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In A Downsizing Environment: Can All Three Marine Corps MEFs
Function As A JTF Headquarters?
AUTHOR Major William D. Hardy,USMC
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Strategic Issues
                    IN A DOWNSIZING ENVIRONMENT:
Thesis:  As a result of the Marine Corps' new doctrine, the MEF has
emerged as its primary warfighting command element. Through proper
planning, staffing, and training the Marine Corps is enhancing its
MEFs capabilities to function as a Joint Task Force Headquarters.
The JTF headquarters role is a natural progression for the MEF:  as
a naval, expeditionary, combined arms force the MEF is tailor-made
for that role.
I.   Background of the Marine Corps' command relationships
     A.   History of Navy/Marine Corps relationship
     B.   Marine Corps' evolving role
          1.   New security era
          2.   Goldwater-Nichols Act
          3.   Tasking MEF's as a JTF headquarter
II.  Requirements of a JTF headquarters
     A.   Define JTF headquarters
     B.   Joint Pub 0-2 provides general JTF guidance
     C.   Responsibilities of a JTF commander
     D.   JTF organization
          1.   JTF staffs
          2.   JTF Hg deployment and support requirements
III. MEF's enhancements
     A.   Assumptions
     B.   Communications requirements
     C.   JPME and the MEF
     D.   MEF T/Os
          1.   Force Structure Planning Group
          2.   Battle Roster concept & manning levels
          3.   MEF's new mission
          4.   FMFPac & FMFLan as component headquarters
IV.  MEF as a JTF headquarters
     A.   Deployment options
     B.   Training as a JTF headquarters
     C.   Operation "Sea Angle"
     D.   MAGTF's possess unique capabilities
                    IN A DOWNSIZING ENVIRONMENT:
            by Major William D. Hardy, United States Marine Corps
With the adaption of FMFM 1-The Marine Corps' new warfighting
philosophy-the concept of "the primacy of the MEF" has emerged.
This philosophy envisions the "single battle" where the Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF) is the only Marine Corps warfighting
command element (CE) capable of integrating operations vertically
into the Joint arena.  This view coupled with the reality that
MEF's will fight in a joint environment has caused the Marine Corps
to articulate a new policy regarding its capabilities.
USMC 2001-the Force Structure Planing Group (FSPG) report-specifies
that all MEF CE's shall be capable of providing the nucleus of a
Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters for joint operations.  (16:Encl
2)  This requirement has instigated concern regarding whether the
Marine Corps can preform that mission.  I submit that not only can
MEFs perform the JTF headquarters mission, but that the Marine
Corps is systematically preparing them to do so.
Since the founding of the Corps, Marines have customarily served
under the Navy on naval bases and aboard ships.  Indeed, the
historic relationship between the Marine Corps and Navy can be
concluded erroneously that the Marine Corps forms part of the Navy.
The mission "to provide fleet marine forces for service with the
fleet in the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the
conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the
prosecution of a naval campaign" has secured this perception. When
in fact, the Department of the Navy is composed of both the Marine
Corps and the Navy;  together as a team they provide U.S. naval
As a type commander, both FMFPac and FMFLant, the Marine Corps'
major operating forces, are under the operational control of the
Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Commanders.  This relationship was
developed to support the Commander Amphibious Task Force/Commander
Landing Force naval team.  Conducting amphibious landings as part
of an Amphibious Task Force has been our basic mission;  it is in
this role that Marine forces have traditionally served for a navy
Business-as-usual is no longer the custom.  The military's roles
and missions are under review and the best Service for a task is
assigned its mission.  The Marine Corps anticipated mission
modifications and added the capability for MEF CEs to operate as a
JTF headquarters. Having customarily served for Navy or Army task
forces, or directly for CINCs, this new command relationship offers
a challenge to the Corps.
The United States is leaving a security era that required a large
number of combat forces to be stationed overseas.  At the same time
the U.S. is facing a fiscal crisis that mandates a massive
reduction in defense.  This coupled with the Goldwater-Nichols
Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, have drastically
altered the military's deployment options. During 1991, the Marine
Corps' "Force Structure Planning Group" convened to develop force
structure and deployment options.
