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Marine Division

There are three Marine divisions in the active force and one in the Reserve. A division is the largest Marine ground combat organization of a MEF. Divisions are designated with Arabic numerals. Illustrations of division unit designations are provided below:

  • Division - 1st Marine Division (1st MarDiv)
  • Regiment - 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (1st Mar, 1st MarDiv)
  • Battalion - 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (1st Bn, 1st Mar, 1st MarDiv)
  • Battalion - 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Marine Division (2d Tk Bn, 2d MarDiv)
  • Company - Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Co A, 1st Bn, 1st Mar, 1st MarDiv)
  • Battery - Battery A, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Btry A, 1st Bn, 11th Mar, 1st MarDiv)

The mission of the Marine division is to execute amphibious assault operations and such other operations as may be directed. The Marine division must be able to provide the ground amphibious forcible-entry capability to an amphibious task force (ATF) and conduct subsequent land operations in any operational environment. The division commander fights by using combined-arms tactics and tailors the force to the demands of each mission. The Marine division is employed as the GCE of the MEF or may provide task-organized forces for smaller MAGTFs. The Marine division depends on the FSSG as its primary source of CSS. However, the organic capability of the division must be fully understood and used before requesting support from the FSSG.

Previous to 1 February 1941, the Marine Corps did not have a combat organization larger than a brigade, although a Marine division for service in France during World War I was proposed. Two Marine brigades (4th and 5th), each composed of two regiments of infantry and one machine gun battalion, were organized and sent to France with the idea of forming a Marine division, the two Marine Brigades to constitute the infantry and machine gun units, with the artillery and auxiliaries taken from the Army. The last units of the 5th Marine Brigade arrived in France on 9 November 1918, and the signing of the armistice two days later brought to a halt any further plans for a Marine division.

Up to the latter part of 1940 war plans had called for the Marine Corps to furnish brigades for duty with the Fleet. In September, 1940, however, the Secretary of the Navy directed that personnel and material tables be drawn up for Marine divisions without delay, the proposed divisions to replace the present brigades of the Fleet Marine Force. The purpose of the proposed Marine division was to have available a "strong, fast, striking force for use in subduing enemy incited rebellious or uprisings in neutral countries within South America." On 22 October 1940, the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps wrote the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, that it was his intention to organize the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions, each to be composed of the following:

    1 Division Headquarters Company
    1 Guard Company
    1 AA Machine Gun Battery
    1 Engineer Battalion
    1 Tank Company (11 -ton tanks)
    3 Infantry Regiments
    1 Medical Battalion
    1 Aircraft Group
    1 Artillery Regiment




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