WASHINGTON — Thousands of Marines have been put on a higher state of alert around the world in advance of the anticipated release of a Senate report on coercive interrogation techniques as a precaution, a U.S. defense official tells CNN.
The Marines are all part of contingency response forces positioned in key areas to respond to a crisis. The alert status means the units are put on a shorter readiness time to be available and capable of deploying to a crisis such as an embassy or U.S. base coming under threat. Those exact warning times remain classified, but the Marines can be able of deploying within just a few hours of being notified.
The Marines on alert include approximately:
2,000 Marines which make up a contingency response force for Africa. They are stationed routinely in Sigonella, Italy and Morón, Spain. 2,000 Marines stationed in the Middle East as a response force for that region. Some are already on duty in Iraq and Kuwait. 2,200 Marines as part of an at-sea Marine expeditionary force currently on several ships in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. Three teams of about 50 Marines each in Spain, Bahrain and Japan that are trained to reinforce US embassies under threat.
The orders for a higher alert status have come from the commanders of the Central Command and Africa Command following an order late last week from the Pentagon that all force protection standards be reviewed by combatant commanders around the globe.