US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC)
US Marine Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC)
The Commander, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC), as the US Marine Corps Service Component Commander for the Commander, US Pacific Command (PACOM), commands all U.S. Marine Corps forces assigned to PACOM, accomplishes assigned operational missions, advises the Pacific Command commander on the proper employment, capabilities and support of US Marine Corps forces and provides combat ready forces to other commands, as required. Commander, MARFORPAC also serves as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific and Commander for US Marine Corps Bases, Pacific.
General Holland M. Smith established the Headquarters for Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific (FMFPAC) in 1944 to command and resource Pacific Marine Forces of nearly 500,000. At that time, FMFPAC included 6 Marine divisions and 5 Aircraft Wings. The command moved into a Headquarters on what became Camp H.M Smith, located inside an abandoned World War II Hospital, in 1955. The Camp was dedicated to General Smith. In the 1950s, as FMFPAC, this Headquarters worked for the Navy, specifically the US Pacific Fleet. However, in 1992, Marine Forces Pacific was designated a Service Component Headquarters. Subsequently MARFORPAC had 3 operational bosses: the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Command, Commander-in-Chief Central Command, and Commander, US Forces Korea. MARFORPAC was also responsible to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Commander, MARFORPAC was also Commander, Marine Corps Bases Pacific. As such, he commanded the Marine Corps bases and stations from Arizona and California, through Hawaii and Japan that had operational forces assigned. The dual command of operational forces and supporting installations ensured unity of effort for such issues as mobilization and deployment for contingencies, disaster response, and prioritization of military construction and other major funding programs.
During 1990s, there were 5 Marine Corps components, but there were only 2 Marine Corps component commands, Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic, and Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. As a result of this, the Commander, MARFORPAC was also designated as the Marine Corps component commander to the Commander in Chief, US Central Command (CINCUSCENTCOM). Commander, MARFORPAC was also titled as Commander, US Marine Forces Central Command (MARFORCENT and later MARCENT), being responsible for the MARCENT area of responsibility.
With this great expanse of responsibility, MARFORPAC quickly became the largest field command in the US Marine Corps. Like MARFOLANT on the United States' east coast, MARFORPAC commanded all Marine bases and stations on the west coast and throughout the Pacific. MARFORPAC reflected 3 primary focuses of Service componency: planning for and responding to Commander in Chief taskings, providing a deployable component headquarters for an MTW, and representing subordinate commands' Service-specific, Title X issues. MARFORPAC during the 1990s commanded two-thirds of the Corps' combat power and was responsible to 2 geographical Commanders in Chief (Pacific and Central Command) and one subunified Commander in Chief (Korea). Its forces were based in the Pacific, a geographical area widely recognized as the future strategic focus. MARFORPAC executed extensive Title X functions. The combination of MARFORPAC's Operating Forces, Title X, and Fleet Marine Force Pacific (FMFPAC) command and bases/stations responsibilities provided unity of command for over 80,000 Marines and sailors. For these reasons, MARFORPAC's responsibilities were markedly broader than other Marine Corps components.
To facilitate these responsibilities, there were 2 peacetime Marine Component Headquarters, located with the US Central Command at Mac Dill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and with the US Forces Command in Korea. These headquarters functioned primarily as planning and liaison headquarters to support peacetime engagement and wartime missions in those theaters. A forward coordination element was also established in Bahrain to coordinate engagement activities in the Middle East.
US Marine Forces, Pacific exercised Executive Agency over 2 of the Marine Corps' 3 Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons (MPS): MPS-2 based at Diego Garcia, and MPS-3 based on Guam. Both were intended to provided a quick-response sail time to Southwest Asia, Korea and a wide range of potential trouble spots. Additionally, there were 2 aviation logistics ships with the capability to provide the command's Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) with an intermediate aviation maintenance facility afloat. These ships were set aside to be rapidly loaded with the same aviation test equipment, mobile facilities, and spare parts used every day by operating forces. The Maritime Prepositioning Force Concept called for Marines and Sailors to fly into a benign or secured airfield to link up with the ships. More than 17,000 Marines and Sailors can be flown in on fewer than 250 aircraft sorties. If the equipment on the ships had to be flown in with the Marines and Sailors, it would take more than 3,000 sorties.
When and if MARFORPAC were to provide forces to the Commanders in Chiefs within its area of responsibility, they were provided as Task-Organized Air, Ground and Logistics Teams. The size of a Task Force might vary (generally around 6,800 personnel), but it was usually a balanced force of Air, Ground, and Combat Service Support Elements, organized around a Command Element. This structure was unique to the Marine Corps and resulted in a Combined Arms Team that gave the Commander maximum flexibility and firepower in his area of responsibility. MARFORPAC bases and stations were the "Fifth Element" of the MAGTF. They provided the means by which MARFORPAC developed, trained, and maintained a modern force, and served as the platforms from which MARFORPAC could project expeditionary power by deploying and maintaining MAGTFs.
To support this power, the I and III Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) were provided by Commander, Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, to the Commander in Chief, US Pacific Command. This assignment reflected the peacetime disposition of Marine Corps forces. MEFs were apportioned to the remaining geographic combatant commands for contingency planning and are provided to the combatant commands when directed by the Secretary of Defense. From a strictly military standpoint, America's only identified major regional contingencies, Korea, and Southwest Asia, lay within MARFORPAC's area and scope of responsibility. I MEF was headquartered at Camp Pendleton, California, while III MEF's headquarters and the bulk of the force was forward deployed on the island of Okinawa, Japan.
In a clear demonstration of Commander, MARFORPAC's additional responsibilities as Commander, MARFORCENT following the events of the 11 September 2011 and the inauguration of the Global War on Terror (later termed Overseas Contingency Operations), then Commander, MARFORPAC/Commander, MARCENT, Lieutenant General Earl B. Hailston moved, along with nearly half his staff of 500 Marines, to Bahrain in late January 2002. This was the first time the Marine Corps commander had his headquarters there, other than for training exercises. General Hailston kept more than 200 members of the staff at Camp H. M. Smith, and shuttled between Hawaii and Bahrain.
As the demands of operations in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, which by 2011 was comprised of 20 countries, 522 million people, 7 major languages and more than 12 major religions, increased, so did the demands on the Commander, MARCENT. Eventually, the decision was made to remove the command from the responsibilities of MARFORPAC and its commander and establish a free standing headquarters, which became US Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT). However, at that time MARFORPAC remained the largest field command in the US Marine Corps, with its frward deployed forces both ashore and afloat, and forces stationed in the United States. Commander, MARFORPAC retained control over combat forces and supporting installation Marines and Sailors totalling approximately 74,000 Marines.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|