The United States is a global power with far reaching global interests. Our location in the Western Hemisphere, combined with our global interests, create some simple but enduring truths.
• The Armed Forces of the United States predominately fight overseas.
• Fighting overseas requires the ability to project power.
• Projecting naval power is dependent upon a sufficient level of maritime superiority.
During the past ten years, pacing competitors have extensively studied U.S. military operations and invested heavily in capabilities and capacities designed to counter our maritime superiority and our ability to project power overseas. They seek to keep U.S forces at arm’s length until their strategic objectives are achieved. Accurate, long-range missiles fired from ground, air, surface, and subsurface assets have been fielded to contest the United States’ freedom of action at sea. These pacing competitors will continue to improve their ability to build cohesive networks to detect, track, target, and attack adversaries in all domains, generating a level of opposition and lethality U.S. forces have not faced in decades. The rapid proliferation of precision munitions, armed unmanned systems, and GPS technology will allow potential adversaries to strike with a level of precision previously only held by the United States and our allies. Military operations will be conducted in an increasingly complex electromagnetic environment. As inexpensive commercially available sensors proliferate, a “battle of signatures” will emerge where both sides will fight for knowledge, while simultaneously limiting their emissions to prevent dynamic targeting. Furthermore, the cyber threat is not geographically constrained, with forces at home under equal threat as those deployed.
Competitors provide the most demanding, and therefore the most logical, pacing threat for U.S. force development activities. Likewise, the proliferation of modern technologies has put many of the capabilities once held only by near-peer competitors into the hands of a wider range of state and non-state actors. Thus, any campaign the U.S. conducts overseas is likely to have a significant maritime aspect to it. These conditions call for the effective integration of sea control and maritime power projection capabilities applied in a campaign-centric logic focused on defeating an adversary’s strategy, while giving due consideration to the important but subordinate topic of defeating specific capabilities and systems.
Given the foregoing, Marine Corps forces are being refined to ensure they can effectively fight as an element of the fleet in the most demanding joint campaigns that are maritime in character. Simply stated, in partnership with the U.S. Navy we are creating a modular, scalable, and integrated naval network of sea-based and land-based sensors, weapons, information warfare capabilities, and the requisite sustainment capabilities that will allow us to flexibly task-organize naval forces to meet our Nation’s needs in the emerging security environment.
Toward that end, we are in the process of developing a family of concepts that support a relatively new body of national strategy documents. This chapter of Concepts & Programs provides a synopsis of the most pertinent Marine Corps, naval, and joint operating concepts. Most of these have only recently been released, while others are nearing publication. Thus, the associated programmatic initiatives have not yet caught up to the ideas expressed in the concepts summarized in the next section of this publication.