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The MAGTF Is The CINC'S 911 Mechanized Force
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting
                     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title: The MAGTF is the CINC's 911 Mechanized Force
Author:  Major Stephen B. Wittle, United States Marine Corps
Thesis:  Although the U.S. Army proposes the creation of a
maritime prepositioned mechanized brigade for crisis response,
creation of such a force is unnecessary with the current
capabilities of a MAGTF operating as a mechanized force.
Background:   In an attempt to correct the deficiency in lack of
adequate sealift during operations Desert Storm and Shield, the
U.S. Army wants to create a maritime prepositioned mechanized
brigade.  Though different in composition, weapons, and
capabilities to an Army mechanized brigade, the MAGTF can provide
a mechanized force for crisis response.  The MAGTF's ability to
task-organize mechanized forces for forcible entry or by maritime
prepositioning gives the CINC more flexible options.
Recommendations:    Instead of creating an Army maritime
prepositioned mechanized brigade funding should be directed
towards improving the capabilities of strategic lift for the Army
and Marine Corps.  With shrinking budgets and forces, strategic
lift becomes important in order to have both forces complement
each other efficiently.
Thesis:  Although the U.S. Army proposes the development of a
maritime prepositioned mechanized brigade for crisis response,
creation of such an force is unnecessary with the current
capabilities of the MAGTF operating as a mechanized force.
         I.   Capabilities of the MAGTF and mech brigade
              A.   Organization
              B.   Weapons systems
              C.   Missions and capabilities
         II.  Deploying a MAGTF
              A.   Amphibious lift
              B.   MPF
              c.   Combination
         III. Deploying the mechanized brigade
              A.   Preposition in host country
              B.   MSC shipping
              C.   MPS
         IV.  Recommendation
     The Bible tells of a military commander who was unable to
defeat an enemy force "... because they had chariots of
iron...."(9)  A strikingly similar dilemma still challenges the
military leader today, in the form of a modern equivalent -
mechanized forces.  Todays technology has brought armored
mobility and firepower together into a force that can achieve the
political and military objectives of a nation.  This fact was the
reason for the U.S. Army's forward deployment of heavy mechanized
forces during the Cold War, to deter like forces of the Soviet
Union from attacking western European nations.  Since both forces
were able to convince the other of being equally threatening , a
respectful parity prevented war from occurring.
     On 2 August 1990, a change of events and policy effected the
deployment and employment of U.S. Army mechanized forces.  First,
Iraq invaded and defeated Kuwait's Army with a heavy mechanized
force.  Secondly, President Bush announced that the U.S. Armed
Forces would prepare for regional conflicts and would move away
from a narrow focus of defending against a Soviet attack in
Europe.(2:2)  Literally during the Presidents speech, the CINC
for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Schwartzkopf, would
be testing the Presidents new defense policy while executing the
military contingency plans for the region.  One of the highest
priorities and challenges for the CINC was the immediate
deployment of mechanized forces into the region to halt any
further Iraqi incursions.
     Surprisingly, the first medium/heavy U.S. ground force
deployed into Saudi Arabia was a Marine air-ground task force
(MAGTF).  Utilizing a maritime prepositioned force (MPF), the
MAGTF was able to provide a mechanized capability to the CINC by
17 August 1990.  On 27 August 1990, the first fast sealift ships
arrived from the continental U.S. with Army's 24th Infantry
Division (mechanized).(1:28)  The arrival of the 24th Infantry
Division gave the CINC a significant mechanized capability.  In
the succeeding months, the Army's mechanized force build-up
continued as part of operation Desert Storm and later played a
major role in the liberation of Kuwait as part of operation
Desert Storm.
