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Logistics: Force Development Focus Area Details

Our logistics capabilities supporting amphibious and prepositioning operations have successfully met the demands of today’s security environment and now they must be more integrated to support steady-state operational requirements that will only increase in the future.

To meet future sustainment needs for distributed operations, the Marine Corps is expanding the capability to provide initial expeditionary logistics from a seabase outside the range of potential adversarial A2/AD capabilities. Our forward-deployed amphibious ships and positioned MPSRONs provide our MAGTFs with self-sustained capabilities for both aviation and ground with their initial expeditionary focused logistic capacities. They play key roles in our CONOPS for Expeditionary Sustainment in the Littorals that must cover both deployment and employment support.

Seabased Logistics is the operational and tactical sustainment process for naval maneuver warfare. As such, it can significantly enable actions for a JTF Commander based on primacy of the seabase, reduction in logistics demand, and the execution of continuous sustainment, resulting adaptive response and joint operations capabilities, as well as the ability to close and reconstitute forces at sea. Seabased Logistics employs logistic tactics, techniques, and procedures that deliver flexible, highly responsive support to better enable naval and joint operations. Resulting logistics will be effects-based so that supported operations, of whatever size, can result in specific desirable enabling reactions vice a massive logistic force centered on pre-planned resupply

As an expeditionary force, whether in permissive, uncertain or hostile environments, our logistics concept of support and resulting capabilities will always take into account the levels of sustainment (e.g., Days of Supply / Days of Ammunition -- DOS/DOA) embarked as Accompanying Supplies and their control during the deployment, employment, and redeployment of Marine forces. Such levels of sustainment provide a ready, integrated, and capable force to a Geographic Combatant Commander...upon their arrival. In each phase, we will ensure that our naval logistics capabilities improve on our operational flexibility and scalability. Mission factors, operational lift allocation/apportionment, and/or supply availability may also make it necessary to adjust the balance between accompanying supplies and resupply, which has specific and deliberate impacts on a MAGTF’s deployment and availability to sustain once employed.

  • SPMAGTF – Whether task-organized for crisis response or theater security cooperation missions, these forces will deploy with limited organic maintenance and not less than 3 DOS/DOA of sustainment in terms of accompanying supplies. The most likely COA for SPMAGTF sustainment support is a combination of leveraged tactical organic/host nation (HN) support/contracted logistics and sustainment support coordinated for by the respective combatant commander MARFOR.

  • MEU - This global response and forward presence MAGTF typically deploys with an organic maintenance and sustainment capability and Accompanying Supplies that provide up to 15 DOS/DOA that can be loaded on assigned shipping. With the increase in disaggregated and split operations, embark spaces to include that for sustainment, will need to be adjusted as mission(s) change and forces with their equipment cross-deck. The capacities of the Combat Logistics Force (CLF), in coordination with the Fleet, will maintain the sustainment capabilities needed across the MAGTF elements, attached Navy units, and supported SOF units as directed. 

  • MEB – Whether Amphibious or Maritime Prepositioned, MEBs will have accompanying supplies that provide up to 30 DOS/DOA for their initial sustainment. If a MEB is formed from the compositing of MEUs, their aggregated accompanying supplies and naval logistics gives the MEB its operating endurance until a viable theater logistics capability is available. Marine staff planners should re-acquaint themselves with the logistics support implications of the Assault Follow-on Echelon (AFOE) grounded by joint doctrine, policies, and procedures. Of note, sustainment stocks aboard amphibious ships are never zeroed out -- naval logistics does not wait until stocks are exhausted to replenish. They are constantly restocked or resupplied through underway replenishment (e.g., CONREP -- connected replenishment and/or VERTREP – vertical replenishment using helicopters). This unique capability ensures that naval forces are ready and available for mission or employment changes.

  • MEF – A MEF does not deploy at once but employs as a result of compositing forward-deployed MAGTFs and those MAGTFs formed and deployed upon crisis execution. It is the aggregation of these MAGTFs’ Accompanying Supplies and resupply by naval logistics that gives a MEF its initial endurance until Theater Logistics is available and functioning by joint and/or allied forces. The MEF can then remain in-theater to conduct the full range of military operations in support of the joint campaign.

Naval Logistics Integration (NLI) already provides significant benefits to afloat MEUs measured in terms of both cost efficiency and operational effectiveness. NLI is essential to the integration of processes and capabilities of both services plus the Coast Guard to source Marine Corps demand items from Navy stocks to include use of the combat logistics force ships to resupply both services. 

