The USMC Looks to the Future


by Robbin Laird

The USMC is at the heart of building the agile forces central to the restructuring of U.S. forces overall.

As we argued in an op ed on Defense News:

Deterring Iran or China revolves around strengthened U.S. power-projection forces. Building for the future is now. We have all the pieces in development or fielded. No platform fights alone, so we need the political will – known as budget dollars – to integrate everything into a total force package.

From F-22s and B-2s to F-35s, and new Navy ships, cyber capabilities, robots and space, the components of a Pacific air/sea battle force is upon us now. And this force structure serves as a template for reshaping a nonland-based force, which can alter perceptions and realities in the evolving Middle East, as well.

The USMC and its future is at the heart of such agility.  The airpower element is embedded within the operational force.  The Grunts and Marine Air elements work together every day to shape operational force integration.  The Marines afloat on the Amphibious Ready Group-Marine Expeditionary Units are deployed to deal with a wide spectrum of threats and missions.

The ARG-MEU is a very flexible force.

But its inherent flexibility to operate over the spectrum of warfare is well suited to evolving 21st century missions.

Presence is a core element for shaping global security; via presence, domain knowledge for specific situations is developed or what the Marines call “habitual” experience.

The global engagement of the ARG-MEU force in the Pacific Rim, South America and the Middle East provides the USN-USMC team with a baseline engagement capability, which can meet the tasks by itself or reach back to other key elements, air, and ground or naval.

In a period in history where leaders are looking for cost effective engagement, the ARG-MEU is a bargain.  The ARG-MEU and its modernization is a value proposition.

And the bargain will get even better.

In the decade ahead, the transformational Osprey will be joined by the F-35 Bravo and the CH-53K.

The Bravo brings a capability to conduct Tron warfare (electronic warfare, cyber ops, etc)  and Situational Awareness to the ARG-MEU which hitherto was only available from land-based air or provided by large deck carriers.

With the CH-53K, three times the lift at significantly reduced maintenance costs are on offer to support the projection of power.

In a presentation made in late April at the Naval War College, the Commandant of the USMC, General Amos laid out the path for the USMC and its role within national strategy in a briefing to the NWC.  That briefing can be viewed below.  In addition, we earlier provided some video footage of his presentation to the NWC.