An Update on MAWTS-1: 2023


By Robbin Laird

Ed Timperlake and I are working on book to be published next year on MAWTS-1, the unique USMC training center.

As LtGen (Retired) Rudder has noted: “We need to avoid smoke and mirrors. The talking points from a wargame or ideas from force design planners may sound good, but it has to have an operational look. An A plus for your ideas may equal a D for practical execution.

“If the concept or design does not make it through the physics of operational execution, the idea needs to be rejected or seriously modified.

“Giving problems and operational concepts to MAWTS is crucial to working the physics of combat in testing out new tactical approaches.”

My report focuses on the work of MAWTS-1 in 2023.

I interviewed the CO of MAWTS-1, Col Eric Purcell, in April and then visited the command in November after the second WTI of the year. This provided a chance to discuss how MAWTS-1 had progressed in working enhanced force mobility for the USMC within the broader joint force, a key emphasis of the force design effort.

The challenge is that while the Marines are working FARPs and other means to enhance force mobility, the joint force is in the throes of significant change, whether it be the U.S. Navy working distributed maritime operations or the USAF working agile combat employment.

How does the USMC effort to reorganize and enhance its contribution to the joint force while the joint force is itself in fundamental change with much uncertainty over how to do maritime distributed operations and the agile combat air combat employment?

The Navy and Air Force sides of this transition have been a major part of our work published elsewhere and provide insights with regard to how challenging the overall force transformation is within which the USMC is working to find its proper place. It is not just up to MAWTS-1 to work the training for such an effort, but NAWDC and Nellis are clearly involved as well.

To put it simply: it is a work in progress and the Marines emphasis on a MAGTF organizing principle remains important going forward in spite of the effort to find ways to operate from much smaller organizational formations.

This report includes the interviews conducted in 2023. The date indicates when the interview was published on Second Line of Defense and collectively they provide an overview of how MAWTS-1 is training for the way ahead for the USMC by preparing the force that might have to fight tonite.

As the end of course video for WTI-1-24 starts: “It is not a question of if the Marine Corps will go into combat. It is only a matter of when.

It can be read in either ebook or paperback and can be found here: