One of the “critical tasks” listed in the MOC focused
on the Marine Corps’ role in sea control and power
projection. It said: “The Naval force can draw on the
combat power of afloat Marine forces to support mar-
itime security by contributing force protection, ISR
[intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], fires.
… Marine forces can also support sea control through
anti-surface warfare missions and counter-fast attack
The MOC also proposes Marine landing forces
establish expeditionary advanced operating bases “for
offensive actions in support of sea control,” which
could include anti-ship strikes with land-based artil-
lery, multi-launch rocket systems or the short-takeoff,
“So the fundamental premise is that we’re going to
fight in an integrated battlespace,” Berry said. Because
of the increased range and precision of land-based
threats to access to the littorals, “you can’t today think
about war at sea without thinking about that,” he said.
“What comes from that, if we have to worry about
threats from land, we need to fight more cohesively.
There is no seam,” he said.
A key operational element of LOCE (pronounced
“low key”) is the Littoral Combat Group, merging
the standard ARG/MEU and other components “as
a cohesive entity,” Berry said. Although the Littoral
Combat Group appears similar to an earlier command,
called the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), Berry said
the writers concluded that title “suggests a certain
mission set, offensive operations,” which “implies
a very time-limited entity. So we came up with the
Littoral Combat Group, an organization that you would
want to persist in a combat operation.”
An initiative started by U.S. Pacific Command and
U.S. Seventh Fleet is developing a similar organization,
called the “up-gunned” ARG/MEU.
The Littoral Combat Group would have a one- or
maybe two-star Navy commander.
“The reason we said Navy was because of the sea
control aspect. ESG could have been either Navy or
Marine. But that was when we had presumptive maritime superiority, and didn’t have to worry so much
about that. When you have worry about sea control, it
makes sense to have a Sailor in command,” Berry said.
The Littoral Combat Group would be scalable to
match the situation, which is one of the reasons for a
flag officer in command.
“Many times in the past, in an ARG/MEU in crisis
response, they usually get there first because they’re
nearby. But then as the thing expands to a joint task
force, suddenly somebody says, ‘if you’re going to call
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 18 SEAPOWER JUNE 2017
U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa provide security as team members insert from an
MV-22B Osprey during an alert force drill at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Oct. 20. Part of the guidance the authors of the new Littoral Operations in
a Contested Environment received was to consider that the environment for future operations, such as noncombatant evacuation or humanitarian
assistance missions, may be uncertain or openly hostile.