Before a combat, humanitarian or resupply operation can be carried out, it must first be conceived. Led by a senior commander and staff, the Command Element of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is its headquarters, providing the necessary planning, execution and assessment of all operations. In support of any mission or in response to any threat, Enlisted Marines and officers work closely together within the Command Element to direct our forces from air, land or sea. This includes specialized detachments for naval gunfire, reconnaissance, surveillance, specialized communications, radio reconnaissance (SIGINT), electronic warfare, intelligence and counterintelligence, and public affairs missions.
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.
MAKEUP OF A MEU
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.
READY AT SEA
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.