View Full Version : The Marine Corps and the Coming Fiscal Reality

11-16-2011, 03:28 AM
Came across the article at the Marine Corps Gazette website. I found this sentence interesting and wonder what it could mean for the Marine Corps in the future:

At the same time, America’s general-purpose forces have been directed to establish closer linkages to the special operations community. An idea receiving some favorable consideration among many Marines that moves the Marine Corps in this direction is to accept the 6-year Marine Special Operations Command experiment as a success and begin to evolve the entire Marine Corps toward a limited special operations capability. Other options include mainstreaming irregular warfare capabilities into the Operating Forces and migrating traditional capabilities, such as tanks, rocket artillery, and fixed-wing fighter attack aircraft, to the Marine Corps Reserve or divesting of those capabilities entirely.

The link to the article is below. Does the Marine Corps become more like the Royal Marines or maybe the U.S. Army Rangers? Does Distributed Operations become the Corps' primary mission?

Has anyone heard anything about this?


11-24-2011, 07:23 AM
Interesting article, if I were to restructure the Corps it would be a much smaller organization for many of the reasons stated in the article. I have no specific numbers but an idea from unit breakdown would probably be closer to 100,000 Marines.

Its important to explain my doctrine/philosophy to understand my overall vision of the Corps.

1st, its important to understand the that what the USMC provides is just as important as Special Operations which is something that gets lost on a lot of Mil sites enamored with SOF but having no idea what the USMC even does.

I say this b/c you'll hear some people say the Corps should be more like SOF; I think thats a mistake. I think the USMC & SOCOM should move closer by tying up its SUPPORTING/SUPPORTED relationships but if anything the Corps should be more like the Corps & strengthen its own unique capabilities.

The Corps doesn't need to be more "SOF-like". On the strength of its own unique capabilities its the YING to SOCOM's YANG. By definition set in the Goldwater-Nichols & Nunn-Cohen Acts SOF are Specialized, Narrowly Defined, Mission Specific forces.

The Corps provides a capability that are the polar opposite of that. Skilled but not Specialized, purpose-built to be Flexible-not easily Defined, moving fluidly in the gaps caused by more defined units fr/SOF to Armored, like mortar filling the capability gaps of the Joint Force.

The Corps provides Task Organized Forces Tailored to Specific Missions, usually on short notice & limited in duration, ranging from Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict & Crisis Response to Clandestine Raid up to Medium Mechanized Assault.

The flexibility provided by a Mission Adaptable/Tailored, Expeditionary-Combined Arms Force, thats forward deployed fr/Amphibious shipping is unique & can't easily be reproduced.

But there is no need for 3x 45,000-60,000man units to do it.

My vision for the Corps would be

11-24-2011, 11:19 AM
The most obvious job opportunites for a marine force should be
*forced river crossings
* riverine warfare
* swamp warfare
(= everything with more water than landmen would prefer)
In addition to this, it could promise its reserves as defensive forces for coasts/islands. Think Guam, Hawaii, Aleutes.

The USMC could integrate into the army's operational schemes as specialists for this job, comparable to a U.S.Army branch (but still under navy command, apparently).
Trying to field divisions that fight alongside army divisions as done during ODS was a primitive idea all along.

The extreme readiness of MEUs patrolling distant open seas is extremely wasteful in my opinion. It should not coin the MC so much. This forward deployment scheme of the navy is extremely wasteful in general. The U.S: could do away with half of its carriers if it hadn't this extremely resource-intensive rotation.

11-24-2011, 05:39 PM
The extreme readiness of MEUs patrolling distant open seas is extremely wasteful in my opinion. It should not coin the MC so much. This forward deployment scheme of the navy is extremely wasteful in general. The U.S: could do away with half of its carriers if it hadn't this extremely resource-intensive rotation.
If one is trying to make budget cuts in a situation in which the role of United States as world police is axiomatic, why not axe Smedley Butler and the just announced plans for Darwin rather than the MEUs?

And then there is the swordfight (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/InterserviceRivalry) that is land- vs. carrier-based aviation assets. Given the above axiom, it is less than obvious to me why the Marine Corps rather than the Air Force is the go-to superfluous branch.

11-24-2011, 06:59 PM
* swamp warfare


Best bypassed and contained.

11-24-2011, 08:27 PM

Best bypassed and contained.

Well, you need to sweep it sooner or later, or you'd need to secure your supply lines and rear bases strongly for a long time.

That's a general problem in modern Western armies:
Western armies have enough strength to shatter opposing formations, but they do not have enough boots on the ground to mop up the fragments.

11-29-2011, 04:32 AM
I have to preface this by stating that in the 90s the Corps shrunk fr/about 190,000+ to about 170,000. Emphasis was put on retaining 24 Infantry BNs & maintaining the 3 MEF/3 Division Overhead Structure, everything else paid the price.

ANGLICO was DISBANDED, Recon atrophied down to 1 Coy per Div, Sea Duty was abandoned & the Infantry BNs were BNs in formation only many sitting below 80 or 90% until weeks before deployment and the Intel, Log, & Support units sat even lower than that.

One thing HQMC learned after this TEMPORARY GWOT plus-up is its much easier to train an additional 5,000 Infantryman than 500 Intel & other LD/HD Low Density/High Demand Marines.

With the Corps facing a reduction to as low as 150,000 maintaining a 3 MEF/3 Div Corps is stupid & would be suicide.

