The Marine Corps has said goodbye to Romania as it doubles down on its footprint in Norway.
“U.S. European Command re-deployed the Marines from Romania and put in place a joint and multi-domain force that brings unique and appropriate capabilities to complement Romania’s military forces,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Hontz, a spokesman for U.S. European Command.
The last Black See Rotational Force left Romania in September as part of its regularly scheduled deployment, Hontz told Task & Purpose. Meanwhile, the number of Marines rotating through Norway increased from 330 to 700 this year.
“U.S. Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, deployed in September to Norway as Marine Rotational Force-Europe,” Hontz said in an email. “This was the first deployment of the expanded Marine Corps rotational presence of approximately 700 Marines in Norway.”
Marine Corps Times’ Shawn Snow first reported on Nov. 30 that the Black Sea Rotational Force had come to an end after eight years of rotations. The Defense Department regularly adjusts where U.S. troops are in Europe based on regional security challenges, Hontz told Task & Purpose.
Hontz stressed that the U.S. military still has a presence in Romania, including a battalion from an Army armored brigade combat team and a ballistic missile defense site. Both the U.S. and Romanian militaries continue to carry out military exercises on land, such as Saber Guardian, and in the Black Sea.
“The U.S. also has shown commitment to Romania with the planned or executed investments of $83 million for upgrades and enhancements to Camp Turzii and Mihail Kogalaniceanu through the European Deterrence Initiative.”
The European Deterrence Initiative is the Defense Department’s response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continued support to separatists in eastern Ukraine. Since then, the U.S. military has rotated units and aircraft through NATO members that border or are near Russia.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A photo shared by Hoda Muthana on her now-closed @ZumarulJannaTwitter account. (Twitter/ZumarulJannah)
The State Department announced Wednesday that notorious ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, a U.S.-born woman who left Alabama to join ISIS but began begging to return to the U.S. after recently deserting the terror group, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return home.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."