Marine Corps special operators.

WASHINGTON: In a move with major implications for the defense budget, defense contractors, and inter-service politics, the Marine Corps is set to publish a new “capstone concept” — leaked to Breaking Defense — that will guide the entire service for the next decade. From the title on, Expeditionary Force 21 paints an emphatic, uncompromising picture of a future Marine Corps that is “expeditionary… fast, austere, and lethal,” from equipment to training to the mindset of every single Marine. The concept

Marine Corps Expeditionary Force 21 Capstone Concept 12 Mar 2014

While Marine leaders have talked for years about returning to the service’s seaborne and expeditionary roots, “Expeditionary Force 21 marks a significant escalation in this regard,” said Army War College professor Nate Freier. “It is an indication of a clean and unmistakable conceptual break from the Marine Corps’ most recent warfighting past in Iraq and Afghanistan.”


A Marine takes a “biometric” assessment of an Afghan man.

A Plague On Air-Sea Battle & Strategic Landpower

That break with the past is very much in keeping with the administration’s January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, which swore off “large-scale, prolonged stability operations.” But in the debate over the post-Afghanistan future of the armed forces, the Marine concept carves its own path between the two main camps. Between the Air Force and Navy-led “Air-Sea Battle” concept and the Army-led “Strategic Landpower” initiative, Expeditionary Force 21 essentially declares a plague on both houses by mentioning neither one — not once.

It’s not an equal-opportunity pox, however. While the Marines have signed on both to Air-Sea Battle and Strategic Landpower, “it was clear all along that they were torn between being a component of landpower and part of the seapower team, [and] Marine resistance has been one of the things hindering the development of an inter-service strategic landpower concept,” said one defense analyst long affiliated with the Army.

“This document hints that maybe the Marines have decided that they have to choose between being part of landpower and part of seapower, and they’ve made their choice,” the analyst said. “This is pretty seamless with Air-Sea Battle.”

Expeditionary Force 21 focuses on the same long-range, high-tech missile threats — to aircraft, ships, and ground forces — that drive Air-Sea Battle, even though it approaches them from a very different angle and with a critique of the (unnamed) “concept developers and policy-makers” who have not “fully considered” or “comprehensively explored” the potential solutions. But Expeditionary Force 21 has little overlap with the ideas in Strategic Landpower. There are  mentions of getting better synergy between conventional and special forces; a good bit about low-key engagement with foreign partners around the world — including “regionally oriented” Marine units that look a lot like the Army’s “regionally aligned forces” — and the obligatory mentions of cyberspace and social media, but there is next to nothing about the abiding importance of troops on the ground amongst the people.

In fact, while Expeditionary Force 21 declares the Marines must refocus on expeditionary warfare “without forfeiting our ability to fight …in any large conflict or enduring war,” it effectively cedes any long-term land mission to the Army. Of the “three scenarios spanning the range of likely military operations” that underlie the Marines’ analysis, one is about ongoing peacetime engagement, one “a low-end crisis response” focused on disaster relief, and one “a high-end response structured around a forcible entry scenario.” None of these is a prolonged land campaign. “Forcible entry” means the Marines kick down the door, not that they spend any significant time on the other side. And the entire discussion of organization and logistics makes clear the Marines are thinking mainly of companies, battalions, and brigades operating for three, 15, or 30 days, sleeping in tents and eating MREs, not the months-long, multi-brigade, big-base missions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The Navy, Air Force, and Army are optimized to dominate the sea, air, and land [respectively],” the document says. The Marine Corps, by contrast, “is not optimized to dominate any domain. Rather, the Marine Corps is optimized to be expeditionary — a strategically mobile force that is light enough to get to the crisis quickly, yet able to accomplish the mission or provide time and options prior to the arrival of additional forces” — who may well not be Marines.

US Marines board aircraft bound for the Philippines to help with disaster relief after Typhoon Haiyan.

US Marines board aircraft bound for the Philippines to help with disaster relief after Typhoon Haiyan.

