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“Massive budget cuts announced by the Pentagon last week will likely force the Marine Corps to slash an additional infantry battalion and some light armored reconnaissance elements while scaling back planned expansion of its special operations command, a Marine general said Tuesday.
With orders to reduce its active-duty end strength by 20,000 over the next five years, the service stands to lose 4,700 more Marines than it had proposed following an extensive force structure review. Commandant Gen. Jim Amos’ plan called for an active-duty force of 186,800 Marines, down from about 202,100 today. Instead, by 2017 the service will have about 182,100 Marines.
Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., told reporters in Washington that the service continues to research how those additional cuts will be made. However, he acknowledged that units not identified in the force structure review could be eliminated.
“When you look at where the rest of these Marines will come from — this is not a done deal, if you will — but we are looking at one more infantry battalion,” he said. “We’re looking at the possibility of reducing a little bit of the light armored reconnaissance capability. We’re looking at various things. It’s just not a horizontal cut, if you will, across the Marine Corps. We’re not doing that.”
Marine Corps Force Special Operations Command also may see its planned growth slowed as a result of the budget cuts. The two-star command has been growing steadily with a goal of reaching 3,800 personnel by 2014, but Hejlik, MARSOC’s former commanding general, called that number into question.
“MARSOC will not have the exact plus-up that we wanted to give them,” he said. “The commandant is a huge supporter of MARSOC and where they’ve been and where they’re going, but they will not get the plus-up in total that they were expecting.”
Published late last year, the force structure review called for the reduction of about 15,000 Marines, including some 7,000 from East Coast units. The rest would be spread across the service. II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will take the biggest hit, with the MEF’s three-star headquarters downgraded to a two-star command, and the 9th Marine Regiment deactivated along with its three infantry battalions.
The Corps also will deactivate the 8th Marine Regiment headquarters, redistributing its three infantry battalions under II MEF’s surviving regimental headquarters, 2nd Marines and 6th Marines.
Hejlik said it’s unclear which additional infantry battalion may be cut or whether it will be based on the East Coast or the West Coast. Infantry battalions also are based permanently at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms in California and at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Currently, there are active-duty LAR units based at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms on the West Coast and Camp Lejeune on the East Coast. Hejlik did not elaborate on which of those battalions may face cuts.
A spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the congressman, a former Marine captain, does not anticipate any further significant reductions involving West Coast Marine units.
“A shift in East Coast resources, that’s what everybody is expecting right now,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s spokesman. “He would be surprised if there were any significant changes on the West Coast.”
The HMLA Transitional Training Unit Det that stands up in 2011 deactivates in 2014” (Ref. Budget cuts may slash additional Marine units; By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer - Posted: Tuesday Jan 31, 2012 20:41:37 EST- Staff writer Gina Cavallaro contributed to this report).
8th Marines and USMC reductions
More than two-thirds of those 15,000 Marines will come from the operational forces, according to the results of the Corps' months-long force structure review, distributed in November to the head of every major command. Cuts and reorganizations are underway, but the most significant moves won't happen until the Corps' obligations in Afghanistan are complete, meaning current deployment cycles will not be affected, officials say.
"We have very clear directions that this is a post-OEF plan, so we had to be very careful about how we took units off the board," said Col. Ray Coia, director of operations and plans at Marine Corps Combat Development Command, referring to Operation Enduring Freedom. "We couldn't do anything to interfere with what we're doing in Afghanistan. That's what took so long to get the plan in line."
The deepest reductions will affect units on the East Coast. In all, II Marine Expeditionary Force will see some 7,000 Marines cut from its ground, aviation and logistics communities. Among the changes there, II MEF's three-star headquarters at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be downgraded to a two-star command, the 8th Marine Regimental headquarters will be deactivated along with all three battalions that currently fall under the 9th Marine Regiment, which was stood up as part of the Corps' expansion just a few years ago to 202,000 active-duty personnel.
About 3,400 Marines will be cut from units within I MEF, and another 250 Marines will be cut from III MEF. Another 4,000 or so manpower reductions will come from the Corps' supporting establishment, which includes elements involved in recruiting, base and station support, and training and education.
Details of the plan are summarized in an internal 10-page document signed by Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, deputy commandant for combat development and integration and the head of MCCDC. The force structure review took four months to complete, ending in December, and was authorized for implementation in February by Amos and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
But the changes spelled out in Mills' document are seen as only a starting point. As the battle over the burgeoning deficit in Washington continues, there will be pressure on all the services to cut even deeper. Amos has described the force structure review as a "framework that will get us down to 186,800" active-duty Marines, an end strength, he has said, that will allow the Corps to remain the country's crisis-response force that is light, flexible and capable of conducting a variety of missions.
But recently the commandant has acknowledged that his ideal active-duty force may be pared beyond what was mapped out in the force structure review. Speaking Nov. 18 before a nonprofit group in Arlington, Va., Amos said: "My sense is that we are probably going to go lower than that. We are going to come down to well below 186,800."
It's unclear how much beyond this 15,000 the Corps may shrink, but Pentagon planners have discussed cuts that could reduce the service by at least 25,000 Marines overall, according to sources at Marine Corps headquarters. At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some 172,000 Marines were on active duty.
"We're looking at all options," Coia told Marine Corps Times on Nov. 23. "But we don't know if there's going to be another floor. You can speculate. However, whatever we do is going to be based on this," he added, pointing to Mills' document.
The force structure changes spelled out in that document are slated to occur in phases through fiscal 2015, which ends Sept. 30, 2015. It spells out which units will go away entirely and which will be reorganized, where there will be personnel reductions and where there will be some growth.
Logistics units, for instance, will undergo sweeping change. Many will be deactivated. Others will be restructured and realigned with the combat units they support.
The MLGs -- Marine logistics groups -- will be operationalized, Coia said, meaning they will be balanced and organized to provide direct support to ground combat elements and general support to the rest of the Marine air ground task force. Instead of ad hoc support units being created and trained to deploy with a combat unit, there will be standing units distributed to specific combat logistics battalions and regiments.
In the aviation community, several support detachments will be eliminated, as will the four tactical electronic warfare squadrons at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., to make way in later years for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.
Not all of the units to be deactivated had been fully stood up, Coia said, explaining that some tank companies and helicopter squadrons, for example, were just beginning to grow. Their Marines have been redistributed.
"There's no intention to do an early reduction in forces like we did after the Gulf War," he said. "We're not going to do that. We are going to use the normal attrition process to reduce our manning." Qualified Marines will have an opportunity to move well in advance of a unit's deactivation, Coia said. "I don't think Marines will need to worry about the 186K force," he added. "They'll be an important part of it if they want to remain in the Marine Corps and have a great career." Here's a look at some of the key changes that will take place:
The MEF structure. Although II MEF will be made into a two-star command with administrative responsibility for training, providing and deploying forces, I MEF and III MEF will remain three-star commands. "This is an important point in the plan," Coia siad. "We are accepting risk in stating that we're a single major contingency operations force. We're only going to do one Iraq at a time. We won't be able to do two. We're only going to have the numbers of headquarters necessary to make one major regional contingency operation." The II MEF commander, he said, will have what he needs. If that means a boost to a three-star headquarters to respond to a sustained operation, it can be done quickly.
Why dissolve 8th Marines? The decision to cut a regimental headquarters was part of the group's work to find efficiencies wherever it could, and it was determined that II MEF could close the 8th Marines regimental headquarters based on its units and rotations. "No one likes to see historic units like that go away, but you have to make hard decisions," Coia said. The remaining regiments at Lejeune, 2nd Marines and 6th Marines, will then each have four or five battalions. "In Iraq, we had regiments controlling up to 14 battalions," he said. "So it's definitely possible."
MPs. Instead of being distributed throughout the force down to the major subordinate levels in each division, wing, logistics group and headquarters, MP companies will be consolidated and converted into law enforcement support battalions. The aim is to centralize training and develop a single mission set.
The Reserve. The Reserve is undergoing its own force structure review, which is expected to be published within weeks, Coia said. Look for the reserve units to play a big role backing the active component. "When we took something out of the active component, in a lot of cases, we mitigated losing that capability by putting it in the Reserve," he said, explaining that the new structure will beef up some aviation units, civil affairs and air naval gunfire liaison companies.
Field artillery. The reduction in field artillery batteries correlates to the reduction in infantry battalions, Coia said. "We're going down to 24 infantry battalions; we want to have 24 field artillery batteries so there's always a direct support capability available for the infantry units," he said. Within that framework, batteries will get a boost in structure so they can service split battery operations.
Intel and communications. Reductions here are "miniscule," Coia said. "We brought in a total of like 11,000 enablers in the 202K plus-up. We're going to retain about 8,000 of those. We may be cutting back from the 202K, but we will be substantially better off than we were pre-9/11 in those areas."
Why reduce recon? With some reconnaissance capability in the Reserve, the difficult decision was made to ramp down recon battalions by one company each. "That was one of the last things we took off, but we were trying to be as efficient as possible and, at the end of the day, they had a little excess capacity than what was needed, so we took some out," Coia said.
Bands to shut down. Most bands have other missions, such as command post security, which they have done during deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. The bands at Marine Corps Air Ground Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., did not have a secondary mission, so they are being disbanded. Any need for musicians at these facilities can be met by bands based at other facilities in the region.
Some growth. Marine Forces Korea will gain seven staff planners; Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command will grow by 1,001; Marine Forces Cyberspace Command will increase by 243 Marines; and Marine Forces South will add 12 Marines. "We're beefing up the MarFors so they can be more relevant inside their theaters. We've done it with less people than we maybe needed and put a serious strain on them," he said” (Ref. Corps To Shed 15,000 - Further cuts are likely, commandant warns - By Gina Cavallaro MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.).