On December 16, 1991, General Mundy approved the FSPG's
recommendations. (16:1)  USMC 2001 initiated two fundamental
changes in the way in which MEF operations are carried out:  the
first is the restructuring of MEFs as warfighters, and the second
is the requirement for the Marine Corps to provide a joint task
force headquarters.  "To this end action was initiated to establish
Commanding Generals of FMFLant and FMFPac to assume the
responsibilities of Service component commanders when, and if,
directed by their respective CINCs."  (5:29)  This will free MEF
commanders from component responsibilities and allow them to fight
as a JTF efficiently.  The Marine Corps Capabilities Plan states
"The characteristics of the MEF command element enable it to serve
as the nucleus of a JTF headquarters with Joint Communications
Support Element (JCSE) augmentation.  It is the wide spectrum of
capabilities (aviation, ground, and combat service support) over
which the MEF command element exercises control that gives it this
capability."  (5:19)
Like any institutional change, designating all three MEF CEs with
the capability to function as a JTF headquarters is easier said
than done.  The Marine Corps does not currently have the doctrine
or structure to establish a Marine component headquarters while
simultaneously and independently functioning as a JTF CE. With the
requirement established, the Marine Corps must decide the best
method of standing-up a JTF headquarters.  Three basic elements
must be addressed:
     (1) Each MEF's manpower requirements for establishing a JTF
     (2) Command and control assets required for operating as a
     (3) Required staff training for JTF CEs.
JTFs are normally formed for short-notice contingency operations
and cover a wide spectrum of military or nonmilitary activities.
A JTF 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, which is constituted and so designated by
the Secretary of Defense or by the commander of a unified command,
a specified command, or an existing joint task force."  (8:119)
The Joint Pub 0-2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF) provides
general guidance relating to JTF's.
The authority that establishes the JTF, designates the commander,
assigns the mission and forces, and ensures that administrative and
logistic support is provided to the JTF as required.  The
establishing authority has operational control (OPCON) or Combatant
Command (COCOM) of the JTF.  He assigns the JTF's area of
responsibility and duration of the operation.  He establishes or
assists in the establishment of liaison with US embassies and
foreign goverments involved in a crisis, contingency, or
operation.  In essence, the JTF's establishing authority provides
the resources required for the JTF commander to accomplish his
assigned mission.
Once a crisis or potential crisis is perceived, contingency
planning is initiated. Time is usually critical and the activation
of a JTF follows the Crisis Action Procedures (CAP) in the Joint
Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES)-Joint Pub 5-03.1,
Volume 1.  There are many military options possible, and the
formation of a JTF is only one.  Usually the Chairman Joint Chiefs
of Staff, the National Command Authority and the Unified Commander
discuss the options available, develop the mission and objectives,
establish priorities and decide whether to activate a JTF.
Once a decision is made to establish a JTF, the Unified Commander
(CINC) will personally select the JTF commander. A dialog between
the CINC and JTF commander will start.  Jointly they will review
the assigned mission, rules of engagement, forces and support
required and concept of operations.  Personal involvement in
decision making is critical. Service component commanders, senior
service General Officers, J-Staff Directors of both the Joint
Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the CINC staff get involved along with
appropriate government agencies. Country Team coordination through
the JCS and State Department is initiated. Additionally "functional
and area experts" are directly involved.  The system is designed to
ensure that the JTF commander drives the requirements and is
supported to the maximum extent possible.
The JTF commander has OPCON over all assigned forces and is
responsible for their utilization in accomplishing the mission. He
is responsible for developing a detailed plan to accomplish his
assigned mission and presents it to the establishing authority for
approval.  The JTF commander may be from any of the four Services.
He may also be a Service component commander.  Specific missions
assigned to the JTF commander will determine the JTF organization.
Figure 1. depicts a typical staff for a notional JTF.
When a JTF commander has been designated and assigned forces, he
organizes his headquarters as he sees fit.  Normally a JTF
headquarters is formed along traditional staff functioning.  A
command element, a special staff and a functional or general staff
is formed.  See figure 2.  The command element consists of the JTF
commander, his deputy, the Chief of Staff, and his personal staff.
The personal staff is directly responsible to the commander.  The
special staff's responsibilities include providing technical,
administrative, or tactical advice or recommendations to the JTF
commander or other staff agencies.  The Functional Staff conforms
to the major functions of command: manpower, intelligence,
operations, logistics, plans and policy, and
communications/electronics.  These are normal J-1 through J-6
"When mission requirements exceed the JTF staff's capabilities
(e.g., qualified personnel, facilities, or equipment), assistance
must be requested through the superior commander.  The authority
establishing the JTF should make provision to furnish the necessary
personnel, facilities, or equipment."  (11: IV-1)
A "force module" concept is recommended to deploy a JTF's
headquarters in theater.  This concept is an adaptive planning
concept that sequentially applies the building-block approach for
flexibility. Joint Pub 5-00.2 recommends up to five major force
     (1) Command and Joint Staff.  Consists of the command section
and functional and special staff elements.  Augmentation may be
required from Service components.
     (2) Augmentation Detachments. These detachments are added to
enhance the JTF headquarter's capability in technical and
specialized areas.  Civil Affairs, psychological operations,
mortuary affairs, and subarea petroleum offices are examples.
     (3) Communications Support.  Typically CINCs do not have the
theater command, control and communications (C3) resources
available to satisfy JTF requirements.  The Joint Communications
Support Element (JCSE) and other CJCS controlled communications
resources are tasked to provide ultra high frequency (UHF) and
super high frequency (SHF) satellite communications (SATCOM),
tropospheric scatter (TROPO), UHF/amplitude modulated (UHF/AM),
very high frequency/frequency modulated (VHF/FM), high
frequency/independent side band (HF/ISB), and teletypewriter (TTY)
communications support.  Additionally, the JCSE can provide an
airborne Joint Communications Center/Command Post (JACC/CP) package
installed in C-130E or C-140B aircraft to meet initial JTF rapid
deployment requirements. The connectivity provided by the JCSE is
an absolute necessity for an activated JTF.
     (4) Headquarters Support and Sustainment. This includes
administrative and logistic support for the JTF headquarters and
attached elements.
     (5) Security Support. Security forces are essential for all
JTF headquarters.
In assessing the Marine Corps' mission to stand-up a MEF CE as a
JTF headquarters, the following assumptions are made:
  The mission must be limited in scope and duration; the JTF is
dissolved when the mission has been achieved.
  The Marine Corps' end strength will not drop below 159,100 as
projected in USMC 2001.
  Required equipment and personnel will be provided through
  "Battle rosters" will be use to augment MEF headquarters to
function on 24 hours a day basis.
The requirements to obtain communications support and equipment to
operate as a JTF headquarters is the MEFs "Achilles Heel."
Currently the Marine Corps has Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) with
the Army and Air Force (17:Interview), and is relying on JCSE
augmentation to fulfill its deficiencies. Additionally, the Marine
Corps will spend approximately $30.6 million procuring comm-elect
equipment to reduce its shortcomings.  (14:2)  If the contingency
is naval in character the JTF headquarters can rely on the Navy's
Copernicus architecture.  In reality, for a MEF to serve as a JTF
headquarters, outside support is essential.
A JTF is usually activated as a result of a fast breaking crisis
where response time is critical.  For a MEF, the JTF headquarters
will be task-organize around its CE's staff.  In order for a JTF to
perform effectively and efficiently, its staff must have a common
perspective of joint doctrine and command relationships. They must
understand the "big picture" of the complex system of joint
operation planning used by the military.  In short, they must act
as members of a "Joint Warfighting Team."
The key for a MEF CE to form a JTF headquarters is to have a staff
well-educated in joint matters.  A staff that can provide the
foundation from which a JTF headquarters can be built upon.  Until
1989, the Marine Corps' Command and Staff College was an advanced
Amphibious Warfare School. Joint matters were essentially ignored.
(19:Marine Corps C&SC Section)  Because of the Goldwater-Nichols
Act of 1986, and the 1987 Ike Skelton Panel on Military Education,
an extensive reorientation of the Marine Corps' Command and Staff
College has been instituted.  The school now emphasizes the
planning and conduct of war, joint and combined operations, force
employment and deployment concepts. Additionally, Marine field
grade officers are attending the Joint Professional Military
Education level II course.  The Command and Staff College now
provides the joint perspective required for Marines to stand-up a
JTF headquarters and assimilate augmentees from other services.
The current Department of Defense programmed manning level for the
Marine Corps is 159,100;  the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) will be
reduced to approximately 89,000 Marines.  To provide JTF capable
MEFs and fully capable component headquarters at the theater level,
650 structure spaces will be added to those headquarters.  (13:17)
This command element enhancement demonstrates the Marine Corps'
commitment to forming JTF headquarters.
