ions normally associated with specific Marine Expeditionary Units
and infantry regiments.
And the FSR would reorganize
intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities to directly link
deployed forces, garrison support
and the intelligence community.
Among the changes aimed at
meeting the expanding involvement
with developing nations, the FSR
recommends “retaining and better
integrating the training, advising and
assistance organizations designed to
enable and enhance irregular warfare
capabilities, partner-nation engage-
ment and cultural understanding.”
It also proposed creating a law
enforcement support battalion in each MEF “to enhance
capabilities to conduct and manage battlefield biomet-
rics, forensic and law enforcement support operations.”
And despite all those changes, the review mandates
“maintaining the capacity and capabilities to conduct
amphibious operations across the range of military
In addition to cutting personnel and units, the Corps
plans to substantially reduce its equipment inventories,
particularly the large numbers of heavy vehicles, com-
munications equipment and crew-served weapons accu-
mulated during the decade of land warfare.
That is a key part of the drive to lighten the operating force to restore its expeditionary capabilities.
A factor in guiding those reductions would be determining a common list of equipment that infantry battalions would need for crisis-response missions, Flynn
said in briefing reporters on the FSR Feb. 24. That crisis-response equipment set, which would be smaller
than what units in Afghanistan now have, would be
augmented by gear drawn from an equipment pool if
they were assigned a different mission, he said.
The FSR also envisions a number of organizational
changes described as “efficiencies for operational effec-
Those emphasize “reducing overhead in the sup-
porting establishment where parallel or duplicative
functions could be efficiently combined or eliminated,
including conversion of certain military billets to civil-
ian positions,” while reducing civilian personnel by
more than 2,900 from 35,000.
Changes listed include eliminating the three air wing
support group headquarters, merging the Training
Command headquarters into the Training and Education
Command and consolidating one of the Marine Forces
commands with a MEF headquarters. But that last
U.S. MARINE CORPS
An amphibious assault vehicle with Company E, 2nd Assault Amphibian
Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, travels along Onslow Beach at Marine Corps
Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 24 during waterborne operations training.
change mandates “preserving the core warfighting capa-
bilities of this MEF while expanding the responsibilities
of its leadership and staff.”
Dakota Wood, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel
who now is an analyst with the Washington-based
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, said he
believed the general tone of the FSR “is right on track.”
But the FSR report raises questions that were “dri-
ven by the lack of specificity in the actions prescribed.”
While the report cites reductions and realignment of
some units, “I don’t see the details,” he said.
Wood noted that the plan to form five regionally
oriented MEBs was “taking a page out of the Army’s
book,” with its regionally focused Special Forces units.
The recent experience in counterinsurgency operations showed that “cultural familiarity and language
skills are critically important,” he said.
“But there’s a scale issue,” Wood added. The Army
Special Forces have an entire group focused on each
region, and the soldiers “spend their entire careers”
learning that region, he said. “Marine Corps assign-
ment does not allow that.”
Even so, gaining some cultural awareness and famil-
iarity with the major players in a region “will make
those MEBs more useful to the combatant command-
ers,” Wood said.
As for the planned force reduction, he said, “I think
the budget is driving everybody in that direction.”
And if the operational demand decreases as they
leave Afghanistan, “they don’t need 202,000 Marines,”
But, he added, there may be problems going back to
the pre-Iraq levels, because the Corps has added the
Cyber and Special Operations commands.
“That manpower has to come from somewhere,”
Wood said. ■