There’s a 20-year transition period where we will learn how to use
the mixed fleet of aircraft to the
What are the lessons being
learned from Special Purpose
BERGER: It is a great opportunity for
a combatant commander to get a unit
that has multiple capabilities that
only a MAGTF has, and not knowing
how it might be needed to be used. In
other words, when this was asked for,
and deployed last summer, they
trained on a list of missions they
thought they might be asked to do —
and they ranged from reinforcing an
embassy to conducting a noncombatant evacuation to recovery of aircraft
and personnel. There’s a whole menu
of missions we try to help them prepare for. Then we send them over there and wait and see.
While they were over there, within the first month,
Operation Inherent Resolve [OIR] started. So it was fortuitous; some of the capabilities that the CENTCOM
[U.S. Central Command] commander needed were already there in place, with the command and control,
with the ability to sustain itself. It didn’t need to rely on
anybody else. It had the aircraft. It had the maintenance. It had the ground troops.
What did we learn? It went over there as a crisis-response capability. The crisis happened. It was there.
It responded pretty quickly with no notice. They were
running missions, if I remember right, two or three
days after they landed there.
Now we are morphing it, now we are adjusting it to fit
the mission that they need in Iraq, in OIR, so we are tailoring it more right now to support the missions that are
inside Iraq. There are two adviser teams that are there,
one in al-Asad and one in al-Taqqadum. Now this is
adjusted to where those adviser teams are supported by
the Special Purpose MAGTF. So it’s a great relationship.
Now the focus of effort is these adviser teams in Iraq
building Iraqi military capability, and their reach-back
support is coming from outside of Iraq, from the Special
Purpose MAGTFs. So it’s worked out really well.
The perfect solution, of course for us and the Navy,
is to send a sea-based force, because then you can operate from the sea. You don’t have to put a footprint
ashore. Your security requirements are much more
manageable. In this case, it’s a land-based force, so it’s
not a MEU/ARG, but it provided what the combatant
commander needed at the time.
Will Special Purpose MAGTFs continue operating on a good pace in the coming year?
BERGER: I think so. We’ll see how the Special Purpose
MAGTF evolves. There are some changes in command
and control and in how we are setting up to better support Central Command, so we’ll see. A year from now is
very difficult to forecast. Our job, on this end, is try to
understand where they want to go, where they see that
operation going and make the adjustments in how the
force is built and trained to match that in the future.
Are the next units to rotate already set?
BERGER: The next one is training now, and we’ll do a
Certification Exercise not very far off. Then they’ll do
a little bit more training and go on leave, and then they
What are your priorities for the MEF?
BERGER: Our priority is really straight forward. No. 1
is to make sure the forces that we are directed to
deploy — they are already scheduled — to make sure
we have given them a very best, most realistic and
challenging training we can give them — and they are
the best led. We’ve trained the leaders, we’ve selected
the leaders, we’ve put them in place and they are the
best led. And that the equipment they have is the best
equipment we can provide them. That’s always going
to be No. 1.
No. 2, for us, is the task from Gen Dunford to make
sure that I MEF is prepared to deploy anywhere in the
world as a Marine Expeditionary Force, with the division, wing, Marine Logistics Group and our MEF
Berger speaks during the Navy Cross Presentation Ceremony in honor of the
late Sgt Rafael Peralta aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 8. Peralta was
awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in support of Operation Al Fajr in
Fallujah, Al Anbar province, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004, where he covered an
enemy grenade with his body to protect his fellow Marines.