Amos: U.S. Need a Robust Crisis Response Force

Meyer: During his tour in Afghanistan.
National Journal
Gen. James F. Amos, Defense One
Sept. 16, 2013, 6:56 a.m.

Our na­tion re­quires a Mar­ine Corps that is ready, for­ward de­ployed and able to re­spond to crisis on a mo­ment’s no­tice. This will not change for the fore­see­able fu­ture, no mat­ter the budget­ary woes our coun­try faces.

Three years ago, the Mar­ine Corps ini­ti­ated a Force Struc­ture Re­view with the mis­sion of re-shap­ing the Mar­ine Corps for the post-Afgh­anistan en­vir­on­ment. This re­view sought to find ways to meet our na­tion­al se­cur­ity re­spons­ib­il­it­ies in a re­source-ef­fi­cient man­ner. Our goal was to provide the most ready, cap­able and cost-ef­fect­ive Mar­ine Corps our na­tion could af­ford. Bal­an­cing the pres­id­ent’s De­fense Stra­tegic Guid­ance with our in­tern­al re­view, we de­signed a force of 186,800 people, which is the op­tim­al-sized Mar­ine Corps, fully ready to meet the ever-in­creas­ing de­mands of the glob­al se­cur­ity en­vir­on­ment.

Four months ago, De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel dir­ec­ted the Stra­tegic Choices and Man­age­ment Re­view ef­fort to bet­ter in­form the De­fense De­part­ment’s pre­par­a­tion for the Quad­ren­ni­al De­fense Re­view. An­ti­cip­at­ing that se­quest­ra­tion would be signed in­to law, in Feb­ru­ary the Corps stood up a work­ing group fo­cused solely on design­ing a fu­ture force op­tim­ized to live with­in our likely re­source con­straints. This ef­fort was in­formed by the real­iz­a­tion that, if faced with a con­tin­ued se­quester, the Mar­ine Corps would have to live with severe budget short­falls that might well threaten its abil­ity to main­tain its edge as the na­tion’s hedge force. Ul­ti­mately, we would build the best force Amer­ica was will­ing to af­ford. As such, the force we have de­signed is sup­port­able with­in a re­duced fisc­al frame­work, but as­sumes great­er risk to our na­tion­al se­cur­ity strategy.

What was our meth­od­o­logy be­hind the pro­cess? Our work­ing group set out with the premise to design a range of pos­sible force struc­tures and sub­ject them to both in­tern­al and ex­tern­al risk ana­lys­is. Aligned with the De­fense Stra­tegic Guid­ance, we wanted a force that was fisc­ally real­ist­ic. Great care was taken to en­sure that both the stra­tegic land­scape and emer­ging threats were prop­erly ac­coun­ted for and bal­anced against force design risks. We had to make sure our meth­od avoided simple lin­ear re­duc­tions of num­bers from our cur­rent planned end state, in or­der to achieve an op­tim­um force design that kept the Mar­ine Corps ready and rel­ev­ant to the se­cur­ity chal­lenges of today and to­mor­row. At the end of the day, we needed to be mod­ern­ized, ready and biased for ac­tion, in­teg­rated in­to the Joint Force struc­ture, ex­ped­i­tion­ary, and right sized, while re­tain­ing our core com­bined arms and am­phi­bi­ous struc­ture and com­pet­en­cies.

What force design op­tim­izes this need, bal­ances risk and is fisc­ally re­spons­ible? Based on the de­tailed plan­ning of our work­ing group, and in con­junc­tion with in­de­pend­ent ana­lys­is, we have de­term­ined that with se­questered budgets a force design of 174,000 is right sized to al­low the Mar­ine Corps to re­main Amer­ica’s crisis re­sponse force (note: this does not ac­count for the 1,000 Mar­ine plus up that Con­gress has dir­ec­ted to our Mar­ine Se­cur­ity Guard Pro­gram). This al­lows us to achieve a high state of read­i­ness, while main­tain­ing for­ward pres­ence as a part of the Navy-Mar­ine Corps team. Ana­lys­is shows that fur­ther re­duc­tions will in­cur heightened and, in some scen­ari­os, pro­hib­it­ive risk to our Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Strategy, and un­ac­cept­able risk to the in­tern­al health of our Corps and its fam­il­ies.