The new concept stakes the Marine claim to all “expeditionary” missions so emphatically, in fact, that it rather elbows the Army out of that arena. Most notably, Expeditionary Force 21 says that the Marines will create a battalion-sized “crisis response task force” that can be “fully deployed” from the continental US “within 8-12 hours,” followed by “a ‘suitcase staff’ capable of taking command within 12 hours” and thus form the core of an interservice Joint Task Force. Since such deployment timelines are only possible by air, not by ship, this looks a lot like the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, albeit without the Army paratroopers.

Throughout, Expeditionary Force 21 repeatedly mentions the Marine Corps’ increasing capability to project power through the air, and to do so from land bases, not just from the sea. The Marines already have a “Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force” that operates from southern Europe using the V-22 Osprey, whose hybrid “tilt-rotor” design gives it far greater range and speed than Army helicopters, and they plan to create another land-based SPMAGTF for the Middle East. Ospreys flying from Marine bases in Japan were also a big part of the Typhoon Haiyan relief effort in the Philippines.

Then there’s the still-in-testing F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Both the V-22 and F-35B, significantly, can operate either from ships much smaller than a traditional aircraft carrier or from austere airfields without a full-length concrete runway.

Deploying those ships and finding those bases — if necessary seizing them by force — is central to the Marines’ concept of 21st century amphibious war.


A Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighter tests its short-takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) “jump jet” capability.

The 65-Mile Solution

In some ways, the new Expeditionary Force 21 concept is aggressively traditional — and traditionally aggressive. After a decade of land war, the document doesn’t just call for the Marines to return to their roots as a seaborne crisis-response force: It demands “a renewed focus on the Marine Corps’ Title 10 responsibility to be organized, trained and equipped ‘for service with the fleet in the seizure and defense of advanced naval bases.'”

“[With] conflicting claims over portions of the sea and its resources, growing naval competition, and the rise in land-based threats to access,” the concept goes on (invoking China without naming it), “these conditions are remarkably similar to those that existed before and during World War II in the Pacific, but with the added challenge of the increased range and precision of modern sensors and weapons.”

Those long-range, high-precision threats to US aircraft, warships, and land bases are central to the “anti-access/area denial” problem, and it’s here that Expeditionary Force 21 both critiques and complements Air-Sea Battle. The Air-Sea Battle approach to the problem is very much from the outside in, launching long-range strikes from outside the enemy A2/AD zone and stripping it away layer by layer. But the Marine concept argues we can’t always wait to establish air and sea supremacy before moving in. (In fact, US bases in Japan and South Korea would be inside Chinese missile range from the beginning of a conflict).

So, the concept says, why can’t we Marines defend or capture some forward bases where we can set up our own long-range missiles and “‘turn the A2/AD table’ on an adversary. Reinforcing expeditionary advanced bases with long-range strike, anti-ship, and anti-air systems can transform the capability into a sea denial outpost.”

That’s something the influential Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has been advocating for a while. Since the US is usually on the defensive, CSBA argues, we don’t necessarily need to crack open the enemy’s anti-access/area denial system: We and our allies should set up our own A2/AD to keep aggressors from seizing their objectives.

Expeditionary Force 21 makes a good start on this idea, but only a start, said CSBA vice-president Jim Thomas. “The Marine Corps could play a much, much bigger role in air and sea denial with shore-based mobile air defenses and anti-ship missile batteries, as well as offensive mine laying,” he said. “Expeditionary Force 21 hints at this possibility, but doesn’t complete the thought.”

The first question, though, is how to seize these bases in face of modern smart-weapon firepower in the first place. Expeditionary Force 21 makes the point that the clichéd image of amphibious invasion — wave after wave of landing craft and amphibious vehicles coming head-on at the enemy across a broad, flat beach — was becoming obsolete even before the end of World War II, with Marines nimbly landing on narrow beaches on Tinian that the Japanese had not thought worth defending. Compared to their World War II predecessors, modern Marines have much more capability to disperse into small groups and slip through such weak points in the enemy defenses, thanks to modern technologies from small scout drones to communications networks to the V-22.

Dawn Blitz 10

A Marine LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion) hovercraft edges up onto the beach.