U.S. Marine Aircraft Groups
Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that is currently composed of five V-22 Osprey squadrons, four CH-53 Super Stallion squadrons, one Personnel Support Detachment and a maintenance and logistics squadron. The group falls under the command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Provide air support to Marine Air-Ground Task Force commanders.
CH-53E Super Stallion Squadrons
V-22 Osprey Squadrons
Marine Helicopter Transport Group 16 (MAG(HR)-16) was formed 1 March 1952 at Marine Corps Air Facility(MCAF) Santa Ana, California and was the first helicopter group established in the Marine Corps. Prior to its activation helicopter squadrons were considered special units and reported directly to the Air Wing commanding general with no intermediate command. Colonel Harold J. Mitchener was MAG-16's first commanding officer. Seven units made up the newly formed MAG: Headquarters Squadron(HQSQ) 16, Marine Airbase Squadron(MABS) 16, Marine Aircraft Maintenance Squadron(MAMS) 16, Marine Helicopter Transport Squadrons(HMR) 162, 163, 362, and 363.
1980s & 1990s
Through the years, many other helicopter squadrons have made MAG-16 their home. Units of MAG-16 have participated in Operation Desert Punch, Operation Seahorse Wind, Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and many other missions, including Operation Iraqi Freedom.
MAG-16 has provided support in Somalia to include rescue operations in many other locations. MAG-16 deploys its units aboard the fleet of the United States Navy to maintain a high state of awareness overseas and abroad. MAG-16 and its units have provided aircraft support and transportation for visiting U.S. dignitaries and celebrities from the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy, Commandant of the Marine Corps and movie legend Audrey Hepburn. MAG-16 also provides aircraft and personnel for the MCAS Miramar Air Show.
Global War on Terror
From 11 September 2001 through to the present, elements of MAG-16 have actively participated in the Global War on Terror, beginning with HMM-163(REIN)'s role in establish FOB Rhino in Afghanistan as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which consisted of a core CH-46E HMM squadron, a CH-53E detachment from HMH-465, both part of MAG-16, as well as HMLA and VMA detachments. All flying squadrons of MAG-16 have participated in the GWOT in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, but were almost always under the command of other headquarters elements. MAG-16's headquarters element was specifically deployed in support of the GWOT from January 2008 through January 2009, where they provided the primary command of Marine aviation support in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. By the end of this deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom the MAG had achieved a milestone 80,000 flight hours in support of Multi-National Forces West and adjacent commands.
MAG-16 continues to reshape its identity for the current expeditionary environment of the Marine Corps. The CH-46E Sea Knight is currently being replaced with the MV-22B Osprey to augment its heavy lift assault support assets. The MV-22B adds a long-range capability to the MAGTF that will extend its reach well beyond current assault support assets. MAG-16 will continue to refine its identity to "respond to today's crisis with today's force... today."
1 Rawlins (1976), p.52.
2. Lehrack The First Battle, p. 30.
3. LCpl Dulaney, Brandon (30 January 2009). "MAG 26 assumes authority at al Asad". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
4. Representatives, House of (1 Mar 2011). "Statement of General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Before the House Armed Services Committee on the 2011 Posture of the U.S. Marine Corps". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay that is currently composed of three CH-53D Sea Stallion squadrons, a personnel support detachment and a maintenance and logistics squadron. They fall under the command of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Provide combat-ready, expeditionary aviation forces capable of short-notice, worldwide employment to a Marine Air Ground Task Force.
· HMH-362 – Ugly Angels
· HMH-363 – Red Lions
· HMH-463 – Pegasus
MALS-24 – Warriors
World War II
Activated on 1 March 1942 at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii. During World War II, MAG-24 saw extensive action throughout the Pacific theater, and in particular in the campaigns to liberate the Philippines. Following the war, MAG-24 was deployed as part of the III Amphibious Corps to Peiping in Northern China to take part in the occupation that lasted from October 1945 until April 1947. In April 1947 they were relocated to Guam. In 1949, MAG-24 moved to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and remained there for the next twenty years.
1960s through today
In April 1968, MAG-24 moved back to the Pacific and Kaneohe, Hawaii where it became the Marine Corps’ largest and only permanent composite Marine Aircraft Group. Starting in 1978, the MAG provided both fixed and rotary wing squadrons for six-month unit deployments to the Western Pacific. From 1 October 1986 to 30 September 1994, MAG-24 served as the Aviation Combat Element for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. From August to December 1990, squadrons and personnel from MAG-24 deployed to Southwest Asia to support Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
The last MAG-24 squadrons to return participated in Operation Sea Angel, the Bangladesh relief operation. During recent years all three tactical squadrons have deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) program and have provided aircraft to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The three squadrons have traveled the Pacific participating in exercises in Japan, Korea, and Thailand.
In September 2004 a small detachment of CH-53Ds from HMH-463 joined HMM-265 as the Heavy lift portion of the 31st MEU Aviation Combat Element. This MEU detachment became the first CH-53Ds to participate in combat operations since Desert Storm, operating out of Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar Province, Iraq. In early 2006, HMH-362 supported a Presidential visit to India by providing 5 aircraft to support the mission. Currently HMH-362 is operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Station New River that is currently composed of seven MV-22 Osprey squadrons one of which is the Fleet Replacement Squadron and one aviation logistics squadron. It falls under the command of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and II Marine Expeditionary Force.
