MARINE CORPS NEWS
JUST IN: Marine Corps Building Navy Buy In for 2030 Modernization
Marine Corps photo
The Marine Corps is working more closely with the Navy during wargames and experimentations to demonstrate the value of the amphibious force, according to a top Marine leader.
While fiscal pressure can sometimes set the forces against each other, the Marine Corps’ new modernization plan will require the Navy to be all in on Force Design 2030, said Gen. Eric Smith, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
Marine Corps Commandant David Berger introduced the new Force Design in 2020 and released an updated version earlier this year. The document calls for divestment from legacy systems such as tanks and investment into platforms that give the force more mobility.
Smith said building personal relationships is not enough to build the strategy to win the future fight.
“You have a candid conversation with fleet commanders with the Navy staff about what is the value of the Navy-Marine Corps team, that ability to be forward deployed 24/7 with organic mobility that is playing itself out at the fleet level,” he said Nov. 4 during an event at Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
One example of the collaboration that takes place is the Marine Expeditionary Units which are made up of Marines and sailors that “are completely tied together.”
Force Design 2030 includes a campaign of learning approach to change, which means that there is constant conversation internally in the Marine Corps and with its counterpart, he noted.
“We are in fact wargaming, experimenting and just having daily debates about the efficacy of this platform, that platform, and I would say the Navy and us are much closer than I think is portrayed in the press,” he said.
He noted fiscal pressures can exacerbate tensions. The Marine Corps is saving money by divesting from legacy platforms, but it still has to purchase the latest platforms such as long-range precision munitions and anti-ship cruise missiles.
“Where it always comes down to is when there's this is the last dollar authorized to be spent or appropriated to be spent, where are we going to spend it? That's where the rub comes in the Pentagon, frankly, because it's you know, there's one ice cream cone, two kids,” he explained.
The Navy and the Marines need to build the understanding that amphibious forces cannot achieve the objectives in the National Defense Strategy alone.
“The purpose isn't the amphibious force. Amphibious force is there in order to enable the national defense strategy, which is to deter, to counter aggression, to provide a free and open Indo Pacific,” he said.
The Marine Corps is also prioritizing connections with Congress to help reach its 2030 goals, Smith said. The force has been successful in implementing some of the changes from Force Design 2030 so quickly because senior leaders are in constant conversation with leaders on the Hill, Smith said.
“But we have good support on the Hill because the Hill understands what the threat is. And the Hill is a place, it's not a person,” he said.
While the Marine Corps is getting buy-in from the Navy, Pentagon and Congress, leadership could have done a better job connecting with the retired Marine community, Smith said. The force has seen some blowback from that community, mostly around sunsetting legacy platforms.
“Where we failed, I think was with — this is for institutional change management — your other shareholders, so our retired community could have done much better,” Smith said. “The active community is a little bit easier because when the commandant says move, you move.”
Topics: Marine Corps News