     Prior to the start of the ground offensive in Desert Storm
questions were being asked about the delay in deploying U.S. Army
mechanized forces.  Conversely, Vice Admiral Donovan, Commander
of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), testified before the House
Armed Service Subcommittee on Strategic and Critical Materials
about the successful performance of the Marine Corps' MPF in the
early days of Desert Shield.(12:12)  Since the Army recognized a
deficiency in sealift, a solution to this problem was to create a
rapid, self-sustaining, maritime prepositioned, mechanized force
for crisis response.  The Army envisions deploying a mechanized
brigades equipment aboard nine ships.(11)  Although the
U.S. Army proposes the development of a maritime prepositioned
mechanized brigade for crisis response, creation of such a force
is unnecessary with the current capabilities of a MAGTF operating
as a mechanized force.
ORGANIZATION:  All MAGTF's are composed of four elements: a
command element (CE), a ground combat element (GCE), an aviation
combat element (ACE), and a combat service support element
(CSSE).(6:16)  The CE integrates air and ground combat power
together with the logistics capability to support a force under a
single commander.  The GCE conducts ground combat operations.
The ACE conducts air operations and air support to the GCE and
CSSE.  The CSSE provides a range of combat service support
functions to support the MAGTF's mission and compliments the
organic CSS of the other elements.  The size o the MAGTF and its
corresponding elements will be tailored to the mission.  This
allows the MAGTF to organize for multiple missions, such as
mechanized operations.
     A MAGTF is task-organized at the GCE, ACE, and CSSE when
conducting mechanized operations.  The MAGTF that deployed in the
opening days of operation Desert Shield was known as a Marine
Expeditionary Brigade (MEB).  Unless otherwise noted, all
references of a mechanized MAGTF should be considered within the
context of a MEB.  A MEB is normally composed of a reinforced
infantry regiment, a Marine air group (MAG), and a brigade
service support group (BSSG).  Within the GCE of the MEB are
three to five infantry battalions, and artillery battalion, a
tank company or battalion, a light armored infantry company or
battalion, an assault amphibian company of battalion, a combat
engineer company or battalion, and a reconnaissance company.  The
ACE is composed of rotary/fixed-wing aircraft squadrons that can
operate from ships or expeditionary operating bases.  A BSSG has
supplies and equipment to support the MEB in combat for 30 days
and can task-organize mobile detachments that can provide a full
spectrum of CSS.  The utility of the MEB is that it can remain
foward deployed at sea for extended periods and also become the
forward echelon of a larger MAGTF, in the form of a Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF).
     Army manual FM 71-3, states that, " an armored of mechanized
brigade is a combination of tank and mechanized battalion task
forces and other units grouped under command of a brigade
headquarters."(3:1-3)  This force can be augmented with army
aviation, field and air defense artillery, engineer, signal, and
logistics support from divisional or corps units.  Commonly, this
organization operates as part of a mechanized division.  However,
in the creation of a maritime prepositioned mechanized brigade,
it would be organized for independent operations.  An independent
mechanized brigade, would consist of a brigade headquarters, tank
and mechanized battalions, armored cavalry squadron, field
artillery battalion, engineer company, combat electronic warfare
and intelligence company,air defense artillery battery, with
possible attack helicopter support, and support battalion for
combat service support.
WEAPON SYSTEMS:  IN the MEB sufficient assets and weapons allow
it to task-organize into a mechanized MAGTF.  The first asset
that helps transform light infantry into mechanized infantry is
the assault amphibious vehicle (AAV).  This armored, tracked,
amphibious vehicle is designed to carry 20 Marines and their
equipment across a beach in ship-to-shore movement in an
amphibious assault.  It can be used in mechanized operations
ashore as an armored personnel carrier (APC).  The MEB is
equipped with enough to transport two to three infantry
battalions.  This would mean that one battalion would require and
alternate form of transportation of remain foot mobile.
     Recognizing that the AAV is not an infantry fighting vehicle
(IFV), upgrades were focused on improving its armor protection
and firepower as an APC.  Specifically, add-on armor was applied
to help protect against light anti-armor weapon systems and a
machine gun/automatic grenade launcher for enhanced firepower.
The size of this vehicle is ideal for transporting large numbers
of Marines ashore, but is a liability on land against anti-tank
weapons.  Since the AAV is a support asset, it does not limit
Marine infantry to only a mechanized role.
