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Thies, Senegal - Cpl. Seth Carney, a rifleman with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa, observes the accuracy of a soldier with Senegal’s 5th Contingent in Mali during a peacekeeping operations training mission at Thies, Senegal, June 9, 2017. 


The SPMGAGTF-CR-AF was deployed from 04 April 2017, to 01 October 2017, and provided crisis response and limited contingency capabilities for the USAFRICOM AOR. Part of an ongoing effort to improve multinational cooperation, and ensure stability in the face of violent extremism, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF conducted 18 theater security cooperation (TSC) activities to build African nation partner capacity, and conducted 20 security cooperation engagements in 11 African countries. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF also increased NATO interoperability through 27 bilateral training events across the USUECOM, and continuously balanced alert requirements with sustainment training.

Another focus of the 180 deployment were embassy engagements, which were conducted with the U.S. Department of State. Embassy engagements provide access and permission to align country objectives, and leverage each organization’s capability in supporting the USAFRICOM objective. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF conducted cross-training exercises with the Ugandan Defense Forces, and supported the return of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya to Tripoli.
Training is critical to improving readiness, and the SPMAGTF-CR-AF constantly trained with European partners to better position themselves for their next deployment. In addition, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF optimized logistical processes, and leveraged the Aviation’s Logistics Division, and formed partnerships with the Fleet Logistics Center-Sigonella and DLA to reduce Customer Wait Time. Key takeaways therefore were the importance of maintaining relations with NATO partners, and an increased focus on sustaining force readiness and interoperability.

For more information, please read the article, “Crisis Response Force Commander: Deploy a Meu to the Mediterranean.” 


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Marines with Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, fire their M777 Howitzer during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 18, 2016. US Marine Corps Photo


On Friday 28 July 2017, the Center for Adaption and Innovation (CAI) hosted Colonel Clay Tipton, USMC, commander of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and Captain Michael Crary, USN, commander of USS Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series.

The 11th MEU/Makin Island ARG deployed from October 2016 to May 2017, and operated in three areas of responsibility: Pacific Command, Central Command, and Africa Command. During the 214-day tour of duty, the MEU/ARG operated in several configurations, including 82 days aggregated, 118 split, and 14 days disaggregated1. According to Colonel Tipton, the MEU trained and operated as an “aggressive, raid-based organization.” Colonel Tipton placed a commanding officer from each of his three major subordinate elements on one of the ARG’s three ships, both to enhance communication and cooperation between the Sailors and Marines, and to facilitate the use of mission-type orders.

Additionally, the Marines and Sailors spent most of their time in the Gulf of Aden, a region where piracy, arms trafficking, and civil war proliferate. Within this region, the MEU/ARG efforts focused on countering violent extremists, as well as threats to maritime trade and sea lines of communications.

A major highlight of the deployment occurred in March 2017, when the MEU supported Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Battalion Landing Team 1/4, the ground combat element of the MEU, sent a battery of M777 155-mm howitzers into northern Syria to assist in the forthcoming battle for Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold and its de facto capital. The MEU/ARG also conducted extensive training operations, both on its own and, with US allies. This included eight major unilateral and bilateral exercises, as well as a number of smaller advisor and personnel exchanges.

Among the takeaways from the deployment, CAPT Crary remarked that each MEU/ARG needs to be better than the last, “because the enemy gets a vote.” He also stated that, while the Navy/Marine Corps team certainly wants better communication capabilities, “we must be able to function in less-than-perfect comms, [and] less-than-perfect connectivity.”


1“Split” refers to elements of a MEU/ARG operating separately for short periods of time and/or short distances. The ARG and MEU commanders still maintain command of these units during this time. “Disaggregated,” by contrast, refers to elements of a MEU/ARG operating under different chains of command, regardless of the time-space distance between the elements of the MEU/ARG.

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An MV-22 Osprey prepares to land on the deck of the Spanish amphibious assault ship, Juan Carlos I http://www.marines.mil/Photos/igphoto/2001641851/


As part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series, the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted Colonel Daniel Q. Greenwood, USMC, Commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF), Rotation 17.1, on June 8th 2017. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF was deployed from 1 October 2016 to 17 April 2017, to high-risk/high-threat posts in North and East Africa.

During its seven-month deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF maintained “a laser focus on readiness and alert posture,” as part of their mission to provide crisis response capabilities for the USAFRICOM Area of Responsibility. First, they conducted “new normal” operations including bolstering embassy security, facilitating humanitarian assistance, preparing non-combatant evacuation operations, and integrating with Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) organizations. Second, they participated in thirteen Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) events in nine different countries, as well as 24 multilateral training exercises, and 54 unilateral training events. Support to Special Operations Forces was also provided throughout the entirety of their deployment, and the SPMAGTF-CR-AF conducted tactical recovery of aircraft personnel, and enabling operations.

During the second half of their deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF became the first to have its squadron reduced to 6 MV22s and 3 CV130s, in order to help improve aviation readiness throughout the Marine Corps. Colonel Greenwood explained that this “institutional decision to buy back aviation readiness in the long-term increased capability but decreased capacity.” This change had the unexpected benefit of doubling pilot proficiency hours, while maintaining a similar level of ready aircraft. However, this approach also required a “single site, single focus,” meaning they could no longer be divided across Africa.

Another focus of this deployment was the Allied Maritime Basing Initiative (AMBI), which aimed to develop amphibious capability, and foster interoperability with coalition partners. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF trained with the Spanish and French Navies, particularly with the Spanish amphibious assault ship, Juan Carlos I, due to its optimal location in southern Spain.

