In an attempt to stay relevant in the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) arena, the Marine Corps activated two new units to represent it. On June 7, Marine Corps Advisor Companies (MCAC) Alpha and Bravo were established in a ceremony that took place at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C. The two new outfits, which belong to Marine Forces Reserve, are the first batch of what will be four MCACs.
The MCACs are comprised of a number of Marine Corps Advisor Teams, which form the basic deployed elements. For the initial manning of the units, the Marine Corps drew Marines from the 2nd Civil Affairs Group (2nd CAG), which was recently deactivated.
In a statement to DVIDS, Col. David Ready, former commander of 2nd CAG and MCAC Alpha’s first commander, said, “We are judiciously incorporating the lessons from recent and historical train, advise & assist missions to ensure that MCAC Alpha is ready, relevant and capable to deploy teams and work with partners to defeat our mutual enemies.”
Col. Christopher Douglas, MCAC Bravo’s commander, added: “The concept of advising is not new to the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps has been advising foreign security forces throughout our history. Since the start of the Global War on Terrorism, we has [sic] been deploying advisor teams in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
With the establishment of the advisor companies, the Marine Corps is following in the Army’s footsteps. The Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) the Army launched are meant to become the primary FID units in the U.S. military. Currently, there are three SFABs active, with an additional three in the works, one of which is intended to be a National Guard formation.
Considering the perpetual struggle for funds that takes place within the Department of Defense, it is reasonable that the Marine Corps would follow this path, thereby securing a piece of the money pie. The establishment of these units, however, has an added, indirect benefit for the whole Marine Corps for it would enable the other elements of the Corps to focus on their actual mission. For too long, units have diverted their attention from their specialty, whether it is infantry combat or amphibious operations, to fill the train-and-advise gap that was created in the aftermath of the initial successes of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“Since 2013,” added Colonel Douglas, “I have been fortunate to have worked with many talented Marines while leading three successful advisor teams, two to Afghanistan, and one to Iraq. The work of these teams has long-lasting effects, as our foreign counterparts continue to maintain control of regions previously held by ISIS and the Taliban.”
To become operational, the MCACs trained their teams on basic soldiering tasks, such as shooting, moving, and communicating, but also emphasized advising and mentoring training and foreign culture familiarity training.