     Marine infantry is considered light in composition; however,
it is equipped with weapons to perform mechanized operations.  A
regiment is heavy in firepower: 24 anti-tank TOW systems; 72 anti-
tank Dragon systems; 54 shoulder launched multipurpose assault
weapons (SMAW); 30 MK-19 automatic grenade launchers; heavy and
light machine guns; and mortars.(5:4-7)  The utility of these
weapons is that they can be used for other military operations,
thereby allowing the regiment flexibility in other missions.
     The third maneuver element for the GCE is the tank
battalion.  Organized into 4 tank companies, with 58 M1A1 main
battle tanks (MBT), and 1 anti-tank TOW platoon, with 24 TOW
systems, the battalion is the MAGTF's armor strike capability.
Employed as part of a combined arms force, the tank battalion
cross attaches tank companies to infantry battalions and infantry
companies to the tank battalion.  This type of task-organizing
gives balance to the MAGTF in armor capabilities.  However, it
should be noted, that the number of times that cross attachments
can be made is limited due to tank assets.
     The tank battalion capabilities for the MAGTF were greatly
increased with fielding of the M1A1 MBT.  Improvements were made
in all areas of the tank over the previous model:  survivability;
improved day-night fire control and shoot-on-move capability;
speed through a 1500-horsepower turbine engine; added firepower
through a 120-mm smooth bore cannon; and a NBC protection
system.  In addition to the mobility and firepower enhancements,
the M1A1 in a Marine tank battalion can be fitted with a deep
water fording capability to operate in surf operations during
amphibious landings.
     In terms of mechanized reconnaissance the light armored
infantry (LAI) battalion is equipped for this mission.  Utilizing
a common family of vehicles based on the light armored vehicle
concept, it has models equipped in variants with 25-mm guns, TOW
systems, mortars, command and control, and logistics.  This
allows this unit to operate in remote locations collecting
information for the GCE or MAGTF commander.  Organized around 4
companies, the battalion can operate as one force or detach
companies to other GCE battalions.(4:1-2)  The LAI companies are
staffed with organic scout infantry.
     Fire support for the maneuver elements of the MAGTF is
provided by direct support artillery.  In a MEB sized MAGTF an
artillery battalion will provide this support.  Organized into 4
firing batteries of 6 guns the battalion can provide separate
support to each element or mass fires for one element.  The
battalion is equipped with the M198, towed , 155-mm, howitzer.
No general support artillery is available to the MAGTF since
these assets have been disbanded.
     What fire support that is lacking from the artillery is
enhanced through the ACE.  The complete spectrum of air support
provided to the MAGTF is a great combat multiplier for this force
in any operation.  Specifically, in the role of close/offensive
air support the F/A-18 Hornet, AV8-B Harrier, and AH1-W Cobra
helicopter provide this strike capability.  In assault support or
resupply the CH-53 and CH-46 helicopter and KC-130 aircraft allow
the MAGTF commander the flexibility to move personnel and
equipment around in order to shape the battlefield.
     On 2 April 1993, the Army is planning on giving specific
details on the composition of the mechanized brigade being
maritime prepositioned.  However, regardless of the specifics,
this brigade will be centered around three to four
mechanized/armored battalions.  The emphasis on mobility and
sustained operations requires that all support organizations be
mechanized and heavy in assets to support the maneuver
     The mechanized battalions are organized and equipped to
destroy threat forces by fire, and to disrupt threat operations
by maneuver and fire.  Capable of operating in the offense or
defense, they can fight dismounted or from their Bradley infantry
fighting vehicle (BIFV).  The battalions are composed of four
rifle companies with 13 BIFV each.(8:9-7)  Since each BIFV is
equipped with a TOW system, a 25-mm automatic gun, and armor
protection against heavy anti-tank weapons, the battalion's have
few mechanized threats that are superior.  Compounding the
organic firepower of a battalion, tank companies are routinely
cross-attached as part of their task-organization.