Throughout their deployment, SPMAGTF-CR-AF prioritized increased cooperation with the U.S. Department of State. Colonel Greenwood visited eight high-risk/high-threat posts in Africa, and collaborated with State Department officials in order to develop emergency response plans. These types of protocols became particularly relevant following an electoral crisis in The Gambia. They deployed a small forward element to Dakar, Senegal, to monitor and prepare for any necessary response.

Colonel Greenwood concluded, that the key takeaways from this deployment were the surprising benefit of the reduction to 0.5 VMM, increased aviation readiness, and the importance of integrating readily available technologies.

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U.S. Marines disembark the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) after returning from their Spring Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region, April 6, 2017 http://www.31stmeu.marines.mil/News/News-Article-View/Article/1150416/31st-meu-phibron-11-complete-spring-patrol/


On May 4, 2017, the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (BHRARG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. The 31st MEU is composed of approximately 2,300 Marines and Sailors from the command element (CE) and three major subordinate elements (MSE) – ground combat element (GCE), logistics combat element (LCE), and aviation combat element (ACE). The BHRARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). The 31st MEU is the only continuously deployed MEU, and is deployed fifty percent of the time.

The BHRARG and 31st MEU were deployed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region for 163 days, and conducted training events and multinational exercise participation. The ARG/MEU completed two successful MEU certification exercises, four Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) port visits, a naval infantry exchange, and continued to focus on naval integration. For example, the ARG/MEU conducted Exercise Valiant Shield, an exercise off the coast of Guam to practice port and airfield seizures, as well as live fire support. Amphibious Landing Exercise 16 was also conducted. The purpose of this exercise was to improve the interoperability and capacity of the US Marine Corps, US Navy, Philippine Marine Corps, and Philippine Navy team. In addition, the 31st MEU conducted a subject matter expert exchange with the Vietnamese 147th Brigade Naval Infantry. The Vietnamese Navy provided the 31st MEU with an overview of Vietnam’s military history, as well as a tour of the Vietnam Military Museum and Ho Chi Minh bunker. The 31st MEU in return provided small unit recruiting training, unit level training, and knowledge of USMC weaponry. This exchange demonstrated improved relations with our Vietnamese counterparts, and an improved understanding of the capabilities of our regional partners.

According to Colonel Tye Wallace, Commanding Officer of the 31st MEU, the key takeaways from this deployment were a continued focus on amphibious warfare, coordination between naval partners, which increases effectiveness, and smoother transition periods since MEU personnel are never stabilized. He also stated, that we must look for ways to help the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) “start the fight early.” Land, air, and sea must be looked at as one coherent battle space, and we must develop a “single maritime Common Operational Picture (COP)” to ensure naval readiness.

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A U.S. Marine aircraft crewman with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, performs pre-flight checks in support of Operation Inherent Resolve 


On March 16, 2017, the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.2 recently returned from a 9-month deployment to Southwest Asia, where they conducted approximately 130 operations as part of their enduring mission to provide crisis response to regions of instability. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC is a rotational contingent of 2,300 Marines and Sailors, that conducts theater security, crisis response, and sustainment operations in support of the Central Command Area of Operations.

During their deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC provided support to Operation Inherent Resolve, and conducted regional crisis response, theatre security cooperation operations, and sustainment and advancing the force training. As part of their support to Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation that works with regional partners to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the SPMAGTF conducted offensive air support, and provided support to Task Force Spartan, Task Force Al Asad, and Al Taqaddum. Additionally, the SPMAGTF sent a force to Qayarrah West for 180 days, to advise and assist the Iraqi Army division and police in the clearance of Mosul.

While conducting theater security cooperation, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC led multiple exercises in Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Egypt as part of their security engagement plan. Additionally, the SPMAGTF supported exercise “Eager Lion,” the largest military exercise the the Central Command area of responsibility. This exercise is a bilateral training exercise, to integrate the Jordanian and U.S. military forces. According to Colonel Kenneth Kassner, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC commanding officer, “all training served to enhance combat and contingency operations, and advance individual and collective skill sets.”

A highlight of this deployment was the level of Navy-Marine Corps integration employed.
Joint Tactical Recovery of Aircraft & Personnel (TRAP) exercises between the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and the SPMAGTF-CR-CC were conducted, as was an aviation operation in support of Maritime Surface Warfare. The Marines ashore with the SPMAGTF also maintained close ties with their Navy and Marine Corps counterparts afloat throughout their deployment.

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(Photo by Cpl. Ryan Coleman) U.S. Marines and Sailors with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor squadron 264 (REIN), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) perform flight operations aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1).


On 2 March 2017, the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the WASP Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. A MEU is uniquely equipped to be able to handle any crisis that arises while forward deployed. The MEU consists of four key elements, a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a logistics combat element. In total a MEU is comprised of roughly 2,200 Marines and Sailors.

Captain F. Byron Ogden (USN) and Colonel Todd P. Simmons (USMC) led the presentation of the WASP ARG and the 22 MEU. The combined units deployed from 25 June 2016 through 24 December 2016 to the European Command (EUCOM), Africa Command (AFRICOM), and Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Areas-of-Responsibility (AOR). The ARG/MEU provided a forward presence as the Global Response Force, AFRICOM Rapid Response Force, and CENTCOM Theater Reserve. The ARG/MEU also conducted Theater Security Cooperation exercises with 5 different partner nation militaries throughout their deployment.

While deployed, the ARG/MEU took part in Operation ODYSSEY LIGHTNING (OLL). OLL was an effort to counter Daesh in support of host nation forces in Libya. Marine V-22’s were critical in the logistical effort to ensure that all aircraft had proper munitions for the operation. The ARG/ MEU team was able to establish reusable tactics to gather intelligence from the air despite not having direct contact with militia fighters on the ground. Ultimately, the ARG/MEU proved successful in OLL. Their logistical tactics, unique communications strategies, and air power allowed Libya to take back Sirte, a major ISIS stronghold in Libya.


