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Battalions

A battalion-sized Mechanized Combined Arms Task Force (MCATF) generally has three maneuver elements (the company teams) and a screening element made up of the Heavy Gun Platoon, the Dragon Platoon, and a TOW section. These elements form a Combined Antiarmor Team (CAAT) and will lead the MCATF as a screening/scouting element. On contact, the CAAT teams will engage and destroy enemy armor and vehicles. If the MCATF decides to commit any of the company teams, then the CAAT teams will move off to the side and provide suppressive fire on the objective and flank protection for the MCATF. An infantry battalion is normally formed into a MCATF through cross-attachment with a tank battalion. The tank battalion gives the infantry battalion a tank company and receives in return a mechanized infantry company. The infantry battalion further cross-attaches to form company teams by having the tank company give a tank platoon to a mechanized infantry company in exchange for a mechanized infantry platoon. Cross-attachment provides more flexibility to the MCATF and more options for the MCATF commander, in this case the infantry battalion commander.

The mission of the Assault Amphibian Battalion is to land the surface assault element of the landing force and its equipment in a single lift from assault shipping by amphibious operations to inland objectives, and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent operations ashore. The assault amphibian battalion augments the company's organic logistics capability by providing personnel, medical, resupply, and overflow second and third echelon maintenance. Although primarily employed to mechanize the surface assault elements of a Regimental Landing Team (RLT), assault amphibian battalion elements may be employed in a combat service support role forward of the Forward Line of Troops (FLOT) or in the beach support area. The battalion has the command, staff, and resources necessary to plan and execute mechanized operations as a maneuver control headquarters when augmented with combat and combat support forces. The battalion is comprised of at least two AA companies and an H&S company.

The AA battalion is a separate battalion assigned to the Marine Division. The AA battalion possesses the assets to completely mechanize one (1) infantry regiment of the Marine Division. The AA battalion commander serves as a special staff officer to the Commanding General of the Marine Division. The battalion commander also directs the maintenance and logistic trains organic to the battalion to support operations as directed by the Commanding General of the Marine Division. The Assault Amphibian Battalion has the ability to function as a maneuver element headquarters when provided augmentation from higher headquarters.

The AAV is the vehicle which separates the Marine Corps from other armed forces in the U.S. It is the only truly amphibious vehicle in the US inventory - it can launch from amphibious shipping well offshore, swim to the beach through heavy surf, and then assault inland. Through all these phases, the AAV can support itself from its up-gun turret which contains a MK-19 grenade launcher and an M-2 .50 cal machine gun, while at the same time providing light armor protection to 18 or more combat loaded Marines. The MAGTF uses AAVs, usually in conjunction with tanks, to act as armored personnel carriers for its infantry forces during every stage of the battle from the amphibious assault to exploitation far inland.

There are two AAV battalions in the Marine Corps: one at Camp Pendleton and 29 Palms, and one at Camp Lejeune. There are also two platoons in Hawaii and a separate company on Okinawa. Each battalion contains four companies of three platoons each. A platoon has ten AAVs and can mechanize one reinforced infantry company. An AAV company mechanizes an infantry battalion, and an AAV battalion mechanizes an infantry regiment. The mission of the AAV battalion is to transport the surface assault element of the landing force from amphibious shipping to inland objectives in a single lift during the amphibious assault and to provide combat support for other operational requirements.

The Marine Corps' main battle tank is the M1A1. It is the most powerful and survivable tank in the world. Equipped with a stabilized 120mm main gun, thermal sights, and a gas turbine engine, it can make first round kills against enemy armor at 3000 meter ranges when traveling in excess of 30 mph, a capability that is not degraded by darkness or battlefield haze. As tanks cannot operate safely or effectively in the absence of infantry support, the MAGTF uses the tanks supported by infantry to punch holes in enemy defenses, allowing rapid penetrations deep behind enemy lines.

A tank battalion consists of four tank companies, a Headquarters and Service Company, one antitank platoon and one scout platoon. The tank companies are the basic tactical unit with which the battalion accomplishes its mission. These companies have 14 tanks (three platoons of four tanks each, and one tank each for the CO and XO) and one tank retriever. The antitank platoon provides anti-mechanized support to the battalion. The battalion scout platoon performs reconnaissance, provides limited security, and assists in controlling movement of the battalion. The tank battalion has 58 M1A1 tanks (with 120-mm guns), 26 TOW weapons systems, 4 armored vehicle launch bridges (AVLBs) with 8 bridges, and 6 M88A1 tank recovery vehicles.

There are two active duty tank battalions in the Marine Corps, 1st Tank Battalion at 29 Palms and 2nd Tank Battalion at Camp Lejeune. There are also two battalions in the reserves. The mission of the tank battalion is to provide combat power to the Marine Division in the amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore, using maneuver, armor protected firepower, and shock action to disrupt, disorganize, and destroy the enemy, his command, control, communication, and logistic capabilities.

The Light Armored Vehicle [LAV] is the Marine Corps' armored reconnaissance asset. LAVs are organized into Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalions and are used to gather information well forward of the main MAGTF units, providing the MAGTF commander operational flexibility by giving him stand-off distance. LAR is also used to protect flanks, perform screen missions and raids, and to conduct route and area reconnaissance.

There are four LAR battalions in the Marine Corps, located in Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, 29 Palms, and one in the reserve. Each battalion has four line companies, consisting of 14 LAV-25s, 4 LAV-ATs, 2 LAV-Ms, 1 LAV-R, 3 LAV-Ls, and 1 LAV-C2. The mission of the LAR battalion is to conduct reconnaissance, security, and economy of force operations and, within its capabilities, to conduct limited offensive or delaying operations that exploit the unit's mobility and firepower. The LAR battalion may function as an independent maneuver element, or its subordinate units may support other tactical units. LAR units may support the MAGTF or the GCE.

The Low-Altitude Air Defense [LAAD] Battalion provides close-in, low-altitude, surface-to-air weapons fires in defense of MAGTF assets defending forward combat areas, maneuver forces, vital areas, installations, and/or units engaged in special/independent operations. Provide for the effective command, administrative, communications, supply, and logistic support of subordinate batteries. It maintains a primary capability as a highly mobile, vehicle-mounted, and man-portable surface-to-air weapons component of the MAGTF with the ability to rapidly deploy in the assault echelon of an expeditionary operation. It also provides surface-to-air weapons support for units engaged in special/independent operations, as well as early warning of hostile air threats to other elements of the air defense system.

The LAAD battalion is comprised of a battalion headquarters, a headquarters and service (H&S) battery, and two firing batteries. The H&S battery has been divided into an H&S battery (-) and an H&S battery detach-ment. This organization facilitates the logistical support of separately deployed firing batteries. The LAAD battalion is organized to provide LAAD capabilities that are consistent with the size of the MAGTF and the scope of the air defense plan. The battalion will normally be employed within the integrated air defense system of the MEF. The LAAD battalion is capable of organizational (1st echelon) maintenance of organic surface-to-air weapons system components and training devices; organizational (1st and 2d echelon) maintenance of all other organic equipment.

The intelligence battalion organizes, trains, and equips task-organized intelligence detachments for service with MAGTFs or other commanders as directed. Intelligence Battalion is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. During both garrison and tactical operations, the mission of the intelligence battalion headquarters is to coordinate administrative, operational, training, and logistical support for all subordinate company units. Additionally, during tactical operations the intelligence battalion headquarters will assist the MEF G-2 with establishment and operation of the surveillance and reconnaissance center.

The intelligence battalion is under OPCON of the MEF Commander, who exercises this control through the G-2. During operations, intelligence battalion units are employed in either general support or direct support. Under general support, intelligence company elements are tasked by the MAGTF commander through the G-2/S-2 to satisfy the requirements of the entire force. Alternatively, task-organized detachments consisting of elements from some or all of the intelligence battalion's subordinate units may be placed in direct support of a subordinate commander.

During the 1990s ground reconnaissance had been reorganized numerous times. One change that proved to be unpopular involved division recon, where each division had a recon company and each infantry regiment had a recon platoon. Due to inadequacies identified as a result of staffing and exercising this structure, HQMC directed in June 1999 that the Operating Forces resolve the recon deficiencies. Essentially, this meant that each MEF would retain a force reconnaissance company and each division would return to a separate recon battalion with structure coming from the division recon company and each infantry regiment's recon platoon. The Operating Forces requested a further review of the new recon plan before executing, and that review, coupled with concerns by the Commandant, Gen James L. Jones, prompted the Corps to convene a ground reconnaissance (recon) operational planning team (OPT) at Quantico to identify near-team recommendations to the Commandant on fixing ground recon in the Operating Forces.

The MEF AC/S, G-2, has overall responsibility for MEF intelligence, counter intelligence and reconnaissance operations. The CO, Intelligence Battalion, is under the command of the Commanding General, MEF, executing the function of the Intelligence Support Coordinator (ISC) under the staff cognizance of the AC/S G-2. The CO, Intelligence Battalion is the direct representative of the MEF G-2 and, in his role as ISC, is responsible for planning and coordinating all available intelligence collection, analysis and production and dissemination support and the overall effective planning, integration, and C2 of MEF intelligence and reconnaissance operations. The CO, Intelligence Battalion exercises command of the Intelligence Battalion through its company commanders.

The mission of the communication battalion is to provide communications support to a MARFOR component HQ; a MEF CE or a MEB CE; a component HQ deployed simultaneously with a MEF CE and a MEB CE; or two MEB CEs. It provides CE communications for the supported CE: MEU, MEB, MEF, and component HQ. It also provides Communications connectivity between the supported CE and senior, adjacent, and subordinate HQs, and provides the supported CE with a Naval Telecommunications System entry and/or, as appropriate, entry into the Defense Communications System.

Each MEF has an organic communication battalion: 9th Communication Battalion with I MEF, 8th Communication Battalion with II MEF, and 7th Communication Battalion with III MEF. Each communication battalion consists of a headquarters company, a service company, a general support company, and three direct support companies (except 7th Comm Bn, III MEF, has one Direct Support Company).

During operations the communication battalion or its task-organized detachments are OPCON to the MAGTF commander, who exercises this control through the G-6/S-6. Elements of the battalion are organized to provide specified general or direct support of the MARFOR component commander or MAGTF CE. The MAGTF G-6/S-6 exercises staff cognizance over MAGTF communications; to facilitate system planning and engineering, the battalion conducts concurrent planning with the MAGTF G-6/S-6. Elements of the communication battalion may be employed separately as task-organized detachments to support organizations smaller than a MEF CE, or the entire battalion may be employed to support larger MAGTF CEs.

The communications battalion will normally deploy as a task-organized unit or will deploy task-organized detachments in support of MARFOR headquarters and MAGTF CEs. In support of a MEF CE, the battalion in total will task organize to support the deployment. Upon notification, and before deployment of a smaller MAGTF CE or a MARFOR headquarters, a direct support communications company will be task-organized to support the deployment. The headquarters company includes the structure necessary to provide detachments to support three MEU CEs.

The Radio Battalion provides communications security (COMSEC) monitoring, tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Warfare (EW) and Special Intelligence (SI) communications support to the MAGTF. It conducts interception, radio direction finding (DF), recording, and analysis of communications and noncommunications signals; and SIGINT processing, analysis, production, and reporting. It also conducts EW against enemy or other hostile communications.

The Radio Battalion assists in the protection of MAGTF communications from enemy exploitation by conducting COMSEC monitoring, analysis, and reporting on friendly force communications. It provides SI communications support and cryptographic guard (personnel and terminal equipment) in support of MAGTF command elements and Radio Battalion (RadBn) operations. Normally, communications connectivity for SI communications is provided by the communications unit supporting the MAGTF CE.

The Radio Battalion provides task-organized detachments to MAGTFs with designated SIGINT, EW, SI communications, and other required capabilities. It exercises technical control and direction over MAGTF RadBn SIGINT and EW operations. The Radio Battalion provides Radio Reconnaissance Team (RRT) with specialized insertion and extraction capabilities (combat rubber raiding craft, fast rope, rappel, helocast, static line parachute) to provide specified SIGINT and electronic attack support during advance force, preassault, or deep postassault operations.

The Radio Battalion coordinates technical SIGINT requirements and exchanges SIGINT technical information and material with national, theater, joint, and other SIGINT units. It also provides intermediate, third- and fourth-echelon maintenance of RadBn SIGINT and EW equipment.

There are two radio battalions within the operating force: 1st Radio Battalion, which is OPCON to COMMARFORPAC and is responsible for providing support to it and I and III MEF; and 2d Radio Battalion, which is responsible to support COMMARFORLANT and II MEF. 1st Radio Battalion consists of an H&S company and three operational companies (T/O numbers 4737D and 4735D); 2d Radio Battalion consists of an H&S company and two operational companies (T/O numbers 4737M and 4735M). The operational companies of the radio battalion are not tactical organizations, but instead serve as training and administrative units from which personnel and equipment are drawn to form task-organized SIGINT Support Units (SSUs). A radio battalion SSU will be task organized around all or most of the following elements: a headquarters element, an operations control and analysis center or collections/DF element, an EA element, an SI communications element, a service support element, and a radio reconnaissance element.

The Radio Battalion task-organizes and employs its companies and teams to best support the MEF. It deploys collection or DF teams for improved target signals access and operational support to forward MAGTF units. Collocating Radio Battalion's C2 node with the MAGTF G-2/S-2's CIC and operating within the integrated intelligence concept of operations in GS of the MAGTF. Focusing on tasked PIRs and IRs and providing required support to all six intelligence functions. Disseminating time-sensitive SIGINT products to subordinate MAGTF units when required by the tactical situation. Providing operations control and analysis center (OCAC) liaison teams (OLTs) to the lead elements of the MEF, its MSEs and adjacent units as required; and providing SIGINT support elements (SSEs) and SSTs with mobile MAGTF units.




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