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US Marines get permanent base near Seville

usmilitaryThe Spanish Senate has agreed to establish a permanent base for some 2,200 Marines who can react swiftly to crises in Africa.

The base at Morón de la Frontera, about 60 kms south-east of Seville, already serves approximately 800 US rapid reaction troops who were deployed on a temporary basis following an attack in 2012 on a US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Now Spain’s upper house of parliament voted in an amendment to a Spain-US defence treaty in order to increase troop numbers and make the base a permanent one.

The Spanish government announced plans back in May for 2,200 Marines and 500 civilian staff at the base along with 26 aircraft. Provision was also made for an additional 800 military and 14 aircraft on temporary deployment.

The Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Unit will be tasked with protecting US embassies in Africa.

It will also be charged with evacuating civilians in peril, intervening in conflicts or providing humanitarian relief.

In thanking Spain, the American ambassador said the base "protects citizens and facilities of the United States, Spain, and other NATO allies in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East".

The Morón Air Base dates back to 1940. In 1953 it became one of the three most important stations for the US Air Force during the Cold War although it had slipped back to “modified caretaker status” by 1971.

Since then US forces have been allowed to use the base periodically for various operations.

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