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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Orin Chacho provides security during Stand-in Force Exercise 24 at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, Dec. 4, 2023. SIFEX 24 is a division-level exercise involving all elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force focused on strengthening multi-domain awareness, maneuver, and fires across a distributed maritime environment. This exercise serves as a rehearsal for rapidly projecting combat power in defense of allies and partners in the region. Chacho, a native of Thoreau, New Mexico is a rifleman with 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. 2/7 is forward deployed in the Indo-Pacific under 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division as part of the Unit Deployment Program. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Morales)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Morales

MAGTF Stand-In Force Exercise Empowers Small-Unit Leaders, Increases Readiness in the Indo-Pacific

7 Jan 2024 | 1st Lt. Sarah Bobrowski 3rd Marine Division

From Nov. 15 through Dec. 15. 2023, The Marines of 3d Marine Division demonstrated their tactical proficiency and readiness while conducting Stand-in Force Operations in the first island chain during Marine Air-Ground Task Force Stand-In Force Exercise 24.  

MAGTF-SIFEX 24 is a division-level exercise involving all elements of the MAGTF focused on strengthening multi-domain awareness, maneuver, and fires across a distributed maritime environment. Led by 4th Marine Regiment, supported by Marine Aircraft Group 36 and 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, the units conducted MAGTF-SIFEX as a proof of concept for Stand-In Force operations which included realistic SIF rehearsals at Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji, Japan.  

This year marks the first iteration of the exercise on CATC Camp Fuji, Japan, which also saw Marine Air-Ground Task Force Training Command experts deploy a fleet support team to oversee the large-scale force-on-force training. 

“Their [MAGTF-TC] service level insight and best practices ensured that the Regiment received quality training in the First Island Chain instead of having to return to Continental United States to validate readiness,” said Maj. Devin Fultz, the future operations officer with 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division.  

Following initial reconnaissance support from 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing facilitated the deployment of 2d Battalion, 2d Marines and 2d Battalion, 7th Marines using CH-53E Super Stallions, ensuring the rapid dispersal and sustainment of forces. Throughout the exercise, aviation assets executed simulated air assaults, maritime strikes, adversary forces, and rehearsed armed reconnaissance and close air support. 

Marines with 4th Marine Regiment carried out two company-sized force-on-force exercises in the Northern and Eastern training areas of CATC Camp Fuji, Japan. The force-on-force events offered the Marines an authentic and immersive training experience. This specialized training involved the simulation of combat scenarios, enabling Marines to refine their combat skills and enhance their readiness.  

Most importantly, SIFEX 24 significantly enhanced small-unit leadership by fostering better communication, coordination, and decision-making skills among squad and fireteam leaders. This improvement was particularly evident in the Marines increased ability to adapt to dynamic training conditions at CATC Camp Fuji, Japan. Small unit leaders were able to make informed tactical decisions swiftly and effectively which increased their units’ operational tempo and degrade an adversary’s decision-making cycle.

Engaging in these lifelike force-on-force exercises exposed Marines to the intricacies of modern warfare, from urban combat to maritime security challenges, in the Indo-Pacific Region. This approach allowed them to adapt and refine their tactics, foster teamwork, and make sound decisions under intense pressure. 

“SIFEX 24 allowed us to further develop operationally relevant readiness within the first island chain by rehearsing our concepts in a well-resourced and realistic force on force exercise,” said Col. Erick Clark, commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division. “There is no doubt that we are ready to face an adversary wherever they may decide to test our resolve.”

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