1950s through to the 1980s
Marine Aircraft Group 26 was activated on 16 June 1952 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and was assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The first operational Marine Aircraft Group arrived from MCAS Cherry Point in July 1954. Marine Aircraft Group 26, a group of helicopters originally commissioned in 1952, filled the needs of the Marine Corps to maintain a force which was expeditionary and amphibious in nature. In July 1954, the group relocated to Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. On 1 March 1959, it was designated Marine Aircraft Group 26.
During this period, the group flew 10 different types of aircraft. Elements of MAG-26 participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis; intervention in the Dominican Republic; Antilles disaster relief operation in the Dominican Republic; the Iranian hostage rescue attempt; Multinational Peacekeeping Force, Beirut, Lebanon; Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada and the Carriacou Islands; Hurricane Hugo relief, Puerto Rico and Charleston, S.C.; and Operation Sharp Edge, Monrovia, Liberia.
In December 1990, MAG-26 relocated to expeditionary airfield Lonesome Dove in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to support the I Marine Expeditionary Force and the 2nd Marine Division in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. The composite squadron included nine squadrons from MAG-26, MAG-29 and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.
Elements of the group were involved in Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq and Turkey; Operation Victor Squared, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Operation Deny Flight in the former Yugoslavia and the Adriatic Sea. The group is one of the most heavily tasked and deployed units in the Marine Corps and provides special operations capable aviation combat elements for the Marine Expeditionary Units in support of the 6th Fleet and Central Command elements.
Since January 1992, the group participated in Operation Provide Promise; Operation Southern Watch in which MAG-26 squadrons self-deployed in less than 12 hours, flew over a thousand miles and then embarked aboard ship; Operation Southern Support; Operation Support Democracy; Operation Sharp Guard; Operation Continue Hope; and Operation Uphold Democracy. In addition to deployments around the world, from 1 January 1993 to 31 December 1994, MAG-26 garrison squadrons accomplished an average of 10 major Marine exercises, 12 local exercises, 12 deployments for training and 60,455 mishap-free flight hours over the past two years.
The beginning of 1995 was met with many firsts for MAG-26. In conjunction with USS O'Bannon (DD-987), HMH-461 was the first fleet squadron to perform Hover In-flight Refueling while hovering astern a naval vessel. HMLA-167 was also the first squadron to employ Night Targeting System on the AH-1W SuperCobra.
As Hurricane Floyd moved up the East Coast in September 1999, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines relocated hundreds of military aircraft and vessels out of Floyd's path, and evacuated all non-emergency military and civilians to help ensure their safety. From Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C., all flyable CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group 26 were evacuated to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. All flyable CH-46E, UH-1N and AH-1W aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group 26 and all flyable CH-53E, CH-46E, UH-1N and AH-1W from Marine Aircraft Group 29 were evacuated to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. All grounded aircraft were secured within station hangars.
War in Iraq
On 28 January 2009, MAG-26 turned over with Marine Aircraft Group 16 and assumed primary command of aviation support in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. This year-long deployment for the MAG in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom culminated in November when the 2nd MAW headquarters turned over its mission as the aviation combat element of Multi-National Forces West to the MAG.
Marine Aircraft Group 29 (MAG-29) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Station New River that is currently composed of four CH-53E Super Stallion squadrons including the Fleet Replacement Squadron, three Light Attack Squadron flying AH-1W SuperCobras and UH-1N Twin Hueys, and a maintenance and logistics squadron.
Provide air support to Marine Air-Ground Task Force commanders.
Light Attack Helicopter squadrons
Heavy Helicopter squadrons
Aviation Logistics squadron
Early years & the 1980s
Marine Aircraft Group 29 was commissioned 1 May 1972 from Marine Helicopter Training Group 40 (MHTG-40) at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, North Carolina. MAG-29 was composed of Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron (H&HS-29), Marine Air Base Squadron 29 (MABS-29), and Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 268 (HML-268). The squadrons were newly designated units awaiting assignment of personnel and material.
Four days after its activation, MAG-29 received its first aircraft, the UH-1N, directly from Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. Eleven days later, the Group more than doubled in size with the addition of HML-167, HMA-269, and VMO-1 from Marine Aircraft Group 26.
During 1982, the first phases of the MAG-29/MAG-26 reorganization were completed with the composition of UH-1N and AH-1T aircraft in HML-167 and HMA-269, and transfer of HMM-162 and HMH-464 to MAG-29 from MAG-26. During 1983, MAG-29 received HMM-365 and HMM-263 to complete the MAG-29/MAG-26 reorganization.
During 1993, MAG-29 units supported UN Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope in Somalia and Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise in the former Yugoslavia. During the summer of 1994, MAG-29 personnel and aircraft supported Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti. On 7 June 1995, Marines of HMM-263 successfully rescued downed U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Scott O'Grady.
