First Responders

The Marine Corps retains the primary purpose of providing “first responders” in any situation in the world. Therefore, the force is lean—the smallest in the military, aside from the Coast Guard. It’s approximately 60 percent the size of the Air Force and less than 40 percent the size of the Army. “The Army is so much bigger, and it takes time for them to get themselves moving to a fight. We often say that the Army wins wars, while the Marine Corps wins battles; we’re expeditionary,” says Lieutenant General Robert Blackman, President and CEO of the MCHF. “It’s important for us to be out in front during that first or second battle of a war, in anticipation of the Army’s showing up. We are forward-deployed around the world in units, and forward-based around the world. Therefore, the Marines are ready.”

A forward operating base (FOB) is a secured forward military position that is used to support tactical operations. And forward deployment means that the units in question intend to be—are trained to be—the first to contact enemy combatants. General Blackman says that the Marine Corps’ preparedness reflects a phrase in the National Security Act of 1947, to be “most ready when nation is least ready.” “We are prepared to answer the call when necessary,” he says.

As first responders to trouble spots around the world, the Marines are also trained to be a triple threat—arriving by air, land, and ocean. Called MAGTF (pronounced “mag-taf”), a Marine Air-Ground Task Force is the principle organization for any mission that spans a range of operations. With MAGTF, a single commander can manage a balanced air-ground mission, committing a selection of specialized units on short notice. While the Marines don’t have their own ships, and deploy from Navy ships for amphibious efforts, in all other ways, “we are a self-contained force,” General Blackman says. “Where the Army relies on the Air Force for fixed-wing close air support, the Marines are an air-ground logistics force, with infantry, artillery, and tanks on the ground, and fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, aerial refuelers, and logistics support in the air. This is a concept that supports our ability to fight quickly.”

We, The Marines takes the viewer across the country to several of the Corps’ specialized bases, providing glimpses into how this one-of-a-kind force puts the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

The film crew focused on training for war—and how the Marine Corps has organized its bases across the country. “Marine bases are not arranged as regional headquarters,” Director Greg MacGillivray says. “Instead, each base is suited to a special type of training, which in turn is related to unique, location-specific conditions—such as ocean access, extreme temperatures, or different terrains.” We, The Marines takes the viewer across the country to several of the Corps’ specialized bases, providing glimpses into how this one-of-a-kind force puts the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

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