The Marine Corps plans to give up its tanks, dramatically remake its artillery batteries, cut its helicopter fleet and take a host of other “radical” steps in arguably the most sweeping American military overhaul in a century — all with the goal of preparing for a potential 21st-century conflict with China. And a little global pandemic hasn’t stopped the Corps from hitting a very different beach. Seventy-five years after storming beaches at Iwo Jima, Marine Corps leaders unveiled a blueprint this month concluding that the branch’s traditional approach no longer meets the nation’s needs. “The Marine Corps we have been building for many years now is increasingly out of step with the problems they’re going to face” in confronting China, said Chris Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril Industries and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee. “There are reasons for why that is the case,” he added. “The Marine Corps has borne the burden of a lot of the deployments overseas post-9/11. They were optimizing for a different set of challenges.” Pentagon officials argue that China’s rapidly improving military capabilities make the prospect of a traditional Iwo Jima-type shore landing exceedingly unlikely, and the Corps instead will shift its resources toward becoming a “stand-in” force that can operate within enemy range rather than fighting its way into theater from the sea. In a sweeping planning document released last week, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger laid out a host of other major changes designed to remake the service with the recognition that preparing for a World War II-style conflict — or even a major ground- and air-based operation such as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq — can no longer be the service’s top priority. Some critics are already arguing that the new approach is too China-centric, but top Marine officials stress that now is the time for systematic change. “I am convinced that the defining attributes of our current force design are no longer what the nation requires of the Marine Corps,” Gen. Berger said in the document, which lays out a decadelong plan to shift the service into a more modern role. “With the shift in our primary focus to great power competition and a renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific region, the current force has shortfalls in capabilities needed to support emerging joint, naval and Marine Corps operating concepts.”
Gen Berger hasn’t exactly been instilling much in the way of confidence, as of late. He’s been giving in to the pressures of political correctness, and undermining the cohesion of the Corps. So, we’re a bit leery of whatever grandiose plans he may have for the future of the Marines. Historically, the mission of the Marine Corps is to “secure the beachhead.” In other countries, they are called the “naval infantry.” And, our Marines execute that mission better than any other naval infantry on the planet. Period. But, sounds like Gen. Berger wants to somehow change their mission to a “more modern role,” whatever the heck that means. As a former “field grade” Army officer, I’ll remain skeptical, given the General’s spectacularly poor decisions as of late, until we’re provided more specifics. Regardless, I know my brothers and sisters in the Corps will rise to the challenge and do us proud no matter what.