An unusual, relatively small organization is deeply involved in discerning and facilitating how the Marine Corps will conduct expeditionary operations and fight in a chaotic future that the
service believes will involve engagements in megacities
in the global littorals.
Those operations are likely to be conducted in a “
contested environment” in which an adversary will seek to
prevent the projection of combat power from the sea,
which is the hallmark of the Navy-Marine Corps team,
and disrupt the electronic networks that are key to the
creation and distribution of intelligence and the command and control of coordinated operations.
That organization, the Marine Corps Warfighting
Laboratory (MCWL), is focusing much of its current
efforts on improving the mobility and lethality of the
company landing team (CLT), a small, hybrid unit that
one of the lab’s senior leaders said is “about the right
size force that you can put ashore and still be a cohesive, effective fighting force as a single entity” in that
Those CLTs must have additional lethality, because “we believe that
the future [security] environment
will require our forces to operate in
a disaggregated, dispersed and distributed manner,” said Col David
Armellino, MCWL’s operations officer. “Doing so enables our ability to
penetrate and generate combat
power ashore” in the face of an
adversary’s anti-access, area-denial
To give the CLTs and other
Marine expeditionary forces the
firepower, mobility and casualty
care capabilities they will need to
survive and win in widely dispersed operations, MCWL is conducting extensive studies and
experiments on the use of unmanned and autonomous
aerial and ground systems, some of which will be
armed, Armellino said in an interview.
A career infantry officer, Armellino emphasized that
the MCWL is part of the Marine Corps’ integrated process
that studies and forecasts the future security environment, develops concepts and material requirements considered necessary to operate in that environment, then
conducts wargames, tests and experiments to confirm or
dismiss those ideas. The proven items are moved to
Marine organizations that will turn concepts into doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures, and material
requirements into acquisition programs.
Most of those functions are contained in the Quantico,
Va.-based Marine Corps Combat Development Command, currently led by LtGen Robert Walsh, the deputy
commandant for Combat Development and Integration.
In an Oct. 28 presentation at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, Walsh said his command takes
its directions from new Marine Corps Commandant Gen
Robert Neller, who was in the process of finalizing his
Power from the Sea
Improving the mobility, lethality of Marine Corps landing teams
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
In the Lab
The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is at the forefront of
developing a wide array of capabilities and operating concepts
required for Marines to function in the dispersed and often unpredictable missions in which they are involved.
; Experiments have focused heavily on what size, form and
capabilities were best suited for units in disaggregated or dispersed operations in a contested environment.
; One of the products of those efforts is the company landing
team, or CLT.
; To function as a CLT, a company had to be “enhanced” with a
larger headquarters element, more organic weapons and the ability to be supported directly from a mobile sea base.