1 S T R A T E G Y F O R T H E L O N G H A U L The US Marine Corps: Fleet Marine Forces for the Twenty First Century By Dakota L. Wood
2 Marine Corps Forces Today ~200K on active duty 37,000 forward deployed 25%+ of all equipment overseas Vehicles operating 5 6x programmed rates Concerned about eroding combined arms and naval skills Modernizing vehicles/aircraft EFV, JLTV, MPC (?) F 35B, MV 22, KC 130J, UH 1Y/AH 1Z New organizational initiatives MARSOC SCMAGTF, MCTAG Host of Irregular Warfare efforts New conceptual efforts Navy/Marine: NOC 2008, Cooperative Strategy, Global Fleet Stations USMC: EMFTS, MOC, VS 2025 Marine Division (3 total) Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) MEF (3 total) Marine Marine Logistics Air Wing (3 total) Group (3 total) Infantry Fighter/Attack Includes Regiment Squadrons Maintenance, (8 total) (22 total) Supply, Transport, Medical, Infantry Transport Engineers, Battalion Squadrons etc. (27 total) (5 total) Helicopter Squadrons (31 total) Tiltrotor Squadrons (4 total)
3 TheMarineCorpsisatitsbestwhenproperly aligned with ih its operating environment in i its focus, its operational concepts, its training, and its suite of equipment. But is the Corps appropriately aligning i itself with ih its expected operating environment? If not, what changes should it make to do so?
4 Key Recommendations Explore organizational/conceptual constructs relevant to operations in the littorals, l distributed ib t d battlefields, bttlfild and enduring regional engagement Cancel the EFV in favor of land and sea platforms optimized for their respective e environments Adopt a mixed fleet of F 35B (STOVL) and F 35C (Carrier) Lightning II variants Join the Navy in developing N UCAS Truncate MV 22 purchase; add medium lift helicopter replacement Develop a revised strategic concept for the Corps as a component of naval power Master distributed operations just as the Corps did amphibious operations
5 The Corps unique status results from the demands placed upon it to operate across the boundaries that typically define the other Services. While the Army, Navy, and Air Force are optimized for their primary physical domains, the Corps must be able to transition from one domain to the other.
6 Defining the Corps History of both major combat operations and protracted small wars A force in readiness (legacy of Korea) with landing operations at the center But, the Joint Force itself has essentially become a force in readiness Hybrid nature the result of having to operate across the functional and physical domain boundaries that typically define the other Services Corps past focus on projecting combat power from the sea has framed the types of equipment and operational concepts it has employed Has led to ambiguity Element of naval power, but should the focus be on MCO or small wars? What is the force sizing reference point: division, regiment, battalion, company? Is it a large force that can disaggregate, or a small unit force that can aggregate up? To what extent does it specialize in types of operations or operating environments, or focus on a specific threat?
7 Amphibious Operations Marine Corps doctrine seeks to avoid heavy concentrations of enemy forces so that Marines can attack from unexpected directions, exploit surprise, maximize the impact of their combat power, and minimize the direct threat to their own force Concepts andcapabilitieshaveevolved evolved with advancesinhelicopter technologies, naval landing craft, amphibious assault vehicles, fire support, and communications WWIIamphibiousoperations operations inthe Pacific were classic frontal assaults nearly unavoidable given the characteristics of the objective area In contrast, the landing at Inchon (Korean War) was a classic example of an amphibiousoperationoperation as maneuver USMC thinking has evolved to apply the tenets of maneuver warfare to operations originating from an operating base at sea Go where the enemy isn t and project combat power ashore sufficient to achieve assigned objectives
8 Seabasing The idea that the ocean can be used to assemble, move, project, support and sustain forces without ih the initial i i use of land bases, with the following advantages: Maneuver without concern for the normal impediments of terrain features Operate with greater protection from the enemy and with less chance of being observed Position a force and sustain ti its presence without t having to worry about issues of sovereignty or access to foreign ports or airfields Quickly withdraw, if necessary, without having to undergo the lengthy andtransportation intense intense evolution ofback loading equipment, materials, and personnel As currently manifested, the ability of US naval forces to operate at sea in such a way confers strategic, operational, and tactical advantages not possessed by any other country
9 Chief Organizing Principle Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) USMCdoctrine dictates that Marine units will always be deployed as complete packages of ground, air, and logistics capabilities under a common command element MAGTFs reflect the Joint Force preference for responding to contingencies with a Joint Task Force Advantages stem from having all elements from a single Service In execution, the MAGTF construct can be viewed as combined arms fighting in its most tightly integrated form Marine Air Ground Task Force Command Element Ground Combat Element Aviation Combat Element Logistics Combat Element
