The new force design the Marine Corps is pursuing comes at the expense of its ability to support the Administration’s strategy of integrated deterrence. The Corps’ current focus is on the least likely scenario, a major war with China across the Western Pacific. Biasing the structure of the Marine Corps to a single high-end scenario undermines the Corps’ ability to support the needs of a peacetime presence and crisis response, and portends especially serious issues for its amphibious warfare fleet. This is particularly troubling since it is the Marine Corps’ peacetime and crisis missions, not its high-end warfighting capabilities, which make the U.S. so attractive to many regional friends and allies. The Marine Corps is in danger of losing its ability to serve as America’s “911” force, a role in which it has excelled since the end of World War II. This role depends on a robust fleet of large amphibious warfare vessels that can be formed into Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs). The number of large amphibs in the Fleet could fall to below 20 over the next decade. I have written more about this here.
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