USS Kearsarge

U.S. Marines and Sailors assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) spell out 26 MEU on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Mar.14, 2016 in the Arabian Sea. http://www.26thmeu.marines.mil/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001552228 


30th June 2016 - As part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series, the Center for Adaptation and Innovation hosted Colonel Robert Fulford of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and Captain Augustus Bennett of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSG ARG), on 30 June 2016. The MEU/ARG were deployed from 6 October 2015 to 3 May 2016. The KSG ARG deployment encompassed 210 days; 181 days operating in split configuration and 8 as disaggregated days. The MEU deployment encompassed 242 days, of which 59 were disaggregated days.

The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) / Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is a flexible Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) that performs a Range Of Military Operations (ROMO) with a focus on amphibious operations and expeditionary support, backing Geographic Combatant Commanders and providing crisis response. This MEU/ARG took part in 4 named operations, 4 theater security cooperation exercises, 1 bilateral exercise, and 11 exchanges with Special Operations Forces throughout the CENTCOM, EUCOM, and AFRICOM theaters. Of these exercises, two major exercises were conducted with 6th fleet, and the bilateral training exercise with Turkey exercised the full capability of the landing force by conducting ship to shore operations.

Colonel Fulford and Captain Bennett emphasized the value of their rigorous and aggregated Pre-Deployment Training Program (PTP) in mission preparation and creating a unified team. Their training and well-monitored supply chain ensured that they were prepared for every mission. Colonel Fulford and Captain Bennett also affirmed their decision to request and receive specialists to help with intelligence collection and analysis. Interoperability was also key to a joint understanding of requirements and limitations. The Marine Corps and the Navy exchanged liaisons, thereby improving naval integration. Web-based communication was also important for connectivity, and will continue to be in the future.

The value of blue-green teaming and the resulting amphibious capabilities stems from the increased flexibility, adaptability, and agility derived from such a force. There will be more split operations in the future, due to the increasing number of requirements and decreasing number of ships. These split operations are most successful when conducted by a well-integrated team. Today’s threat environment requires an agile response from amphibious units, and cooperation and coordination between our naval assets to promote warfighting readiness.

We would like to acknowledge the loss of Staff Sergeant Cardin who died from wounds suffered following an indirect fire attack at Fire Base Bell in northern Iraq.



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Col. Anthony M. Henderson, Commanding Officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, addresses the Marines and Sailors aboard the USS New Orleans on April 4, 2016. https://news.usni.org/2016/09/12/13th-meu-co-argmeus-key-theater-mobile-forces


The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, as a part of its Returning Commander Series, hosted the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on Thursday, 20 October. Retired Lieutenant General George Flynn introduced Colonel Anthony M. Henderson, commander of the 13th MEU, who presented on the Boxer ARG and 13th MEU’s most recent deployment. The Boxer ARG and 13th MEU deployed on 12 February for 213 days, and returned to California on 12 September 2016. The MEU provides a forward deployed, flexible, sea – based Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations. They consist of a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite aviation squadron, and a combat logistics battalion. The MEU is comprised of about 2,100 Marines and Sailors.

The Boxer ARG and 13th MEU conducted multiple sustainment training and operational exercises and supported Freedom of Navigation operations in the Pacific Command – (PACOM)and Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in, Central Command –(CENTCOM). OIR operations included strike operations by AV-8B Harriers against ISIL targets.

In addition to sustaining ground readiness, aviation readiness was also maintained. Over 6000 flight hours were conducted, which maximized aviation efficiency. As stated by Colonel Henderson, “We have to keep the flight hours going as much as possible, that saves lives.” Aircraft were launched simultaneously from two separate regions, which enabled integration between two separate MAGTFs. Unique to this deployment, command and control was maintained across three separate seas.

During its deployment cycle, the 13th MEU also executed several amphibious and expeditionary exercises and operations to include:

− Theater Security Cooperation exercises and amphibious training in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia
− Support to POTUS visit
− A combined amphibious joint forcible entry exercise in Exercise SSANG YONG 16
− Sustainment training
− Security force missions and Joint Theater Cooperation exercises to safeguard US personnel and equipment in support of IMCMEX and Exercise EAGER LION 2016 in Jordan


On 16 December 2016 the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa (SPMAGTF – CR – AF) Rotation 16.1, as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. A rotational force of Marines and sailors, the SPMAGTF – CR – AF is capable of decisive action across a range of military operations, and was established in 2013 in response to the attack on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa a broad range of military capabilities to respond to crises in its area – of – responsibility (AOR), which includes conducting noncombatant evacuation, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and support to U.S. embassies, amongst other missions, operations and activities.

Speaker and Commanding Officer, Colonel Martin “Marty” Wetterauer III, described their mission as conducting limited crisis response and contingency operations in conjunction with Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) activities in order to protect U.S. citizens and strengthen U.S. interest in the USAFRICOM area of operation. Temporarily positioned on Morón Air Base, Spain, the SPMAGTF – CR – AF conducted 26 Theater Security Cooperation Engagements in 10 African countries, over 120 training events throughout USAFRICOM and USEUCOM AORs, and conducted Cooperative Security Location validations in all three Gulf of Guinea locations.

Throughout their deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR – AF worked alongside Special Operation Force (SOF) partners to provide real world mission support and training and planning integration, including high threat/ high risk diplomatic post surveys and crisis response working group meetings. According to Col Wetterauer, “they will be tightly integrated with SOF partners, at least until Libya becomes a stable environment and SOF are not the only one’s securing the environment.” This will be their primary task.

