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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 1963 "The Marine Corps in the National Defense, MCDP 1-0". 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 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 critical response. 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 powerful force on short notice.
CompositionEditThe four core elements of 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 Recon Battalions, 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.
Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)Edit
A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) comprises a MEF Headquarters Group, Marine Division, Marine Air Wing and Marine Logistics Group. For example, the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) is composed of a headquarters element, the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the 1st Marine Logistics Group, all based on the West Coast. Two notable deployments of an entire MEF were when I Marine Expeditionary Force deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I MEF ultimately consisted of the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions as well as considerable Marine air and support units. I MEF also deployed to Somalia in December 1992 for the humanitarian relief effort there as well as deploying to Kuwait beginning in 2002 and taking part in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
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)Edit
A Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) is larger than a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) but smaller than a MEF. The MEB, which varies in size, is capable of conducting missions across the full range of military operations. It is constructed around a reinforced infantry regiment, a composite Marine aircraft group, and a brigade service support group. The MEB, commanded by a general officer (either a Major General or 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 MEF, or alone.
Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)Edit
There are usually three MEUs assigned to each of the U.S. Navy Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, with another MEU based on Okinawa. While one MEU is on deployment, one MEU is training to deploy and one is standing down, resting its Marines, and refitting. Each MEU is rated as capable of performing special operations.
- 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
- 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit