[Under Construction]

Marine Corps Concept Paper


of the


[Under Construction]



While command and control itself will not make a single attack against an enemy force, destroy a single enemy target, or effect a single emergency resupply, no activity in war is more important. Without command and control, campaigns, major operations, battles, and organized engagements are impossible; military units degenerate into mobs, and the subordination of force to policy is replaced by random brutality. With command and control, the thousands of activities that a military force must do are given purpose and direction. Done well, command and control can bring success. Done poorly, it invites disaster. Though not a substitute for adequate resources, effective command and control is a force multiplier. It allows a commander to make the most of what he has--time, materiel, and most importantly, people. With effective command and control, we can rapidly adapt to changing circumstances and exploit fleeting opportunities. Without effective command and control, commanders may fail to achieve decisive results.

The Marine Corps view of command and control is based on our warfighting philosophy of maneuver warfare. The process of command and control is the means by which a commander recognizes what needs to be accomplished, makes his or her will known and sees to it that appropriate actions are taken. Because Marines recognize that they must fight in an environment characterized by friction, uncertainty, fluidity, and rapid change, Marine Corps command and control must be fast, effective, and adaptable. Marines know that equipment is but a means to an end and not the end itself, our concept for command and control is not associated with any particular communications, data processing, or other technology. Rather, it provides a framework within which these technologies, as well as the other components of command and control support, will be judged.


The purpose of this concept is to provide a framework for the development of effective command and control capabilities. This concept applies across the full spectrum of operations, from humanitarian assistance operations to general war. It is compatible with the three concepts that describe the future of Marine Corps operations: Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS), Sustained Operations Ashore (SOA), and Other Expeditionary Operations (OEO). This concept applies not only to conflict; but also to peacetime activities, whether forward deployed or in garrison--we fight the way we train. This concept provides the authoritative basis for the subsequent development of MAGTF command and control doctrine, organization, equipment, training and education, support and facilities. In that respect, it signals the commitment to a significant, even fundamental shift in the way the Marine Corps views and approaches the area of command and control.

This concept will:

  • Provide Marine Corps combat developers a functional concept on which to base requirements for doctrine, manpower, organization, equipment, training, and education

  • Help commanders understand the principles and problems of command and control as the basis for creating effective command and control within their units

  • Help staffs understand their roles and how to best support their commanders

  • Provide members of joint, naval task forces and Combined/Coalition partners an appreciation for how the Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) exercises command and control and a basis for understanding the subsequent command and control support requirements

  • Provide those with oversight responsibility an appreciation for the Marine Corps approach tocommand and control

  • Provide the foundation for derived command and control operational capabilities.


    Regardless of the nature of a particular operation, a defining feature of the command and control environment is uncertainty--about the enemy, the surroundings, and even the status of our own forces. Uncertainty is an inherent feature of conflict; we will always know less about a given situation than we would like. An aim of command and control is to reduce to a reasonable level the amount of uncertainty with which a commander must deal. Recognizing the factors that make absolute certainty impossible, effective command and control must also provide the means to deal with uncertainty and to operate effectively with the knowledge at hand.

    Another defining feature of modern conflict is rapid change--which further contributes to uncertainty. Military forces move more quickly over greater distances than ever before, while engaging the enemy at greater ranges. The consequence is a fluid, and rapidly changing military situation. Political upheaval around the globe has likewise created an unstable and changeable situation. In both cases, the more quickly a situation changes, the greater the need for continuously updated information and the greater the strain on the command and control system. Increased operational tempo on a complex and lethal battlefield has many implications for our commanders. Information may be chaotic and confusing. Commanders will have less time for making decisions that will have significant consequence.

    The increasing lethality and range of weapons forces military formations to disperse to survive, and stretching the limits of command and control. Military forces are more powerful and complex than ever before. They consist of a greater variety of specialized organizations and weapons. As a result, modern military forces require to precise and accurate information from a great variety of sources to effectively operate and efficiently sustain themselves.

    The real-time media saturation that is a feature of the Information Age tends to accelerate the speed at which developing events take on crisis proportions requiring immediate action. Sources of information about these events include strategic, theater, and tactical (to include civilian) systems. Information may flow either on demand or automatically, using pre-established procedures. Whether the situation is an international crisis or a fluid tactical action, the commander will likely face "short-fuzed" rather than deliberate situations, both characterized by the to presence of overwhelming amounts of usable information.

    In the Information Age, we cannot deny the increasing importance of technology to command and control. Advancements in technology provides capabilities never before dreamed. Technology is not without its dangers. The first danger lies in over-reliance on technical capabilities. While tempting, we sometimes mistakenly believe that technology solves all problems of command and control. Used unwisely, technology can be part of the problem: contributing to information overload, micro management, and the dangerous illusion that certainty and precision in war are not only desirable, but attainable. The second danger is in failing to make the most of the latest technological capabilities. The third is the tendency to believe, without questioning, the validity of information made available through advanced technology. Fourth is the reluctance of the commanders to make decisions without high tech information.

    In this complex environment, all systems that support command and control are vulnerable, and not just to the physical destruction of facilities and personnel. Among other things, command and control systems are also subject to disruption by information overload, over-reliance on technology, misinformation, spoofing, hacking, enemy jamming, communications interference, human misunderstanding, and mechanical breakdown.

    The MAGTF will certainly operate within a naval setting and concentrate on the littorals, at least for a time. Additionally, the political and operational environment requires cooperation with forces from different services and countries, each with its own procedures, organization, and equipment. Our command and control capability must function effectively within joint, naval and multinational environments.


    This concept of Marine Corps command and control of the MAGTF, applies the principles of operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS), sustained operations ashore (SOA) and other expeditionary operations (OEO).

    There is only one Marine command and control system. The existing functional stove-piped systems (Air, Ground Logistics) will be transformed into a single Marine/Naval command and control system. The Marine Command and control system will provide a common tactical picture and shared situational awareness that are tailorable to user's requirements.

    The MAGTF Command and control system will be an integrated part of a world wide global command and control system. MAGTF Command and control must thrive in the uncertainty of the battlespace. It must reflect the force it supports — like Marines, MAGTFs must be:


    Naval and Joint (when required)

    Optimized for maneuver warfare

    Command and control is the means by which a commander arrives at decisions, takes action and sees that those actions are completed. Effective command and control provides focus, speed, harmony, and momentum to the actions of the force. The result is swift, meaningful, and decisive action. The goal of MAGTF command and control is to maneuver forces and fires in a manner such that the MAGTF mission is achieved in the most decisive and efficient way possible faster than the threat. Through it we must create and maintain multidimensional operations with a tempo overwhelming to the enemy.


  • Command and control must serve the commander (not vice versa) - Command and control is the means by which a commander decides what action to take, delivers "The Commander's Intent" and sees that his intent is carried out at all levels of command. The vital element of command and control is our people. People gather information, make decisions, take action, communicate, and cooperate with one another in the accomplishment of the common goal. The command and control support structure does not exist for its own sake, but to enhance the ability of commanders at all levels to perform their duties. This includes communications from subordinate commanders to the senior commander to enhance the senior commander's situational awareness and, thereby, his decision making capability.

  • Intuitive decision making supported by analytic techniques will proliferate - Military decision making is a time-competitive activity. It requires intuitive and analytical abilities to recognize the essence of a given problem and the creative ability to devise a practical solution. Human decision making is primarily an intuitive process, particularly within the complex environment faced by the military commander. Recognizing this fact, preparing commanders to be more effective at decision making, and focusing our support capability on providing better situational awareness are key. During planning in time-sensitive situations time and structured analytic capabilities are more valuable when used to provide understanding to the decisionmaker than when attempting to develop and analyze courses of action.

  • Mission command/decentralized operations are favored for maneuver warfare - The Marine Corps concept of command and control is based principally on mission command. Our command and control will be decentralized, informal, and adaptable. By decentralizing decision making authority, mission command seeks to increase tempo and improve the ability to deal with fluid and disorderly situations. Through shared situational understanding, clear commander's intent, mission type orders well-articulated concept statements, mission success will be realized to the greatest extent.

  • Initiative at all levels is taught and encouraged - Initiative is an essential component of our warfighting concept, which is based on the willingness of subordinates to act without instructions. Our command and control concept is based on energetically seeking and rapidly exploiting opportunities at all levels. Discipline is not imposed from above, rather abounds self-discipline throughout the organization. Not only must subordinates be free to act on their own authority, they must view as their responsibility to act. Initiative requires that subordinates always keep the larger situation in mind and act in consonance with the senior's intent. The freedom to act with initiative thus implies a greater obligation to act in a disciplined and responsible way.

  • Implicit understanding and communications are critical to effect mission command - Orders and plans are brief and simple, relying on subordinates to effect the necessary coordination and on the human capacity for implicit communications. The ability to communicate through mutual understanding with minimal information exchange is fundamental. Commanders must be adept at expressing their intent clearly and forcefully.

  • Information collection and presentation must be focused on providing relevant knowledge rather than volume - Information is valuable only insofar as it contributes to knowledge understanding and decision-making. It is not the amount of information that is critical, but rather key elements of intelligence, available when needed and in a useful form, which improve the commander's knowledge of the situation.

  • Both deliberate and rapid planning capabilities must be maintained and practiced - Rapid planning facilitates higher tempo; however, complex operations are best developed by sound, detailed plans with rational courses of action. The type of planning process used is a function of the time available, and staffs must be competent at both.


    As we transition into the 21st century, our command and control must;

  • Become more expeditionary - Because it is uncertain where the Marine Corps will fight future battles, MAGTF expeditionary capabilities are highly dependent on their timely arrival in the objective area. Command and control during future deployments must be employed with increased speed and flexibility. Our battle staffs must be always ready — yet also be smaller. Deploying headquarters support elements footprint should be drastically reduced.

  • Have robust seabased capability - Without an adjacent land base, a sustainable forcible entry capability that is independent of forward staging bases, friendly borders, over flight rights, and other politically dependent support, can only come from the sea. Our command and control must be designed for that mission.

  • Have a vastly reduced footprint when ashore - Minimizing assets ashore facilitates our mobility, reduces the vulnerability of the force, and enhance our operational flexibility. Command and control facilities, fire support nodes, and logistics activities must be designed to remain offshore.

  • Base MAGTF CE location and training on the battlespace shaping mission - While the MAGTF commander must be able to relocate as required to best influence the situation, his staff will locate where they will be most effective overall. The MAGTF CE will organize and train to shape the deep battlespace and prepare the MAGTF for upcoming operations.

  • Foster coordination and integration in all functional areas - Support of MAGTF operations must be coordinated and integrated across the entire organization of the joint and/or naval force. MAGTF elements will be responsible for integrating organic and external assets in their respective functions whether afloat or ashore.

  • Foster integration of Navy and Marine Corps forces - Closer integration of training, acquisition, and equipment will produce a truly naval command and control system, thus providing the JFC a truly naval capability.

  • Recognize that improvements in friendly situational awareness capability are paramount - Uncertainty of enemy capabilities and intentions will continue to be a part of the MAGTF battlespace despite the current popularity of "perfect knowledge" images of future war. We must also focus our command and control development on providing commanders with usable real time knowledge of friendly unit locations, activities, and status. The improved timeliness and quality of friendly situational awareness will allow more effective command and control of the force and contribute to a significant reduction in friendly fire incidents.

  • Reduce processing nodes, particularly in administration and logistics, without reducing access to knowledge as required - Combat units and battle staffs are encumbered with the requirement to process and retransmit information of all types. In many cases, particularly "status reports" collated at multiple levels, this requirement serves no purpose and creates inefficient and oversized command posts. We must develop systems which replace processing nodes with direct transmission and on-demand reference tools. Routine information such as personnel status must be input at the unit and processed only at the administrative action headquarters in the rear. Intermediate battle staffs can extract from this data as required. Tactical voice conversations should be directly between users, with automatic digital conversions and storage for staff and future reference.


    Existing command and control organizations are strongly divided along functional areas and command hierarchy producing narrow stove-piped command and control systems. We must organize our staffs along functional lines that facilitate and more closely integrate the various functions of the staff. Our command and control systems for the future will be interoperable among Naval, joint, and coalition forces. The MAGTF warfighter can access a global command and control network at any time, any place, for any mission. The MAGTF system will provide a common operating environment for both hardware and software. It will also provide a common tactical picture of the joint force operations area, giving all warfighters, regardless of location, dynamic situational awareness. Our command and control for the future must possess dependable characteristics to be effective in the future. They are listed below.


    The system will be secure from enemy intrusion or disruption while providing various channels and means of communication. It will support the ability to operate effectively in an environment of uncertainty. The almost certainty of operations with coalition forces requires the command and control system supports fast and effective multi level security.


    It will support the current plan as well as planning for future operations by offering the commander the ability to gain or create an image of the battlespace at ranges in time and distance beyond the scope of current operations. The system will facilitate capturing and displaying information and images in a timely, accurate manner, at the level and format appropriate to the users' need while adhering to a common, standard user interface which provides a common "look and feel." The future command and control system will provide access to, and an integrated ability to act on, information and intelligence in strategic, theater, and tactical (to include commercial) systems.


    Interoperability and connectivity between Marine Corps functional and operational areas, in joint and multinational operations, and across the DOD and other federal agencies as their security access permits are an inherent capability of the system. The command and control system will provide global connectivity with no boundaries. Traditional obstacles such as over the horizon communication or the sea land boundary will lose their significance to the global command and control system.


    The command and control system functions throughout the range of military operations operation and is scaleable as operations require, facilitates continuous operations and the operation of echeloning command posts. Our command and control system will satisfy the commander's critical information requirements, and provide those elements of information accurately, timely, and in the most usable form, supporting both supply-push and demand-pull information management principles.

    Reach Back

    Using the command and control system commanders and their forces can tap into required expertise regardless of their physical location and access an integrated ability to command and control the MAGTF and joint deployment operations from anywhere within or outside the battlespace.


    By the very nature of the system it will support the warfighter whenever required and provide acceptable meantime between failure and rapid on-site maintenance repair capability.

    In the end these characteristics must support command and control system that enables the commander to:

  • Acquire relevant information

  • Store the information digitally

  • Retrieve information using expert agents

  • Uses graphical interfaces for information handling

  • Possess distribution capabilities


    Our concept of command and control applies to the MAGTF throughout the range of military operations. It does not change to accommodate Operational Maneuver from the Sea, Sustained Operations Ashore, and Other Expeditionary Operations. While there is considerable overlap among these categories they create an excellent basis for evaluating the full spectrum of MAGTF command and control. This section discusses specific considerations for command and control in each type of operation.


    Liaison. The basis for effective internal communications and cooperation for the MAGTF is the ethos and familiarity shared by all Marines. The MAGTF relies on the use of liaison personnel who serve with designated external organizations. Liaison assures face-to-face coordination and provides a qualified individual or group to represent Marine Corps interests and requirements to the external organization, as well as express external interests and concerns to the MAGTF.

    Command and Control Support Structure. The MAGTF command and control support structure must facilitate effective command and control across a broad spectrum of operations and over dispersed distances and compressed time. The MAGTF command and control support structure must be compatible and interoperable with naval, joint, and combined command and control systems. MAGTF command and control support structure must provide accurate, real-time, interactive information flow by a variety of technologies and medium to ensure reliable, flexible, redundant, and rapid information exchange. These technologies include, among others, radio, telephone (including cellular), facsimile, data link, and live and taped audio and imagery, and still video. The structure must enhance lateral coordination as well as vertical communications, facilitating coordination at the lowest possible level. The Naval command and control support structure must provide like capabilities for the embarked commander and staff.

    Command and Control Within the MAGTF. All MAGTFs, regardless of size, have the same basic organization: a command element (CE), a ground combat element (GCE), an aviation combat element (ACE), and a combat service support element (CSSE). The establishment of a single commander over ground, aviation, and combat service support elements assures unity of command and the full integration of arms. The MAGTF commander allocates command and control resources to support the mission. The MAGTF's internal organization is also designed to ensure unity of command with respect to essential warfighting activities, such as ground maneuver, fire support coordination, air operations, intelligence, and logistics. The MAGTF contains the structure and resources needed to perform the internal command and control and the external coordination for each of these essential activities. Regardless of the mission, the MAGTF will retain its basic internal organization. When the MAGTF is reinforced with non-Marine units or agencies, these forces will be incorporated into the basic MAGTF structure, preferably within the existing elements but possibly as major subordinate elements themselves, as the situation requires.

    Command Posts/Echelonment. To provide for survivability, deployability, continuous operations, tempo, and flexibility, the MAGTF and its elements as well as assigned units must sustain command and control capabilities by organizing command posts into several echelons. The command post is where a unit commander and staff exercise command and control functions. Command post echelons are typically referred to as main, rear, and tactical or forward. The main command post is the location from which current operations are controlled and future operations planned. In order to generate operational tempo, the staff includes current operations and future operations cells to develop future operations at the same time that current operations are ongoing. To ensure that the future plan is feasible, the future operations cell monitors the progress of current operations. The rear command post provides command and control for administrative, logistic, and rear-area security functions. The MAGTF commander may also designate a tactical command post--separate from the main command post--to supervise the conduct of current operations. In this case, the planning of future operations will normally remain with the main command post. Echelonment of command and control provides the means to phase command and control ashore or back to sea, and to adapt to a variety of situations and higher command arrangements.

    The Command Element. The MAGTF commander's primary responsibilities are overall command and control of MAGTF operations, coordination with adjacent and higher Commanders, the coordination of activities of the major subordinate element commanders and external agencies/forces, and the conduct of those operations aimed at shaping the battlespace favorably in advance of future operations. The MAGTF commander makes the fundamental decisions about the operations of the MAGTF as a whole, such as when, where, and whether to fight. He provides his operational intent to subordinate commanders and assigns them missions and objectives. He provides for the integration of major subordinate element efforts by establishing command and support relationships, but generally allows as much latitude as possible in the manner of execution. The accomplishment of assigned missions is the purview of the element commanders; as a rule, the MAGTF commander intervenes only by exception. In the conduct of current operations and the detailed planning of upcoming operations, the element commanders coordinate directly, based on established relationships. Relying primarily on external support and his organic aviation and command and control resources, the MAGTF commander focuses on gaining an accurate image of and shaping the future battlespace at ranges in time and distance beyond the scope or responsibility of the subordinate commanders.

    When a MAGTF is part of a joint force, USMC Service component representation to the joint force commander (JFC) is essential. The CINC's USMC Service Component Commander is responsible for providing the appropriate USMC service representation to the commander of the JTF. In some cases, the MAGTF commander may be dual-hatted as the USMC Service component commander.

    Command and Control of the GCE. The principal role of the GCE commander is to support the overall mission of the MAGTF, which he does by both independent maneuver and by providing ground support to other MAGTF elements. The GCE commander focuses on operations within his area of operations. GCE operations are those operations which, in terms of time and space, are in close proximity to and have contact with enemy forces. The MAGTF commander will normally assign a broad mission to the GCE commander. Within his area of operations, the GCE commander is responsible for the planning and conduct of operations to accomplish the assigned mission on the ground and the mission of the MAGTF. If the GCE commander seeks to conduct operations outside his operational area, he coordinates with the MAGTF commander or the appropriate adjacent unit. Where the ACE commander is tasked to support the operations of the GCE, the GCE commander coordinates that support directly with the ACE commander.

    When operating with more than one ground maneuver element, the MAGTF commander ensures integration, coordination and deconfliction of their operations. This will require the expansion of certain command and control functions at the MAGTF level, such as increased fire support coordination.

    The GCE commander practices the principle of maneuver by forming maneuver units and assigning their commanders a mission and operating area. When combined with the requirement to support a high tempo of operations (as already discussed), maneuver places unique demands on the command and control process. Throughout an operation, the GCE commander requires the ability to exercise a level of control over maneuver elements. The appropriate level of control is a function of many variables. The implication to our command and control concept is that any level of control presupposes a related degree of positional awareness of the location of maneuver elements, particularly when they are operating beyond line of sight.

    Command and Control of the ACE. The ACE commander's principal focus is to support or be the MAGTF's main effort. The support can come in the form of designation as the MAGTF's main effort, such as gaining air superiority or conducting deep operations to shape the battlespace, or supporting the MAGTF's main effort, whether that main effort is the GCE conducting attacks or the CSSE performing logistics operations. All MAGTF forces support the main effort.

    The MAGTF commander determines the apportionment of MAGTF aviation based on several factors including mission, threat and number of aircraft available. The ACE commander typically coordinates with the GCE and CSSE commanders to determine their needs for aviation support. The ACE commander uses this estimate to make an apportionment recommendation to the MAGTF commander. After approval or adjustments, the apportionment recommendation is weighed against requests and anticipated needs for air support and is eventually translated into an air tasking order. The air tasking order must represent the ACE's interpretation of the MAGTF commander's intent and concept of operations.

    Under certain circumstances, the Commander of Marine Forces (COMMARFOR) may be designated as the joint force air component commander (JFACC) to a joint force commander (JFC). The JFACC is normally the Service component commander who possesses the preponderance of air assets and the capability to control and direct joint air operations. When COMMARFOR is designated JFACC, COMMARFOR will likely designate the MAGTF's ACE commander to act as his agent to perform JFACC functions. The JFACC's command post is known as the joint air operations center (JAOC). JAOC functions are typically hosted by the most capable air command and control agency in theater.

