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Does A MAGTF Commander Have Sufficient Capability

Does A MAGTF Commander Have Sufficient Capability

Within The MAGTF Command Element To Command A JTF?

 

CSC 1992

 

SUBJECT AREA Operations

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Title: DOES A MAGTF COMMANDER HAVE SUFFICIENT CAPABILITY

WITHIN THE MAGTF COMMAND ELEMENT TO COMMAND A JTF ?

 

Author: Major Edward M. Walsh, United States Marine Corps

 

Thesis: By comparing the mission requirements of a Joint

Task Force (JTF) Headquarters (HQ) with the capabilities of

a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command Element (CE)

it will become apparent that the MAGTF CE can be a JTF in

only limited scenarios.

 

Background: The JTF is the warfighter of the future as the

U.S. draws down its forces. The MAGTF Command Element's

task organization is identical to that of a JTF Headquarters.

The MAGTF strategic mobility and forward deployed

position make it ideal to pick up the role of JTF HQ.

However, there are doctrinal problems that don't count the

Navy and Marine Corps as seperate Services therefore while

embarked with the Navy. Problems with lack of equipment in-

teroperability and manpower shortages will limit the MAGTF

CE's capability to be a Joint Task Force HQ except in very

few circumstance.

 

Recommendation: Marine Corps needs to think about update

doctrine and tables of organization as a cheap fix to the

limitations. The procurement of equipment can come later

when all the services decide to work together on acquisi-

tions.

 

OUTLINE

 

DOES A MAGTF COMMANDER HAVE SUFFICIENT CAPABILITY

WITHIN THE MAGTF COMMAND ELEMENT TO COMMAND A JTF ?

 

I. Introduction

 

II. Joint Task Force (JTF)

A. Definition

B. Organization

 

III. Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)

A. Definition

B. Organization

1. Special Purpose MAGTF

2. Marine Expeditionary Unit

3. Marine Expeditionary Brigade

4. Marine Expeditionary Force

C. Employment examples

 

IV. MAGTF Command Element Limitations

A. Intelligence Limitations

B. Manpower Limitations

C. Communication Limitations

D. Liaison Requirements

E. Lack of joint doctrine

 

V. Over-the-horizon

A. Multipolar world

B. MAGTF Command Element Assessment

 

APPENDIX A National Command Structure Diagram

APPENDIX B JTF Headquarters (HQ) Wire Diagram

APPENDIX C MAGTF Command Element (CE) Diagram

APPENDIX D MAGTF Table of Organization (Current and Proposed)

APPENDIX E JTF Functions

 

Mayaquez, Desert One, Beirut, and Grenada. What do

 

these four military operations have in common ? Failure of

 

a joint (multiservice) task force to accomplish expected

 

results. Congress decided it was time to spruce up the tar-

 

nished image its military had achieved and in 1986 enacted

 

into public law the 1986 Department of Defense (DOD) Reor-

 

ganization Act (Goldwater-Nichols Bill). This act served to

 

promote unity of effort among the Services and streamlined

 

the chain of command throughout the DOD hierarchy. (See Ap-

 

pendix A) The nation's warfighters are now the Commanders-

 

in-Chief (CINCs) of the unified and specified combatant

 

commands.(1:2-19) The CINCs' chain of command has been

 

clearly defined -- he only takes orders from the National

 

Command Authority (NCA).

 

The five unified commands are made by dividing the

 

world geographically and assigning each CINC an Area of

 

Responsibility (AOR). There are four options from which a

 

CINC may choose to organize his command. They are:

 

1. Subordinate unified command

 

2. Service Component Command

 

3. Functional Component Command

 

4. Joint Task Force (JTF)

 

Presently the unified combatant commands are organized

 

using a combination of the four options. The potential for

 

multiple problems widely dispersed within a CINC's

 

geographic command is very real. The CinC must keep the big

 

picture in view and not become overly focused on one crisis

 

at the expense of the remainder of the AOR. This would

 

therefore point to the use of a JTF as the force of choice.

 

Recently a Marine Service component commander was iden-

 

tified for assignment to each unified combatant command.