With the military "downsizing," 650 billets are the total structure
the Marine Corps can afford to dedicate to command elements.  All
three MEFs and both FMFPac and FMFLant are currently developing
their prospective table of organizations (T/O) under the Commanding
General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command's (MCCDC)
coordination.  Their comparison baseline is MCCDC's proposed MEF
T/O 4918D.  It is a planning document and therefore malleable,
however, any T/O modifications are under a "zero sum" game.  The
intention of T/O 4918D is to provide simultaneously deployable
component and JTF headquarters.
USMC 2001 initiates the "Battle Roster" concept to augment JTF
headquarters;  this concept allows the headquarters to function
indefinitely on twenty-four hours a day basis.  "Battle Rostering"
draws personnel from the non-FMF and reserve forces.  It worked
well for both operations "Desert Storm" and "Restore Hope."  (6:1)
However, during recent training exercises-the period when a
headquarters develops unit cohesion and team spirit-augmentation
suffered from the usual reluctance to provide personnel for
training.  (12:1)
In reviewing the notional MEF T/O, the following departures from
past T/Os must be noted:
     (1) The G-2 Division has been increased with a more robust
"All Source Fusion Center."
     (2) The Intelligence Liaison Section has increased.
     (3) The Fire Support Coordination Center is now functional,
and not an Information Center as in the past.
     (4) The G-5 Division, JTF Branch has been established.
     (5) The JFACC Marine Liaison Branch has grown.
Overall, more attention has been paid to liaison officer billets in
the proposed T/O.  Establishing liaison between JTF headquarters
and higher commands, adjacent units, and supporting or assigned
forces is critical.  In time the personnel increases in the MEF
staff will provide a solid foundation for the MEF to function as a
JTF headquarters.
Although a MEF has successfully performed as a JTF CE in operation
"Sea Angle," the Marine Corps did not officially list this
capability until June 26, 1992 in its Capabilities Plan.  (5:9)
Currently MEF T/O mission statements do not list this tasking and
Marine Corps JTF doctrine and concepts are being developed.  The
Commanding General of MCCDC is taking the lead in
developing/coordinating the T/Os, concepts and doctrine. All three
MEFs and both Commander, U.S. Marine Forces, Atlantic and Pacific
are providing recommendations. The following MEF mission statement
is in the process of validation:
     MISSION. Command, control, direct, plan, and coordinate
     corps-level air, ground, and logistical operations of assigned
     forces, normally consisting of one or more Marine
     Division (s), Marine Aircraft Wing (s), Force Service Support
     Group (s), and Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence
     Group (s); function as a warfighting CE under Fleet, Marine
     Component, or Joint Task Force control; and function as a
     Joint Task Force (JTF) Headquarters, when provided with
     appropriate augmentation from the supported unified commander
     and the other service components.
To free MEF commanders from component responsibilities the
Commanding Generals, FMFLant and FMFPac were assigned the
responsibilities of Service component commanders.  The Commanding
General, FMFLant is functioning as the Marine component commander
for USEUCOM and USSOUTHCOM while the Commanding General, FMFPac is
USCENTCOM's component command.  They are also forming deployable
component headquarters capable of providing USEUCOM, USSOUTHCOM,
and USCENTCOM with a fully capable component headquarters when
needed.  (2:1)
The Marine Corps considered three deployment options in tasking the
JTF capability:  assign one MEF as a "Super MEF" and increase its
manpower, and designate it as the Corps' standing JTF headquarters
capable; rely on the Marine Corps' "ad hoc" capability to
task-organize and perform as a JTF: ie. operation "Sea Angle"; or
expand existing MEF command elements and have each MEF staff form
a strong JTF nucleus capable, with augmentation, to perform the
The Marine Corps chose the last option and tasked all three MEF's
to perform the functions of, with augmentation, a JTF headquarters.
The concept envisions a forward-deployed MEU acting as the lead
element of a MEF (forward).  The MEU CE would be absorbed by
elements of the MEF. This command sequencing lends itself to raid
execution capability by adding additional units and elements.  By
drawing on its reservoir of forces, the MEF can provide the unified
commander with flexible, rapidly deployable JTF headquarters able
to meet a variety of contingency operations.
Training to exercise this capacity is essential.  Joint field
exercises, command post exercise, etc. cannot be practiced enough,
and should be given priority in funding.  Training should be
demanding, incremental, and include realistic objectives as
mobilization, crisis action procedures and forming the JTF staff.