    The JFACC and the JAOC support joint air operations; JFACC is a functional component commander directly responsible to the JFC. The ACE commander and the ACE support MAGTF operations; the ACE commander is responsible to the MAGTF commander in turn is responsible to COMMARFOR. Dual hatting of individuals and dual use of equipment and communications assets may occur, but two distinct staffs should operate to avoid conflicts of interest between joint and MAGTF air operations. When operating under the umbrella of a joint force, tasking and use of MAGTF aircraft will continue to be in accordance with the Policy for Command and Control of USMC TACAIR in Sustained Operations Ashore, as stated in Joint Publication O-2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF). Any extensive MAGTF JFACC or JAOC commitment will generate significant requirements for MAGTF command and control capabilities in addition to those of the MAGTF ACE.

    Command and Control of the CSSE. The CSSE commander will provide combat service support to the MAGTF, as required, across the full spectrum of operations. Element commanders will request support directly from the CSSE. In some cases however, such as humanitarian aid or nation-building operations, the MAGTF commander may assign the CSSE an independent mission or task. In this case, the MAGTF commander may task the ACE and GCE commanders to provide forces or support to the CSSE. As with the ACE, the CSSE commander may be required to satisfy both the supporting and independent-mission roles simultaneously. The CSSE will function to the maximum extent possible from seabased platforms.


    Operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS) is the application of the principles of maneuver warfare to a maritime force. While the primary subset of OMFTS is the projection and sustainment of land forces through amphibious operations, it may also include strike operations conducted by aircraft, gunfire and missiles; deception and threats of action against a coastal flank; maritime interdiction; occupation of advanced bases. An OMFTS may be the critical first step in a larger campaign, to enable the introduction of a larger land force for the commencement of sustained operations ashore, or in support of other operations in an ongoing campaign.

    During this type of operation, the MAGTF command element will almost certainly deploy by sea, like most of the rest of the MAGTF. Often the MAGTF will assemble, while at sea, in the objective area after transitioning from various ports of embarkation. Rear echelons of the command element may fly in later if the command element moves ashore.

    The MAGTF Commander is responsible for the entire battlespace. Unity of command and the single battle theory embodies this premise. The MAGTF Commander never abdicates the responsibility for the Deep, Close and Rear fights; however, the MAGTF Commander emphasizes the synchronization of the ACE, CSSE and the GCE to fight the single battle.

    The MAGTF commander will able to exercise command and control from shipboard or while ashore. In the future, he will to keep his command element embarked throughout the operation, only moving it ashore as the mission and command structure changes from naval power projection to sustained operations ashore. Remaining afloat will allow him to take better advantage of the increasingly capable command and control support and battlespace shaping capabilities of Navy platforms, reduce lift requirements for assault shipping, and reduce the vulnerable command and control footprint ashore. In the amphibious power projection operations of the future, assault shipping space should be optimally used for maneuver and vital support requirements. To prosecute command and control afloat, the MAGTF command element must be designed and structured to operate within the space constraints of the host ships. Command and control systems must be integrated with those in use by the ships and other supporting Navy, joint and coalition operating forces.

    The time-tested doctrine of CAFT-CLF relationships for amphibious operations remains valid, however, doctrine for amphibious command relationships is evolving to become more flexible and responsive. This flexibility will give the JFC the ability to choose the appropriate commander for each phase of an amphibious operation based on METT-TSL. What is critical to OMFTS is that the commander responsible for the main effort be given the appropriate authority for the conduct of the power projection operation. The MAGTF is generally the force for conducting the operation ashore, and has the primary responsibility to command and control the capabilities required for shaping the littoral and/or land battlespace.

    In any case, the assault group commander and GCE commander must have a similar parallel, concurrent connection. Likewise, since the mission of the ACE commander is aviation support to the operations of the MAGTF, his location and relationship to the overall naval expeditionary force aviation commander should be such that he has maximum effect on support from seabased and joint aviation, as well as strike operations. The ACE staff should, be integral in the planning and coordination activities for any naval expeditionary force/joint aviation support of the MAGTF (regardless of executing service). The CSSE commander will primarily focus on his coordination with the GCE, ACE and with the Navy element commanders that support them, rather than on a single Navy counterpart.

    The MAGTF in OMFTS will almost certainly be part of a naval expeditionary force. MAGTF command and control will be fully integrated into the naval and joint command and control structure. This arrangement retains the command relationships for amphibious operations and MAGTF units afloat specified in Joint Pub 3-02 and other doctrinal publications. Battlespace and forces will be assigned to the commander responsible for the planning and execution of the amphibious power projection operation. The MAGTF may also include other forces that are not amphibious. The MAGTF commander will normally function as the commander, landing force (CLF). Additional, non-Marine landing forces will be incorporated into the basic organization of the MAGTF, either within the existing subordinate elements or as major subordinate elements themselves. By virtue of being part of the naval expeditionary force, the MAGTF commander will be supported by the CINC's Navy and Marine Service Component Commanders. As a result, while embarked, the MAGTF commander will likely require less continuing coordination with the CINC's USMC Service Component Commander than during SOA. Some coordination external to the naval expeditionary force such as information, intelligence, or planning requirements, will normally still be required. A standard command structure is shown in figure 1.