With the ability to quickly integrate and deploy, the MAGTF is often first to be called upon in times of crisis, even when there are other options available. Col Wetterauer indicated that due to other options available, CR – AF may not always be the most appropriate response, and who to call on is an ongoing education process with the State Department and African countries.

The MAGTF is working with half the Osprey’s they were last year in order to boost stateside readiness, going from 12 down to 6. Col Wetterauer assured that their mission only calls for 6, assuming 2 are down, 2 are conducting missions, and 2 are the back up to conduct logistics, maintenance and training. Col Wetterauer said that aviation readiness is their “number 1 concern.” This echoes the voice of the last RCSS speaker, Col Anthony M. Henderson, commander of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who reinforced the primacy of Marine Aviation readiness saying that “we have to keep the flight hours going as much as possible, that saves lives.”

Read more about the SPMAGTF – CR – AF brief on DoD Buzz, Seapower Magazine, and on Military.com here and here.


CAI’s Returning Commander Speaker Series offers a forum for naval force concepts and capabilities to be discussed with commanders whom recently completed a deployment. CAI identifies and defines new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. Specifically, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies established CAI to assist senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problems posed by a complex and uncertain security environment.



Republic of Korea Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeong Hyung-Goo watches a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey land on the flight deck of the Republic of Korea ship Dokdo (LPH 6111), at sea, March 26, 2015. http://www.31stmeu.marines.mil/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001045778



7 April 2016 - The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series, hosted Colonel Dasmalchi, commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). This MEU was deployed from Fall 2014 to Spring 2016, and took part in multiple exercises throughout the Asia-Pacific region in support of Pacific Command (PACOM) requirements.

The 31st MEU is a forward deployed, Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), capable of rapidly executing amphibious operations, designated maritime contingency operations, expeditionary support to other operations, and crisis response, which includes enabling the introduction of follow-on-forces. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU, and is the only MEU that maintains a small boat company. This is a unique capability, yet it also a capability tradeoff. While the 31st MEU is the only MEU with a small boat company, its lacks other capabilities such as tanks.

The 31st MEU uses a 6 month “Tight Turn” Deployment Operational Cycle, which starts when the unit deployment battalion teams arrives in mid-May. The 31st MEU is composed of 2,200 Marines and Sailors, of which 68 are permanent personnel in the command element. During its deployment cycle, the 31st MEU executed several amphibious and expeditionary operations to include the following:

• 23- 27 Feb 2015: Executed Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Event Ivo Sabah in Malaysia. This event was executed with MARFORPAC, and accomplished a combined arms-training operation. A live-fire demonstration was also executed.

• 26 March 2015: The 31st MEU conducted MV-22 Operations aboard a Republic of Korea LPH 61111. This was the first time that an Osprey has landed on a Republic of Korea amphibious assault ship.

• 12-18 July 2015: Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia was conducted in support of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), and was a partnership exercise to further naval integration with our Australian allies.

• 8-22 Aug 2015: Conducted Saipan DSCA Relief Efforts. The 31st MEU provided distribution support and water production for the lead civil response agency to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island IOT facilitate Typhoon Soudelor (13W) recovery efforts. Hundreds of FEMA supplies and 140 pallets of FEMA food and water were distributed, and a tactical water purification system was used to distribute 366,200 gallons of drinking water.

• 25-29 Oct 2015: Participated in a Naval Infantry/Maritime Security Subject Matter Expert Exchange with 147 Brigade Vietnamese People’s Navy, Naval Infantry IOT set conditions for future III MEF/MARFORPAC Theater Security Cooperation exercises.

Other operations included Presidential Support Missions, Korean Marine Exchange Program 15, TSC Bali, TSC Malaysia, TSC New Zealand, TSX New Caledonia, and Exercise Cobra Gold 15 & 16.

In their next deployment, the 31st MEU will combine a Special Operations Force Liaison Element (SOFLE) element, and in the future when the USS America is sent forward F-35s will deploy with the 31st MEU.


 Photo by Akeel Adeyemi Austin Courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/SPMAGTFCRCC

The Center for Adaptation and Innovation hosted Colonel William McCollough, USMC, Commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC), rotation 16.1, on 13 May 2016. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC was deployed from 21 October 2015 to 21 April 2016, and conducted theater security cooperation operations, as well as joint and coalition interoperability training at 11 different sites in 5 different countries. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC was formed in 2012 following the attack in Benghazi, which indicated that there was a need for additional military force capabilities and options to quickly respond to crisis situations.

The SPGMAGTF-CR-CC was formed in 2012, and provides an immediate and relevant crisis response capabilities in support of Central Command (CENTCOM). Composed of 2,300 Marines, sailors, and support elements, the SPMAGTF-CR-CC is a forward-deployed land-based force, that provides rapid response to crisis situations, contingency operations, theater security cooperation, and other missions as directed by the Combatant Commander.

The SPMAGFT-CC-CR must be ready to respond at all times, and to operate on commander’s intent. Therefore, the force constantly trains, reevaluates, regroups, and retests. By doing so, the force maintains its operational readiness and response capabilities. Key operations and exercises conducted by the SPMAGTF-CC-CR included: strike operations against ISIS, support for Task Forces Al Asad (TFAA) and Al Taqaddum (TFTQ), as well as critical coordination with logistics combat element, the Air Combat Element, and various maintenance teams, working together to move over a million pounds of cargo and several thousand troops. The SPMAGTF-CR-CC 16.1 coordinated many different elements over the course of 6 months to build standard operating procedures that can be copied by other MAGTFs in similar deployments. In addition,

Colonel McCollough indicated that the valuable equipment under his control was constantly tested and reevaluated, and was returned in better condition than he received it.