 

This coupled with the drawdown of U.S. forces, increases the

 

likelihood that a Marine may be designated as a Commander,

 

Joint Task Force (CJTF). By comparing the mission require-

 

ments of a JTF Headquarters (HQ) with the capabilities of a

 

Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command Element (CE) it

 

will become apparent that the MAGTF CE can be a JTF HQ in

 

only limited scenarios.

 

What is a JTF ? A JTF as defined by joint doctrine is:

 

. . . a force composed of assigned or attached elements

of the Army, the Navy or the Marine Corps, and the Air

Force or two or more of these Services, that is con-

stituted and so designated by the Secretary of Defense,

by a CINC, or by the commander of a subordinate unified

command or an existing joint task force. (18:3-27)

 

A JTF is established to perform a specific task

 

(mission). The exact structure of the force organization is

 

dependent upon the mission assigned and the environment in

 

which it will take place. These tasks may be of limited

 

duration or open-ended. The tasks of limited duration re-

 

quiring the employment of a JTF are frequently time sensi-

 

tive in nature, while examples of JTFs of limited duration

 

might be in response to requests for humanitarian assistance

 

(i.e., disaster relief or refugee assistance) or in response

 

to a localized conflict. The tasks of the open-ended JTFs

 

are prolonged missions dealing with one issue. Examples of

 

open-ended JTFs are JTF Four, Five and Six which are in-

 

volved in the drug interdiction campaign along the southern

 

borders of the United States.

 

The key element to forming a JTF is the command, con-

 

trol, communication and information provided by the HQ. The

 

JTF HQ is normally organized along the lines of a typical

 

general staff, J-I through J-6. (See Appendix B) These

 

staff members are required to coordinate the deployment,

 

employment and sustainment of forces. As a minimum the JTF

 

will have to establish a Joint Logistics Center (JLC) to

 

coordinate the movement and sustainment of forces to the

 

Area of Operations (AO). A Joint Intelligence Center (JIC)

 

is necessary to collect, process, analyze and disseminate

 

information.

 

Once in the AO the proper employment of JTF forces

 

necessitates a Joint Operations Center (JOC) with a Joint

 

Targeting Coordination Board (JCTB). The need for a Joint

 

Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) is situationally de-

 

pendent on the amount of aviation assets assigned to the

 

JTF. The forces assigned to the JTF may be organized either

 

by function, Service, or a subordinate JTF may be formed.

 

Lastly, the capability to communicate with the estab-

 

lishing authority, supporting commands and within the forces

 

assigned, no matter where they are based, will put a heavy

 

demand on communication assets. The NCA has recognized this

 

communications requirement and has the capability to augment

 

two JTF's with a Joint Communication Support Element (JCSE)

 

which assists in communicating to the NCA/CINC.

 

The Marine Corps' organization for combat is the MAGTF

 

which possesses a great deal of capability. The MAGTF is a

 

task organization of Marine forces under a single command

 

and is structured to support a specific mission. (20:220)

 

The MAGTF CE is organized in an identical manner to a JTF

 

HQ. (See Appendix C) Both the MEF CE and the JTF HQ have a

 

staff section that performs essentially the same functions.

 

The MAGTF is comprised of three major subordinate elements

 

based on function; the Ground Combat Element (GCE), the

 

Aviation Combat Element (ACE) and the Combat Service Support

 

Element (CSSE). (16:16) These subordinate elements can be

 

likened to the JFACC and the Joint Land Component Commander

 

(JLCC).

 

There are four sizes of MAGTFs, each size will be task

 

organized according to the mission:

 

1. Special Purpose MAGTF (SPMAGTF) - A relatively new

 

concept, the SPMAGTF can be task organized a number of ways.

 

One example includes heavy logistics and transportation as-

 

sets (trucks and aircraft) with only a small number of

 

security personnel. The most likely employment of this as-

 

set is in support of a humanitarian or disaster relief mis-

 

sion.

 

2. Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) - The current MEU's

 

that are forward deployed will continue the forward presence

 

mission and be available for crisis response. A MEU, unless

 

adequately reinforced, is not considered a JTF candidate due

 

to its dependence on the Navy.

 

3. Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) - Although this

 

size MAGTF still exists an initiative has been introduced

 

that will do away with it and change it to "MEF Forward".

 

The one problem with this initiative is that the Marine

 

Corps did such a good job of selling the MEB concept of

 

employment that it's firmly entrenched in joint doctrine.

