Reorganizing The Fleet Marine Force: From Division-Wing Teams To Marine Expeditionary Brigades

CSC 1989


Command and Staff College

Marine Corps Combat Development Center

Quantico, Virginia

Reorganizing the Fleet Marine Force:

From Division-Wing Teams to Marine Expeditionary Brigades

Major Joseph H. Schmid, U. S. Marine Corps

15 May 1989





DATE: 9 JUNE 1989

This paper proposes reorganizing the Fleet Marine Forces

around permanent Marine Expeditionary Brigades. After reviewing

the current organization of the Fleet Marine Forces down to the

battalion and squadron level, a discussion of the problems

arising out of the current organization is offered. The

reorganization plan has two goals--to resolve the problems with

the current organization and to reduce the number of headquarters.

A reduction in the number of headquarters would allow conversion

of the associated manpower structure to that for warfighting

elements. The proposed organization is analyzed from the

perspective of its impact on the the ground combat element, the

air combat element, the combat service support element, the

command element, manpower structure, and on Title 10, United

States Code.

The paper concludes that reorganization to permanent Marine

Expeditionary Brigades is possible without a reduction in mission

capabilities. The conclusion summarizes both the problems

resolved by the proposed plan and those left unresolved.



List of Figures iii

Preface iv


I. Introduction 1

Current Organization of the Fleet Marine Forces 1

Statement of the Problem 7

Statement of the Proposal 15

II. Analysis 21

Impact on Ground Combat Element 21

Impact on Aviation Combat Element 28

Impact on Combat Service Support Element 42

Impact on Command Element 44

Impact on Manpower Structure 47

Impact on Public Law 52

III. Conclusions 56

Figures 58

Anotated Bibliography 78



1. Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic 58

2. 2d Marine Division 59

3. 2d Marine Aircraft Wing 60

4. 2d Force Service Support Group 61

5. Fleet Marine Force, Pacific 62

6. I Marine Expeditionary Force 63

7. 1st Marine Division 64

8. 3d Marine Aircraft Wing 65

9. 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade 66

10. III Marine Expeditionary Brigade 67

11. 3d Marine Division 68

12. 1st Marine Aircraft Wing 69

13. I and II Marine Expeditionary Force (proposed) 70

14. III Marine Expeditionary Force (proposed) 71

15. Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Amphibious) 72


16. Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Maritime 73

Prepositioning Force) (proposed)

17. Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Reserve 74

Mobilization) (proposed)

18. Aviation Organization (proposed) 75

19. Brigade Service Support Group (proposed) 76

20. Distribution of Enlisted Marines 77

21. Distribution of Marine Officers 77


This paper proposes reorganizing the Fleet Marine Forces

into Marine Expeditionary Brigades. In analyzing the effect of

this proposal, the focus was on the manpower structure depicted

in Tables of Organization for Fleet Marine Force units. The

analysis of this proposal was admittedly limited in several ways.

First, the Tables of Equipment were not examined; thus, the

effect of this proposal on unit equipment was not addressed.

The political consequences of billet reductions within the Fleet

Marine Forces were also not considered. The effect on manpower

structure by programmed-weapons systems was not included in this


Sources for this paper ranged from published articles and

books to official Marine Corps documents, memoranda and personal

letters. Documents and memoranda were obtained from staff

copies. Personal letters from representatives of the Commanders-

in-Chief of the Unified Commands were in response to requests

from the author. Citations for sources are keyed to the

bibliography entry number and source page number. A citation

such as (40-31) refers to entry 40 in the bibliography, page 31.



Current Organization of the Fleet Marine Forces

The organizations of the Fleet Marine Forces vary between

the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. However, there are some

command relationships that are similar to each. Regardless of

the fleet, the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, is a

type commander responsible for the administration and training

of all of his subordinate units. The subordinate units of the

Fleet Marine Forces come under the operational control of the

Commanders- in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic or Pacific Fleets, when


Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic is organized as shown in

Figure 1. Reporting directly to the Commanding General, Fleet

Marine Force, Atlantic (FMFLant) are the Commanding General,

II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and the Commanding

Officers of three Marine Expeditionary Units (22d, 24th, 26th

MEU's). The Commanding General, II MEF, exercises operational

control over the 2d Marine Division, the 2d Marine Aircraft

Wing, the 2d Force Service Support Group, the 4th Marine

Expeditionary Brigade, and the 6th Marine Expeditionary

Brigade (MEB). Each of these commands have standing

headquarters, or "command elements" as they are known in

Marine jargon.

However, the 2d Marine Division, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing,

and 2d Force Service Support Group are the only major

subordinate commands that have permanently assigned forces.

The Marine Expeditionary Brigades and the Marine Expeditionary

Units have designated forces. Designated forces are

squadrons, battalions, and companies that are earmarked for

deployment with Marine Expeditionary Brigades and Units.

These designated forces remain under the command and control

of their parent command until deployment, at which time

command and control is shifted. This double counting is not

limited to just the operating forces. The Commanding

General, FMFLant, is "double-hatted" as Commanding General,

II MEF. The Commanding General, 2d Marine Division, is also

"double-hatted" as Deputy Commander, II MEF.

The major subordinate commands of II MEF have fairly

traditional organizations. The Second Marine Division is

organized as shown in Figure 2. This is the standard

divisional organization of a headquarters battalion, three

infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, and five

independent battalions - assault amphibian, combat engineer,

light armored infantry, reconnaissance, and tank. Recent

decisions of the Commandant of the Marine Corps have changed

the internal organization of many of the battalions within the

Marine Division in order to enhance the combat readiness of

those units (1). Among these changes were the placing in

cadre the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, adding scout infantrymen

to and redesignating the Light Armored Vehicle Battalion as

the Light Armored Infantry Battalion, adding a fourth rifle

company to each of the battalions in 8th Marines, and

reassigning the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines from the 3d Marine

Division to the 2d Marine Division.

The Second Marine Aircraft Wing does not have a table of

organization since, by doctrine, it is task organized to

perform the six functions of Marine aviation - assault

support, offensive air support, aerial reconnaissance,

electronic warfare, anti-air warfare, and control of aircraft

and missiles. However, like all Marine Aircraft Wings, it has

a Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, a Marine Wing Support

Group, a Marine Air Control Group, and aircraft groups

composed of helicopter, attack, and fighter aircraft, as shown

in Figure 3. The Second Force Service Support Group (FSSG) is

organized, as all FSSG's are, into eight battalions, each