Lighter, Leaner, More Agile
Review calls for Marines to ‘rebalance’ as ‘expeditionary middleweight force’
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
Shifting for the Future
“The 21st century security environment also requires expansion of
global engagement to promote collective approaches to addressing
common security concerns with
our partners and allies,” Amos told
the House Armed Services Committee on March 1.
“These realities call for an expeditionary middleweight force, a crisis-response capability that fills a void in
our nation’s defense between special
operations forces and conventional
units. Partnered with the Navy, your
Marine Corps serves that critical
role,” the commandant said in explaining the FSR.
To achieve that, the Corps must “invest in new
organizations and capabilities, procure the right equipment supporting our expeditionary capability,” better
educate Marines and care for their families, Amos said.
It also will need to “reset and reconstitute our equipment,” which has been worn out or damaged by the
extended combat, he added.
But, Amos told lawmakers, the Corps “is not obliv-
ious to the fiscal realities confronting our nation,” and
promised that it “will only ask for what it needs, not
what it might want.”
The FSR was conducted last fall by a task force of
officers, supervised by an executive steering committee
of Marine lieutenant generals and monitored by Amos
and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the assistant comman-
dant. It was briefed to Defense Secretary Robert M.
Gates on Feb. 7.
The major changes the FSR recommended will not be
executed until a thorough doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and cost assessment is completed in about six
months, said Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, deputy commandant for combat development and integration.
A Force Structure Review conducted by the Marine Corps last fall
was briefed to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Feb. 7.
■ The review projects a cut of active-duty Marines from the current force level of 202,000 to 186,800.
■ Such a cut will mean eliminating some ground and air units,
closing or consolidating numerous headquarters and shedding
■ The Corps would increase capacity for cyber network
defense, exploitation and attack operations, and increase Marine
Special Operations Command personnel.
Facing a complex and unpredictable future se- curity environment and tightening defense budgets, the Marine Corps is planning a dramatic restructuring and downsizing of its forces.
Many of the changes envisioned in the recently
completed Force Structure Review (FSR) are intended
to return the Corps to its traditional lean, flexible and
expeditionary roots after 10 years of intensive land
combat in Iraq and Afghanistan has left it a skillful, but
heavy, counterinsurgency force.
In anticipation of a reduced deployment demand
after the expected reduction of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, and lower funding, the review projects
cutting the current active-duty Marine force level of
202,000 to 186,800. That still is above the 2000 level
of 182,000, but will mean the elimination of ground
and air units, closing or consolidating numerous headquarters and shedding a lot of heavy equipment.
“The Marine Corps is reposturing and rebalancing
for the future,” which will present “a world of
increased hybrid threats that challenge both governmental sovereignty and regional security,” said Gen.
James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant.