"The 2018 National Defense Strategy redirected the Marine Corps’ mission focus from countering violent extremists in the Middle East to great power/peer-level competition, with special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. Such a profound shift in missions, from inland to littoral, and from non-state actor to peer competitor, necessarily requires substantial adjustments in how we organize, train, and equip our Corps. A return to our historic role in the maritime littoral will also demand greater integration with the Navy and a reaffirmation of that strategic partnership. As a consequence, we must transform our traditional models for organizing, training, and equipping the force to meet new desired ends, and do so in full partnership with the Navy."
-General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps
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This report describes the progress we have made over the past 12 months in redesigning the force to better fulfill our role as the nation’s naval expeditionary force-in-readiness. The scope of change required is a generational undertaking - one that will not be completed during a single commandant’s tenure.
We are 18 months into our 10-year Force Design 2030 modernization effort, and in some capability areas we have sufficient understanding to begin the transition from force design to force development. However, our understanding in other areas remains incomplete and will need to be constantly improved upon and refreshed given that we live in a period during which the perceived steadiness of our way of war may be upset at any moment. For example, we recently witnessed the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in which the victor imposed their will primarily through the use of unmanned systems and loitering munitions. Throughout this period of uncertainty and change Marines must continue to think, write, debate, innovate, and adapt to not only keep pace with the ever-changing character of warfare, but to ultimately drive it and force others to adapt to us. Our principal challenge remains to be effective as the nation’s Naval Expeditionary Force in readiness, while we simultaneously modernize the force for the future operating environment with available resources. A force-in-readiness is not simply the most available force, but as described by the 82nd Congress, one that can prevent small disturbances from becoming regional conflicts. A naval expeditionary force-in-readiness must be able to compete, deter, and facilitate horizontal escalation. Playing that role while simultaneously modernizing the force in accordance with the needs of the fleet and our civilian leadership is our challenge. We will succeed, and we will create irreversible momentum with our modernization efforts over the next 24 months. We have made considerable progress over the past year, publishing foundational doctrine, investing in new capabilities, examining the application of new operating concepts, new equipment, refining organizational structure, and generating improved tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to accelerate the implementation of Force Design. These actions have furthered our understanding of the principal challenge and the necessary changes we must undertake. It is imperative that we comprehensively adapt our force to the demands of competition and conflict in multiple domains. The intersection of threat, technology, and a changing operating environment necessitate wideranging changes to the capabilities our expeditionary force in readiness must provide to Naval and Joint force commanders.
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