     The other major maneuver element for the brigade is the tank
battalions.  Organized with 4 companies of M1A1 MBT's, the
battalion fields 58 tanks like a Marine tank battalion.  However,
a noticeable difference is that the mechanized brigade is
normally composed of 116 tanks, because of it having two tank
battalions.(8:7-1)  This allows greater flexibility in task-
organizing armor assets with mechanized battalions or for the
brigade commander to have a heavy reserve.
     A cavalry variant of the BIFV provides a means for the
cavalry squadron to conduct ground reconnaissance.  Similar to
the M-2, BIFV, the M-3 is designed to carry more ammunition
instead of personnel, to increase its survivability out on
missions in front of the main elements.  Two cavalry troops
conduct reconnaissance with the M-3.  Air reconnaissance is
conducted by 2 air cavalry troops equipped with 6 observation
helicopters and 4 attack helicopters each.  These assets are not
missioned for air-attack roles that is reserved for the attack
helicopter detachment.  It should be noted, that the cavalry
squadron and attack helicopter detachment are normally employed
at the division level and not at the brigade level.(8:7-6)
     The brigade is normally supported by one artillery direct
support battalion.  There are 18 to 24 howitzers in a battalion.
The M109, 155-mm, self-propelled, howitzer is the organic weapon
in direct support battalion.  Since the Army has an abundance of
artillery assets, a brigade could be augmented with additional
systems or organizations.  This could be with the M110, 203-mm,
self-propelled, howitzer or the multiple launch rocket system
(MLRS).  Regardless of the number and type of artillery in
support of the brigade, they are all designed to give the
maneuver battalions continous indirect fire support through
MISSIONS:  In FMFM 6-30 it states, " The MAGTF commander views
his force's transitional capability as a combat multiplier,
allowing the MAGTF to confront the enemy with a variety of modes
of fighting."(4:1-1)  Since an organization like a MEB can be
tailored to multiple missions, it can conduct operations with
light armor, mechanized, dismounted, motorized or helicopterborne
forces.  To illustrate the flexibility of the MAGTF, these
operations can be conducted separately, concurrently or in any
combination.  This unique capability, coupled with the fact that
a MAGTF is expeditionary gives the CINC additional options when
there is a requirement for a mechanized capable force.  Further,
these capabilities allow the MAGTF to operate as an enabling
force for larger Marine or joint forces.
     The Army defines missions for the mechanized brigade
against..." a threat with similar capabilities...."(8:8-3)
mechanized brigade with survivability, mobility, and firepower
should operate in terrain where the mobility and firepower can
best b concentrated quickly, dispersed and concentrated again.
This distinct capability by the mechanized brigade to move over
large distances with sustained combat power gives the CINC
tactical leverage in offensive and defensive operations.  In
restricted, urban and mountainous terrain this force is slowed,
but still capable.  Against a similar of superior mechanized
force the mechanized brigade has few equals.
AMPHIBIOUS LIFT:  If the MAGTF is to be an expeditionary force,
it must not only be able to get to the crisis area, but have the
capability to conduct forcible entry operations.  Traditionally,
the MAGTF has accomplished this by conducting amphibious
operations.  In the U.S. Armed Forces, only the MAGTF is capable
of task-organizing for a forcible entry from the sea with a
mechanized force.  The only limitation in the size of this force
is the availability of amphibious shipping.  In an era of
declining strategic lift assets, amphibious shipping is also
being reduced.  This will have a dramatic effect on the MAGTF
providing this capability for the CINC.  Currently, it is planned
that amphibious assault lift will only be able to lift 2.5 MEB's
after the year 2000.
MPF:  Seeing that amphibious lift was slowly decreasing in the
70's the Marine Corps created a maritime prepositioned force
(MPF).  This was not created as a replacement for amphibious
lift, but a means to enhance a MAGTF's response in a crisis.  The
concept called for sea-basing prepositioned ships to outfit and
sustain a MEB for 30 days.  Personnel would be flown into a
staging area and marry-up with the equipment and supplies.