But one crucial technology is lagging, the concept says: something the Marine Corps calls “surface connectors” — high-speed vessels, from hovercraft to small boats, that can get Marines and their heavy equipment from ship to shore. Aircraft alone can’t carry enough troops or supplies, let alone armored vehicles, so the bulk of the assault force has to swim instead of fly. But there’s a problem of distance. Traditional amphibious vehicles can launch from ships about five miles offshore; the canceled high-speed Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle might have managed 25; but in the face of modern precision missiles, Expeditionary Force 21 declares, the Navy motherships will need to stay more than 65 nautical miles offshore.

That 65-plus-mile standoff means the Marines and Navy need to develop, not just one new landing craft, but an entire “high-speed, long-range high-capacity system of connectors, amphibious vehicles, and boats.” That might include new hovercraft, “low-observable” stealth boats to sneak up coastlines and rivers, and a whole host of innovative ways to get ashore in a hurry before you get spotted and blown up.

“The type of transformational technology that the MV-22 Osprey has already demonstrated [in the air] needs to be brought to our surface connector fleet,” Deputy Commandant Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck said at a recent Senate hearing.

What Glueck didn’t say was how much that would cost. And it’s not just the connectors themselves. Those vessels and the Marines they bring ashore will need covering fire from new precision weapons, from ship-launched drones to smart artillery shells to electromagnetic rail guns, Expeditionary Force 21 says. And they’ll need new communications systems to keep Marines and Navy sailors connected over those 65-plus-mile distances despite the worst that enemy jamming and hacking can do. Expeditionary Force 21 doesn’t just have big implications for how the Marine Corps operates. It will have a big impact on what it buys.


  • Gary Church

    “-the V-22 Osprey, whose hybrid “tilt-rotor” design gives it far greater range and speed
    than Army helicopters,-Then there’s the still-in-testing F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.
    Both the V-22 and F-35B, significantly, can operate either from ships much smaller than a traditional aircraft carrier or from austere airfields without a full-length concrete runway.”

    Not far greater range and the speed….over-hyped. And…it is not significant. It is just extremely bad decision making in spending all their money on this junk. They are scrambling to come up with a whole new way of doing things to justify their mistakes.

    “Marines and Navy need to develop, not just one new landing craft, but an
    entire “high-speed, long-range high-capacity system of connectors,
    amphibious vehicles, and boats.” That might include new hovercraft, “low-observable” stealth boats to sneak up coastlines and rivers, and a whole host of innovative ways to get ashore in a hurry-”

    Yup….let’s buy some “connectors”; need those expensive connectors.
    mo’ money, mo’ money, MO’ MONEY!

    • Gary Church

      And that magic number of 65 miles? If that is based on the average range of the most conspicuous enemy anti-ship missiles in service it is laughable. The enemy will add a couple gallons of fuel to their missile design and sink everything out there sitting “out of range.” Surpriiiiiise!

      • Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

        Well, 65 nautical miles is a threshold, not a “magic” line they plan to park at exactly — the document makes clear they’ll usually be further out and don’t want to come any closer than 65 nm if they can help it.
        And the amphibious ships themselves have decent anti-missile defenses (unlike the cheaper alternatives such as MLP), plus they’ll be escorted into a high-threat area by Aegis air and missile defense ships, plus they may have an aircraft carrier providing cover. So the V-22 or “surface connector” making that dash to the shore is just one piece of a very big tactical puzzle.

        • Solomon

          that tactical puzzle is a mismatched doctrine! the Marine Corps is pushing further away from the shore while the Air FOrce and Navy are planning to role back enemy anti-access defenses! additionally the LCS was originally designed to conduct the close in shore fight.

          we are facing for the first time in history, hardware driving doctrine instead of doctrine driving hardware. the USMC is being designed to fit the capabilities of the F-35 and the MV-22…not those systems to fit the USMC>

          • Gary Church

            We don’t have a fleet of battlewagons to sit off shore under a foot of armor and take on shore defenses anymore. There is no defense against anti-ship missiles and a helicopter assault will get slaughtered by MANPADS. Missiles have changed everything. The missing piece to this puzzle is first a cloud of drones- hundreds, or even dare I say thousands of them (think D-day) right on top of the beach shooting at anything and everything. You cannot do that with manned aircraft anymore because a good percentage of those drones will get shot down. And there will still be heavy losses offshore due to what the enemy can launch despite being completely smothered by air power. The missing piece of the puzzle IMO is first drones and then what no one can imagine returning from the past; super heavily armored ships but not with battleship guns- carrying Marines. It will cost money but none of it, NONE OF IT, spent on what they are spending a fortune on now. That’s the way I see it Solomon. Not very encouraging.

