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.

Naval Flight Officer

Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) operate the advanced weapons and electronic systems on board F/A-18 Hornets and EA-6B Prowlers. The division of labor between the pilot and the NFO allows the pilot to focus on flying the aircraft and the NFO to focus on the weapons systems. The NFO often has the best situational awareness of the battlefield, and at times leads entire aviation missions.

As with pilots, NFOs can also be assigned to leadership positions within the squadron such as Operations Officer or Maintenance Officer.

Specialized Training
  • Aviation Preflight Indoctrination
    Pensacola, FL
    6 weeks
  • Primary Flight Training
    FL, TX or OK
    22 weeks
  • Advanced Flight Training
    Pensacola, FL
    14-49 weeks
Within the MAGTF

Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) belong to the Aviation Combat Element and specialize in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots, but they perform many of the duties expected of a co-pilot.

Beyond Your First Tour

After your first tour, you may be assigned to a billet available to all officers, such as recruiting duty, instructor duty at The Basic School or series commander at one of the Marine Corps Recruit Depots. Later in your career, you may be assigned to Expeditionary Warfare School or seek an advanced degree. This pattern of assignment is designed to expand your knowledge of the Marine Corps and overall strategic operations before you take on increased responsibility within your MOS.

As an NFO, you may also do a tour with an infantry or tank battalion as a Forward Air Controller, coordinating with aircraft to accurately time and target munitions.



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.