Lance Cpl. Justin Forrester teaches immediate actions drills to a park ranger with the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN) at the Pongara National Forest in Pongara, Gabon, Sept. 17. U.S. Marines and park rangers with ANPN, worked together to help the nation’s fight against wildlife trafficking. The Marines trained with the ANPN focusing on infantry tactics to help build the nation’s capacity to counter trafficking of ivory and other animal-related products. (Official U.S. Marine Corps phots by Staff Sgt. Ryan Nikzad) http://www.africom.mil/NewsByCategory/article/26644/u-s-marines-gabonese-share-tactics


Click to See the Video

On 24 March 2016 the Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) hosted the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response- Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF) Rotation 15.2, as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF is based at Morón Air Base in Spain, and returned on 26 January 2016 after a 180 day deployment.

The SPMAGTF-CR-AF responds to a wide range of military operations to provide expeditionary support for crisis response in the Africa Command (AFRICOM)/European Command (EUCOM) regions. The SPMAGTF-CR-AF is a rapid, self-deploying crisis response force, that continues to be relevant in the conduct of military operations across the range of military operations. During its deployment, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF conducted cooperative security location (CSL) validation exercises in Chad, Tunisia, and Libya, site surveys of CSLs, eight major training exercises, and 62 bilateral training exercises with national military forces. Community outreach with Spain and Italy was also conducted, as were the following planning initiatives: Morón Air Base (MAB) Displacement, Allied Maritime Basing Initiative (AMBI), and Ghana Forward Logistics Element (FLE)/Theater Security Cooperation (TSC).

While the SPMAGTF-CR-AF deployment was successful, some operational challenges were encountered. The ability to have a continuity of campaign effort and respond to a crisis “on day one” are both mission requirements, and improvements are constantly being made to enhance mission execution. Going forward, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF is looking to enhance pre-deployment training and integration through the use of the Foreign Service Institute and Mobile Training Teams from the Department of State, integrate Marine Corps training as units prepare for the Embassy Reinforcement and Military Assisted Departure mission(s), promote key relationships with host nations, and maintain security cooperation efforts that are integral to building security and capacity of nation states in the region. Another challenge is logistical support for a continent the size of Africa, and which the SPMAGTF-CR-AF relies heavily on contractors for.

CAI’s Returning Commander Speaker Series offers a forum for naval force concepts and capabilities to be discussed with commanders whom recently completed a deployment. CAI identifies and defines new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. Specifically, the Potomac Institute established CAI to assist senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problem posed by a complex and uncertain security environment.

Naval Maneuver Warfare

Linking Sea Control and Power Projection

Occasional Paper 

Download PDF

August 25, 2015

Gen Al Gray, USMC (Ret.)

LtGen George J. Flynn, USMC (Ret.)

The recent update of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready1 (CS-21R [Revised]) advances the understanding of the roles of all elements of the naval force in maintaining freedom of action and achieving operational access. Most importantly, it provides impetus to advance the understanding of maneuver warfare at sea. To fully exploit this opportunity, a new integrated Naval Operating Concept (NOC) is required to define and hone the linkage between sea control and power projection. An updated NOC would refine and link the operational and tactical level concepts needed to fully capitalize on all the capabilities existing within our Nation’s naval forces — to include the wide range and various roles of amphibious forces — within a naval campaign construct.

The development of operational concepts that connect strategy and tactics is not an easy task. Accordingly, it is not surprising that a gap exists today. Regardless of its cause, there is a need for the naval services to seize the moment and develop operational concepts that define the relationship between sea control and power projection in the execution of a naval campaign. This effort cannot be done independently; it must be a naval effort that is collaborative and focused on warfighting at the operational level. Fortunately, recent history provides an example of an effort that worked to successfully link ends, ways, and means. During the Cold War, The Maritime Strategy and the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Strategy2 were jointly developed, integrated efforts that drove the development of naval operational and tactical concepts and capabilities needed to achieve strategic ends. These efforts were successful because they provided the operational foundation to incorporate all naval warfare functions and capabilities into an integrated campaign plan construct. Diagram 1 shows the development of amphibious capabilities to illustrate this linkage:


Diagram 1: 1980s Concept to Capabilities

Diagram 2 illustrates the current gap between strategic concepts and the operational and tactical ability to achieve them. Additionally, this diagram highlights the challenges in executing and linking tactical level concepts to the achievement of strategic ends absent an operating concept. Air Sea Battle and Expeditionary Force 21 (EF-21) provide an explanation of actions that can be done at the tactical level, but absent a connecting operational concept, it is difficult to link these with the achievement of strategic ends. A new NOC is clearly needed to serve as the integrating document for all naval warfighting functions within a Joint Operational context. We need an NOC to drive integration of our naval air warfare, surface warfare, undersea warfare and amphibious warfare capability development.

Diagram 2: Current Concept to Capabilities Gap


Accordingly, the purposes of this paper are to articulate the need for the development of an updated NOC, define the linkage between sea control and power projection in the execution of a naval campaign, and start a discussion about the various roles of amphibious forces in a naval campaign that use the sea for operational maneuver to execute both sea control and power projection operations.