In 1999, MAG-29 saw yet another real world contingency in the deployment of HMM-365(REIN). As the ACE for the 26th MEU, HMM-365(REIN) supported numerous operations in the countries of Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, Humanitarian Assistance in Turkey and participated in Operation Allied Force, Operation Allied Harbor, Joint Task Force shining Hope, Operation Noble Anvil, Operation Joint Guardian, and Operation Avid Response.
Global War on Terror
After the 11 September attacks, MAG-29 prepared for support operations in New York City and contingency operations overseas. HMM-365(Rein) was quickly deployed and ordered to be among the first troops into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Following that, MAG-29 (Rein) was ordered to deploy in January 2003 to become the 3rd Rotary Wing Group for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Group returned from Iraq in June 2003. MAG-29 deployed to Iraq in support of OIF 07-08. In June 2008, they returned to their headquarters in MCAS New River.
Marine Aircraft Group 36 (MAG-36) is an active air group of the United States Marine Corps, tasked with providing assault support aircraft. It is currently part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), itself an integral part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, and based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan.
The mission of MAG-36 is to support the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with combat ready expeditionary assault support aircraft and when directed, plan and conduct aviation operations as a Marine Expeditionary Brigade-level Aviation Combat Element.
Also attached are Unit Deployment Program (UDP) squadrons, usually Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadrons flying the UH-1N and AH-1W, and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadrons flying the CH-53E.
Originally formed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, in Santa Ana, California, on 2 June 1952 as Marine Air Group (Helicopter Transport) 36, the Group spent several years training for amphibious operations to carry out the role of ship-to-shore assault support. At this time, the Group consisted of squadrons HMR-361, HMR-362, HMR-363, all flying HRS-1 helicopters.
In 1959, it was renamed Marine Air Group 36, and in 1965 attached to the 1st MAW, when it deployed to Vietnam in August of that year. It sailed for Vietnam aboard the USS Princeton, flying ashore at Chu Lai on 1 September. This was both the first full Marine Air Group to arrive in Vietnam, and more generally the first time a full helicopter group had been transported this way.
The Group participated in a wide variety of support missions during the Vietnam War, ranging from assault missions to medical evacuation and logistical flights using UH-1 E gunships, CH-46 Sea Knights, and UH-34 Seahorses. In 1968, it was closely involved in support of actions in Huế during the Tet Offensive.
On 4 November 1969, MAG-36 withdrew from Vietnam and re-based to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. VMGR-152, which had provided combat air refueling for detachments in Vietnam from Futenma since 1965, became a part of MAG-36 at that time. Until 1972, MAG-36 provided support squadrons to Marine Amphibious Unit aboard ship. In 1972, VMGR-152 was deployed to Thailand and Vietnam to provide refueling services to 1st MAW aircraft, whilst attack squadrons carried out operations against North Vietnamese logistics as part of the 7th Fleet. In early 1973, MAG-36 squadrons participated in clearing Haiphong harbor of mines, after which they returned to Futenma.
On 11 April 1975, the group provided transport for Operation Eagle Pull – the successful emergency evacuation of Americans from Cambodia. Following this, the Group deployed all of its available aircraft aboard 7th Fleet ships and in the famous Operation Frequent Wind, on 29 April 1975 in a 24-hour period, evacuated over 7000 people from Saigon aboard MAG-36 helicopters.
From the late 1970s through the 1980s, MAG-36 continued to support fleet operations in the Pacific Theater. MAG-36 became the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) linchpin in the Western Pacific (WestPac). As part of the UDP, CH-46, CH-53, and OV-10 squadrons from Hawaii and California deployed to MCAS Futenma for six-month rotations. During these deployments MAG-36 participated in numerous exercises and training deployments to various countries around the WestPac.
In November 1992, the last UDP detachment of OV-10s returned to Camp Pendleton, CA. In the spring of 1993, HMM-262 arrived from Hawaii to become a permanent part of MAG-36. HMM-262 was followed by HMM-265, and these two CH-46 squadrons have formed the backbone of the 31st MEU Aviation Combat Element.
Throughout the 1990s, MAG-36 units participated in a variety of contingency operations. In 1995, MAG-36 units conducted relief operations in Kobe Japan after 6,400 people lost their lives in a massive earthquake and also participated in the withdrawal of United Nation Forces from Somalia during Operation UNITED SHIELD. In 1999, units responded to a no-notice deployment to the Persian Gulf for Operation DESERT FOX and to East Timor for peacekeeping during Operation STABILIZE.
