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Oct. 12, 2021

The Future of the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps with Colonel Daniel Whitley

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On this episode of VANC’sSoCal Military News and Viewspodcast, your host Mike Walsh, speaks with Colonel Daniel M. Whitley, who shares insight on the future of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon recipient Colonel Daniel M. Whitley has served in the Marines since 1997. Originally an artillery officer, he spent time recruiting, serving on a tour in the Pentagon, and training with the Navy at the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific, before he became the Commanding Officer of the Headquarters and Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton. He recently spoke at VANC’s Monday meeting, which occurs on the first Monday of every month. He and Mike talk about the future posture that the Marines and Navy are implementing, which emphasizes Lethality, Mobility, Resiliency, Joint Force Enablers, and Talent Management.

An Overview of Design Force 2030

As the military looks ahead to adapt to the changing landscape and meet major global threats like Russia and China, the Marine Corps and Navy are transitioning from low-intensity conflict and counter-insurgency operations to rapid force projection and deterrence against peer threats. According to Colonel Whitley, the question to ask is “What are the things that we can do to buy down risk should we go to full-scale conflict, or to potentially provide off-ramps to escalation, so we don't go to full-scale conflict?”

In 2019 in the Design Force 2030 proposal, the Commandant laid out his vision for what the future Marine Corps should look like in order to fight and win against any adversaries. According to Colonel Whitley, the proposal “is probably one of the most revolutionary documents we've seen—at least in my time in the Marine Corps.” This document details an integrated, adaptive solution for maritime warfare. One of the key elements in it is that the Marine Corps will go out and seize key maritime terrain in support of the Navy. “Now, you have green in support of blue, not vice-versa, so that’s a paradigm shift for us,” Marine Colonel Whitley says.

This requires developing a fighting force that will be resilient enough to survive within the enemies’ weapon engagement zone and be able to decisively respond in that engagement zone in support of the Navy. Because maritime routes are within these engagement zones, part of the Marines’ response will ensure that the Navy can fight to keep these routes between ports open. This requires the Marine Corps to develop organic capabilities such as weather sensors, platforms, and widgets, so the force becomes even more lethal and adaptive. Thus, some areas of the Marine Corps will be disbanded or restructured. For example, the Marines are replacing their conventional artillery systems with rockets, missiles, and other weapons in order to supplement their long-range weapons capabilities.

Additionally, cyber-operations are taking on a new importance, as our enemies are scaling their own cyber-operations. With cyber-ops, military forces have a “non-kinetic means of imposing your will on the enemy or conducting influence operations.” Thus, units will be restructured and revitalized in order to engage in these fields more effectively.

While aspects of the Marine Corps will be replaced with technology, they will continue to pursue their core mission tasks, which include mobilizing a forward presence, providing forcible-entry capabilities, implementing crisis response, and providing humanitarian assistance. They will also adopt and create Navy-Marine Corps joint doctrine which will include additional tasks, such as distributed maritime operations, expeditionary advance operations, and littoral operations in a contested environment. Hence, some Marine Corps units will have different titles and incorporate different structures and tasks. Some of the units that are fully deployed in the Pacific will be transitioned to Marine Corps littoral regiments, which will be capable of operating in a maritime environment and providing Naval support. These units will have infantry, air defense, and logistics battalions, and will also have lift capabilities at their disposal, including surface vessels that will be jointly manned by Sailors and Marines.

In order to better prepare incoming Marines, the Marine Corps will also adjust initial entry training. Regardless of Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Marines are first trained at the Marine School of Infantry. Originally a 14-week course, the infantry program will be lengthened to a 21-week course, so that Marines receive more intense training in sensors, amphibious operations, small boat training, and more.

As of now, much of their regular training occurs at 29 Palms in the Mojave Desert. In order to improve their training quality, they are not only seeking more training venues, they will transition to more virtual training to simulate the various situations Marines will face. They will also be implementing new ways to integrate Navy-Marine Corps training, which will further the mission that is laid out in the Force Design 2030 document.

Certainly, whether they are at Camp Pendleton or anywhere in the world, the Marines are dedicated to their mission as they move forward to engage threats in an ever-changing world.

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Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting