Marines Operating Forces

The Marines operating forces are combined under a term called the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, commonly abbreviated as MAGTF. MAGTF was formally created and approved in 1983, but the United States has relied on varied combat missions throughout its history. By coordinating air and ground forces, the US Marine Corps presents a more strategic and powerful adversary.

Types of MAGTFs

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MAGTFs are divided into three types: Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB); Expeditionary Force (MEF); and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Each of these types have unique characteristics making them suitable for certain operations.

Defining characteristics of these MAGTF types include

  • MEF – The largest type of MAGTF. An MEF includes a Headquarters Group, a Marine Division, a Marine Air Wing, and a Marine Logistics Group. There are three MEFs. They are headquartered at Camp Pendleton, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.
  • MEB – MEBs are smaller than MEFs. They consist of an infantry regiment, a brigade service support group, and an aircraft group. This allows them to perform a wide range of military operations.
  • MEU – MEUs are the smallest type of MAGTFs. Each US Navy fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific usually has three MEUs assigned to them. This makes it possible for one MEU to actively deploy while one stands down and another refits.

MAGTF Composition

Regardless of type, an MAGTF has four core elements that can work separately or together. The Marine Operating Force is lead by a Command Element that directs the other four elements in the MAGTF. The other three elements include

  • Aviation Combat Element – The ACE includes all types of air support. This includes helicopters as well as airplanes. Maintenance workers, pilots, and other aviation specialists are all considered parts of the ACE.
  • Ground Combat Element – The GCE mostly consists of infantry specialists. The infantry receives support from tanks and various forms of artillery. Scouts, Recon Battalions, forward air controllers, and snipers are also considered parts of the GCE.
  • Logistics Combat Element – THE LCE provides a wide range of support to the other elements. This includes but is not limited to communications support, air delivery, supply units, medical support, and combat engineer support.

The Logistics Combat Element is also referred to as the Combat Service Support Element, abbreviated as CSSE.

Using Marines Operating Forces

Grouping Marines Operating Services in this way provides an exceptional advantage for military personnel. The Marine Corps has a unique approach to military action and humanitarian projects that other divisions of the military cannot offer. Since the Marine Corps coordinates such a diverse group of military professionals, it can provide tactical support, military aid, and other services that protect the United States and the country’s interests.

MAGTF also works well in the Marine Corps because they function in coordination with Marine Amphibious Units (MAU). This makes it possible for the Marine Corps to orchestrate attacks and defense plans from the water, air, and land.

At times, these areas of expertise operate on their own to complete specific tasks. When operating together, they create a unique force with impressive skills and might.


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