Photo Information

Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn hosted a round table conference aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Feb. 23, 2011. During the conference Flynn opened with his beginning statements and later allowed for questions about the Marine Corps force structure review and the future of the Corps.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne

Corps trims down to ‘middleweight’

2 Mar 2011 | Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne

 The Marine Corps is changing, and while focused on operations in Afghanistan, senior leadership must balance the Corps’ future missions with today’s uncertain battle space. 

Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, recently held a media event to talk about the 2010 Force Structure Review.

In September 2010, the Marine Corps formed the Force Structure Review Group to develop the organization, posture and capabilities of the Marine Corps and its role within the joint force in a fiscally constrained, post-Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan environment.

The Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been briefed on the Marine Corp’s Force Structure Review and has confirmed the role of the Marine Corps in the future operating environment.

Gates’ guidance to the Marine Corps, as outlined in his San Francisco Speech Aug. 12, 2010, that informed the Force Structure Review process was “to be at the ‘tip of the spear’ in the future, when the U.S. military is likely to confront a range of irregular and hybrid conflicts.” Furthermore, that the “the maritime soul of the Marine Corps needs to be preserved.”

Flynn discussed how the re-shaping of the Marine Corps reflects our historic role as the nation’s crisis response force and provides unique capabilities to the joint force in terms readiness, adaptability, flexibility and utility at an affordable cost.  

Some of the Force Structure Review recommendations are:

-          A reduction in force structure from 202,000 to 186,800 when conditions in Afghanistan warrant

-          Reduction in ground combat forces, to include a reduction in infantry (regimental headquarters from eight to seven; infantry battalions from 27-24); a reduction in cannon artillery battalions (nine to seven; but a reorganization of batteries to support distributed operations), and a reduction in armor (10 companies to 8)

-          Increasing unit readiness within the operating forces by ensuring 99 percent manning of enlisted billets and 95 percent manning of officer billets

-          Aligning five joint task force capable, regionally-focused Marine Expeditionary Brigade command elements that are habitually aligned subordinate elements to improve ground combat effectiveness and speed of response

-          Increase cyber structure by 67 percent for cyber network defense, exploitation and attack operations by augmenting our communication and radio battalions, and by increasing the structure of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command

-          Strengthening the capabilities of Marine Special Operations Command through a 44 percent  increase in critical combat support and combat service support Marines

Flynn stressed the Corps’ near-term priority remains operations in Afghanistan.

“We’re not going to go down in force structure until after our commitment in Afghanistan has come down,” Flynn said.

He said that some force structure changes do not impact those operations and are already underway, especially with respect to the command, aviation combat, and logistics combat elements, to include the reserve component. 

 Flynn also said the commandant of the Marine Corps made it clear that “one of the key parts to a reduction is to keep the faith of our Marines, their families and our civilian Marines.”

What’s next is a thorough doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel facilities and cost (DOTMLPF/C) review and assessment before finalizing the Force Structure Review.  The results of the DOTMLPF/C analysis is scheduled to be available in July.

Headquarters Marine Corps