Our Mission is straight forward: While we provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander (GCC), fundamentally, we must be ready, relevant, and capable of aggregating forces and deploying with limited notice as a MAGTF in support of crises, expeditionary operations on land or from the sea, or other emergent rotational requirements.
What is a MAGTF?
The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is the Marine Corps principal organizational construct for conducting missions across the range of military operations. MAGTFs provide combatant commanders with scalable, versatile expeditionary forces able to assure allies, deter potential adversaries, provide persistent U.S. presence with little or no footprint ashore, and respond to a broad range of contingency, crisis, and conflict situations. They are task organized, combined-arms force packages containing command, ground, aviation, and logistics elements. A single commander leads and coordinates this combined-arms team through all phases of pre-deployment training, deployment, and employment. MAGTF teams live and train together further increasing their cohesion and fighting power. The MAGTF was formalized by the publishing of Marine Corps Order 3120.3 in December of 1963.
Since World War II, in many crises, 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.
Tailored to meet combatant commanders’ requirements, MAGTFs operate as an integrated force in the air, land, maritime and cyberspace domains. The naval character of MAGTFs enhances their global mobility, lethality, and staying power. Embarked aboard amphibious ships or deployed using other means, multi-mission capable MAGTFs provide U.S. civilian and military leaders with increased strategic and operational flexibility.
Forward deployed MEUs embarked aboard Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) operate continuously in the areas of responsibility of various Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCC). These units provide the President and the GCC with credible deterrence and decision time across the range of military operations. MEUs serve as a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based MAGTF, capable of conducting amphibious operations to respond to crisis, conduct limited contingency operations, introduce follow-on forces, and support designated special operations forces. MEUs are characterized by their sea-based forward presence, expeditionary nature, ability to plan for and respond to crises, combined arms integration, and their interoperability with joint, combined and special operations forces.
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.
MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (MEF)
A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) comprises a MEF Headquarters Group, Marine Division, Marine Air Wing and Marine Logistics Group. For example, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) is composed of II MEF Information Group (MIG), 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and 2nd Marine Logistics Group, all based on the East Coast.
The three Marine Expeditionary Forces are:
I Marine Expeditionary Force located at Camp Pendleton, California
II Marine Expeditionary Force located at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
III Marine Expeditionary Force located at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan
MARINE EXPEDITIONARY BRIGADE (MEB)
A Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) is larger than a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) but smaller than a MEF. The MEB is capable of conducting missions across the full range of military operations and varies in size. It is constructed around a reinforced infantry regiment, a composite Marine aircraft group, and a brigade service support group. The Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), commanded by a general officer (usually a Major General or sometimes a Brigadier General), is task-organized to meet the requirements of a specific situation. It can function as part of a joint task force, as the lead echelon of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), or alone.
1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade located in California
2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade located in North Carolina
3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade located in Japan
MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT (MEU)
The smallest type of MAGTF is the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), commanded by a United States Marine Corps, Colonel.
There are seven standing MEUs that routinely deploy in accordance with the Global Force Management Implementation Guidance (GFMIG). The CONUS-based MEUs are 11th, 13th and 15th from the West Coast and the 22d, 24th, and 26th MEUs from the East Coast. The 31st MEU is forward assigned and located in Okinawa, Japan.
The four core elements the Marine Air-Ground Task Force are:
The Command Element (CE) is comprised of the commanding officer and supporting staff – about 200 Marines and Sailors. It provides the overall command and control essential for effective planning and execution of operations and synchronizes the actions of each element within the MEU. Skill sets falling under the command element include administration, intelligence, operations, logistics and embarkation, communications, legal and public affairs.
The Ground Combat Element (GCE) or Battalion Landing Team (BLT) is task organized to conduct ground operations to support the MAGTF mission. This element includes infantry, artillery, reconnaissance, armor, light armor, assault amphibian, engineer, and other forces as needed. The GCE for the upcoming 26th MEU deployment will be BLT 1/6 comprised of approximately 1,200 Marines and Sailors.
The Aviation Combat Element (ACE), which contributes the air power to the MAGTF. The ACE is a composite squadron that provides the MEU medium to heavy lift capability, assault support and close air support (CAS). Although the aviation element carries the name of the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron assigned to the MEU, its assets include MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter gunships, UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and AV-8B Harrier jump jets. With a force strength of approximately 500, the ACE includes air traffic control, aircraft maintenance support and aviation logistics/supply capabilities. The ACE for the upcoming 26th MEU deployment will be Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162.
The Logistics Combat Element (LCE) is task-organized to provide the full range of combat logistics functions and capabilities necessary to maintain the continued readiness and sustainability of the MAGTF as a whole. The LCE for the upcoming 26th MEU deployment will Combat Logistics Battalion 22.