The Roles of Amphibious Forces in Joint and Naval Campaigns

Amphibious forces provide the naval capabilities needed to support and execute sea control and power projection operations in order to create area access, enable and maintain freedom of action for the Joint force across the Range of Military Operations (ROMO), and deny the enemy freedom of action and access to the global commons. Recent operations demonstrate the utility of amphibious ships embarked with Marines for day-to-day presence and crisis response operations.3 Equally as important, but less understood, are the variety of roles amphibious forces can execute while operating as part of Joint and Combined Naval Task forces in response to major theater contingency operations. Too often, amphibious capabilities in these types of operations are only associated with assaulting defended beaches and seizing lodgments for land campaigns. Focus on this singular aspect of a naval campaign is myopic, and overlooks significant capabilities of amphibious forces that can be employed in support of sea control operations and all phases of Joint access operations. Accordingly, it is also important to develop an understanding about the variety of roles that amphibious forces possess in shaping the environment, deterring aggression and defeating an adversary across all five phases of a major theater contingency campaign. A new NOC could assist in developing this understanding.

The Maritime Strategy4 of 1984 articulated a naval campaign that used the seas to conduct operational maneuver in order to seize the initiative and take the fight to the enemy.5 It provided the strategic and operational foundation for the employment of naval forces in a global conflict, and spurred the development of new tactical concepts and capabilities.6 The Maritime Strategy also articulated a naval campaign of three phases: Deterrence; Seize the Initiative; Carry the Fight to the Enemy. An indispensable element of the Maritime Strategy was the Amphibious Warfare Strategy, approved by the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps. This strategy outlined the employment of the Navy-Marine Corps team in executing the Maritime Strategy. The Amphibious Warfare Strategy drove supporting concepts such as Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS) and Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM), and laid the foundations for capability innovation like Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS), the MV-22 Osprey, and the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). These two documents also articulated a clear understanding of the use of the seas for operational maneuver, the linkage between sea control and power projection, and the various roles of all elements of the naval force.

A Fresh Approach Informed by the Past

The current Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) and the recently published CS-21R tie sea control and power projection together. Just as was the case in 1984, the Navy and Marine Corps must take the next step to develop the operating concepts necessary to further define their relationship and to close the gap between the desired ends and available means. In order to close this gap, naval leaders should also take advantage of emerging efforts like ones below to inform thinking and wargaming efforts needed to develop the operating concepts that are lacking. Some of the emerging efforts that can be used to inform the development of innovative, affordable, and effective operational concepts include:

“archipelagic defense” to deny a near peer competitor the ability to control the air and sea;7

development of land-based sea denial capabilities;

integration of distributed land and sea forces to deny air and sea lines of communication;

“distributed lethality;”8

the Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC).9

Operational Art Revisited

Along with the ongoing efforts to develop new concepts both inside and outside DoD, CS21R provides an opportunity to refine operational thinking so as to the achieve access and freedom of action required to attain strategic ends. The recent decision to incorporate the Air-Sea Battle Concept into JAM-GC underscores the need to develop a Naval Campaign construct to support the overarching Joint concept. Air Sea Battle and Expeditionary Force 21 focus on “programmatics,” and fall short of providing the operational context or approach for the employment of tactical level capabilities in a naval campaign that is part of a larger Joint effort. Again, a more viable methodology is for the Navy and Marine Corps to develop an updated NOC that outlines a cohesive operational rationale, unity of effort, and command and control construct for linking sea control and power projection operations. In turn, this would inform the development of the JAM-GC, as well as support and enable service-level capabilities, doctrine and associated tactics, techniques, and procedures.


As in the past, we cannot afford to allow our approach to naval missions to remain fixed in an era of changing conditions. Those conditions now demand a new NOC to define the relationship between power projection and sea control in the execution of a naval campaign within a joint and combined campaign construct across the ROMO. It must also articulate the relevance of amphibious forces in all contingencies up to, and including, major combat operations. Once naval leaders agree on the need for a new NOC, the key to success will be ensuring that the Navy and Marine Corps are joined together in leadership, doctrine and concept, operational, programmatic, education, and wargaming to make this operating concept a warfighting reality. This was the key to success in 1984, as it will be to success in the future.


1.“Document: A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower 2015 Revision,” USNI, 15 March 2015, available at: http://news.usni.org/2015/03/13/document-u-s-cooperative-strategy-for-21st-century-seapower-2015-revision.

2.John B. Hattendorf and Peter M. Swartz, “U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1980s: Selected Documents,” Naval War College Newport Papers, December 2008, pg. 203-258, available at: http://fas.org/irp/doddir/navy/strategy1980s.pdf

3.For instance, from 1990 to 2013 there were 123 amphibious operations, including doctrinal types (assaults, withdrawals, demonstrations, raids, and other operations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment) and non-doctrinal types (maritime interdiction operations (MIO), mine counter-measures (MCM), and strike operations). Source: The Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO).

4.The Maritime Strategy (Annapolis, MD U.S. Naval Institute, January 1986), pp. 2-17.

5. John B. Hattendorf and Peter M. Swartz, “U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1980s: Selected Documents,” Naval War College Newport Papers, December 2008, pg. 203-258, available at: http://fas.org/irp/doddir/navy/strategy1980s.pdf

6. The Amphibious Warfare Strategy.

7. Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., How to Deter China: The Case for Archipelagic Defense, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2015, available at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143031/andrew-f-krepinevich-jr/how-to-deter-china

8. Benjamin Jensen, “Distributed Maritime Operations: Back to the Future?”, War on the Rocks, 9 April 2015, available at: http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/distributed-maritime-operations-an-emerging-paradigm/?singlepage=1

9. “Document: Air Sea Battle Name Change Memo,” USNI, 20 January 2015, available at: http://news.usni.org/2015/01/20/document-air-sea-battle-name-change-memo


US Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Detachment, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fire their weapons on the flight deck aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 28. www.flickr.com/photos/15thmeu/. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Steve H. Lopez/Released)

26 February 2016 - The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, as part of its Returning Commander Speaker Series, hosted a commander of the Essex ARG/15th MEU. This ARG/MEU completed a seven month (218 day) deployment on 15 December 2015. The deployment was divided into 38 aggregated days, 180 split days, and 18 disaggregated days.