How did we get there? We began by first look­ing at what Mar­ines are do­ing today and then widened our look to in­clude those emer­ging trends that would ul­ti­mately frame the fu­ture op­er­at­ing en­vir­on­ment. Today, Mar­ines are still fight­ing in Afgh­anistan, provid­ing crisis re­sponse in the Middle East, the Afric­an lit­tor­als and the Pa­cific and stand­ing ready to re­spond to Hu­man­it­ari­an As­sist­ance/Dis­aster Re­lief ef­forts around the globe. Today’s Mar­ine Corps also has the cap­ab­il­ity and ca­pa­city to con­duct spe­cial op­er­a­tions and cy­ber war­fare. We see no short­age of de­mand for these cap­ab­il­it­ies in the fu­ture op­er­at­ing en­vir­on­ment. The bot­tom line is we are ask­ing more from our Mar­ines today than at al­most any oth­er point in our his­tory”¦a trend that will likely con­tin­ue and fur­ther bound our fu­ture.

To­mor­row’s Mar­ines will see chal­lenges such as vi­ol­ent ex­trem­ism, battles for in­flu­ence, dis­rupt­ive so­ci­et­al trans­itions, nat­ur­al dis­aster, ex­trem­ist mes­sages and ma­nip­u­lat­ive polit­ics. We will likely see crim­in­al en­ter­prises wield com­bat power once as­so­ci­ated only with states, as well as sep­ar­at­ism, ex­trem­ism and in­tol­er­ance that lead to ter­ror­ism, protests and vi­ol­ence. We will see new tech­no­lo­gies place mod­ern weapons in­to the hands of de­vel­op­ing states and non-state act­ors while the de­vel­op­ment and pro­lif­er­a­tion of ad­vanced con­ven­tion­al weapons chal­lenges our abil­ity to pro­ject power or gain ac­cess. In this se­cur­ity con­ver­gence it will be the for­ward in­flu­ence, stra­tegic mo­bil­ity, ef­fect­ive power pro­jec­tion and rap­id re­sponse cap­ab­il­it­ies Mar­ines are known for today that will define those min­im­um at­trib­utes that must en­dure and frame our fu­ture force design. We must main­tain a force that can bal­ance an in­creas­ing fo­cus in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, while sus­tain­ing an ever-watch­ful eye on the Middle East and Afric­an Lit­tor­al areas. Amer­ica’s Mar­ines must be po­si­tioned for­ward to counter vi­ol­ent ex­trem­ists op­er­at­ing across mul­tiple do­mains.

The Mar­ine Corps has faced this chal­lenge be­fore. As was the case in the past, our man­power and in­vest­ments fluc­tu­ated with the on­set and con­clu­sion of wars. We are head­ing down a sim­il­ar path today. As our na­tion re­duces its over­seas forces, there re­mains a heightened re­quire­ment for a very cap­able crisis re­sponse force, one that can de­ploy any­where quickly, provide a vari­ety of re­sponse op­tions, a force that can buy time for na­tion­al de­cision-makers when the need arises. The Mar­ine Corps is, and will con­tin­ue to be, the an­swer to this need. This is what we do”¦this is who we are!

Gen. James F. Amos is com­mand­ant of the Mar­ine Corps and a mem­ber of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

What We're Following See More »
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE TO FILL IN
Wasserman Schultz Won’t Gavel Open the Convention
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.

Source:
SUPPORTERS’ RALLY
Sanders Supporters Boo When He Mentions Clinton-Kaine
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

Source:
ALL EYES ON RUSSIANS
FBI Investigating DNC Hack
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."

Source:
NEED 300 DELEGATE SIGNATURES
Sanders Delegates Threaten to Challenge Kaine Pick
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."

Source:
JOHNSON PULLING 26%
A Three-Way Race in Utah?
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.

Source:
×