          • Solomon

            we don’t need to dominate the air space, all we need is local air superiority and local suppression of air defenses. cut a corridor for my amphibs to make a run for the beach, maintain it long enough for my combined amphibious and air assault elements to get feet dry and then allow the amphibs to get back under the coat of the Burke destroyers and life is good.

            when the Army shows up with a couple of Stryker Brigades to reinforce the effort you do the same and maintain it longer so that they can do an administrative landing.

            this is not mind blowing stuff. we just have to admit that all forms of forcible entry carry risk and instead of alienating the Army perhaps we could consider scheduling training events between our MEU’s, the 82nd Airborne, the 101st and a few Stryker Brigades from the 25th and 10th Mountain.

          • Gary Church

            I was not talking about dominating the air Solomon- I was talking about shooting at anything that moves on the ground. And that still will not be enough.
            Oh…the magic “corridor” again? And the magic surface combatant umbrella? And the magic Stryker brigades?

            None of that works. Missiles work. Anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missiles, anti-everything missiles. It is the age of drones and missiles and “making a run for the beach” is like horses against machine guns. This IS “mind blowing stuff.” It is back to Omaha beach and a tremendous amount of resources are required to make any success possible. A few highly profitable super-expensive toys are not going to be successful except for shareholders.

          • Solomon

            if thats the case then you’re saying that forcible entry…no matter who does it, is just too hard, whether its the 24th MEU or the 82nd Airborne.

            i disagree. the tech needed is already available. the question is whether we’re willing to commit the resources needed to make it work.

            this EF21 is a money play. you’re spot on about that. you’re also spot on about HQ’s needing to be cut before one Infantry Battalion goes away (i would do it differently be getting rid of the MEBs entirely and using MEF-Forward to cover MEB size situations but we generally agree)….where we part is that i believe that we can still kick in the door if necessary.

            either way though, the Marine Corps can’t get better till Amos is gone.

          • Gary Church

            “-forcible entry…no matter who does it, is just too hard,-”

            Too hard is a relative term. It is all how bad you want it. You can certainly nuke a magical corridor, I am not denying that Solomon. Without doing that I just can’t see going up against an adversary with a lot of missiles without what I said; a completely dense umbrella of drones doing a non-stop intense battle right down to the deck and taking big losses to keep the heat off some very heavily armored ships off shore carrying the invasion force. And those ships will get hit so they better be tough. Since we don’t even have factories to make the armor for those kind of ships anymore…….
            But there are very large ships being built for reasonable prices that could be “armored up”- google the Maersk triple E. And we could mass produce a drone force much quicker than manned jets. So it could be done like you said- if necessary. But not with what we have right now.

  • Solomon

    legacy building.

    thats all this document is. Amos is seeking to put his stamp on the Marine Corps and have military historians write about something other than his complete and utterly failure as Commandant.

    the USA doesn’t need a seagoing 101st Airborne. it needs a Corps of Marines that are capable of fighting and winning along the entire spectrum of warfare.

    additionally the SPMAGTF-CR is too light to fight, is vulnerable during insertion/extraction and on the ground and is pathetic when it comes to real disaster relief.

    long story short this stuff DOES NOT WORK.

    we desperately need new leadership.

    • Gary Church

      I would say either make the Marines “full spectrum” or if missiles have made them too vulnerable then change their mission and make all the special forces Marines. All the little commando armies each service runs can be combined into the Marine Corps. They are the most elite large force already; it only makes sense. Maybe there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth but if they want the Marines to be paratroopers then fine; combine the Airborne and the SEALs and the Rangers and the Green Berets and all the other organizations into one service.