10 Impediments to Progress? Corps approach to MAGTFs, combined with an unresolved debate on operational focus, impedes the Service from settling on a force sizing reference point that would help it focus efforts on force design/equipage and development of operational concepts Must all deployed units be MAGTFs? Is the Corps a small wars Service that can go big or is it an MCO force that can engage in small wars and an array of small unit missions? At what level of employment should the Corps reference its operational concepts and procurement efforts? Marine Expeditionary Unit ~2,200 Personnel I I I Command Element Marine Expeditionary Brigade ~17,000 Personnel X Command Element Marine Expeditionary Force ~50,000+ Personnel XXX Command Element I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I XX XX XX Battalion Landing Team Composite Aircraft Squadron Combat Logistics Battalion Regimental Landing Team Composite Aircraft Group Marine Logistics Regiment Marine Division Marine Aircraft Wing Marine Logistics Group
11 The United States faces three primary strategic challenges in the coming years: Defeating both the Sunni Salafi Takfiri and Shia Khomeinist brands of violent Islamic radicalism Hedging against the rise of a hostile or more openly confrontational China or other authoritarian capitalist states Preparing for a world inwhich there are more nuclear armed armed regional powers
12 Violent Islamic radicalism Aspects of Future Strategic Challenges Operate in small, dispersed cells difficult to identify/locate/attack Leverage operational sanctuaries, under governed d spaces Hide/operate amongst the people or in inaccessible terrain Ability to employ advanced, guided weapons People s Republic of China (PRC) as an aggressive military competitor Robust anti access/area denial capabilities at extreme ranges/densities Vulnerable on the periphery; ever more dependent d on flow of resources Surrogate forces (state, non state) used to harass US forces, threaten interests Global l proliferation i of WMD (nuclear weapons, in particular) Demands ability to operate conventionally against a nuclear armed opponent Worrisome potential for nuclear failed state contingency, with implied demand dfor securing known weapons Increased potential to seize weapons in transit Requirement to operate effectively in a nuclear environment
13 Defeating Violent Islamist Radicals Creating conditions hostile to such groups is critical Build partner capacity to handle local problems will be increasingly important Requires development of enduring relationships, language skills, being culturally attuned, and possessing advisory skills regional focus is critical Conducting counter terrorism and counterinsurgency operations demands: Persistent surveillance, enduring presence, ability to strike fleeting targets Implies forces able to: Operate in small units for extended periods, often at extended ranges Prevailagainstsophisticated, against sophisticated, G RAMMequipped, small unitenemy forces Sea based forces very useful for: Servingas quick response force for other mission units Execute raids/strike missions Sustaining presence proximate to target areas
14 Hedging Against China PRC related operations must account for scale and strategic terrain Huge landmass, population, military capability Mature/improving A2/AD capabilities; can strike at extreme range PLA fields 51 divisions; US can lift 2.0 brigades (assault echelon) Marines need to be able to conduct a peripheral naval campaign, focused on: Interdicting flow of energy, materials, goods in coastal waters, shipping channels, maritimechoke points in region Constraining China s military and economic options (through distant blockade ) Conducting amphibious (surface/air) raids of PRC outposts, proxy force bases Seizing and defending US forward operating locations (FOL) needed for surveillance/strike assets, maritime patrol craft, counter PLAN/surrogate operations Requirement for small units able to conduct dispersednavaloperations to Requirement for small units able to conduct dispersed naval operations, to include raids, interdiction operations, persistent surveillance/strike missions, and amphibious seizure/defense of advanced bases
15 Operating in a Proliferated World Operations against a nuclear armed opponent will have to avoid creating large targets Implies a need for dispersed/distributed small unit operations Operations to seize or secure nuclear weapons and/or related facilities/materials would ldcall for: Supporting security forces/stand by QRF elements Forces able to execute blocking or target isolation missions Sea based Marines could serve in this on call/planned capacity Implies an ability to operate in a nuclear environment at long range in a Implies an ability to operate in a nuclear environment, at long range, in a highly distributed manner
16 The Corps must improve its ability to operate with ih smaller and more independent units, often in a highly distributed manner, against enemy forces increasingly able to employ a variety of guided weapons at increasing ranges, or perhaps even nuclear weapons. The growth of anti access/area denial capabilities must be accounted for in the Corps air operations, concepts of ship to shore movement, and in sustaining tii those forces once engaged. Success in many operations will depend on detailed knowledge of local terrain, social landscape, and established relationships withkey actors.
17 While the Corps has made a solid effort to describe its challenges and to tease out various implications for the Service, its success in actually adjusting to meet these challenges will depend on its conceptual, programmatic, and organizational efforts. Stated another way, words are fine, but what matters in the end is the Service s thoroughness in orienting and committing itself intellectually, institutionally, and organizationally to solving real-world operational problems. Is the Marine Corps institutionally realigning itself to meet the demands expected of the future security environment?
18 Organizational/Conceptual Innovation The Corps plans deployments, develops concepts, structures its manpower models, and acquires equipment based onbattalion sized entities yet, its discussions of warfare refer to MEF and MEB sized elements, based on traditional MAGTF constructs Primary strategic challenges call for widespread use of small units, operating highly dispersed, often independently and from naval platforms, and conducting missions at increasing range against enemy forces armed with ihadvanced d(likely l guided) d) weapons Regional engagement, build partner capacity capacity, and persistent presence in many places simultaneously will highlight importance of numbers, small unit leadership, andinnovation in organizational design and capabilities Littoral Operations Task Force LPD-17 Infantry Company (Rein) Littoral Operations MAGTF LCS Littoral Ops MAGTF CE Squad Aviation Detachment Squad LCS Combat Logistics Detachment Littoral Operations Squadron Squad LCS
19 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Intended to solve the widening ship to shore gap problem while also improving ability of Marines to exploit maneuver, from a sea base, against objectives ashore yet, Modern anti ship weapons pushing ships farther to sea Modern anti armor weapons forcing redesign of all major ground vehicle programs Recommendation: Cancel the EFV Replace with ground combat vehicle optimized for land warfare, with modest water obstacle capability Pair with high speed, shallow draft ship to shore connector
20 F 35 Lightning II Multirole Fighter F 35B STOVL variant to replace all fixed wing fighter/attack aircraft in Corps Single plane fleet generates efficiencies in operations, manpower, maintenance, force deployment Introduces points of friction when view as component of naval airpower Dissimilarities with F 35C (carrier version) Complicates Naval Air Integration plan Reduced operational range at odds with evolving security environment, demands of strategic challenges Recommendation: Purchase F 35B and F 35C Expands employment options/utility while increasing effectiveness Improves relevance of USMC Air across range of operational environments/potential contingencies where range is critical
21 MV 22 Osprey Tiltrotor Dramatically increases range and speed characteristics of USMC rotary wing fleet Ideal for missions requiring speed/range Long range raids, distributed battlefields At shorter ranges (and in congested terrain), helicopters shown to have advantage and are less expensive Recommendation: Truncate MV 22 purchase Combine with purchase of a helicopter to replace the CH 46E Develop concept to team MV 22 with C 130J as a distributed operations/raid package enabler
22 Revised Strategic Concept Work with Navy to determine how best to employ naval power against strategic challenges, in support of US interests Assess and incorporate organizational, operational, materiel implications Gallipoli implied opposed landings were prohibitively costly, of dubious value USMC analysis of Pacific theater indicated a requirement for seizing, defending advanced bases only possible by solving the Gallipoli problem Developed necessary doctrine, organizations, TTPs, equipment Strategic challenges imply that distributed operations will be necessary Expanse of SE Asia theater, peripheral naval operations Global counter terrorism, counter sanctuary operations Operations against small nuclear powers Potential solutions could include: Enhanced company operations Advanced long range raid operations New C2 architectures Adjustments to manpower models
23 The Corps intent to return to a focus on naval operations is well placed, but its primary acquisition efforts are not wellmatched to the expected operating environment nor the threatsassociated t itd withthestrategicchallenges. t t i hll The Corps risks being overtaken by new challenges on the near horizon, just as its key programs have been overtaken by advances in anti armor, anti air, and anti ship weapons. Strategic, operational, and threat environments have evolved much more rapidly than anticipated, with strong indications the pace will quicken over the next several eral years. The Marine Corps, too, must evolve and adapt in order to remain effective in the future security environment