Creating a Sea Change: TF 76/3, Adaptation, Experimentation, and the Joint Force

Modern War Institute – In the Indo-Pacific, the naval services are turning strategic planning guidance into operational reality. Two commands, Expeditionary Strike Group Seven and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, recently embarked on an eighteen-month period of experimentation and naval power revitalization, creating Task Force 76/3 (TF 76/3). The implication of the new command extends beyond the Indo-Pacific region and naval services. TF 76/3 offers a template for the joint force to address issues of force design, interoperability, littoral warfare, and maritime campaign planning.

New Philippine Basing Access Strengthens U.S. Marine, Navy Plans 

Naval News – A week ago, the Philippines and the United States took steps to expand the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with U.S. access to four bases in the Philippines. This builds on the previous five bases in the original agreement created in 2014, greatly enhancing U.S. capabilities in the Philippines. This increased access can be of great benefit to U.S. forces which are seeking an increased presence in the region to counter adversaries, such as China. Of the U.S. services engaging with the Philippines with this threat in mind, the U.S. Marine Corps has taken center stage in these efforts. These new sites can prove to be crucial for Marine plans going forward in the Western Pacific. 

Japan signs off on Marines plan for new littoral ‘stand-in’ group in Okinawa

Breaking Defense – A revamped US Marine Corps quick-reaction force outfitted with offensive and defensive weapons will be stood up on Okinawa by 2025, Japanese and American officials announced today during a high-profile engagement in Washington, the latest in a string of diplomatic moves by Tokyo apparently aimed at checking Chinese influence in the region.

Evolving Marines and Aerial ASW For the Undersea Fight

CIMSEC – The Marine Corps has two rapid options for establishing an ASW capability – a modified MV-22 or the MQ-9B Sea Guardian. Although the Corps has not planned to acquire ASW aircraft, the Commandant’s thoughts on the importance of ASW in the High North and the western Pacific combined with the ARG’s vulnerability means that consideration for a platform must be considered. The Commandant is divesting of legacy equipment and end strength to invest in future equipment. With the Navy’s shortage of ASW assets, it makes sense for the Marine Corps to support the maritime fight not just with land-based anti-surface fires and sensing, but also with its own ASW aircraft.

EABO Degraded Logistics in the WEZ: Self Propelled Semi-Submersible Solutions

CIMSEC – The Marine Corps is faced with an intensified challenge of contested logistics as it employs its novel concept of Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). EABO calls for Marines to act as Stand-in Forces using low profile, highly mobile Expeditionary Advance Bases (EAB) that will likely be within an enemy’s Weapons Engagement Zone (WEZ). Supplying these bases will be difficult since their location is expected to frequently shift, and reliance on the conventional global logistics chain may not be responsive in a contested environment. A possible solution is the use of unmanned or autonomous Self Propelled Semi-Submersibles (SPSS) to provide logistics support. It is important to consider how SPSS will be classified under domestic and international law, and what rights and obligations will be imposed on them during peacetime and armed conflict.

Completing the Kill Web: The Multidomain Reconnaissance Troop in the Littorals

Modern War Institute – US combat power is massed just out of range of enemy fires, but there it is stalled, with ships and aircraft unable to penetrate the complex web of enemy sensors, missiles, antiaircraft weapons, and other equipment all organized specifically to keep US forces at bay. There is no easy answer to the fundamental question: What mixture of personnel and capabilities is best suited to make it through the web of the adversary’s antiaccess / area-denial (A2/AD) bubble and seize a lodgment for follow-on forces?

Sustainment of the Stand-In Force

War on the Rocks – The biggest challenge for the stand-in forces concept right now is that it puts marines inside high-threat areas with minimal logistics sustainment. This requires the Marine Corps to develop and train for a sustainment concept that is light, flexible, responsive, resilient, and redundant. This plan should enable decreasing replenishment time and maintain each stand-in force unit’s low signature. In the commandant’s words, “To persist inside an adversary’s weapons engagement zone, our Stand-in Forces must be set and sustained by logistics capabilities designed for distributed operations over long distances in a contested environment.” How can the joint force replenish supplies, maintain equipment, and restock combat losses while keeping stand-in forces in the fight?

Call the Maritime Cavalry: Marine Corps Modernization and the Stand-In Force

War on the Rocks – Genghis Khan and Napoleon Bonaparte used cavalry units and combined arms to wreak havoc in Europe and Eurasia long before debates about the future of the Marines Corps and maneuver warfare. Today, the Marine Corps can also apply these time-tested tactics to develop a “maritime cavalry” and provide an essential maneuver element that complements the latest joint force capabilities and fighting concepts. Perhaps more importantly, creating a maritime cavalry would add a dynamic combined-arms element to the Marine Corps’ latest Force Design 2030 formations and concepts while channeling its “first to fight” ethos.

Four ways to kill a ship: How US Marines are focused on controlling the seas

Defense News – The service, through its new stand-in forces and its expeditionary advanced base operations concepts, envisions small groups of Marines scattered throughout regional islands and shorelines, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and anywhere else partner nations allow. Those small units will carry everything they need to move from one place to another while conducting surveillance missions, establishing refueling spots for joint forces and launching missiles.