Additional attributes of the MPF is that it is sea-based and does
not require host nation support for implementation; allows the
national command authority the flexibility to move the ships into
a potential crisis area without moving personnel and escalating
tensions; and can be off-loaded without the need of port
     The Marine Corps fielded 3 MPF squadrons, consisting of 13
ships.  A squadron is located in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific
Ocean and Indian Ocean with sailing times of seven days reinforce
another squadrons area.  Each of the squadrons has the same
amount of mechanized assets aboard: 96 AAV"s; 30 M1A1, MBT's; 72
TOW systems; 25 LAV's; and 36 M198, 155-mm howitzers.(10:D-3)
All of the assets normally associated may not be aboard.  In tank
assets, each MPF squadron is short 28 tanks from having a full
battalion.  However, should additional combat assets be required,
another squadron can deploy to provide the required assets.
COMBINATION:  In operation Desert Shield and Storm numerous
MAGTF's were deployed with amphibious lift and MPF.  The 4th MEB
and 5th MEB were deployed on amphibious shipping and were the
CINC's forcible entry force.  The 7th MEB was deployed using MPF
assets.  Utilizing both capabilities, three mechanized MAGTF's
were available for use by the CINC.
PREPOSITION:  Deployment of the U.S. Army's crisis mechanized
forces has been through prepositioning.  This is how the Army
planned to reinforce its deployed units in Germany and Korea.  By
arranging host nation support, storage sites were created to
assemble all of the equipment needed for mechanized brigades or
divisions.  During the Cold War the U.S. Army had stored enough
equipment to reinforce NATO with 10 divisions.  Through
prepositioning in Europe, the Army was able to move a large
amount of the mechanized assets used in Desert Storm from Germany
instead of the U.S..  Unfortunately, the Army's ability to
preposition mechanized assets in Southwest Asia has been hampered
by a lack of host nation support.
MSC SHIPPING:  Due to the volume of equipment associated with
mechanized forces,  sealift was needed to deploy them in Desert
Shield and Storm.  The first type used was the MSC's fast sealift
ships.  The MSC has only 8 ships of this class, but was able to
embark the 24th Infantry Divisioin (mechanized) and transport
them from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia in ten days.(1:28)  This
accomplishment was heralded by the Army as a big success. The
bulk of the other lift came from the 53 ships in the Ready
Reserve Fleet (RRF).  However, this fleet was far from being
ready.  Of the 46 RRF ships activated in August 1990, only 11
were available on scheduled dates of embarkation; 14 were five
days late; 10 were six to ten days late; and 11 were eleven or
more days late.(12:12)  It should be noted, that in spite of the
delays in moving forces into the theater, the build-up was
accomplished faster than at any other time in military history.
Responsibility for the delays is MSC and they have taken steps to
keep the RRF in better condition if called upon in the future.
MPS:  Because of the lack of host nation support and speed of MSC
shipping during Desert Shield and Storm, the U.S. Army decided to
create a maritime prepositioned mechanized brigade for staging in
the Indian Ocean.  The Army perceived a shortage of lift would
burden them again if required to deploy forces into Southwest
Asia.  They wanted to preposition a force that is equipped with
110-120 M1A1, MBT's.(11)  This would indicate that the brigade
would be composed of 2 mechanized battalions and 2 tank
battalions at a minimum.  The number of maneuver battalions
indicated can be supported by the nine ships planned for
prepositioning.  Utilizing this data and the normal composition
of a mechanized brigade, the CINC would have a very strong
mechanized capability in the region, considering that it contains
an Army and Marine MPF.
RECOMMENDATIONS:  Ideally, a CINC would like to have the forces
available in a region to respond on a moments notice to a
crisis.  However, in reality he has limited assets and must
prioritize.  This will become more difficult with the pending
reduction in forces and funding.  Likewise, each of the armed
services has to prioritize funding for forces in order to support
the CINC's missions. While this is being accomplished, the
Congress and the American taxpayer are closely looking at how the
money is being spent and wether there is any redundancy between
the services.
     The creation of a prepositioned mechanized brigade has merit
and proven combat capabilities.  But in light of the shrinking
defense budget its cost could hamper the over all strategic lift
program for the Army.  To build the ships estimates start at
around 1.7 billion dollars.(1:30)  Additional costs will be
required to maintain the squadrons.  This would include creating
a facility to conduct maintenance on the embarked equipment and
supplies.  Since the facility used by the Marine Corps is
designed for only their MPF maintenance, a separate facility
would have to be developed.  At a time when military facilities
are being closed, will the Department of Defense allow the Army
to create a new facility?  Further, the Army could expect to
spend 85 million dollars a year in operational and maintenance
costs like the Marine Corps does in support of their MPF.(11)  In
total, the Army could expect to be spending 2-3 billion dollars
to create and maintain this capability initially.
     The solution should be to improve the current lift
capabilities of of both services.  This would also be in line
with the desires of the Clinton Administration.  Specifically,
adding on an additional ship to each Marine MPF squadron would
give the MAGTF a total of 58 M1A1 MBT's.  Funding  should be
directed towards the building of additional fast sealift or roll-
on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) ships that are capable of moving two
mechanized divisions.  As reported by Army logisticians,
sealift especially, fast sealift, becomes a tremendously
economical force multiplier."(2:5)  With two squadrons of these
ships located along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, in
existing facilities, they could respond to mechanized threats
world-wide, by embarking Army units in the U.S..  It would take
only 20 days for both squadrons to close within any area of
Southwest Asia with two mechanized divisions.  In size of forces
and capabilities the divisions would give the CINC greater
capabilities than a brigade.
     Although the U.S. Army proposes the development of a
maritime prepositioned mechanized brigade, creation of such a
force is unnecessary with the current capabilities of the MAGTF.
This should not be looked upon as being parochial to one
service.  In fact both services are complimentary to each others
capabilities.  In TRADOC pamphlet 525-5 it states, " the
U.S. Marine Corps is focused on operations both separate from and
compatible with the Army.  Their capacity to project relatively
heavy forces and execute forcible entry over the beach is
highly compatible with the Army's heavy follow-on forces."(13:40)
When General W.J. Boomer, USMC, who was in-charge of all Marine
forces in Desert Storm , was asked, about the Marine Corps
fighting a land war similar to the Army's. He responded, " I
think the two services are complimentary, and I think the Gulf
War clearly demonstrates that fact."(7:40)  This type of
cooperation is the key the nations response for crisis in the
future.  We must remember that we may be faced with a foe that
has "chariots of iron" but we must have the strategic mobility to
take hold of the "plain".
1.   Adams, John A. " Sealift is to Armor as Airlift is to
         Airborne." Armor September-October 92: 26-31.
2.   Elam, Maj. Gen. Fred E. and Lt.Col. Mark Henderson.
         " The Army's Strategic Mobility Plan." Arms Logistician
         May-June 92: 2-6.
3.   FM 71-3 " Armored and Mechanized Brigade Operations."
         Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army,
4.   FMFM 6-30 " Employment of the Light Armored Infantry
         Battalion." Quantico, VA: MCCDC 92.
5.   FMFRP 1-11 " Fleet Marine Force Organization 1992."
         Quantico, VA: MAGTF Warfighting Center, 92.
6.   FMFRP 2-12 " Marine Air-Ground Task Force: A Global
         Capability." Quantico, VA: MCCDC, 91
7.   Goodman, Glenn W. and John G. Roos " Interview with Lt.
         Gen. W.J. Boomer, USMC." Armed Forces Journal
         International August 92.
8.   IP 1-22 "The United States Army." Quantico,VA: MAGTF
         Education Center, 89
9.   Judges, King James version of the Bible.
10.  MPF Staff Planning Course, Landing Force Training Command,
         Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, CA: 92
11.  Spencer, Lt.Col. Thomas W. Interview on Army
         Prepositioning. Command and Staff College. 1 March 93.
12   Thompson, Lt.Col. K.L. " Sealift Testimony Irks Some on
         the Hill." Armed Forces Journal International. April, 92
13.  TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5. " AirLand Operations Concept."
         Armed Forces Journal International. October, 91

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