>> Robert Kozloski is a program analyst for the Department of the Navy. The views expressed here are his alone and do not represent those of the Departments of the Navy or Defense.
The Marine Corps is facing a host of challenges and must contend with the current fiscal pressure on all of DoD while trying to innovate after a decade of war. It will likely have to reduce its endstrength while adapting to a new threat environment. These challenges should force the Marine Corps to reconsider some fundamental premises today that will help it effectively adapt to the operational environment ten to twenty years from now.
The Marine Corps must intellectually challenge some basic organizational issues. The fundamental structure of the Marine Corps today is based on a model that was effective during the legendary amphibious assaults of World War II and the epic battles in Korea, where high casualty rates, limited communications, and massing of firepower were primary concerns. Is the same organizational structure, particularly the use of enlisted Marines, right for the Marine Corps of 2025 and beyond?
While amphibious operations will be the cornerstone of the Marine Corps for the foreseeable future, the Marine Corps could also find itself in a host of other missions and roles: full integration into special operations, distributed operations, partnership building, military to military training, and even integration with federal law enforcement units to counter transnational threats. Will the Marine Corps use the same rifle company construct for an opposed beach landing as it does for training a foreign military unit? Will the right personnel be in the right units?
Below are a few “what-if” challenges that should stimulate debate among Marines at all levels on the use of the greatest strength of the Marine Corps, the enlisted Marine, over the next several decades.