      • Mike

        Only problem is that SF guys learn many MOS’s while most seals, rangers and marines are one MOS guys…. Lot to be said for being “bilingual” relative to completing mission with small insertion force despite huge casualties

        • Gary Church

          The Marines would have to learn the tricks from all the other elite units they put in their uniform. It would not be easy- they have a reputation for……less intelligent solutions than SF would employ. Likewise the super trained up football player SEALs (they all look like pro football players) would probably not fit in well. The trick would be to use the tier system that is being utilized right now and also to have units in the Marines that specialize in do or die commando raids like the Rangers and behind the lines spook stuff like SF and the bizarre underwater or anywhere else stuff the SEALs undertake. These units could even keep some uniform articles from their heritage. Like the Green Beret.

          I don’t know, maybe it is not the greatest idea. But at least making the 82nd into a Marine unit would make sense I think. They always thought too highly of themselves IMO. The Marines and the Paratroopers deserve each other:)

        • ycplum

          What most people forget is that the SF has one mission that the other special forces unit do not – teaching. They are insurgent/counter insurgent instructors.

      • FedUpWithWelfareStates

        Yes, I agree & this is called SOCOM. Better yet, the USMC needs to be drastically reduced in size to its effective fighting weight/numbers & transferred to SOCOM for some adult leadership. Have everyone, regardless of rank, gender, MOS or sexual preference qualify as Commandos or hit the road Jack. SOCOM becomes the 4th branch of the military & the Marines deploy on ships as they were originally intended to at their creation. Marines become SEALs, SF, airborne…what a joke. The next best thing the USMC had to these highly specialized skills was Marine Recon & look how the USMC treated them…

        • Gary Church

          I did not say Marines become SEALs, SF etc.; I said those elite units become Marines. And maybe you are right. Maybe not my best idea. But SOCOM as a 4th branch does not sound so hot either IMO.

        • Jon

          SOCOM and “adult leadership”, used in the same sentence?

      • Rustypelican

        Interesting concept. However, I think the subspecialties and traditions of each group would preclude any combination with the Marines. Green Berets have a very different MOS than Navy Seals.

        • Gary Church

          Yeah. Just an idea. Better than anything a conservative could come up with though. I voted for Obama.

  • ELP

    United States Marketing Corps.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Gung-ho inbreds…

    Disband the redneck branch!

    • rappini

      Another low information troll.

    • marxestlennonist

      were you a deck ape?

    • Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

      Since my mother’s entire family comes from a small southern town and I admire the Marines, I suppose I should feel doubly offended here.

      • bridgebuilder78

        Jews in a small southern town? Is that even possible?

        But hey, you are free to defend the anti-semitic branch of our military.

        • Gary Church

          You really need to be banned.

          • bridgebuilder78

            Free speech. Never heard of it? You must have been a Marine.

          • Jon

            Are you a certified, Congressionally approved, and accredited member of the mainstream media? No?

            Then shaddup already, you ain’t got no stinking free speech. Or won’t.

          • bridgebuilder78

            Haha, so true.

          • Gary Church

            Never a Marine but I have had to ride a bus with a mentally suspect foul mouthed person loudly talking to no one in particular and making everyone miserable exercising “free speech.” Buddy you are that person and make me want to throw you off this bus. But, not being the bus driver all I can do try and shame you into shutting up. But you won’t.

          • bridgebuilder78

            “…a mentally suspect foul mouthed person loudly talking to no one in particular and making everyone miserable exercising ‘free speech.'”

            What’s the matter? You didn’t enjoy sharing the bus with a Marine?

        • Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

          I’ve never heard of anti-semitism being a particular problem in the Corps (more than the rest of our society, which you still find it some places). In fact, the military as a whole is better integrated across rethan most of our civilian society.
          That said, the Jewish side of my family comes from Boston — and I was actually raised Episcopalian.

          My name should be a giveaway, actually: You get very few Jewish “Juniors” because Jewish tradition frowns on naming children after living relatives. Whereas small Southern towns generally are filled with “Juniors, “IIIs,” and “IVs.” Assimilated Jewish father + Southern Christian mother = a stereotypically Jewish name with a “Jr.” on the end.
          Okay, sociology lesson over.

          PS: I am an accredited journalist with a Pentagon pass, but I”m not sure I’d consider a small defense-news-only website as “mainstream media.” I’d also not consider someone who gets to post whatever he likes online to be deprived of free speech….

