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Marine Air-Ground Task Force

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Title: Marine Air-Ground Task Force  
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Subject: Aviation combat element, United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance, United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions, List of United States Marine Corps MOS, United States Marine Corps
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Marine Air-Ground Task Force

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF, pronounced mag-TAFF) is a term used by the

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.[1]

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.[2]


The four core elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force are :

  • The Aviation Combat Element (ACE), which contributes the air power to the MAGTF. The ACE includes all aircraft (fixed wing, helicopters, tiltrotor, and UAV), their pilots, flight officers, enlisted crewmen, aviation supply and aircraft maintenance personnel, as well as air defense units, and those units necessary for aviation command, control, communications, and aviation ground support (e.g., airfield services, bulk fuels/aircraft refueling, crash rescue, engineer construction and utilities support, motor transport, Marine Corps equipment [i.e., non-aviation] supply and maintenance, and local security/law enforcement).

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), commanded by a lieutenant general, comprises a MEF Headquarters Group, Marine Division, Marine Air Wing and Marine Logistics Group. The MEF, which varies in size, is capable of conducting missions across the full range of military operations and to support and sustain itself for up to 60 days in an austere expeditionary environment. 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:

Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB)

A joint task force, as the lead echelon of the MEF, or alone.

Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)

The smallest type of MAGTF is the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) (SOC), commanded by a colonel. The MEU is capable of conducting limited, specialized, and selected special operations missions and to support and sustain itself for up to 15 days in an austere expeditionary environment. The MEU is based on a reinforced Marine infantry battalion, designated as a battalion landing team (BLT), supported by a composite medium helicopter or medium tiltrotor squadron (HMH or HMM), containing both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and aviation support detachments, and a combat logistics battalion (CLB), all commanded by a company-sized MEU headquarters group.

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, though USMC's definition of this is not consistent with that SOCOM. They are not considered special operations unit by the Department of Defense.

See also


  1. ^ Simmons, The US Marines History, p. 237.
  2. ^ "What is a Marine Expeditionary Unit". Home of the Thundering Third. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 


  • Simmons, Edwin H. (2003). The United States Marines: A History, Fourth Edition. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  

External links

  • "Prepared for the Larger Conflicts: Capable of specializing for the unique conflict". Other Marine Expeditionary Forces. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  • Additional info from
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