A major corollary to seabasing is the reduction of the logistics footprint ashore. The former footprint must be reduced and will move to the seabase. The new footprint will be characterized largely as a transportation/distribution system that delivers seabased supplies to smaller and significantly dispersed units. Logistics ‘pull’ from ashore, as opposed to the ‘push’ characterized by the land-based stockpile approach, will be facilitated by naval total asset visibility linked to the operational (theater) and strategic levels, the capability to selectively offload at sea, and the ability to respond to/support a fast and changing tempo of operations.

By keeping much (though not necessarily all) of the supplies and support activities at sea in littoral operations, naval expeditionary forces will both reduce the vulnerability of logistics operations to enemy attack and allow greater maneuverability of forces ashore. A small combat service support area ashore may be needed or several similar sized areas based on the force distribution, threat, and/or operating areas. These will not be major supply points with enough materiel to sustain a lengthy campaign. Rather, they may contain one-two DOS to serve both as a reservoir from which maneuver forces can draw when resupply from the seabase is interrupted (e.g., weather) and/or to reduce the demand for aircraft to travel an extended distance to the sea-base. It will also serve as an immediate reserve capability to support any disparities between the flow of supplies from the Fleet and the tactical demand for supplies by the operating forces.

The characteristics of Marine Corps logistics should evolve to be fully capable of:

  • Focusing on organizational changes to logistics enablers to support and sustain these dispersed, disaggregated, and afloat forces.
  • Being integrated with naval logistics while being interoperable with joint, theater and applicable multi-national logistics capabilities.
  • In conjunction with the Navy, expanding access in support of force deployment and sustainment.
  • Maximizing MAGTF sustainment from the seabase.
  • Forward-deploying select combat engineering capabilities to support the distributed global force presence of    SPMAGTFs to include championing naval construction engineering capabilities.
  • Supporting the Expeditionary Force 21 global laydown of forward-deployed forces with improved logistics responsiveness and agility while sustaining equipment readiness of disaggregated units.
  • Maximizing MAGTF sustainment from the seabase by continued resourcing and integration of key initiatives with the Navy such as cargo routing, material expediting, repairable retrograde, and afloat inventory positioning.
  • Supporting a medical common operating picture allowing for smooth transfer of patients advanced care modules and telemedicine links to greatly improve battlefield treatment and evacuation while sharing information directly from the Corpsmen to CRTS.
  • Developing a resource plan to expand the expeditionary aviation maintenance capabilities found in the T-AVB vessel with a capacity for ground maintenance support that would also enhance support for Phase 0 and I Theater Security missions.
  • Employing more efficient electrical generation and distribution systems, leveraging ground renewable expeditionary energy systems (GREENS) to maximum extent possible.
  • Resourcing and maintaining our Bases and Stations to support TECOM Live, Virtual, and Constructive training ranges to support larger number of smaller deploying MAGTFs.

We must train as we would fight” will also apply to logistics across the MAGTF. Our logistics will be guided by two operating principles in training and when employed:

Support an Expeditionary Mindset

  • Task-organized forces ashore, minimal footprint (both personnel and equipment).
  • All MAGTF units should evaluate Type I Allowances in their Tables of Equipment (T/E) as to what is truly mission-essential, deployable, expeditionary, and thus…mandatory.
  • Bring what you need; live lean in the field (two-man tents).
  • To improve mobility and to lighten units, divest quadruple containers (Quadcons) from unit allowances and introduce more expeditionary packaging such as Joint Modular Intermodal Containers (JMICs) across the MAGTFs.
  • Live expeditionary and hard ashore, leave creature comforts at sea.
  • Request only the resources that directly contribute to mission execution.
  • Limit HN infrastructure use unless otherwise directed.
  • Plan constantly with the Navy for support from the sea.

Maximize organic capabilities / limit contracting

  • Use organic means to make water—train to it; Light Water Purification System-Expanded Capacity Module (LWPS-ECM) and Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS.)
  • Generate electricity using both conventional and renewable organic equipment.
  • Sustain the force with Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and Unitized Group Rations (UGRs); No contracted messing.
  • Employ HN support as a last resort unless directed by the Embassy.
  • Limit contracting to resources not inherent in the MAGTF.

Finally, future operations—just as today—will involve all aspects of the joint force. While we readily focus on logistics support at the tactical level, there are supporting joint logistics actions underway by the U. S. Transportation Command (USTC) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) globally across the strategic and operational (theater) levels of logistics. To assist in planning for future operations, the Marine Corps is a full participant in all joint logistics developments—aligning both NLI and other Marine Corps processes and technologies to take advantage of the synergies that will result from the myriad of joint and allied initiatives and capabilities.