 

4. Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) - This is the

 

largest of the MAGTF with a Marine division, air wing and

 

force service support group and will be the one referenced

 

through out the rest of the paper when comparing

 

capabilities with those of a JTF HQ committing to a combat

 

situation.

 

A MAGTF may be employed over a wide range of situations

 

due to its flexibility in task organizing, inherent

 

strategic mobility or simply because its forward deployed

 

position will allow it to respond to a crisis more readily.

 

However a MAGTF when employed with the Navy is only a com-

 

bined arms task force -- it's not a joint task force because

 

according to joint doctrine:

 

A JTF may be organized with two or more Service

components; however, Navy and Marine Corps forces are

normally considered as one Service component when

employed together and do not constitute a JTF.

(21 :II-10)

The question then is, under what circumstances would a

 

MAGTF CE be a JTF HQ ? The most probable circumstances

 

short of war is a SPMAGTF supporting a humanitarian assis-

 

tance or disaster relief mission. While the MEF is the war-

 

fighter for the Marine Corps. The MEF Assault Echelon (AE)

 

can be deployed into a theater using amphibious ships

 

prepared to conduct a forcible entry , with follow on

 

Marine, Army and Air Force forces being flown in. If there

 

were any chance of a MAGTF being a JTF in a conflict it

 

would more than likely be the MEF, but only if Marines made

 

up the preponderance of forces.

 

Southwest Asia (SWA) was a proving ground not only for

 

weapons technology, but also for the technology of command,

 

control, communications and intelligence gathering systems.

 

It was here the lack of interoperability showed up the dif-

 

ferences between the Service acquisition programs and the

 

fact the military might not have been as joint as it

 

thought. By using some of the lessons learned from SWA the

 

limits of a MAGTF are readily identified in the areas of in-

 

telligence, manpower, communications, and doctrine.

 

In order to carry the fight to the enemy, the MAGTF CE

 

must have the intelligence capability to see through the fog

 

of battle and anticipate the enemy's actions. The Marine

 

Corps' in house intelligence gathering capability was

 

limited to RPV flights, some ground sensors and from return-

 

ing pilots. Definitely not enough to fight a campaign with

 

in the joint arena as a JTF HQ. Much was said about the

 

retirement of the RF-4B reconnaisance aircraft, but there

 

were work-arounds to the problem. One problem identified

 

was lack of knowledge concerning what assets were available

 

from other Services and national assets. (34:22)

 

Manpower shortfalls showed up almost immediately within

 

the CE when round the clock planning began. Although the

 

Marine Corps advertises the capability for taking 15, 30 and

 

60 days of logistical sustainment in various MAGTFs, it

 

doesn't possess the capability to sustain 24 hour operations

 

over those same periods of time. (32) Taking a quick look at

 

the current Table of Organization (T/O) for a MEF CE it is

 

quite obvious these numbers are nowhere near adequate for

 

the size of threat that would require the commitment of a

 

MEF. (See Appendix D) In the past the problem has been solved by

 

either forming ad hoc staffs or double and triple-hatting

 

present staff personnel. The result is usually marginal

 

performance or the Marine performs well for a limited period

 

of time (with only 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night).

 

Unfortunately the Marine Corps is not going to get

 

any more people to flesh out its staffs, as the Services

 

drawdown to the base force numbers in DOD's plans.

 

Then how does the Marine Corps intend to increase MEF

 

staff capabilities if it can't even meet the demands of 24

 

hour operations as it stands today, let alone those require-

 

ments of a JTF HQ ? (See Appendix E for complete listing of

 

JTF HQ functions [14:Fig 5-7])The present initiative is to

 

have reservists fill the MEF staff positions. (See Appendix

 

D)        This is a quick fix and gives the MEF staff some con-

 

tinuity over the years.

 

Another identified alternative is to draw personnel

 

from the supporting establishments (i.e., MCCDC, MCB's,

 

MCSSS, etc.) to fill the needs of the MEF CE's. The Marine

 

Corps did this to a small degree during Desert Shield/Storm,

 

but only to the detriment of the supporting structure's

 

capability. Marines walked into unfamiliar situations and

 

went through the usual growing pains of being the new guy on

 

the block.(27) This "battle rostering" can not be just

 

another ad hoc attempt by the Marine Corps to throw warm

 

bodies at the problem.(4) A solution would be to identify

 

staff augmentees by specific billet who would train with the

 

staff during exercises, for example the Executive Officer at

 

OCS could be designated as the G-3A for II MEF. This help

 

would reduce the unknown quality factor and stigma as-

 

sociated with staff augmentees as being on the "B" team.