Training with supported CINC staffs, supporting agencies and
Service component headquarters will help establish current
capabilities and anticipate future requirements.  Concepts,
doctrine, techniques and SOPs should be developed and evaluated.
The result would be a ready JTF headquarters capable of completing
any contingency effectively and efficiently.
The Marine Corps is conducting exercises to improve its senior
headquarters role and practice as a JTF. MEFEX 92-1, MEFEX 92-2,
Tandem Thrust 92, Ulchi Focus Lens 92, all focused on either Marine
componency, the MEF as a warfighter, or the MEF as a JTF
headquarters. Exercises like these are providing lessons-learned,
and are planned for the future.
Additionally, the Marine Corps has tasked the Center of Naval
Analysis (CNA) to review its training exercises and current
capabilities.  It has requested CNA to provide a more realistic
analysis of a MEF's command element.  The project "CNA Analytic
Support to the Marine Component/JTF Headquarters Study" was
established on 22 June 1992.  Its objectives are to (1) delineate
roles, missions, and functions of the Marine component
headquarters; the subordinate MEF commander; and the Marines as a
JTF; and (2) identify capabilities and deficiencies of the Marine
Corps in performing these roles, missions, and functions.  (15:4)
In reality, the Marine Corps with its can-do attitude has already
functioned as a JTF headquarters.  On April 29, 1991, a typhoon
battered the littoral regions of Bangladesh.  The area was
completely devastated.  Humanitarian assistance from external
sources could only save the day.  Admiral Larson, Commander in
Chief of U.S. Forces, Pacific called Lieutenant General H.C.
Stackpole III, Commanding General III MEF and asked:  "How soon can
you have a JTF team in Bangladesh? The answer-24 hours!  He said,
Go!  Your orders:  Report to the United States Ambassador as a
member of the country team and carry out humanitarian operations in
support of the Government of Bangladesh.  There was no direction on
how it should be done."  (18:41-42)
While the 5th MEB was returning home from Desert Storm, General
Stackpole echeloned his JTF headquarters over the MEB's command
element.  His headquarters was augmented by a deployable JTF
element from CINCPAC.  The preponderance of the force was
Navy/Marine Corps. However, an Air Force component provided the
strategic airlift, an Army component provided the first elements in
theater, and a Joint Special Operations Task Fore provided a
disaster relief package.  Eventually the JTF became an "ad hoc"
coalition of other nations.  Although operation "Sea Angel" was a
small JTF, it provides an excellent example of a MEF's capability
to assume the mission as a JTF headquarters.
By definition, a JTF commander and his staff must integrate the
different Services unique capabilities-aerospace, ground, maritime,
and special operation-in any combination and execute unilaterally
or in combined operation with friendly nations. The requirement is
for forming, staffing, deploying, employing, and redeploying the
JTF on short-notice contingency operations covering a broad
spectrum of military or non-military activities.  Generally, the
mission assigned is specific with a limited objective and does not
require centralized control of logistics.  As a naval
expeditionary, combined arms force the MEF is tailor-made for the
JTF role.
The Marine Corps is unique with its MAGTF organization.  Its four
component parts-Command, Ground Combat, Aviation Combat, and Combat
Service Support-provide a natural foundation in which a JTF can be
built upon.  A MAGTF comes-to-the-table with an inherent
understanding of "three dimensional warfare."  It can operate
across the spectrum of conflict on land, sea, and air.  With the
ability to forward deploy an MEU, overlay an MEF (Forward), then
echelon an MEF into theater, the MAGTF provides a continuous and
unbroken flow of command and control in a crisis.  The
expeditionary nature of the MAGTF requires Marine Corps C4I to be
interoperable with other Services. With augmentation/MOAs, the MEF
command element possesses the connectivity necessary to exchange
information with senior headquarters, national agencies and U.S.
allies.  By enhancing MEF T/Os the Marine Corps has made a
commitment to strengthen the MEF's capability to serve as a nucleus
of a JTF.  As more Marine officers are educated in joint matters,
this capability will only improve. The systematic preparation of
MEF CEs to serve as a JTF headquarters will improve an existing
capability. Currently I MEF is the JTF headquarters in Somalia for
operation "Restore Hope"; this operation will provide lessons-
learned for improving a vital national capability.
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