It’s been said that 80% of the Marine Corps is stationed in the Camp Lejeune, NC area, Camp Pendleton, CA area, or on Okinawa, Japan. The largest organization of a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), the Marine Expeditionary Force, is stationed at each one.
- I MEF in California
- II MEF, Lejeune, NC area
- III MEF in Okinawa
Basic Structure of the Big Three
These top bases follow a similar structure. For example, Camp Lejeune houses the major ground and logistics components of II MEF. (Read “two meff”). The air component or 2nd Marine Air Wing is at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, nearbye. There are a few small outlying or attached bases around Lejeune such as Camp Johnson which house schools of the Training Command.
Roadmap from Training Command to the Fleet
The basic normal route for a Marine is to undergo entry training at OCS in Quantico or at the enlsited Recruit Depots at Parris Island, SC or San Diego, CA. Secondly, all Marines undergo basic infantry-type training at TBS for officers, or a shorter combat instruction school for enlisted. Then, the Marine goes to MOS training to learn how to do his more specific job. An example would be enlisted and officers going into the logistics field would go to Camp Johnson, NC, which is an outlying base to Lejeune. Infantry officers would go to an intense Infantry Officers Course (IOC) in Quantico, VA. Then, the majority of Marines leave the training command and head to one of the big three bases to “the fleet,” where they do their job as part of an active unit.
Quantico is the next biggest base to the above, as it houses Officer Candidates School, TBS, IOC, and a cluster of commands in Marine Corps Headquarters. There are a scattering of other small bases and presences around the United States which house special schools or unique commands.
Aviation On Own Program
Flight students will attend a multitude of different aviation schools as they train towards a final platform. All the Marine Corps aviation students and instructors are actually at Navy commands and bases, primarily Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Once the students “wing” as Naval Aviators, they will transition to a training squadron at a Marine Corps base as they learn the actual Marine Corps aircraft they will be flying.
Those are the biggest locations in which you will likely end up for your first duty station. Of course, deployments could take you anywhere in the world, and a seven month tour aboard a Navy ship on a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) deployment will happen sooner or later. But more on those facts of life at a later date.