During the first decade of the 21st century, MAG-36 units continued to support Theater Security Cooperation exercises and numerous contingency operations. In 2004 and 2007 respectively, HMM-265 and HMM-262 deployed for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM combat operations. Since May 2009, VMGR-152 has been providing an enduring two-plane detachment to Afghanistan for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Nearly every year, MAG-36 deploys as a MEB-level Aviation Combat Element, often supporting Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. In November 2007, in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Sidr MAG-36 elements deployed to Bangladesh for Operation SEA ANGEL II. MAG-36 supported Operation CARING RESPONSE in May 2008 from Thailand after Tropical Cyclone Nargis impacted Burma. Additionally, MAG-36 has conducted HADR in the Philippines on three separate occasions: during 2004 with Joint Task Force 535, following three back-to-back typhoons in October 2009, and again in October 2010 in the wake of Super Typhoon MEGI. Most recently during Operation TOMODACHI, MAG-36 deployed to mainland Japan immediately following the triple-disaster created by an earthquake, tsunami, and damaged nuclear reactor to provide much needed relief to our host nation.
Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG-39) is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California that is currently composed of six AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1N Huey light attack squadrons, three CH-46 Sea Knight squadrons and one logistics squadron. The group falls under the command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF).
MAG-39 was activated at Quang Tri Airfield, Republic of Vietnam, amongst the chaos of war. Originally assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, MAG-39 participated in the Vietnam war until October 1969 when it was deactivated.
Temporarily reactivated to participate in the Operation Frequent Wind from April 1975, until the operation was complete in May 1975.
Elements have participated in: Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 til April 1991, Operation Restore Hope, Somalia from December 1992-April 1993, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan from December 2001-June 2002, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kuwait from January 2003-October 2003.
Marine Aircraft Group 41 (MAG-41) is a United States Marine Corps reserve aviation unit based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas that is currently composed of one F/A-18A+ squadron, one KC-130T squadron, a Maintenance and Logistics squadron, as well as detachments from Engineer and Air Traffic Control squadrons. Following decommissioning of Marine Aircraft Group 46 in 2009, MAG-41 also assumed command responsibility for the geographically separated Northrop F-5F aggressor squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and a Boeing Vertol CH-46 squadron based at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Train, man, equip, and sustain an expeditionary aviation combat element (ACE), Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) element, an aviation logistics squadron, a fighter-attack squadron, a fighter adversary squadron and an aerial refueler/assault support squadron in order to deploy/employ as a MAG/ACE, a special purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), or any combination of capabilities in support of MAGTF or Combined/Joint Warfare.
Fixed Wing Squadrons
Rotary Wing Squadron
· Marine Wing Support Squadron 473 Det Bravo
· Marine Air Control Squadron 24 Det Alpha
World War II
Marine aviation was born as the original “Flying Leatherneck,” 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham, strapped himself into a stick and canvas “aero-machine” and logged three hours in the air at Wright Field, Mass. in August of 1912. In its infancy, Marine aviation has proven itself with spectacular aerial combat in the dog-fighting days of World War I to being the only American flying service that saw action during the “Banana Wars” between 1918 and 1941. With the combination of practicality and a vision of the future, the fathers of Marine aviation pioneered the use of aircraft for dive bombing, air transport, medical evacuations, close air support for ground troops and rotary wing operations, all of which have been preformed with a professional precision by the men and women of Marine Aircraft Group 41.
Marine Base Defense Group 41 was first organized in the Fleet Marine Force on January 1, 1943, at MCAS El Toro, California. With need for support in the growing war in the Pacific, on November 10, 1944 it received the designation Marine Aircraft Group 41,with the mission “…to administer and supervise training and activities of attached squadrons for combat in the Pacific.” Originally, there was only a headquarters, service and single fighter squadron in the group, but as the scope of Marine aviation in World War II grew, MAG-41 simultaneously expanded to include six tactical squadrons and a maintenance squadron, now Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 41.
Because of the shortage of aircraft carriers early in the war, land-based Marine air was used to neutralize by-passed enemy bases in the Central Pacific. As an ever increasing number of escort carriers became available, it was decided Marine planes would be placed on board. In 1944, MAG-41 training to subordinate squadrons included carrier duty and the further development of close air support for the Marines on the ground. MAG-41 was the first Marine aviation unit to receive and train with the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. By the end of the war, the group had trained nearly twenty fighter, dive bomber and torpedo squadrons for combat and held the distinction of having the largest squadron in Marine aviation history.
Marine aviation strength during World War II peaked at five Marine air wings that included 31 groups, 145 squadrons and 112,626 Marines, of whom 10,457 were pilots. During that time, MAG-41 held the distinction of having the largest squadron in Marine aviation history. With the war over, MAG-41 officially deactivated in October of 1945, but with the new doctrine of carrier-based aircraft being set, Marine aviation would go on to become an integral part of future amphibious operations.
On July 1, 1962, the group was reactivated as part of 4th Marine Aircraft Wing at Naval Air Station Dallas, and designated a Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD). At that time MAG-41 consisted of three fighter squadrons, (VMF-111, VMF-112, VMF-413,) and two medium helicopter squadrons, (HMM-777, HMM-762). The fighter squadrons flew the FJ-4B and AF-1E Fury, while the helicopter squadrons flew the UH-34 Seahorse. The following year, VMF-413 and HMM-762 were deactivated. By August 1963, VMF-111 and VMF-112 made the leap into supersonic flight with the F-8A Crusader. Vought, the manufacturer of the Crusader, had a plant adjacent to the runway of NAS Dallas, making the transition more than convenient for squadron pilots and support personnel.
