At the heart of every Marine mission is the seamless integration of our combat arms, logistics and aviation assets under a central command. Only the Marine Corps possesses the combined arms capability known as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF. As adept against modern armies as it is against insurgents not distinguished by uniforms, the MAGTF can undertake ship-to-shore and air-to-ground missions in every clime and place. A force that is flexible, maneuverable and adaptable, the MAGTF maintains the high state of operational readiness our nation expects and demands.

Organizational Structure

Our operating forces could not maintain a constant state of readiness without the dedicated support of the entire Marine Corps. There are three categories of our organizational structure that enable rapid, global response by air, land and sea:

Headquarters, Marine Corps (HQMC)

Led by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Prepares the Marine Corps for employment through recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, servicing, mobilizing, administering and maintaining the Marine Corps.

Investigates and reports on the efficiency of the Marine Corps and its preparation to support military operations.

Coordinates the actions of organizations of the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Operating Forces

Marine Corps Forces

All Marine ground, aviation and combat logistics units.

Elements of Marine Corps Forces may be task-organized into MAGTFs, assigned to combatant commanders or retained under the control of the Commandant.

Marine Corps Reserve

Selected Marine Corps Reserve (SMCR): The SMCR supports the Active Component by fielding deployable units at the regiment/group level and below during time of war or national emergency.  The Selected Marine Corps Reserve consists of reservists who are organized into units that drill one weekend a month and two weeks every year.  The SMCR also may include Marines assigned to individual mobilization augmentation billets.  These Marines play a critical role, as their skills can fill critical staff positions.

Individual Ready Reserve (IRR): the Individual Ready Reserve consists of Marines who have completed their active-duty or SMCR contract but can still be recalled to duty.

Also includes the Standby Reserve and the Retired Reserve.

Security Forces

Security and anti-terrorism units that protect key installations, vessels, units, and assets of the United States government.  These units are trained, equipped and administered by the Marine Corps but may often be under the operational control of a Naval officer.

Special Activity Forces

Includes Marines who guard our embassies and foreign service posts.

Supporting Establishment

Includes all bases, air stations and installations.

Assists in the training, sustainment, equipping and embarkation of deploying Marine Forces.


Our warrior reputation is not built on combat engagement alone. As a force in readiness with distinct ship-to-shore capabilities, Marines are prepared to accomplish a range of missions, including:

Combat Operations
  • Amphibious Assault
  • Amphibious Raid
  • Reconnaissance and Surveillance
  • Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel
  • Recovery of off-shore facilities
  • Hostage recovery
  • Anti-piracy operations
  • Non-combatant evacuation operations
Counter-insurgency operations
Humanitarian Assistance
Disaster Relief
Foreign Military Training
Stability Operations


There is no better integration of air, ground and logistics assets into one unit than the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.  Whether the mission calls for the rapid insertion of ground units or for providing close air support—the Marines on the ground can count on the Marines in the air.  There are more than 80 active squadrons in the Marine Corps made up of Rotary-Wing, Fixed-Wing, Tilt-rotor and Unmanned aircraft. It is the task of Marine Aviation to provide six functions: assault support, anti-aircraft warfare, offensive air support, electronic warfare, control of aircraft and missiles and aerial reconnaissance. 


As global natural resources become scarcer and competition for these resources increases, migration to coastal areas will rise.  Add to this scenario the fact that many of these regions are undeveloped, and the conditions for conflict ripen. Fortunately for our nation and world, these emerging threats align with the Marine Corps' foremost area of expertise. Marines have the amphibious capabilities to reach areas traditional forces cannot and are able to operate without ports, airstrips or significant infrastructure. This ability to project power from the sea, whether to provide aid, defeat an oppressor or re-establish order, is one of our most significant areas of difference from the other services. It isn't enough to get Marines ashore, however. Marines must have the firepower to carry the day upon arrival. Deployed aboard amphibious assault ships that include a flight deck, hangar deck and well deck, Marines hit the beach with the full support of every logistics and aviation asset in a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.