"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.
This report describes progress to date on the United States Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 (FD 2030) modernization effort.
To reflect FD 2030 progress in previous years, we published updates in March 2020 and April 2021. This year’s report explains the current state of our modernization effort by reviewing the progress we have made toward our goals in the past year, providing my direction to the Marine Corps on steps requiring action now, and identifying issues needing further analysis to support future decisions. This report also summarizes the foundation for Force Design, our Campaign of Learning. The outcomes of its wargames, analyses, experiments, and exercises underpin our investment and divestment decisions, and fully comport with the analytic guidance issued by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. We also take the opportunity this year to highlight how our thinking has evolved after two and a half years. The report then describes the implications of the above for our objective force and the resulting investment and divestment priorities. As I have stated, I am confident we can achieve the majority of our modernization goals without asking for an increase in our budget topline if we are able to redirect divested dollars toward our priority modernization investments. With the support of Congress, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Department of the Navy, we have made good on this assumption over the past several years and we will need similar support again this year. Similarly, FD 2030 assumes adequate support for its key components such as logistics modernization, amphibious shipping, operational lift, and littoral mobility.
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