The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is a term used by the United States Marine Corps to describe the principal organization for all missions across the range of military operations. MAGTFs are a balanced air-ground, combined arms task organization of Marine Corps forces under a single commander that is structured to accomplish a specific mission. The MAGTF was formalized by the publishing of Marine Corps Order 3120.3 in December of 1963. It stated:
A Marine air-ground task force with separate air-ground headquarters is normally formed for combat operations and training exercises in which substantial combat forces of both Marine aviation and Marine ground units are included in the task organization of participating Marine forces.
Since World War II in many crisis' the United States Marine Corps has deployed projection forces, with the ability to move ashore with sufficient sustainability for prolonged operations. MAGTFs have long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations which require instant response to crisis. Selective, timely and credible commitment of air-ground units have, on many occasions, helped bring stability to a region and sent signals worldwide that the United States is willing to defend its interests, and is able to do so with a significantly powerful force on extremely short notice.
The four core elements the Marine Air-Ground Task Force are :
The Command Element (CE), a headquarters unit that directs the other elements.
The Ground Combat Element (GCE), usually comprising infantry, supported by armor (tanks), and artillery, but may also include special units such as scouts or Force Reconnaissance, snipers and forward air controllers.
The Aviation Combat Element (ACE), which contributes the air power to the MAGTF. The ACE includes all aircraft (both fixed wing and helicopters), their pilots and maintenance personnel, and those units necessary for aviation command and control.
The Logistics Combat Element (LCE), contains all of the support units for the MAGTF: communications, combat engineers, motor transport, medical, supply units, and certain specialized groups such as air delivery and landing support teams.
The four core elements describe types of forces needed and not actual military units or commands. The basic structure of the MAGTF never varies, though the number, size, and type of Marine Corps units comprising each of its four elements will always be mission dependent. The flexibility of the organizational structure allows for one or more subordinate MAGTFs to be assigned.