Marine Corps updates operational vision
to address technology, global security complexities
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
The Marine Corps is refreshing its Expeditionary Force 21 concept
under a new theme of “Naval — Expeditionary — Agile — Lethal.”
n The Corps also is developing a “Force 2025” plan to produce
a “balanced” Marine Air-Ground Task Force in the naval forces
within a Joint Task Force.
Accompanying the new EF21,
Walsh said the Corps is developing
a “Force 2025” plan to produce
a “balanced” Marine Air-Ground
Task Force (MAGTF) in the naval
forces within a Joint Task Force.
n A crucial tool for achieving the four themes of the new
Expeditionary Force 21 will be an updated sea base that will incorporate alternative platforms.
“We will evolve the MAGTF to
operate in the 21st century,” he said
at the forum.
n The alternative platforms will help mitigate a shortage of traditional amphibious warships.
That future MAGTF will include
organizations and Marines with
much greater capabilities to use
informant as “a weapon” by combining cyber, electronic warfare and
psychological operations with traditional kinetic power.
Just two years after issuing its bold operation- al vision for the future, Expeditionary Force 21 (EF21), the Marine Corps is preparing a
“refresh” of that document, a reflection of the rapid
changes in technology and the complex global security
environment confronting the Corps today.
“It’s not all about operating in
the kinetic, it’s also operating in the cognitive area,”
Walsh said. “How can we out-think our enemy? Process
information quickly? Get it down to the lowest level and
make quick, accurate decisions on the battlefield?”
A “big driver” of the EF21 refresh, he said, “is the
complexity of the world today.”
The updated EF21 is expected to be revealed at the
Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition in May. But Lt.
Gen. Robert S. Walsh, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration, offered some hints
of its direction at a March 31 Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS) forum.
Walsh noted the wide range of missions being performed by deployed Marine units, including its two
Special Purpose MAGTFs for Europe-Africa and for
“Another thing we face is, technology is increasing
so fast,” he said.
While the original EF21, released March 4, 2014,
proclaimed the Corps was “Forward and Ready: Now
and in the Future,” Walsh said the refreshed document’s theme was: “Naval — Expeditionary — Agile
That not only affects what systems the U.S. military
has, but what potential adversaries can bring against it.
Those words illustrate a major thrust of the Corps’
current focus — to return to its naval and expeditionary roots after a decade-plus of ground warfare in Iraq
and Afghanistan, and to join the surface navy in its
quest for “distributed lethality” to maximize the combat power of a smaller force.
A crucial tool for achieving the four themes of
the new EF21 will be an updated “sea base,” which
will incorporate a number of “alternative platforms”
— civilian-manned supply and auxiliary ships — to
compensate for a shortage of traditional amphibious
“We’re never going to have enough amphibs to meet
the needs, the geographic combatant commanders’
[CoComs’] needs,” said Col. James C. Brennan, direc-
28 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016