      • Jon

        Go to bed Sidney, you’ve got more articles to write, for all of us internet riffraff to hyper-ventilate over. No time to wallow in the mud…

  • campbell

    hey, Marine Corp? you reading this stuff? You need WALRUS.
    call me.

  • Don Bacon

    I have just scanned the Marine Expeditionary Force 21 proposal about how the Marines are going to fight in the littorals, but I see only one mention of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and that is a passing mention of “Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) with a habitability module.” (Marines in a box?)

    Apparently General Amos’s Expeditionary Force 21 was negligent in not involving the Littoral Combat Ships. Dozens of these mighty $350m fighting ships will be patrolling the Marine transit zone, making that 65nm swath as pure as the driven snow by eliminating mines and submarines, as well as all near-shore naval combatants by detecting, tracking and destroying air and surface threats. That’s what we’ve been told.

    Won’t the Littoral Combat Ships be used in littoral combat? Did I miss something (again)?

    • EVA-04

      LCS has, unfortunately, jumped the frog and has not been the platform the Navy really wanted. Too small to be a good warfighter, too big for serious inshore work. LCS was an attempt by the Navy to have a specific “war on terrorism” platform that ended up being gold-plated by congress and then performed badly when actually put to sea.

      The Navy now realizes that LCS can’t replace the Perry-class as a serious ocean-going frigate. The LCS also can’t carry enough Marines to really make it useful for inshore assaults like it was marketed, nor is it well-armed enough to sustain the type of inshore or small-craft battle that the Littorals are going to be. They’re better off trying to find a new platform instead of this, or perhaps they can take the catamaran version of LCS and re-design it.

      • Don Bacon

        Navy is procuring 32 of them. This fiscal year and next Navy is procuring seven LCS for $3.2B, or $457m each.

        I’d say Navy is committed to LCS (unfortunately).

        news report, last July:

        Greenert added that the two designs in the LCS program – the single-hull Freedom class and the trimaran Independence class – were never meant for slug-it-out surface combat.

        “We believe that they should be built to operate and, if damaged in combat, to survive and then to withdraw, if you will. That’s the design from the very beginning,” Greenert said. “They have been built and tested to that level, and so far, I’m satisfied with that.

    • Jon

      Read the articles pimping the LCS from these “wargames” they ran…now they’re touting it as a bluewater carrier ASW escort and stealth, high-speed missile platform…

  • EVA-04

    The Marines had to decided if they were either A) An elite assault force or B) a second Army. They tried B for 50 years and had enough of it, now they’re trying A. It’s a better fit overall but if it works the Army will need to improve its Infantry capabilities big time to compete.

    • Gary Church

      Both our Army and the Marines are the best enlisted infantry troops in the world right now because of their long learning curve in battles overseas. There is no competition. In superb physical condition with night vision and body armor second to none they are well trained in tactics and highly motivated killers. Any force that wants to pick a fight with them is…..really stupid. They could use some better infantry combat weapons but the big trick is supporting them. And that is what this force 21 stupidity is all about; trying to cut costs on that support while still paying for the big money defense industry toys and maintaining a bloated officer corps.


    The MC proposes capabilities — to whatever an Administration wants to do with them. If they can fit them into the flat budgets, at the lower manpower levels they’ll be getting, so be it. Their experience with “new capabilities” and their costs so far is not encouraging. I have no idea what world they’re talking about. References to “air-sea battle” imply they’re going to invade China. That’s nonsense. And, in any case, all they can provide (even after some months of mobilization and assembly) is a tiny force — in previous incarnations, with a larger MC, it was only 15,000. But if they stick with evolving capabilities and don’t get too wrapped up in scenarios, they may provide something to the nation. Whether they provide anything for the world is another matter.

    • Gary

      I agree, cutting costs and manpower is the first step before proposing new things. I doubt the Corps can cut the sacred fat. There is a detailed list of headquarters fat at G2mil.

      • Gary Church

        Cutting costs and manpower so they can buy more toys? Puh-leez. Then you mention “headquarters fat.”

