logistics group and the Mobilization
Command in cadre status, shifting
their functions to the Marine Forces
The proposed force structure
reductions include cutting infantry
battalions from 27 to 24, artillery
battalions from 11 to nine and air
squadrons from 70 to 61.
It is not clear if that cut in air
units accounts for the recent Navy-Marine Corps agreement to increase
the Corps’ contribution to carrier
air wings from three fighter
squadrons to five.
But in keeping with commands
from Gates and Amos to increase
unmanned aerial systems (UASs),
the FSR calls for adding a fifth UAS
Despite the personnel cuts, the Corps would increase
its capacity for cyber network defense, exploitation and
attack operations by adding more than 250 personnel to
Marine Forces Cyber Command and augmenting communications and radio battalions.
It also would increase Marine Special Operations
Command by more than 1,000 critical combat support
and combat service support Marines.
And it would improve unit readiness in the operating forces by ensuring more complete manning of
enlisted and officer billets.
To improve the Corps’ ability to quickly meet the
different needs of the five geographic commanders, the
Marines would develop five regionally focused MEB
command elements, able to lead joint task forces and
with “habitually aligned” subordinate units.
Central Command gets top priority with a MEB in 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), one in 2nd MEF
and a separate “special focus” MEB, all oriented to the
The 1st MEF unit also will focus on Pacific
Command and the Western part of Southern Command,
while 2nd MEF also looks at Africa, Europe and eastern
Southern Command. The 3rd MEF’s brigade deals with
Pacific Command and another “special focus” MEB also
looks at Africa Command.
The FSR also recommends “tailoring divisions, air-
craft wings and logistical groups to ensure sufficient
type, quantity of force and resiliency to meet GCC
presence, engagement and response requirements.”
It also proposes “increasing the depth, availability
and responsiveness of our combat service support capa-
bilities” by reorganizing the Marine logistic groups in
each MEF to establish standing combat logistics battal-
U.S. MARINE CORPS
U.S. Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd
Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), provide security as a Marine CH-53E
Super Stallion helicopter lands during a mock raid conducted with Royal Thai
Marines in Hat Yao, Thailand, Feb. 16 in support of Exercise Cobra Gold 2011.
The Marine Corps’ Force Structure Review recommends developing five
regionally focused MEB command elements.
And the cut in end strength would not begin until a
substantial reduction of the 20,000 Marines in
Afghanistan, expected to start in 2014.
The FSR report noted that the “fiscally con-
strained” limit of 33 amphibious ships available to lift
the assault echelons of two Marine Expeditionary
Brigades (MEBs) increases the need for “a lean and
effective force structure.”
But it said the service will “explore options for
employing Marines from a wider variety of Navy ships,
seeking innovative naval solutions to geographic com-
bat commanders’ (GCCs’) requirements.”
The FSR said there was an imperative to preserve
the capabilities developed since the 9/11 terrorist
attacks to expand engagement efforts, respond to crises
and “still be able to project power for the most danger-
ous threat scenarios.
“To that end, we will accept a degree of risk by
reducing our active component capacity for conducting multiple, major sustained operations ashore, relying on an operationalized Reserve component to mitigate that risk,” and making “pragmatic trade-offs in
capabilities and capacities,”the review said.
Operationalizing the Marine Reserves means making them able to mobilize quickly in response to an
The review prescribes no reduction in the Marine
Reserves’ current end strength of 39,600. But within that
manning level, it proposes to increase the Civil Affairs
groups from three to five, double counterintelligence/
human intelligence capabilities, and add an air and
naval gunfire liaison company.
And as an economy measure, the FSR recommends
putting the headquarters of the Reserve division, wing and