MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIRFIELD, Romania — The Marines and sailors of Black Sea Rotational Force 2010 officially kicked off their three-month engagement in the Black Sea region in a ceremony at Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield, May 17.
The ceremony featured platoons of Marines and Romanian forces, and was attended by local politicians, U.S. and Romanian military representatives from across the services. Additionally, about 20 representatives from the Romanian press were on hand to witness U.S. Marines and Romanian troops officially begin the deployment, the first of its kind for United States Marines to the Black Sea region.
About 100 U.S. Marines and sailors departed their home bases for the Black Sea region in the first weeks of May as a Security Cooperation Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The ceremony officially marks the beginning of the Marines mission here, which is expected to continue through July.
“Our mission over the next three months will be to conduct multilateral security cooperation activities with partner nations in the Black Sea, Balkan, and Caucasus regions in order to enhance our collective professional military capacity, promote regional stability, and build enduring relationships with our partner nations,” said Marine Lt. Col Tom Gordon, the commander of the Black Sea Rotational Force Security Cooperation MAGTF, in his opening remarks at the ceremony. “As a MAGTF we will simultaneously engage with the Romanian Land, Naval, Air, and Special Forces though out our deployment.”
Following the ceremony, the Marines of 1st Tank Battalion’s Scout Platoon, which forms the ground combat element of the Security Cooperation MAGTF, and more than 100 Romanian soldiers and Marines, departed the airfield for nearby Babadag Training Area.
At Babadag, the Marines and Romanian forces will work hand in hand in peacekeeping operations training.
“This is a great opportunity for us to know the Marines,” said Romanian Land Forces 1st Lt. Lawrence Diaconu, a platoon leader with the 341st Infantry Battalion. “I expect my men to show they are prepared to fight with America in Afghanistan.”
Training during the peacekeeping operations exercise is scheduled to include combat marksmanship, nonlethal weapons, patrolling, and a healthy dose of Marine Corps Martial Arts.
“I practiced karate for three years and received my yellow belt,” said Diaconu. “So I’m most excited to learn about martial arts.”
Black Sea Rotational Force is a multi-year commitment by Marine Corps Forces Europe to deploy United States-based Marines and sailors on a rotating basis to installations in Europe. The Security Cooperation MAGTF currently deployed is scheduled to complete 40 percent of Marine Corps Forces Europe’s theater security cooperation requirements over the three-month period.
Additionally, through peacekeeping operations training, military to military familiarization events, and community relations projects, the U.S. Marines and sailors deployed to the Black Sea are charged with building enduring partnerships with partner nations in the region.
“It is my firm belief that the Black Sea Rotational Force is an engagement that has developed into a partnership to which we hope to grow into a friendship,” said Gordon.