Marines are a diverse group of people varied by race, gender, creed, economic background and religion, but united by a fervent commitment to the defense of the United States Constitution and one another. Naval and expeditionary in character, Marines are “soldiers of the sea” who are effective operating independently or as part of the larger Joint Force in multiple domains (air, land, sea, space and cyberspace) from austere, challenging expeditionary environments. Our core values of honor, courage, and commitment, which we seek in our recruiting process and cultivate throughout the span of a Marine’s service, enable us to make character-based, tactical decisions that have the right strategic consequences and effects. We are responsible stewards of our Nation’s resources, and we are innovative in meeting new challenges and leveraging new opportunities. This was true in the past and continues today.
As set forth by the 82nd Congress and reaffirmed by the 114th, our purpose is to provide maritime expeditionary combined arms air-ground task forces that are “most ready, when the Nation is least ready.” We are a naval force whose mission requires us to be ready –a fight-tonight, forward deployed force – able to respond immediately to emergent crises around the globe either from the sea or home station. While our organization, training, and equipment must continually evolve to meet changes in the operational environment, this fundamental purpose is unchanging.
Combatant Commander (CCDR) demand for Marines and tailored Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) continues to drive an aggressive operational tempo. In 2017, the Marine Corps deployed more than 11,000 Marines aboard Navy warships. Furthermore, our current posture encompasses several global tasks: Marines supporting multiple CCDRs with offensive air support and strikes from our Amphibious Ready Groups / Marine Expeditionary Units (ARG/MEU) afloat; building partner capacity in both Iraqi and Afghan Armies confronting Islamic State and Taliban fighters; providing critical fixed-wing and artillery fire support to coalition-enabled Syrian Democratic Forces as they fought to clear the Islamic State from Raqqa, Syria; deterring provocations in the East and South China Seas through the forward posturing of 5th Generation aircraft within the Pacific; immediate disaster response from our ARG/MEU and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) to Americans in the wake of four hurricanes; and supporting continued efforts to ensure freedom of navigation through the Bab al-Mandab strait.
Marines continue to foster and strengthen relationships with our allies and partners through joint, multinational, and bilateral exercises. These evolutions increase our lethality and help us to gain an understanding of how to best complement one another’s strengths. Concurrently, the Marine Corps maintains a vital relationship with the State Department, providing 24/7 armed security at our Embassies and Consulates worldwide. Today, Marines routinely serve at 177 Embassies and Consulates in 148 countries around the globe. Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU) teams deployed 47 times in 2017 at the request of the State Department, executing 13 Embassy/Consulate and 34 VIP (POTUS/VPOTUS/SECSTATE) security missions. As the Nation’s 911 force, we are forward postured across the Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs), engaged daily in deterrence and security cooperation efforts, while remaining capable of rapidly aggregating response forces from adjacent GCCs and the homeland to respond to national crises.
Despite this demanding operational tempo, your Marines continue to build a 5th Generation Marine Corps – a Corps that is capable of dominating in all domains, lethal and ready no matter the challenge. This transformation began in 2016 with the implementation of the Marine Corps Operating Concept (MOC). The MOC represents our institutional vision for how the Marine Corps will operate, fight, and win in the strategic environment described above. While the Corps’ fundamental purpose does not change, our concepts – and the organization, training, and equipment changes they drive – must evolve to effectively accomplish it. As our capstone concept, the MOC provides the foundation and context for subordinate operating and functional concepts like Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO).
Chapter 1 of this publication synopsizes the key operating concepts that guide our analysis, wargaming, and experimentation and, eventually, our programmatic investments. These concepts align exceptionally well with the recently approved National Defense Strategy (NDS) and Defense Planning Guidance (DPG). Though their terminology differs somewhat, there is a unity of thought and consistent logic running through our pertinent national, joint, naval, and Marine Corps documents that informs our vision for the future. Since many of these documents have only recently been released or are nearing publication, we are in a period of significant transition. The programs described in subsequent chapters of this volume therefore represent only partial progress in what will be a multi-year effort toward the fielding the full range of capabilities and capacities required to successfully meet the demands of the future.