The Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) Marines are responsible for operating and maintaining their vehicles and weapons systems. AAVs are tracked armored vehicles that can transport 24 Marines or 10,000 pounds of cargo in hostile land and water operations. AAVs can travel at highway speeds for up to 400 miles inland and at speeds of up to 10 knots through water.
Following recruit training, AAV Marines will complete the Assault Amphibian Marine Course at Camp Pendleton, CA.
Within the MEU
AAV platoons are used to execute ship-to-shore operations. These platoons support ground operations with up to 17 AAVs, including one Command AAV designed for radios and communications, and one Recovery AAV equipped with repair and maintenance tools.
AAV Marines include:
- AAV Rear Marines: Prepares the AAV to employ troops and weapons during ship-to-shore movements and shore operations, performs maintenance on vehicle and weapons station.
- AAV Driver: Operates and drives the AAV during movement, positions the AAV to fire on target, performs additional maintenance and operational duties.
- AAV Commander: Supervises all maintenance and operation of the AAV, assumes leadership and responsibility for the vehicle and crew as a whole.
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.