The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is a flexible and capable standing Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). The MEU is specifically designed to serve as globally responsive expeditionary quick reaction force, deployed aboard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) shipping and prepared for immediate response to any crisis, to include natural disasters, theater security cooperation, and expeditionary combat missions. The ARG/MEU are becoming the operational “first choice,” and provide access and placement around the globe, including support to US embassies. Today, the ARG/MEU remains one of the most relevant forces to shape and respond to today’s security challenges.

During its deployment, which began 11 May 2015, the MEU conducted a range of naval expeditionary operations and activities in support of CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and PACOM requirements. The Pre-Deployment Training Program (PTP) focuses on integration of the US Navy (USN) and Marine Corps (USMC) into a truly naval force. Although operating as a split force for 180 days of the ARG/MEU deployment, success of their missions were attributed to training as an integrated naval force. The time spent training with special operations forces elements and informed loading of the ships – in order to increase flexibility and timeliness of response – also contributed to the deployment’s success. 

While the Essex ARG/15th MEU deployment accomplished all assigned missions and tasks, some operational challenges still remain. Many of the challenges revolve around communication and overcoming the “last tactical mile.” The Navy and Marine Corps currently have a limited high frequency (HF) data capability. The USN and USMC need a digital wide band HF capability or other solution for the potential A2/AD environment. The unit is also looking for ways to close the intelligence gap from ship to shooter. The ARG/MEU needs all source intelligence capabilities at all levels as well as C5I systems that are responsive to operational demands. Other challenges, however, are of a more organization and education nature. There is a need for increased education among the naval forces and special operations forces about what an ARG/MEU can do in supporting-supported roles. Another challenge is staffing the COCOMs with enough experienced Liaison Officers with naval experience. Addressing these challenges will help better integrate the joint and allied naval force, which enable power projection and sea control across the full range of military operations.

The Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) at the Potomac Institute was created to identify and define new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. Specifically, CAI was established to assist senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problems posed by a complex and uncertain security environment. CAI’s Returning Commander Speaker Series offers a forum for naval force concepts and capabilities to be discussed with commanders whom recently completed a deployment.

150428-M-YH418-055: STRAIT OF BAB AL-MANDEB (April 28, 2015) - Corporal Michael Connell, left, an anti-tank missileman with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Mineman 2nd Class Jared Williamson observe ships and terrain as part of a joint small caliber action team during a transit through the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb aboard the USS Sentry (MCM 3), April 28, 2015. The 24th MEU provided additional SCAT capabilities to the USS Sentry during the transit. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and is deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Todd F. Michalek/Released)


13 August 2015- The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies as part of its U.S. Marine Corps Returning Commander Speaker Series hosted the commanders of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

During their seven month deployment across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Captain Mike McMillan, USN, and Colonel Scott Benedict, USMC, led a Navy-Marine Corps team that embodied the tenets of scalability, flexibility and adaptability.

This ARG/MEU team accomplished a wide range of missions to include: assisting in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Yemen, providing security detachments to U.S. Navy ships, executing theater security and partnership exercises, and executing sea control operations in the Strait of Bab Al Mandeb between Yemen and Djibouti.

The latter mission is unique due to a shift in employment paradigms called for in this complex maritime operational environment. Demonstrating the true uniqueness and flexibility of the Navy-Marine Corps Team, the ARG supported the traditional MEU missions and the MEU also supported traditional ARG missions. Additionally, during this deployment, the MEU also was employed in support of the ARG in the execution of traditional Navy missions - sea control and maritime security missions. The supporting role that Marines played in the execution of these sea control operations provides a start point to further explore how to construct future naval campaigns at the operational level that employ all elements of the naval forces in various supporting/supported roles in the various phases of a campaign.

Aggregated for only 6 days, the ARG/MEU team spent 97% of their deployment apart executing split operations, which allowed them to operate independently and execute a larger number and wider range of missions. This deployment model is clearly becoming the norm and is indicative of how the forward deployed Naval forces will operate in the future. This “new normal” will place a premium on understanding not only the difference between split versus disaggregated operations and the implications for the exercising of the tactical control of forces (TACON) but also the requirement for each amphibious warship in the ARG to have sufficient C2 systems and bandwidth, as well as organic ISR to successfully execute likely missions.

Operational concept and doctrine gaps are emerging from the execution of split operations and from the paradigm shifts occurring in relation to blue (ARG) in support green (MEU) and now green (MEU) in support of blue (ARG) operations. These gaps highlight the need for Naval leaders to take the necessary steps to develop the operational concepts that will connect strategic ends to tactical mission sets. This requirement comes at an opportune time for the Navy and Marine Corps to join together and reinvigorate the linkages and relationships that enable the conduct of naval maneuver warfare across the full range of military operations.

The Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) identifies and defines new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. Specifically, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies established CAI to assist senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problems posed by a complex and uncertain security environment.

