On May 27th, 2008, the 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, directed the activation of MCTOG and the establishment of the Ground Combat Element Operations and Tactics Training Program (GCE OTTP).
The premise behind this directive was to create a proponent Center of Excellence that directly supports the Advocate, Deputy Commandant Plans, Policy and Operations, Training and Education Command, Marine Air Ground Task Force – Training Command and the ground combat element.
Within the Commandant’s White Letter, the General outlined the desired end state for MCTOG and the GCE OTTP, which are two essential requirements for maintaining adaptive and dynamic agility within the GCE to maintain pace with an ever changing adversary in the 21st century and beyond. The end state is:
- To achieve greater standardization amongst GCE units in operational preparation and execution
- To inculcate the GCE battalions and regiments with a higher level of training excellence and rigor
- To codify and provide the training requirements for critical GCE staff members in order to build expertise in the training, preparation, and employment of GCE units on the distributed and complex battlefield of the future
- To implement mechanisms to ensure that GCE doctrine, standards, training, and requirements maintain pace with changing threat environment and emerging operational concepts
- To enhance GCE unit’s preparation and performance in current and future combat operations
MCTOG organized its operations around three major lines of effort (LOEs) which include 1) Advanced Individual Training, 2) Advanced Collective Training – Battle Staff Training, and 3) Emerging Concepts, Innovation and Doctrine. These core LOEs have remained consistent and proven to encapsulate the Commandant’s vision and ensured the GCE OTTP is the most representative, relevant, and dynamic that it can be.
Advanced Individual Training
2009 – 2010
Operations Tactics Instructor Course became the Tactical MAGTF Integration Course
30 Jul 2010
CG TECOM directed Infantry Operations Chiefs Course merge with MCTOG and the Ground Operations Chief Course was developed. Additionally, it was directed that MCTOG partner with EWS to ensure GCE graduates are trained and certified as Operations and Tactics Instructors.
MCTOG working with TECOM and Central Command designed, developed and instituted the Counter-Insurgency Operations Course which allowed battalion and regimental staffs to receive this training prior to deployment versus arrival in theater.
8 Mar 2011
Director of Intelligence issued a decision that GCE battalion and regimental Intelligence Officers and Chiefs lacked appropriate focused GCE intelligence training and education and with the approval of TECOM, the Intelligence Tactics Instructor Course was added to MCTOG’s portfolio.
MCTOG become the proponent for Network Engagement Training for the Marine Corps. This lead to the development of a 5 day battle staff course in support of pre-deployment training requirements for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Post conflict, and with the institutionalization of Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training and education, this course was matured into a train the trainer course in 2016.
MCTOG redesigned the Tactical Integration Course (TMIC) and became the integrated training and education for 4 programs of instruction; 1) Operations and Tactics Instructor-Chief, 2) Intelligence Tactics Instructor-Chief, 3) Operations and Tactics Instructor-Officer, and 4) Intelligence Tactics Instructor-Officer.
MCTOG was assigned as the custodian and executor of the Unit Readiness Planning Course for the Service. This 5-day POI is available locally at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune and via mobile training team for all other locations to include 4th Marine Division. This tasking corresponded with the maturation of Unit Training Management Module in MCTIMS and the mandated use.
The planning and execution phase of TMIC was redesigned to align with the National Defense Strategy of the 2+3 threats and added the inclusion of Army Airborne and Coalition forces. Additionally, MCTOG added a live adversary force replication to the TMIC exercises to increase the realism of the students and staff training while simultaneously supporting the continued development of adaptability competencies.
Advance Collective Training
MCTOG began providing a comprehensive 3 week staff training program the included tailored academics, in-depth planning and high fidelity immersive execution for battalions and regiments deploying to OIF and OEF. Known as exercise SPARTAN RESOLVE, this event became the premier staff training venue for deploying GCE units and the mission rehearsal exercise for regiments. The success of the program was the alignment of regiments with their battalions who would serve under them in theater, the realistic replication for the threat and the tailoring of the scenarios to the actual assigned areas of operations utilizing real world information that was less than 30 days old.
As deployments of GCE battalions and regiments wound down to OIF and OEF, MCTOG transitioned this comprehensive staff training to align with the Service Level Training Events outlined in the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Program (MAGTFTP) while simultaneously allowing regiments to serve as the Regimental Landing Team during execution of TMICs final exercise SPARTAN ADVANCE.
To meet the throughput demands of the MAGTFTP that every GCE regiment and battalion receive a battle staff training event every two years, MCTOG refined the design and developed a methodology and corresponding program that allowed regiments and battalions to execute a menu of training options. This menu allowed units to train to CORE METs in either a amphibious scenario characterized with offensive and defensive operations or an urban scenario that added this environments complexity to offensive and defensive actions.
Emerging Concepts, Innovation and Doctrine
MCTOG produced the revision of the Infantry Company doctrinal publication which had not been updated since 1979. The renamed publication, Infantry Company Operations preserved the time tested foundation TTPS but added valuable lessons learned from the numerous operations the GCE had conducted over the three decades, updated the organization of the company, employment courses of action and created an aperture to future changes and developments. Since 2011, MCTOG’s doctrine capability and capacity has grown and now leads the revision and maintenance of some 23 foundation GCE publications and provides expertise into over 50 Joint, ALSA and NATO works.
As the organization began to mature this LOE, it entered into urban operations and for 4 years was the National and NATO Chairmen for the Urban Operations Task Group. This yielded the development and ratification of two NATO urban operations and training publications, and lead to MCTOG becoming a major participant beginning in 2016 with NATO’s Urbanization Concept and Wargame efforts. The end result of these efforts are the updating of Marine Corps Urban doctrine and the development of the Service’s urban operating concept.
MCTOG was specifically tasked with developing a capability for the GCE to examine specific capabilities and capacities and feed the results into the broader MAGTF and Service level venues. This lead to MCTOG developing a yearly war game that focuses on specific topics for the leadership of the GCE. In 2017, the first war game focused on Air Assault which identified several significant results that were incorporated into the Service level annual wargame.
The organization continued to update GCE doctrine and for the first time since 1979, aligned Infantry Doctrine from the Squad to the Regiment while simultaneously refining support publications such as Scouting and Patrolling, Offense and Defensive Operations, GCE Operations and Stability Operations.