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SPA Fellow Discusses the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 Project

November 23, 2020 | Alexandria, VA

LtCol J. Noel Williams (ret.) is a SPA fellow, providing strategy and policy support to Program Analysis and Evaluation, Programs and Resources at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.  He recently authored an article “Force Design: It’s About Winning”, which was published in the Marine Corps’ Gazette Magazine.

The Marine Corps released Force Design 2030 in March 2020.  The objective of this Force Design is to create a better trained and equipped, Distributed Operations capable, ground combat force; an air combat element with a balanced mix of manned and unmanned systems; and a logistics element capable of sustaining distributed ground and aviation elements.  The design will allow the Marine Corps to accomplish all the missions the current force is designed to perform, but to do them better, while adding some additional new specialized capabilities for long-range precision strike to address fixed and mobile targets, a family of loitering munitions, unmanned air, ground, and surface platforms, and a range of electronic warfare and cyber warfare capabilities.

In the article, LtCol Williams identifies that future missions will require the Marine Corps to operate effectively against adversaries that are technological peers. 

In the context of the priority theater of concern, the Pacific, China can seriously challenge access to our fleet as it is currently configured, so the Marine Corps must assist the Navy in gaining and maintaining theater access.  Analogous threats pertain in other theaters as well, including the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, and Europe.

Expeditionary Advanced Base (EAB) operations, in addition to contributing to sea control and sea denial missions, are critical to winning the gray zone competition by providing critical ISR for maritime domain awareness and assured C2 to the Fleet and Joint Force. 

The author states, EAB operations is a critical mission that is often overshadowed by those judging Force Design by just looking at charts of program divestments and investments.

EAB operations and the associated naval campaign are not about fighting an inevitable war with China, Russia, or Iran.  Instead, the concept is about deterring such conflicts while also providing additional ways for the United States to compete globally. 

To learn more about the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 and LtCol Williams’ perspective on future missions, threats and capabilities, review the full article, published by the Marine Corps’ Gazette magazine: https://mca-marines.org/wp-content/uploads/Force-Design.pdf .

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