CIMSEC – A key challenge facing the current and future Marine Corps is gaining and maintaining access. After framing the central role that access challenges will play in implementing Force Design 2030 and its associated warfighting concepts, recommendations are then proposed for how the USMC can best employ its cadre of international affairs (IA) Marines to address this access challenge.
War on the Rocks – Ford Motor Company’s development of the Edsel 60 years ago still stands as a classic corporate case study of transformative product failure. The Marine Corps, a $50 billion dollar enterprise, has introduced its own futuristic product — an explicitly defensive island-hopping “Stand-In Force” capable of reconnoitering and sinking warships in order to support naval campaigns. To pay for it, the Marine Corps intends to cut its main product line — infantry supported by artillery, armor, and air — by about 25 percent.
CIMSEC – The problem with Force Design 2030 (FD2030) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) is that they both involve massive institutional changes being executed in a very short time. More specifically, there are multiple significant changes involved in implementing these broader concepts. Any of these by themselves would be a significant shift in the institution. Implementing them all simultaneously may be, in military parlance, “a bridge too far.”
CIMSEC – The following contingency updates and expands upon “The Battle of the Aegean” scenario described in Chapter 15 of Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations, 3d Ed.
CIMSEC – FICINT on the topic of US Marine Corps transformation.
CIMSEC – The threat of anti-access capabilities is here to stay, and the Marine Corps’ stand-in force concept lends much-needed variety to the toolbox of approaches that will allow the joint force to “break the wall” if needed.
Defense News – As China expanded the reach of its weapons throughout the South China Sea over the last decade, U.S. weapons development focused on increasing the standoff range, so American forces could stay safe as an outside force shooting in. But U.S. Marines in the Pacific have continued to operate inside that striking range, and they’re now doubling down with a new concept outlining their role as a stand-in force.
1945 – Robert Work weighs in on the Marine’s Littoral Combat Regiments.
Defense News – The U.S. Marine Corps has updated its Force Design 2030 plans, putting a stronger emphasis on the reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance competition as foundational to lethality, the commandant said.
Defense News – The U.S. Marine Corps planned to have its light amphibious warship on contract by now, ushering in a small ship that will move Marines around island chains and coastlines without relying on traditional, large ships. But moving forward on the program and awarding that contract simply hasn’t been possible, after the effort was crowded out of the Navy’s shipbuilding budget two years in a row.
Defense News – The U.S. Marine Corps’ first unit designed to carry out new concepts of operations conducted its first exercise in the Philippines and is now preparing to start a range of experimentation and training events this year.
USNI Proceedings – The Marine Corps must be ready to assist Taiwan in destroying infrastructure to thwart Chinese surveillance capabilities and ensure success in a broader conflict.
Defense News – The U.S. Marine Corps is expanding its vision of connectivity among aircraft and with ground units below, creating local networks to share situational awareness and targeting data even in communications-denied environments.
1945 – James Holmes writes: Repeat after me: “Force Design 2030” is not mainly about the South China Sea, no matter what General David Berger’s detractors say.
USNI News – As Russia prepared to invade Ukraine, the head of U.S. European Command asked for a Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Ready Group to deploy early to Europe as a hedge against the conflict expanding. But the Marine Corps couldn’t meet the request.
Navy News – The U.S. Navy’s upcoming Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) is one of the top acquisition priorities for the U.S. Marine Corps in their strategy to counter China’s Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) in the Indian Pacific Command (INDO-PACOM) region. The LAW is meant to patrol the INDO-PACOM region, transporting around 75 U.S. Marines and their vehicles and equipment for about a 30-day tour as part of Force Design 2030, the U.S. Marine Corps’ Commandant General David Berger’s concept strategy of utilizing lighter, faster, more mobile and deployable assets in the Asian Pacific Rim to counter peer nations’ vast arsenal of tactical ballistic, cruise, supersonic, and hypersonic (Anti-Ship) missiles. The LAW is still in the preliminary design stages, but the U.S. Army has ample experience transporting heavy armored tracked fighting vehicles and tactical trucks around the INDO-PACOM region using their own large Landing Craft Utility (LCU) ships.
War Zone – The vast Pacific gives even the Marines’ long-range vertical-takeoff-and-landing phenom, the MV-22 Osprey, a major logistics workout.
Defense News – The expeditionary warfare community is eyeing ways to use all its forces in future operations, with fleet experiments looping special operations forces, mine countermeasures sailors, Seabees and more into traditional naval operations.
1945 – James Holmes reviews the commentary currently on offer against the Marine Corps reorganization plans and see whether they land any haymakers.
War on the Rocks – A professional discourse on innovation, warfighting, and roles and missions is warranted to ensure the Marine Corps remains “ready to fight.” To wait until consensus or clarity, though, is to impose paralysis on innovation and adaptation. Iterating on ideas while simultaneously taking near-term action is the right approach. Given the national defense strategy, Berger is headed in the right direction, but there are important questions, as identified here, still needing answers.
USNI Proceedings – Current proposals for littoral combat teams stretch too few people too thin.
War on the Rocks – For the Marine Corps to fulfill its core purpose, it needs to anticipate and respond to the future battlefield’s challenges and ensure that it can be a critical and decisive component of a modern naval campaign. It may be true that the Marine Corps is still here precisely because of its ability to radically reshape itself to meet the emerging demands of warfare. Change, however, is never an easy process, and criticisms surrounding the Marine Corps’ current initiatives are not a radical departure from historical resistance to change within the service.
USNI News – After years of working together on naval integration, there is a growing split between the Navy and Marine Corps, showing how the services have come to an impasse over the future of the amphibious fleet.
USNI Proceedings – Small, mobile, and lethal, Marine Corps stand-in forces will be ready to deploy on short notice to disrupt an adversary’s plans at every point.
War on the Rocks – While it is too soon to reach any definitive lessons learned from the ongoing war in Ukraine, some immediate insights can inform ongoing U.S. and NATO military force design and defense investment priorities.