    The GCEs's primary mission is to support the MAGTF's main effort. The GCE commander will have primary command and control of the assault phase and close operations ashore, supported directly by the ACE and CSSE commanders. While the MAGTF commander will assure the proper integration of the subordinate elements in the conduct of close operations, his primary focus will be on the conduct of battlespace shaping operations beyond the GCE commander's area of influence. The MAGTF commander may assign the ACE commander and/or intelligence assets a mission independent of the operations of the GCE. Normally this will occur when the required operations are beyond the GCE commander's area of influence but within the MAGTF commander's area of interest.

    The key responsibility of the ACE commander in OMFTS is to support the MAGTF's main effort. Such activities include planning for and conducting air operations and monitoring and influencing the activities of aircraft and other air control assets whether based aboard ships or air facilities ashore.

    Like the ACE Commander, one of the key responsibilities of the CSSE commander in OMFTS is to support the GCE commander's scheme of maneuver. Combat service support is particularly challenging in OMFTS. The CSSE must be capable of providing MAGTF forces with support when and where needed. The level of the support requirement will be a function of enemy activity, the tempo of operations, the adequacy of existing support assets, the availability of lift, and many other factors. The command and control implications are numerous. At a minimum, the CSSE commander requires the capability to develop and execute a logistics support plan. Execution activities include the ability to locate and move equipment and supplies aboard ship and ashore, and to maintain adequate levels of support for combat units ashore.

    Throughout the operation, MAGTF command and control will remain an integral part of the naval and joint command and control systems. Since MAGTF command and control rely on the naval command and control support structure while afloat, it requires less of its organic support structure than when operating ashore. Naval operations may be an element in a larger joint/multinational task force involving Army, Air Force, and forces from allied nations. In such circumstances, command and control processes are integrated through the use of liaison personnel, greater detail in planning, and the use of systems and equipment that are interoperable.


    Sustained operations ashore (SOA) are those operations in which MAGTFs fight not as naval forces but as land forces with varying degrees of Naval support. Normally, these will involve a MAGTF assigned within a larger joint or combined force.

    In SOA, COMMARFOR is directly subordinate the JFC. COMMARFOR provides Marine forces to the JFC. One or more MAGTF commanders may be part of the Marine forces, and are direct subordinates of COMMARFOR. The senior MAGTF commander may be dual hatted as COMMARFOR.

    SOA will rarely, if ever, involve a MAGTF smaller than a Marine expeditionary force. The MEF commander, who may also be the MARFOR commander, must be capable of coordinating combat, combat support and combat service support activity with adjacent units and complying with directions from higher authority - potentially a commander with a non-naval frame of reference. The SOA environment intensifies the command and control requirements for liaison personnel, greater detail in planning, and the use of systems and equipment that are interoperable. It is also during SOA that the MAGTF commander will see an increased requirement for coordination both within and outside the theater. A standard organization for operating as part of a joint/multination force is depicted at figure 2.

    The JFC may assign COMMARFOR responsibility for an area of operations, typically delineated by lateral boundaries, a rear boundary, and the forward most limits of the lateral boundaries. COMMARFOR will affect the necessary planning, coordination, and mission execution with higher and adjacent commanders. This planning and execution responsibility includes integrating joint fires and coordinating air support activity. Subordinate element commanders of the MAGTF will have an increased requirement to coordinate with like adjacent and functional organizations. For example, the GCE commander, and his subordinate element commanders, will coordinate with adjacent ground organizations.

    The ACE commander will coordinate air operations with the joint force air component commander and other air control agencies. Ultimately, all MAGTF tasking authority and coordination responsibility rests with the COMMARFOR.

    In SOA, the required command and control capabilities of the ACE commander remain consistent with those discussed for OMFTS. In summary, those capabilities include the planning and control of air operations and the integration of operations with higher and adjacent operating force commanders. The most significant change is a shift in the location of the base of operations from sea to shore. Some Marine aviation units are still likely to be operating from aboard ship. Relatively more aviation units may be land based. Most often in SOA the Component Commander act on behalf of the MAGTF commander in coordination with the JFACC, as well as handle the JFC's Joint Targeting Coordination Board (JTCB).

