In an era marked by the proliferation of lethal, long-range weapons, , the U.S. military is looking for ways of ensuring that its forces deployed within range of these new threats can operate effectively both in peacetime and in the event of a great power conflict. These so-called “stand-in” forces must not merely survive the attack but use their position to engage in decisive military actions from the outset of hostilities. A premier stand-in force already exists. This is the Navy/Marine Corps’ Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU). The ARG/MEU is unique as a U.S. military formation due to its ability to operate from international waters, the breadth of its capabilities, and its overall flexibility. One of the singular virtues of the ARG/MEU construct is that it can support the full range of peacetime military missions day-to-day, but transition to a wartime footing seamlessly and without delays. The ARG/MEU is arguably the best U.S. military stand-in force to address the full spectrum of challenges facing the nation through peace, crisis, and war. With the continuing procurement of LHAs and LPD-17s, the ARG/MEU will provide vital stand-in support to U.S. national security and defense policies for decades to come. I have written more about this unique national asset here.
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