        They don’t cut headquarters fat- they cut the number of enlisted guys with guns because they can’t make any money off them. And that is what is wrong. So… are not helping with your quick fix comment Gary.
        Please be more specific.

        • Gary

          Did you read my last sentence? Its a long detailed list: Here is one I cut and pasted:

          900 – Downsize the III MEF Command Element to
          a MEB

          The Marines have three large three-star commands for the Pacific; I MEF at Camp
          Pendleton CA, III MEF on Okinawa (commanding a MEB), and MARFORPAC in Hawaii
          (commanding everything and therefore nothing). 3rd MEB should take command on Okinawa
          and III MEF eliminated, or preserved in name by
          “dual hatting” the three-star General in Hawaii. The Intel, Radio, and
          Comm battalions on Okinawa can shrink to companies to support 3rd MEB.

          If a major war erupts, the Corps can deploy I MEF from Camp
          Pendleton, or deploy 3rd MEB from Okinawa and grow that into III MEF using
          MARFORPAC staff and reservists as additional combat units arrive from the
          reserves or the East coast. This eliminates the unrealistic plan to spend
          billions of dollars to move III MEF staff into new facilities on Guam.

          • Gary

            I realize all that Marine stuff is hard to read. Here is the meat of that proposal:

            Ever rising costs for personnel and equipment have
            forced the Corps to plan for a reduction to 175,000 active duty Marines by 2018. Marine Commandant James Amos wrote an article stating that nothing would be cut from the supporting establishment and nothing from the sacred region around Washington D.C. All cuts would come from operational units, but the few he listed were insufficient to accommodate this reduction, which will lead to lower manning levels. In March 2014, Amos told lawmakers the number of infantry battalions would fall to 20 in 2015.

            Infantry battalions are the heart of the Marine Corps and provide the nucleus for rapidly deployable forces. Each requires around 900 Marines, so a full three division Marine Corps requires 27 battalions. Why have Marine Generals chose to cut combat units and become less ready? Why
            does anyone assume that a force of 175,000 active duty Marines cannot maintain 27 infantry battalions that require just 24,300 Marines?

          • Gary Church

            Thanks for clarifying.
            I would be a fan of G2mil if it did not push junk like the “Gavin” and wail so shrilly about the V-22. That just gives the V-22 proponents an example to mock in support of their own position. The Osprey is junk, but G2mil nullifies it’s attempt to expose this by it’s own hyperbole and extreme tone.

  • Icepilot

    Give the Marines the A-10s and the CAS job. Cancel the F35B. Build the F-16 Drone.

    • Gary Church

      How about retire the A-10, cancel the F35B, and not build F-16 drones; build real drones like the Phantom Ray? This article is not really about airplanes- it is in large part about all the money wasted on the V-22 and F-35B that could have been spent on making the Marines far less “austere.”

  • ycplum

    There definately is a need for a rapid deployment force that the Marines are uniquely able to fulfill.
    The 82nd is supposed to be “wheels up” at a brigade strength in 18 hours and be anywhere in teh world 24 hours aftr that. However, they are light. Minimal artillery and no real armor to speak of. The Marines are usually forward deployed on ships. They may be able to get on site a bit sooner or later at batalion or a couple of battalion level strength. However, they can deploy a small amount of armor as well as the flexibility of inserting smaller units for kicking down doors.

  • ycplum

    In regards tothe 65-mile solution, does anyone know of any plans for a ground-effects vehicle? I was thinking along the lines of foldable wings. Load teh vehicle, deploy teh wings, possibly rocket assist to get up to speed with a full load ….

    • Jon

      I think LO-LO is the only answer. Low Orbit, Low Opening. Establish an USMC orbital station with drop ships.

      More seriously, think of trying to make a seriously opposed beach assault…given the range of missiles, prepping/suppressing inland based, mobile, or crew served launchers over that length of coastline would be virtually impossible…especially when all it would take would be guys on shore in hide sites painting targets.

      • Gary Church

        There should be some way to do this on the cheap.
        How about a fleet of assault gliders……oops, we tried that a half a century ago. Sorry.
        You wanna play, you gotta pay.

        • Jon

          Name a piece of real estate out there worth the long-term investment in hardware and ships, the immediate costs in blood, entailed in making a large-scale opposed beach assault to seize…

          • Gary Church

            I am sure Jeb Bush can come up with some place.