On October 22, 1965 VMF-111 was deactivated with personnel and aircraft to be absorbed by VMF-112. In July 1967, the unit formally known as the “Wolf Pack,” from its glory days of World War II with 140 kills in the Pacific, changed its name to the “Cowboys,” and redesigned the squadron insignia to reflect the local Dallas Cowboys NFL team.
In 1970, another Crusader squadron, VMJ-4, flying the photoreconnaissance version of the fighter, the RF-8G, joined the unit. The unit eventually received reworked models of the Crusader, the F-8K, and later, the F-8H in 1971. With the added allweather capability of the F-8H, VMF-112 was redesignated VMF(AW)-112 on November 1, 1971.
MAG-41 also continued to advance in rotary-aircraft operations. In 1972, the “Flying Armadillos” of HMM-777 traded their aging UH-34Ds for the CH-53A Sea Stallion and was redesignated as a heavy Marine helicopter squadron (HMH). HMH-777 was deactivated due to massive budget cuts in 1980, however, on October 1, 1980, the squadron’s personnel and aircraft were reformed as the Bravo Detachment of HMH-772, which was based at NAS JRB Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
The squadron continued to operate various models of the F-8 until the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II replaced the aircraft. When the squadron began to acquire the F-4, it was re-designated as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 (VMFA-112) in 1983.
For the next thirteen years, the Dallas detachment supported 4th MAW, including a deployment to Okinawa in support of Desert Storm, yet in 1993 the Reserve heavy-lift squadrons were realigned, and both HMH-772 detachments were deactivated. Det Alpha was reactivated as HMH-769, but HMH-777 was not so lucky. On 1 April 1993, HMH-772, Det Bravo, retired the squadron colors in a brief ceremony to close the final chapter on the “Flying Armadillos” and what has, so far, been the final chapter of rotary aircraft in MAG-41.
During Desert Storm, modern Marine aviation proved to be powerful and versatile as advanced aircraft set the tone for combat operations. Although MAG-41 was proud to have the last Phantom II squadron in the Marine Corps, a change was needed to propel the group into the twenty-first century. In July of 1992, VMFA-112 received their first McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet, and subsequently launched a “Phantom “Pharewell” to bid a last farewell to their F-4J/S. In the coming months more Hornets began to appear on the “Cowboy” flightline until the squadron received their entire compliment of 11 “A” models and one two-seating “B” model. On Oct. 8, 1992, Capt. Joe “Crop” Riley flew the first Hornet sortie for the “Cowboys” and began a new chapter for “Flying Leathernecks” of MAG-41. VMFA-112 has since reconfigured its aircraft to the F/A-18A+ platform. The aircraft have undergone improvements in radar, navigation, and night vision systems. VMFA-112 has also worked alongside Naval Air Weapons Stations-China Lake testing the AIM-9X Sidewinder (Air Intercept Missile) as well as the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
VMFA-112 has since reconfigured its aircraft to the F/A-18A+ platform. The aircraft have undergone improvements in radar, navigation, and night vision systems. VMFA-112 has also worked alongside Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, testing the AIM-9X Sidewinder as well as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
In August 1994, MAG-41 gained a squadron of 14 KC-130T Hercules, when Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 was reassigned from the former NAS Glenview, Illinois when that installation was closed due to Base Realignment and Closure action. After the move the group quickly gained the title of the “Rangers” from the Major League Baseball team located minutes away in Arlington, Texas. Within months of their arrival to Dallas, VMGR-234 surpassed 73,000 accident-free flight hours.
During March 1995, all MAG-41 assets were relocated from NAS Dallas to Carswell Air Force Base, now known as Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. Working alongside MAG-41 since World War II and providing the backbone of maintenance and logistical support for much of the 4th Marine Air Wing, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 41 followed the group’s short move west, from Dallas to Fort Worth. The newly constructed MAG-41 headquarters building was completed in June 1996 and dedicated during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in November of that year.
At the turn of the century, MAG-41 participated in several multinational exercises, such as Operation Bright Star 2000 in Cairo, Egypt, and provided a supporting role to Marines in multiple combined arms exercises (CAX) in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif. After Sept. 11, 2001, MAG-41 became an active participant in the Global War on Terrorism. VMGR-234 flew supporting missions for U.S. and coalition forces conducting assault support, aerial refueling and assisting casualty evacuation missions during operations Anaconda, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. MAG-41 and MALS-41, along with new-joining detachments Marine Air Control Squadron 24 (Air Traffic Control, Det. Alpha) and MWSS-473 (Det. Bravo), mobilized their Marine Reserves in combination with active duty personnel to deploy and fill critical billets in support of both Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. MALS-41 deployed to nine countries between 2002 and 2004, mostly in combat zones. MACS-24, Det. A mobilized in 2004 with two consecutive seven-month deployments to Iraq in support of U.S. and coalition forces. MWSS-473, Det. B mobilized in September of 2004 and deployed for a seven-month tour to Afghanistan and supported several joint task force aviation elements in routing out the Taliban and al Qaeda near the Pakistani border. MAG-41 Headquarters deployed most of their augments to link up with 3rd MAW in Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. As of Oct. 15, 2005 the total strength of MAG-41 and its subordinate units is 1,477 personnel, including 921Reserve Marines.
