Roles in the Corps

There are hundreds of ways to serve, and every Marine trains in an area of expertise that contributes to the success of our missions.
Whatever their expertise or field of training, Marines are ready to transition from mission to mission at a moment's notice.


Air traffic controllers monitor and coordinate air traffic and vehicles within the designated areas of an established airport control zone, expeditionary airfield or remote area landing site. Air Support Marines coordinate with aircraft and ground forces in order to provide direct and indirect close fire support.

Initial Training

After recruit training, these Marines will either complete the Air Traffic Control Basic Course at Pensacola, FL; the Air Control Electronics Operator Course at Quantico, VA; or the Air Support Operations Operator Course at Twentynine Palms, CA.

Within the MEU

Air Support and Air Traffic Controllers observe and relay weather conditions, and coordinate communications between aircraft and ground forces to ensure safe and efficient aircraft movement. They may support the Aviation Combat Element on base or deploy as part of a mobile team.

Specialties in Air Traffic Control/Air Support include:
  • Air Traffic Controller: Air traffic controllers routinely perform various duties and tasks related to the control of air traffic and vehicles within the designated areas aboard an established airport control zone, expeditionary airfield or remote area landing site.
  • Air Control Electronics Operator: Installs and operates tactical air command and control systems.
  • Air Support Operations Operator: Performs as liaison between air and ground forces.


MAGTF refers to the unique four-part structure that organizes Marine Corps operating forces. This framework brings together Aviation, Ground and Logistics Combat elements under a central Command element. The result is a flexible, combined-arms unit with the capabilities to conduct the Marine Corps' full range of operations, from humanitarian aid and disaster relief to projection of power from the sea. 

Many Roles. One Mission.

The Marine Corps is only as capable as each and every Marine. That's why all Marines have a specific role for which they are optimally trained, in support of the overall mission.



A MEU, or Marine Expeditionary Unit, is the smallest type of MAGTF, often providing the most substantial response in the shortest amount of time. 2,200 Marines that are trained in hundreds of areas of expertise serve on a MEU. Here is the breakdown of a MEU's makeup:

Command Element – Approximately 200 Marines. Responsible for command and control of the entire MEU.

Ground Combat Element – Approximately 1,200 Marines. A Battalion Landing Team that includes three rifle companies, a weapons company, a battery of artillery and platoons of the following: combat engineers, light armored reconnaissance, tanks, Force Reconnaissance and amphibious assault vehicles.

Aviation Combat Element – Approximately 500 Marines. A MEU's ACE is built around a medium tilt-rotor squadron, reinforced by CH-53E heavy lift helicopters, light attack helicopters and Harrier attack jets. The result is a squadron of 25 to 30 aircraft.

Logistics Combat Element – Approximately 300 Marines. Provides supply, transportation, maintenance and additional support for the MEU.


MEUs deploy aboard an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG): Three naval ships specifically designed to provide the Marines with a mobile base of operations. See here what serving aboard a MEU entails.