To prepare to fight a potential future adversary with matching technological capabilities, the Marine Corps has adopted a dramatically new
operational blueprint and is launching an extensive
series of exercises and experiments to test the tools,
tactics and organizations it will need to execute that
Undramatically labeled the “Marine Corps Operating
Concept” (MOC), it is subtitled “How an Expeditionary
Force Operates in the 21st Century.”
In his forward to the MOC, Marine Corps Commandant
Gen. Robert B. Neller said it “embraces our naval charac-
ter, expeditionary mindset and professional approach
to constantly improve and build on our foundations of
maneuver warfare and fighting as a combined arms force.”
But it would expand the traditional concepts of both
maneuver warfare and combined arms by adding cyber
and information operations to the standard elements
of rapid movement around enemy
strong points and the kinetic tools
of infantry, armor, artillery and air.
The MOC also envisions broad
new concepts of expeditionary
operations including widely dis-
tributed, self-reliant fighting units
and the use of Marine landing
forces to help the Navy counter the
anti-access, area-denial threat to its
ability to project power, a reversal
of the historic pattern.
The MOC is a replacement
for the “Expeditionary Force 21”
document released in 2014 under
then-Commandant Gen. James A.
Amos, which primarily focused on
developing a force able to meet
21st-century security challenges.
In releasing the MOC on Sept. 27,
Neller said, “This is more about how
we will operate … against a future
adversary,” and the capacity, capabilities and skill sets
that will be required for that new security environment.
Although there is an extensive discussion of technol-
ogy, organization and operational concepts in the for-
ward, the commandant also recognized the brutal nature
of war and the Corps’ traditional reliance on its people.
“The profession of arms is unforgiving; mistakes are
paid for in blood and incompetence can lead to catastrophic defeat. When we fight, we must win. There is
no alternative,” he said.
“Even in a world of ever-increasing technology, we
must continue to provide combat formations capable
of closing with and destroying the enemy. This imper-
ative drives us to demand physical toughness and
resilience in our Marines and Sailors, and expect their
brilliance in the fundamentals of warfighting.”
In presenting the MOC to assembled Marines at
Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Neller assured them
Marine Corps launches, tests concept for operating against
future adversaries in the new security environment
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
The Way Forward
After 15 years of fighting a low-tech insurgency, the new “Marine
Corps Operating Concept” (MOC) intends to re-examine the service’s organization, training and warfighting tactics, and make the
changes necessary to fight an adversary with electronic warfare
and sophisticated technological capabilities.
n The MOC expands the traditional concepts of both maneuver
warfare and combined arms by adding cyber and information
n It also envisions new concepts of expeditionary operations
including widely distributed, self-reliant fighting units and the use
of Marine landing forces to help the Navy counter the anti-access,
n A multiyear series of experiments and exercises called Sea
Dragon will be conducted to develop the technologies, organizations and operating concepts needed to meet the MOC’s goals.