveness. They say the company also opens up more options for Marine crisis response in the region. The Marine crisis-response force for Europe and Africa is based out of Moron Air Base, Spain.

Three rotations are planned over the next year and a half, staffed by Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Funding for the rotations comes through the European Reassurance Initiative, a roughly $1 billion account aimed at expanding the U.S. presence and exercises in Europe.