NAVY, MARINE CORPS WORK ON CONCEPT
FOR INTEGRATED LITTORAL BATTLESPACE
BY OTTO KREISHER, SEAPOWER CORRESPONDENT
Two of the naval services’ top forward-looking organizations have combined to
draft a new concept for naval operations
in the world’s trouble-prone littoral areas,
which proposes creating a new operational
command that tightly combines Navy and
Marine Corps elements and capabilities to
be able to fight at sea, from the sea and
from land to the sea.
The emerging document — Littoral Operations in
a Contested Environment (LOCE) — was crafted by
experts from the Navy Warfare Development Command
(NWDC) and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory
(MCWL) under the direction of three-star Navy and
Marine Corps leaders, and with close monitoring by
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson
and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller.
A major proposal in the concept is creation of a
Littoral Combat Group, a new formation combining
a traditional Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) with a number of surface
warships, a mine countermeasures company from
the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command and other
enabling elements, said John Berry, director of the
Combat Development branch at MCWL and one of the
A motivating factor in the decision to develop the
concept, which came out of the June 2015 Navy-Marine
Warfighter Talks, was the recognition that U.S. naval
forces no longer could count on the assured con-
Cold War. That means the two services had to better
integrate their capabilities to be able to project power
through contested littoral waters.
“Existing doctrine on the subject did not reflect
changes in technologies, nor the tactics of modern
forces operating in contested littoral areas,” said a
March 15 joint NWDC-MCWL statement.
“One of the concept’s objectives is to examine
Marine Corps integration into Navy composite warfare
commander doctrine and investigate other methods for
incorporating Marine Corps capabilities into the sea
control mission,” the joint statement said.
Berry, a retired Marine infantry officer, said he and
his co-writer, then-Cmdr. Mark Coffman from NWDC,
sat in on the warfighter discussions and got their
guidance straight from the services’ top leaders.
“It was really enlightening to hear that unity of
effort among the senior leaders of the Navy and Marine
Corps,” Berry said in an interview at MCWL.
Part of the guidance they received was: “We should
consider the permissive environment that we’ve
enjoyed since the end of the Cold War no longer pertains. It’s either going to be uncertain, or openly
hostile,” Berry said.
“In many ways, the uncertain is more problematic
than the hostile,” he said. If forces go into a noncom-
batant evacuation or humanitarian assistance mission
expecting no opposition, “you’re ceding that potential
The writers also were directed to “do a capabilities
analysis around the 2020-2025 time frame,” based on
two scenarios: crisis responses in an uncertain envi-
ronment and in an openly hostile environment.
The analysis was to determine what Navy and
Marine capabilities “you need to mix and match to deal
with that threat,” then find the proper organization
and the command and control architecture to conduct
those missions, Berry said.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 16 SEAPOWER JUNE 2017
SPECIAL REPORT: LITTORAL & BROWN WATER OPS