Marine Corps returns to its amphibious 'wheelhouse'

30 Jun 2014 | Terri Moon Cronk Headquarters Marine Corps

After more than a decade of land-based combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marine Corps' new Expeditionary Force 21 doctrine is returning the service to its amphibious roots, a senior Marine Corps official told said June 27. 

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration and the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command told reporters the new doctrine provides "the right force in the right place at the right time."

The 45-page plan charts a course over the next 10 years to deploy Marine units up to expeditionary brigade-size for combat or humanitarian missions.

"We're taking our forward station of fully deployed forces that will be closest to crisis and provide that combatant commander with those forces as quickly as possible [to] give him the options to build the force that he needs," Glueck said.

Primarily an amphibious operation, Expeditionary Force 21 will comprise a sea-based "family of systems" amounting to a force multiplying effect.

"{The force] is not just going to be amphibious warships -- it's going to have flat-bottom hulls that will give us the capability to do at-sea assembly and transfer of capabilities at sea," Glueck said.

For example, he said, a fully-loaded logistics ship can be selectively off-loaded at the capability needed and the equipment then can be transferred at sea onto a connector or Landing Craft Air Cushion, a high-speed, over-the-beach fully amphibious vehicle.

"It [will] give you that step forward and the opportunity to be there quickly to bring some command and control, some organization, to any crisis and be able to set up and be prepared to receive forces," he said. "I look at it as a great opportunity for the challenges to move forward, and this is right there in our wheelhouse."

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos has described the reconfigured force as being able to meet the coming challenges in a future of evolving and complex security environments.

"The intent is not to go force-on-force. It's to find those seams and gaps," Glueck said. "We want to put strength against weakness, so the capability is going to create ... a dilemma the enemy is not going to be able to keep up with."
Headquarters Marine Corps