 

The supporting establishment must be able to continue

 

its mission as well. The drawdown in civilian personnel

 

will only serve to increase the workload on the military.

 

An alternative to both of these manpower shortfalls is to

 

augment the supporting establishment with more reservists.

 

The reservists would drill with the supporting establishment

 

and offer the continuity in peacetime that civilians

 

provide.

 

It doesn't matter what the size of the HQ staff is if

 

they can't communicate with their units. Present communica-

 

tions equipment in the Marine Corps operate at about one-

 

third to one-half the capacity of the Army and the Air Force

 

gear. An example is the data/message switch of the Marine

 

AN/MSC-83 switch which can process 450 messages an hour

 

whereas the Army and Air Force TYC-39 can process 750 mes-

 

sages in the same timeframe and uses satellites. The MSC-63

 

might have to resend the message 5 times by satellite before

 

ensuring it was passed. The Marine Corps can increase the

 

number of messages it can send by linking some MSC-63's

 

together, but it increases the strategic lift requirement.

 

Communications and computers are allowing information

 

to be passed in huge volume at phenomenal rates of speed.

 

The problem encountered is in the processing of this infor-

 

mation and then disseminating it all in time to have an ef-

 

fect upon the enemy. The limiting factor is that the the

 

Operations Center becomes overwhelmed with information.

 

Too, often command and control problems have been dis-

 

guised as communication problems. Commanders have asked for

 

all the available information because they didn't know what

 

they needed and inundated their staffs with needless work or

 

overloaded the communication nets. This can be prevented by

 

refining staff procedures through training exercises. There

 

is only one person who sets the pace of the staff -- the

 

commander through what he deems to be important information.

 

The army calls them Commanders Critical Information Require-

 

ment (CCIR) these give the staff direction on where the com-

 

mander is going to be looking.

 

What has technology's effect been on the planning

 

process ? Up until recently the Marine Corps' planning

 

process had been the traditional bottom up approach -- the

 

GCE was fighting the battle and taking the enemy in his gun-

 

sights and generating the requests for support. Technology's

 

influence has been to push the battlefield out away from the

 

GCE not just in terms of weapons range, but the tempo at

 

which war is conducted.

 

The Marine Corps has recognized that to bring the

 

synergistic effect of the entire MAGTF to bear upon a foe it

 

must be done by planning ahead from the top. The MAGTF com-

 

mander has a better vantage point to see what needs to be

 

accomplished and what resources are at his disposal. This

 

transition to top down planning better supports the precepts

 

of maneuver warfare.

 

"Experience shows liaison is a particularly important

 

part of command, control and communication in a joint

 

force." (19:37) Since 1978, after action reports have

 

reflected the benefits of having a good liaison and the

 

penalties of not. The Marine Corps is notorious for making

 

the mistake of sending someone so junior in rank and with

 

such little support that it's a waste to even send him. The

 

key questions here are: with whom does a command need to

 

provide liaison with, of what rank should the liaison be and

 

what are the possible benefits ?

 

Liaison should be provided to higher, adjacent and sup-

 

porting units. The liaison should have some credibility as

 

the representative of his commanding officer. This can only

 

be established quickly by sending someone with enough rank

 

that the command receiving the liaison believes he has the

 

trust and confidence of the command he is representing. For

 

example, it would be hard to conceive that a regimental com-

 

mander would confide in a lieutenant.

 

An effective liaison will alleviate some of the

 

problems of commanders having to get on the radio during the

 

planning process to sort out tactical questions -- the

 

liaison should know how the commander he represents intends

 

to operate. It might even be said that a good liaison is

 

essential to maneuver warfare, if he can anticipate ques-

 

tions and seek out the answer before it is asked. How a

 

liaison officer or team is equipped (communication and

 

transportation) will depend on to what type of unit he/they

 

will be attached. An additional consideration in staffing

 

the MAGTF liaison teams will be interpreters for allied na-

 

tions.