My Vision
Place the emphasis on our unique capabilities & build out from there:

I) Restructure/Refocus the MAGTF
II) Maintain our investment in MARSOC
III) Re-invest & Strengthen our Marine Special Assignments
I) Refocus the MAGTF-There's nothing comparable to a Fwd-Deployed, Sea-Based, Combined-Arms Teams that can launch on short notice-limited duration missions around the world in 6hrs or less.

Currently the USMC is structured around the ability to be able to Support 3 Marine Expeditionary Forces.. Why? The 2 formations that see the most action, have the most potential, & are the most dynamic are MEU & the MEB.

Base the structure of the Operational Fleet Marine Forces off of MEB/MEU Cycle:
A) Reduce the number of Infantry BNs from 27 to 15-18, leaving 5-6 on each coast.

B) Reduce the number of 3-star MEF-level Commands fr/3 to 1, leaving I MEF and 1st MARDIV as the only MEF-level Cmd. Restructure the West Coast (1st MEB, 11th, 13th, & 15th MEUs) & Oki/Hawaii (3rd MEB, 31st MEU) under the Operational Control of I MEF. I did this for a few reasons:
The need to leave 1 Corps-level Wartime Command for future OIFs, Koreas, etc.
CMDR I MEF is a dual hatted as head of I MEF & Cmdr MARFORCENT, plus Cmdr I MEF already has control of most of III MEF's Operational Forces
Possibly send 1st MARDIV Cmdr to Oki as I MEF Fwd

C) Reduce/Restructure East Coast fr/II MEF to 2nd MEB, 22nd, 24th, 26th MEUs & 4th MEB(AT). Move all East Coast Units to Marine Forces Command who already has OPCON of all deploying II MEF units.

D) Reform the 4th MEB(Anti-Terrorism). Each BLT returning fr/the MEU Cycle is usually assigned to the Air Contingency BN. Now each returning BLT would be OPCON to 4th MEB for 3-6mths then rotating back to the MEB.

E) Maintain a ROBUST, Distributed Ops oriented ENABLER capability. I'd maintain it at 115% or more in key LD/HD fields deploying Enabler teams to Joint Task Forces that rarely involve Marines unless its Marine run.
SOCOM's JSOU wrote an assessment of the USMC's SOF capability based on a Unit dubbed DET-1. DET-1 was an MSPF chopped to SOCOM, the same MSPF that deploys w/every MEU. It wrote the DET's Fires, Liaison, HET, Radio Recon (RRT), DA/SR, & All-Source Fusion Intel personnel rate their own Special Operations Designator & that the MEU(SOC) regularly deploys w/capabilities not found outside of Tier I/SMUs.

F) Maintain a higher level of officer billets than present to get more Marine-unique perspectives involved JTFs & FAOs.

Overall this would leave about 6 Infantry BNs per Coast: 1 entering the MEU Cycle, 1 deployed, 1 post-MEU entering 4th MEB(AT) and 3 INF BNs per MEB.

II) MARSOC-Self explanatory. Maintain our commitment to SOCOM & continue to grow our relationship towards Joint Expeditionary Operations.

III) Marine Special Assignments-The Corps has many unique Tasks that fall under its command that range fr/SOF-like capabilities to Presidential & Diplomatic security tasks.

ANGLICO-At 3 Coys of less than 200 Marines each they're already right-sized to fit a MEB/MEU focused Corps.

Reconnaissance-I would actually reshape & reduce Recon. In a future Corps of DO/ECO/EMO, combined w/the expanded capability of the Scout-Sniper Tm the Close-In/Distant role filled by Divisional Recon is unnecessary. I would reshape Recon along the lines of the MEU: 2 Plts both operating Deep-space 1-Green(R&S) 1-Black(DA/SR). Making 6x 2-Plt Detachments/Companies per Coast.

Radio Reconnaissance Teams-There are 3 Platoons Corps-wide w/barely enough teams per Plt to support MEU Rotation. I'd grow RRT to have 4-5 teams per platoon to be able to support the MEU Cycle & a JTF.

FAST Company-Unchanged. At 3 Coys of 600 Marines each is enough to support the Mission. Incorporate more of FAST Co's CQB & Recapture training into the regular Infantry Plt.

Recapture Tactics Team(RTT)-CQB/Structure-Recapture experts. I'd double their number sending the other half to Recreate Sea Duty, making VBSS Recapture Teams.

Embassy Security Group-Unchanged

Security Forces Regiment-Reduced to half, disband HQ to reform 4th MEB(AT). Retain Presidential Security, grow Navy Master-at-Arms to take all post-stander position at all Naval Nuclear facilities maintain Marines for Roving & React.

IV) Reserves-With that I would grow the Reserves fr/35,000 to probably over 50,000 to absorb the loss of equipment & operators. I'd also grow the Reserves to capitalize on the recent trend of Operationalizing the Reserves, incorporating them into overseas commitments.

V) Conclusion-My revised Corps would probably fall closer to 130,000. The Corps should base its restructuring on Operational Commitments not maintaining WWII Formations & not fear killings the Sacred Cows of 3 MEF/Divs & 24 Infantry BNs.

The Corps should focus on making MAGTFs more robust w/expanded enabler personnel ratios that can handle rapid wartime expansion when the need arises.

If the Corps doesn't want to be thought of as a 2nd Land Army then it should stop structuring like one in Peace-time. My vision will leave it optimized to meet its Operational commitments, but structurally sound to be able to Grow to a Wartime strength.