The capabilities we offer our nation in response to global conflicts are as distinct as they are decisive.
It is our flexible organizational structure that enables Marines to provide rapid, powerful and sustainable
response on a global scale. Ship-to-shore, air-to-ground, door-to-door—there isn't a force more capable
of facing down the threats of our time.
Marine Aviation provides Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commanders with six essential functions: Offensive Air Support, Anti-Aircraft Warfare, Assault Support, Control of Missiles and Aircraft, Aerial Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare. One example of a Marine aircraft that can provide many of these functions is the four-bladed Marine UH-1Y Huey/Venom.
CLOSE AIR SUPPORT (CAS)
The term Close Air Support (CAS), has become synonymous with Marine Aviation because Marines have always considered it to be the most significant contribution provided from the air. No other aviation force in the world puts so much importance on close air support and, because of this, no ground force is as capable as the Marine Corps.
A VITAL ROLE WITHIN THE MAGTF
It was the introduction of airpower that allowed the Marine Corps to become the quick reaction force our nation required—and demanded. What sets Marine Aviation apart is how it fits within the framework of a combined arms force. This structure is the vital piece of the dilemma the Marine Corps presents to its enemy: To counteract one element is to become vulnerable to another. To take cover from our infantry is to present a target for our close air support. To run from our bombs is to become exposed to our riflemen.
Only Marine Officers fly Marine aircraft, but Enlisted Marines who serve aboard these aircraft also wear wings that distinguish their specialized role within the Corps. To wear these wings requires first earning the uniform they're pinned on and meeting the standards that form that character of every Marine.
"THE MARINES ON OUR LEFT WERE A SIGHT TO BEHOLD. NOT ONLY WAS THEIR EQUIPMENT SUPERIOR OR EQUAL TO OURS, BUT THEY HAD SQUADRONS OF AIR IN DIRECT SUPPORT. THEY USED IT LIKE ARTILLERY...WE JUST HAVE TO HAVE AIR SUPPORT LIKE THAT OR WE MIGHT AS WELL DISBAND AND JOIN THE MARINES."
Army Regimental Commander writing to Washington during the Korean War
AVIATION COMBAT ELEMENT
Being "First to Fight" is just as important in the air as it is on land and at sea. As America's expeditionary force in readiness, the Marine Corps requires a flexible, responsive aviation combat element. Enlisted Marines do not fly our aircraft, but their roles within Marine Aviation are critical to the combined arms capability of the entire Marine Corps.
MISSION SUCCESS FROM THE GROUND UP
The sounds of jets and helicopters overhead would never be heard without the clamor of wrenches and radios below. The Marine Corps maintains an entire fleet of jets, helicopters and cargo transport aircraft that can be launched from military installations, aircraft carriers and amphibious ships. In order to keep this fleet in a constant state of readiness, the Marine Corps relies upon Marines on the ground to maintain them.
FLEXIBLE. MANEUVERABLE. READY.
Marine Aviation's ability to deploy rapidly and take off and land from makeshift airfields is another of its distinctions. The ability to provide support from the air is predicated on the ability to bring airpower as close as possible to the fight. There isn't a force more capable of responding quickly in any environment around the world than the MAGTF, and it is the adaptable, rapidly deployable nature of Marine Aviation that makes this possible.