Finance “Force Design 2030” or leave the body behind

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WASHINGTON – The United States Marine Corps is in a vulnerable position as it prepares for Exercise 2023, having made sufficient progress in its Force 2030 design effort, it has lost a significant amount of capability obsolete but lack of replacements.

“We are in this happy medium where we are changing rapidly,” Marine Corps Commander General David Berger said Dec. 14 at an online event hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

“I think this is the decisive point where, in the [Pentagon] and in Congress, are they ready to support an organization… that is willing to take risks, ready to go fast, ready to get rid of the legacy things, to learn as fast as we can – will they support and enable or not for that to happen? Because if they don’t, then you’re in a bad spot because you’ve already gotten rid of, you’ve already let go, you’re getting rid of things that you don’t think you need for the future. But other things happen, and if you’re left in a bind, it’s not a good place to be, ”he added.

The general said he hoped the Navy, Defense Department and Congress would back his plans over the next one or two budget cycles. He noted that the state of naval integration is “exceptional” at the tactical level, but that at the Pentagon level, the Corps and Navy must make changes to doctrine and resources to allow for closer collaboration in as a combined maritime force.

The main of those problems is the amphibious elevator, he said.

At the Reagan National Defense Forum earlier this month, Berger said he would go so far as to sacrifice manpower to get the Light Amphibious Warships, or LAWs, he needs to support future Corps operational concepts. But the Navy, which would pay for them in its shipbuilding budget, is not convinced by the ACT. The service did, however, raise the idea of ​​diverting money from traditional amphibious ships to pay for the new LAW program, he told reporters at the event in California.

“It’s really hard to put a value on something that you don’t have yet. It’s really difficult because it’s risky, ”he said during the online event. “Rightly, I think some people would say, ‘I’m not sure that [LAW] going to do what we need. And my point is: if we don’t, then you will have the reinforcing force that is forward without the organic capacity to move. They need it. We’ll figure out how much, we’ll figure out exactly what it should look like – but what we can’t do is the normal sort of thing where it will take us three or four years to assess what our needs are. We can’t move like that anymore.

Berger envisions the Marine Corps being distributed within a potential enemy’s area of ​​operation, living and operating in the area, always monitoring enemy movements as a deterrent and ready to intervene at the earliest. signs of aggression.

But to do this, small, dispersed groups of Marines need their own LAWS or planes to move around rather than depending on an island or static port, and having to wait until the Navy is free to move them. to drive.

Berger said lift capacities were among his top concerns for the next FY23 budget cycle, and perhaps for good reason: LAW was supposed to move from research and development to acquisition during FY22, but the project was cut from the budget – not because of development delays but simply as a budget decision, Defense News reported after the fiscal year 22 budget was released in May.

Berger also said that FY23 will bring new capabilities to the service, showing the fruits of the first divestment strategy to invest under Force Design 2030, in which the Corps removed capabilities such as tanks, transition companies, artillery and more, and used that instead. money to pay for mobile anti-ship missiles, unmanned vehicles, sensors and electronic warfare tools for a scout / counter-scout competition, and more.

Asked about the Marine Corps’ new capabilities in 2023, Berger pointed out the NMESIS, or Navy / Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System: an anti-ship missile on the ground associated with an unmanned version of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. He described a fleet of these unmanned trucks, called ROGUE Fires vehicles, and possibly a manned JLTV in the mix to act as a quarterback. They would move in a battlespace, linked by radars and other sensors, and would be able to keep any land or sea targets in danger over great distances.

NMESIS has already performed a few large-scale demonstrations, and the Corps will begin receiving the system in 2023.

Berger also said this year will see the delivery of more F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and more task-oriented ground / air radars, and that he will later apply LAW “as quickly as we can. to buy “.

Megan Eckstein is the Naval Warfare reporter for Defense News. She has been covering military news since 2009, focusing on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, procurement programs, and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumnus.

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