The Marines of MAG-41 continue to train and maintain a high state of readiness while continuing to provide excellent service to the local community through events such as the annual MAG-41 Marine Corps Mud Run and Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots charity drive (Ref. Commanding Officers of MAG-41 & present history & Marine Arcraft Group 41).
Marine Aircraft Group 49 is a United States Marine Corps reserve aviation unit based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pennsylvania that is currently composed of one CH-46 Sea Knight, one CH-53E Super Stallion, three AH-1W Super Cobra, one KC-130 and a maintenance and logistics squadron. Due to a re-organization within Marine aviation, the group is set to move to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey by 2011.
1940s & 1950s
On February 26, 1946, Marine Air Reserve Training Command (MARTC) activated at Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois and three Marine Aviation Detachments (MADS). Within a year, 21 more MADS formed consisting of 24 Marine Fighter Squadrons (VMF), and eight Ground Control Intercept Squadrons (GCIS). One of these squadrons, VMF-451, was established at NAS Willow Grove in April 1946.
On February 1, 1947, GCIS-17 organized at Willow Grove under the MAD. In August 1950, Reserve Marines from GCIS-17 mobilized for the Korean War and remained on active duty until reorganization of the squadron in October 1951. VMF-451 was activated as a unit on January 3, 1951 for Korean service.
On June 24, 1950, GCIS-26 formed in New York. On August 3, 1950 the unit mobilized until June 30, 1952, when members returned from active duty. In 1952, upon reorganization of the Marine Corps Reserve, 17 of the 21 MADS remained, all staffed by active duty Marines.
On March 1, 1954 GCIS-26, Brooklyn, New York was re-designated a Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) to reflect the Marine Corps-wide re-designation of many such units. On April 15, 1958, Helicopter Transport Squadron-772 was established. In October 1951, MACS-17 began reorganization at NAS Willow Grove after reservists were released from active duty.
In 1959, Marine Air Reserve Group 25 (MARG-25) was the senior Marine Reserve command at NAS Willow Grove, with VMF-511 attached. The 4th MAW experienced great change in 1962 when Marine Aircraft Group 43 was reactivated on July 1 along with Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron-43 (H&MS-43). Helicopter Transport Squadron-772 was re-designated Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-772 (HMM-772) on April 1, 1962. On February 1, 1963, MACS-26 was re-designatedMarine Air Traffic Control Unit 73 (MATCU-73), and on March 1, Marine Air Base Squadron-43 (MABS-43) was reactivated at NAS Willow Grove.
1960 through present
A major 4th MAW reorganization on February 1, 1965 saw H&MS-43, MABS-43, VMF-511, and MACS-17 all reassigned to MAG-43. MATCU-73 was assigned to the 4th MAW and remained in New York until November 1, 1965 when it was reassigned to MAG-43 and transferred to NAS Willow Grove on May 1, 1967. In 1971, HMM-772 transitioned to the CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter, was re-designated HMH-772 and transferred to MAG-49 at NAS Willow Grove.
In August 1991, MACS-48 Det B mobilized to conduct Air Traffic Control Operations at MCAS Yuma, MCAS El Toro and MCAS Camp Pendleton, at the onset of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Members of MWSS-473, Det A were mobilized to MCAS New River, to support station operations while active duty personnel were deployed to Southwest Asia. Individual members of MAG-49, reserve and active duty, mobilized to serve with various units in the Saudi Arabian desert.
HMH-772 mobilized shortly after the start of Operation Desert Storm in support of the Marine Corps' Unit Deployment Program (UDP). Initially sent to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing to augment with its sister squadron from NAS Dallas, HMH-772 was reassigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro, CA to prepare for overseas deployment to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. While deployed, HMH-772 participated in training deployments and helped evacuation efforts in the Republic of the Philippines (RP) following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
On October 18, 1997, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-773, Detachment A (HMLA-773, Det A) activated at MAG-49, NAS Willow Grove with 21 Marines and 9 aircraft. In 1998, HMH-772 transitioned from the Sikorsky CH53D Sea Stallion to the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. In 2000, the Detachment changed from HMLA-773, Detachment A to HMLA-775, Detachment A, in accordance with a 4th MAW unit realignment strategy. During March 2000, HMLA-775 Detachment A moved from Willow Grove to Cambria Airport, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In 2008 HMLA-775 Detachment A became HMLA-773 Detachment B.
In 2001, Marine Air Control Squadron 24 (MACS-24), Detachment B, NAS Willow Grove, was deactivated.
In 2011, MAG-49 moved from NAS Willow Grove to Joint Base Macguire/Dix/Lakehurst.