      • Gary Church
  • Gary Church

    Rocket assisted folding wing ground effect vehicles from a Good Idea Fairy are not the solution.

  • Jon

    To summarize the article; we’ve spent bazillions of dollars and umpteen years doing it wrong, so give us bazillions more dollars to do it differently. Or to summarize the summary; “Just give us bazillions of dollars to buy cool toys”.

    But wait, there’s more! They spent billions on the EFV, that they were just fighting desperately for, can’t live without, in the very recent past…but now, that’s all wrong, they need to be 65 miles (or more) out! WTF, over?

    Amos, and my ex-wife, have a lot in common. Can’t make up their minds, nothing is ever good enough, and for the love of God, don’t give them a credit card…and they’re both egotistical ####es, with no performance to back their high self esteem.

    • Gary Church

      Don’t hold back Jon.

      • Jon

        Well, dang Gary…just a bit ago, they had to have the EFV or the world as we know it would end. Then they’re screaming they need more amphibs. Got to have the F-35B. Now it’s “connectors”. Blah blah blah. Then they come out with an entirely new doctrine with all new requirements, or the world as we know it will end. It’s not like Amos woke up last night having an “eureka” moment and squeezed this out of his heinie in a steaming pile.

        I got rid of the ex, when I got tired of her high maintenance costs and un-ending BS…I think it’s time to decide whether we can afford the USMC.

        • Gary Church

          We had a pretty infamous Commandant in the Coast Guard many years ago named Yost. Say that name or mention “the Yost Guard” to a Coastie from that era and watch his or her face…ugh. Amos might match that glare of pure primal disgust. But I don’t know….I am not a Marine. Maybe they love him?

          • Jon

            Actually Gary, I briefed him once after doing security assessments of all the CG facilities. Wasn’t much impressed.

          • Gary Church

            Rip Torn did a really great performance as him in a movie about the Exxon Valdez. Made him look really bad. We all loved it.

  • Gary Church

    As I replied to Solomon at the bottom of the page; The missing piece to this puzzle is IMO first a cloud of drones- hundreds,
    or even dare I say thousands of them (think D-day) right on top of the
    beach shooting at anything and everything. You cannot do that with
    manned aircraft anymore because a good percentage of those aircraft or drones will
    get shot down on the first day. And there will still be losses offshore due to what
    the enemy can launch despite being completely smothered by fire from this yet-to-be mass produced force of drones.
    The missing pieces of the puzzle IMO are first drones and then what no one
    can imagine returning from the past; super heavily armored ships- but
    not with battleship guns- carrying Marines. And make no mistake those heavy ships would get hit and some would sink so we would need quite a few of them. And since building new factories to make that foot thick face-hardened battleship armor would cost a vast amount of money, I don’t know how to make this mission possible.

    • Gary Church

      And that is all the pixies and magic dust this Good Idea Fairy can provide:)

  • johnrecon65

    Lets make all the Special Ops into one service, give them ships ,planes,,arty and whatever. The Marines will have recon ,army SF, navy has seals and everyone else stayed the same .Lets call Special OPs buy a new name so no one is confused like-The US Elite Rapid Raider Forces—–ERRF—–THE FREAKEN ERRF S.Lets give all the intelligent jobs to ERRF and everyone does the jobs they allways have done best. One budjet for each unit and make sure each unit has their own uniforms and each service has its own colors, mascots and pay grades.

    • Gary Church

      Not much different than what we have now. Are you being sarcastic?

  • Rustypelican

    Sounds like just another Obama ploy to shrink the military and leave it incapable of doing anything other than disaster relief and other humanitarian missions.

    • Gary Church

      Your comment sounds like just another conservative ploy to blame everything bad that has ever or ever will exist on the President.

  • Tom

    The basis for all this appeared on-line in 2012 (google Okinawa Solution). However, that article explained that the Corps needs to shed its resorts on Okinawa to save money and shift half that manpower worldwide. It is unclear if this key part will occur, otherwise, none of this will happen due to funding and manpower issues.

    • TheReverendBob

      Haha. Resorts.