 

The only remaining question would be how do we pass on

 

what we learn ? "Doctrine provides a military organization

 

with a common philosophy, a common language, a common pur-

 

pose, and a unity of effort." (19:5) User friendly and in-

 

teroperability apply to doctrine as well as systems. The

 

key to doctrinal publications is presenting the information

 

clearly, in both format and readability. Doctrinal develop-

 

ment is a weak area, Marine Corps publications are woefully

 

out of date with the actual methods that are used in the

 

operating forces.

 

The present publications contain far too much material

 

and is developed in a vacuum -- shouldn't all FMFM's be

 

adopted by the Navy as Naval Warfare Publications, after all

 

the Marine Corps is the only infantry that the Navy has.

 

Many of the Marine Corps' FMFM's are simply Army FM's regur-

 

gitated. The redundant information in doctrinal publica-

 

tions requires constant cross referencing to see which is

 

the most current. The more information in a publication the

 

longer it will take to edit, publish and distribute. All

 

the information in the world could be in a publication, but

 

if it can't get to the people who need it -- it's useless.

 

People in the Marine Corps work around doctrine by im-

 

provising. This hurts the Marine Corps in the joint arena

 

when the only information available is in outdated publica-

 

tions. Many times Marines will say "that's what the book

 

says, but this is how we really do it" or "let me explain

 

how we do it." Maybe there'd be less of a requirement for

 

liaison officers.

 

OVER-THE-HORIZON

 

The political picture of the world has changed greatly

 

in the past three years. The dissolution of the Soviet

 

Union no longer requires the U.S. to counter the threat for

 

world dominance. However, the former client states of the

 

Soviet Union that still have a large inventory of weapons

 

will now find themselves free to operate on their own

 

without restraints. The result is the resurfacing of old

 

border disputes and ethnic animosities as we have seen in

 

Yugoslavia and Soviet Georgia. Other possible sources of

 

conflict in this increasingly interdependent world will be

 

the continuing economic development of third world

 

countries. The countries within the Pacific Basin continue

 

to expand their economic influence while the world is becom-

 

ing more dependent on the oil fields of the Middle East and

 

Southwest Asia.

 

The MAGTF has a very capable force and can bring a

 

great deal of power to bear upon a foe, however, as its CE

 

is presently staffed and equipped, it could only hope to

 

perform as a JTF in a only limited situations. Whether the

 

Marine Corps wants to be considered as a possible CJTF and

 

on what scale must be decided soon. This decision will have

 

an impact on future force structure and diversions of ac-

 

quisition funds to be able to operate at the level of a JTF

 

HQ.

 

Missions that a MAGTF CE can currently handle as a JTF

 

HQ are humanitarian assistance such as the operation in

 

Turkey to help Kurdish refugees and the Haitian refugee

 

problem. Another situation calling for a Marine JTF could

 

be disaster relief as in the eruption of Mt. Pintatubo in

 

the Philippines and the tidal wave that struck Bangladesh.

 

In all of these incidents a MAGTF participated and in some

 

cases acted as the CJTF.

 

Military operations short of war might see the intro-

 

duction of Marine and Army forces in a peacekeeping role

 

upon request of the host government. Some examples are in-

 

terventions in the Dominican Republic in 1965, Cyprus in

 

1974 and Beirut in 1958 and 1982. In these situations,

 

Marines might be augmented by Army military police and Air

 

Force surveillance assets until a United Nations force could

 

be put in place. The logical CJTF is the MAGTF commander.

 

The last situation that a MAGTF CE might be a JTF HQ

 

would be if forces were landed in conjunction with Army

 

units with the MAGTF retaining the preponderance of forces.

 

The size of the AO would probably be a Grenada, Falklands

 

Island, or even Panama. More than likely the MAGTF will act

 

as an enabling force, initially to demonstrate U.S. resolve

 

or to hold the door open for follow on forces.

 

The CINCs will consider the Marine Corps their force of

 

choice only if they know how it operates. Marine Corps

 

doctrine should be user friendly, be limited to amphibious

 

matters, the transition to land warfare and those subjects

 

that are unique to the Marine Corps' force structure. In

 

the absence of clear doctrine or good communication, a

 

liaison officer can be an effective representative of the

 

command.

 

 

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