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 Air-Ground Task Force

Specifically designed for swift deployment of Marine forces by air, land or sea, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) provides our nation with a broad spectrum of response options when our nation's interests are threatened. Coordinating a balanced team of ground, air and logistics assets under a central command, these self-sustained, combined arms forces conduct the full range of operations. MAGTFs can be tailored in size and capability to meet the needs of each mission. 



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. 


The Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) ensures that Marines can provide not only a rapid response—but a sustainable one. The ships of the MPF are strategically positioned around the globe as long-term, mobile storage units for equipment, weapons and vehicles. When threats emerge, the ships move to the crisis region and offload their equipment, which is married up with Marines arriving at nearby airfields.  The MPF can sustain three Marine Expeditionary Brigades for 30 days, and every piece of gear can be transported from ship to shore expeditiously.


In combat and non-combat situations alike, the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is our nation's self-contained, forward-deployed response force.  Embarked aboard amphibious assault ships, the MEU maintains a constant state of readiness, able to plan and launch a mission within six hours. Each MEU can be customized but generally includes:
Tanks, LAVs, AAVs, Howitzers, Mortars, TOW and Javelin missiles, AH-1Z Cobra Attack Helicopters, UH-1Y Huey Utility Helicopters, CH-53E Super Stallion Heavy-lift Helicopters, MV-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft, AV-8B Harrier Attack Jets, Water Purification Units, forklifts, bulldozers, dump trucks, HMMWVs and 7-ton Trucks.

Delve into the actual training exercises aboard an MEU.

Organizational Structure

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.


From the island-hopping campaigns of World War II to more recent disaster relief operations in Haiti, the Marine Corps continues to distinguish itself with its amphibious capabilities. These operations include:

Amphibious Assault – Forcible entry and sustainment of Marine forces onto hostile shores.

Amphibious Raid – Rapid ship-to-shore transit, followed by violent actions on the objective and a planned withdrawal.

Amphibious Demonstration – A show of force designed to deceive the enemy about your actual intentions.

Amphibious Withdrawal – Extracting friendly forces, equipment and civilians from a hostile area by sea.

Amphibious Support to other Operations – Includes disaster relief operations.


The smallest and most efficient tactical element in the Marine Corps, this four-man team provides sufficient firepower and exceptional flexibility on the battlefield. Marines depend on the Marines they fight alongside, and nowhere is this commitment more evident—or critical—than in a Marine fireteam.

Team Leader
  • A Lance Corporal or Corporal
  • Equipped with the M4 and the M203 grenade launcher
  • Provides tactical leadership
Automatic Rifleman
Assistant Automatic Rifleman


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.