USS San Diego, At Sea, At Sea - Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) refuels both the USS Makin Island, left, and the USS Comstock, right, as part of an underway replenishment in the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 4, 2014. The 11th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group are a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Rome M. Lazarus/Released)  

USMC Returning Commander Speaker Series Event

The Center for Adaptation and Innovation at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies hosted a program presented by the USMC Returning Commander Speaker Series on Thursday, 16 April 2015 featuring the commanders of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). During their seven month deployment, Captain Stephen McKone, USN, and Colonel Matthew Trollinger, USMC, led a Navy-Marine Corps team that completed missions that included conducting some of the first strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, humanitarian assistance in the northwestern Hawaiian islands, and theater security cooperation exercises in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The deployment began with a large-scale sustainment training package in Hawaii. While the ships of the ARG steamed west from San Diego, Marines and Sailors pushed ashore, conducting an insert of forces from a distance of more than 800 nautical miles via MV-22 Osprey. Concurrently, Marines from the Reconnaissance detachment conducted bilateral training with Bangladeshi Special Forces. The ARG/MEU moved to Hong Kong next, and conducted a port call and liberty before transiting through the South China Sea and the Senkaku islands to engage with the Malaysian Marine Corps during a scheduled bilateral training event. In Malaysia, Marines trained alongside members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, culminating in a combined demonstration of projection of power from the sea for gathered regional leaders.

In Central Command, the MEU worked with British Royal Marines and Sailors, as well as the Kuwaiti Armed Forces in a multi-ship combined amphibious exercise, culminating in a combined amphibious assault with service members from all three nations. Additionally, while simultaneously supporting Operation Inherent Resolve and the ongoing crisis in Yemen, the MEU continued the tradition of training with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a multi-day theatre security cooperation exercise. With ongoing uncertainty associated with the circumstances in Yemen, the 11th MEU was postured, and integrated with the broader Joint force, to respond to emergent tasking when called upon. Finally, the MEU conducted some of the first strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, and maintained a constant presence to respond to emerging situations across the region.

In their presentation, CAPT McKone and Col Trollinger highlighted the significant role of the Special Operations Force Liaison Element (SOFLE) which not only brought tremendous capability by plugging the ARG/MEU into the Global Special Operations Forces (SOF) Network, but also acted as a key enabler for SOF/ARGMEU interoperability. By having the six man SOFLE team aboard providing the connective tissue into the Global SOF Network, the ARG/MEU leveraged complimentary capabilities which provided them with a “warm start”, having the complete SOF picture of the environment they were entering into vice a “cold start” where in the past they unsure of the environment and must be spun up.

Other takeaways include the established cooperative relationship between the 11th MEU and the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC); the tremendous capability the MEU brings to bear to achieve regional security objectives in a steady state environment, while not degrading theater reserve/crisis response capability; the sustained posture of be prepared to missions comes at a cost to material readiness and proficiency and sustained split/disaggregated employment impacted advertised MEU capability.

The Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) identifies and defines new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. Specifically, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies established CAI to assist senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problems posed by a complex and uncertain security environment.

Returning Commander Speaker Series11 February 2015

1600 - 1700

In August 2014, the 26th MEU Command Element commanded by Col Fulford, assumed the roles and responsibilities as the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF). It is a rotational force of about 1,200 Marines and Sailors capable of rapid crisis response. SPMAGTF-CR-AF is forward-positioned to rapidly deploy to support missions such as embassy reinforcement and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP), as well as limited foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Going forward, the unit will have the capability to perform limited offensive/defensive and security operations as required. SPMAGTF-CR-AF can also act as a quick-reaction force (QRF).

Returning Commander Speaker Series14 January 2015

1500 - 1600

Brigadier General Daniel Yoo recently served as the Commanding General of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan, which deployed in the spring of 2014 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). He was the last Marine leader to command the International Security Force's Regional Command-Southwest. Upon taking command last spring, Brigadier General Yoo led Marines and coalition forces in Helmand and Nimroz provinces while helping to enhance the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces and improve their credibility in the eyes of the Afghan people. His previous tours in Afghanistan offer a perspective from initial efforts in OEF through the most recent concluding actions.

Returning Commander Speaker Series16 December 2014

1600 - 1700

After departing last February 8 from Norfolk, VA and Camp Lejeune, NC, the BATARG/22nd MEU spent much of their time poised for crisis response in the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, which are designated as the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. There, the ARG/MEU team participated in five major multinational exercises designed to strengthen coalition partnerships and reinforce regional security and stability as well as conduct combat operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

As an expeditionary crisis response force operating from the sea,  MEUs are considered to be America's 911 forces, forward deployed, ready to respond to a variety of crises from full scale combat to humanitarian assistance. Days into an exercise in Jordan, the BATARG/22nd MEU was ordered to the coast of Libya for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel. Additionally during their deployment, they rescued nearly 300 persons in distress in the Mediterranean Sea and and supported operations against ISIL in Iraq.

13 October 2014

In “Military Readiness in the Age of Complexity and Uncertainty,” LtGen George Flynn, USMC (ret), outlines how the U.S. has adapted to evolving security challenges and argues that to be successful and prepared for future conflicts of any kind, military training is key.  

When global security challenges and conflicts arise, the United States is the first to be called upon. When responding to these calls it is essential that the men and women in uniform have the tools and training they need to be successful.

The current threat environment is rapidly evolving, uncertain and highly complex. At the same time, the Department of Defense faces budgetary constraints that threaten readiness budgets.

With that in mind, LtGen Flynn reminds us, “History has shown that investing in training has been the one consistent edge that has enabled the U.S. to respond to unexpected changes in our security environment... it is the training of our forces, people and units that has allowed the U.S. to deal with unexpected security challenges.”

How can we expect the military to succeed against global threats if the significance and necessity of their training and readiness isn’t given priority? As Secretary Hagel has noted, “Our men and women signed up to be a part of... a team that trains, deploys and protects their country. We need to give them the opportunities and the resources they require to successfully accomplish the mission.”

About the Author:

LtGen George Flynn is formerly director for the Joint Force Development (J7), which provides leadership across the services for readiness, doctrine, education and training. During his more than 38 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he has served numerous operational and managerial positions. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Regents of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies; he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has several masters' degrees in national security and international relations. 

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