    With one exception, the required command and control capabilities of the CSSE commander also remain consistent with those discussed for OMFTS. Those capabilities include the support of maneuvering units, the transition from ship-based support to land-based support, linkage into the joint logistics system ashore, and the use, as available, of host nation support. The exception relates to local area security. In SOA, the MAGTF commander will typically assign responsibility for a particular area to the GCE commander. The area will generally coincide with those of the MAGTF. In this case, CSS local area security responsibilities are assigned to the CSSE commander who requires real-time battlefield information and processed intelligence to successfully defend that area. This situation will be reduced as the CSSE operates from seabased platforms and reduces the ashore footprint to the minimum required.


    Other expeditionary operations (OEO) cover a myriad of maritime and naval expeditionary operations conducted in pursuit of limited objectives and normally for limited duration. Included are both combat and noncombat military actions. These types of operations are conducted in both forward presence and crisis response roles.

    They will generally fall into one or more of the following categories: mobile training teams, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, noncombatant evacuation, counterterrorism/counterdrug/security operations, peace-enforcement, and raids/maritime special operations.

    MAGTF operations in OEO may involve a USMC-provided nucleus of a JTF headquarters. This potential responsibility will be the focus of this section because all other command and control capabilities required in OEO parallel those already described in OMFTS or SOA.

    The JTF commander may exercise control from shipboard or ashore. He may deploy by ship or by air, depending on circumstances. One or more Marine expeditionary unit (s) or other MAGTFs may already be in theater as the result of forward deployment and may provide the CJTF initial command and control capability until a more capable USMC-provided command element stands up as the JTF nucleus.

    The CJTF will require direct connectivity with the commander in chief (CINC) and the incorporation of numerous of joint and multinational units and non-military agencies. The USMC Service Component Commander will likely be tasked to provide the JTF headquarters nucleus in the case of relatively small-scale operations in which the Marine forces form the preponderance of the JTF. Although a MEF command element will often form the JTF nucleus headquarters, the actual MAGTF assigned to the JTF will likely be something less than a full MEF. MEF command and control organization and training must address capabilities to provide these two functions simultaneously.

    The USMC Service Component to the CINC will source the nucleus for the JTF headquarters, and will be reinforced by the CINC with organic and other Service Component-provided staff and liaison personnel and facilities to perform required JTF headquarters and command and control activities. Because of the requirements to work with numbers of non-DOD, international, and local agencies in addition to those controlled by the CJTF, the requirements for liaison and support equipment may be high. The CJTF will be responsible for the coordination and integration of the entire JTF, to include a subordinate Marine force. A command organization containing a USMC-provided JTF nucleus is shown in figure 3.

    It is during OEO that the CSSE commander could receive an independent mission, and serve as the main effort. In humanitarian assistance operations, for instance, the CSSE commander may be assigned a wide range of responsibilities involving the allocation of supplies, use of equipment or movement of maritime prepositioning force assets ashore, unrelated to the support of the GCE or ACE.


    On the battlefield of the future the tempo, complexity, and lethality will inevitably increase. There will be less time for decision making, and due to the battlefield lethality, our decisions will have greater consequences. General Charles C. Krulak has stated " Our approach to command and control recognizes and accepts war as a complex, uncertain, disorderly, and time-competitive clash of wills and seeks to provide the commander the best means to win in that environment." This concept establishes a framework for considering Marine command and control in general and command and control of the MAGTF in particular in this environment. It is based on a broad view of the command and control system as including people, procedures, information, and a support structure rather than simply hardware. This concept reflects a new way of viewing and dealing with the problems of command and control which will provide the basis for the development of fast, adaptable, effective and global command and control for the MAGTF and will allow us to meet the challenges of the futures we move toward the joint operational architecture of the future.

    While the internal command and control of the MAGTF is functionally changing very little (but technologically a great deal) as we evolve into the 21st Century, external relationships are being radically altered. With the ever increasing joint operations being conducted, and envisioned to be conducted in the future, the MAGTF will have to be flexible and responsive to JFC's, service and functional component commanders. Even traditional naval structures are often confusing as the Naval Services attempt to focus and reintegrate naval expeditionary force command and control. By understanding and following the principles set forth in this concept, we can create a MAGTF Command and control capability which will function effectively across all of our future missions.