Marines Positioned To Respond To South Sudan If Needed

3:56 PM, Dec 23, 2013   |    comments
A US army aircraft remains on the runway awaiting the arrival of American nationals who are being evacuated due to recent unrest and violence in South Sudan, on December 21, 2013, in Juba. (Photo credit: Samir Bol/AFP/Getty Images)
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By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - About 150 Marines were dispatched to the Horn of Africa from Spain on Monday to be positioned to provide security or evacuate Americans from violence-racked South Sudan, the U.S. military said.

"It's a precautionary movement," said Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command.

The move follows an incident Saturday in which three aircraft were hit by ground fire as they attempted to rescue Americans. The aircraft turned back, but another effort Sunday was successful in evacuating Americans from Bor in South Sudan.

The Marines arrived in Djibouti from their base in Moron, Spain. They are from a force of more than 500 Marines established this year to more quickly respond to crises in Africa. The special purpose "air-ground task force" is trained to provide security for U.S. property and evacuate Americans when needed. They are capable of responding to a crisis within six hours of notification.

Security in South Sudan has been deteriorating for the past week and hundreds of Americans and other foreigners have been evacuated in recent days, the State Department has said. The country plunged into chaos after an attempted coup triggered fighting between rival ethnic groups.


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