PENTAGON – The US Marine Corps is updating its plans to design forces for 2030, with a stronger focus on intelligence / counterintelligence competition as the basis for mortality, the commander said.

General David Burger told reporters on May 5 that the original Force Design 2030 focused heavily on the lethality of small, deployed Marines – whether they were launching anti-ship missiles around island chains, jamming or dropping planes, or even detecting and firing submarines. passing through suffocating points.

But when asked by Defense News what he was more confident about now than a year ago, Berger said none of these deadly effects mattered if the Marines could not effectively see and hide from the enemy.

“Although we started three years ago, strongly focused on mortality, which remains important, now the importance of the concealer / searcher, intelligence / counterintelligence, screening / counterintelligence comes to the fore, whatever term you want to use – the importance of winning in advance and always, “Berger said.

“It doesn’t diminish the importance of mortality, but you can’t use mortality if you can’t find them. Or, to put it another way, if you are so big and fat, immobile and vulnerable to their sensors, all the mortality in the world will not help you. So winning the first part and staying with it “has become an increasingly important aspect of Force Design 2030’s modernization priorities as the service repeats itself.

In an update to Force Design 2030, released on May 9, Berger wrote that “the security environment is characterized by the proliferation of sophisticated sensors and precision weapons, combined with growing strategic competition.”

A new concept of reserve forces “describes the ways in which Marines will deliberately disrupt the plans of these potential adversaries and defines Reserve Forces (SIFs) as small but deadly forces designed to operate in a continuum of competition within a contested area as a front end.” of deep-sea defense, “he continued. “SIF’s ongoing function is to help the Navy and the Joint Forces win the Intelligence and Counterintelligence (RXR) battle at any point on the competition continuum.

Berger first released a Commander Planning Guide in July 2019, paving the way for Force Design 2030, which was launched in March 2020 and then updated in April 2021 and again this month.

At a roundtable on May 6 with reporters, the leadership behind the experimentation and development of Force Design 2030 explained the new focus on sensors as a means of ensuring mortality.

The commander of the Marine Corps Combat Laboratory, Major General Benjamin Watson, told Defense News that “we are not deviating from lethality at all,” but “looking at the growing range of weapons not only on the future battlefield, but today, you must.” you can feel the goal before you can get involved. ”

The Marine Corps doesn’t want to rely on inorganic sensors – sensors from larger units elsewhere in the theater, U.S. Navy ships, or even satellites or other sensors in the Joint Forces – so small distributed units of Marines deploy plans. they must be able to see farther than they can shoot, and include inorganic sensory capabilities as something good to have, not something they depend on.

The goal, Watson said, is “to develop a balanced portfolio of opportunities so that when we try to close murder chains against a modern adversary with multiple domains, we have a full set of tools.”

Major General Eric Austin, director of the Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate, told reporters that small deployed units also need sustainable communication routes to use this targeting data, both for their own weapons and for their own weapons. and to share with the joint forces.

Through the last few years of experimenting in support of Force Design 2030, “we find that there is real value in our ability to feel and communicate what we come with to a wider force.”

Lt. Gen. Carsten Haeckle, the Marine’s deputy commander for combat development and integration, noted that signature management is the other side of the coin in the hide-and-seek battle with an adversary. He said unit commanders should practice working with a reduced signature, so the enemy should work harder to spot and direct them, although sensors are growing in capacity and quantity.

The updated Force Design 2030 plans continue to invest in lethality, with a particular focus on wandering ammunition and other technologies that can add scope and precision to what infantry and artillery communities use today.

Berger said the Marine Corps mainly revolves around its three Marine Expeditionary Forces, which are organized around its infantry – and that hasn’t changed according to Force Design 2030. What has changed is the idea of ​​how those forces can to contribute to the combined armaments of the 21st century battle and the set of tools that will have to find, approach and destroy enemy forces.

Austin said the Corps was “making significant investments” in two types of wandering ammunition: in the near future, the service will purchase more technologically advanced weapons that can be used in a joint light tactical vehicle and light armored vehicle – and perhaps future unmanned aerial vehicles – to meet the requirement for “organic precision fires – installed”.

Later, the Marines wanted stray munitions in a smaller form factor that could be carried by infantry on foot.

“We absolutely plan to distribute stray ammunition in significant quantities and capabilities, organic for infantry battalions and light armored reconnaissance battalions and elsewhere in the Marine Corps,” Austin said.

Watson noted in the invitation that the investment was intended to provide ground forces with more opportunities than to replace existing weapons or the Marines operating them.

Today, he said, mortars have short range and lack precision, which makes them more useful for suppressing incoming fire than for hitting accurate targets – but they are also reliable in all weather conditions. Wandering munitions have the range and precision that Marines want, but today they are still vulnerable to jamming and bad weather.

Watson said further experiments would help clarify the right balance between mortars and moving munitions, but said the Marines were convinced they needed both.

He also noted that ammunition wandering technology is evolving rapidly and the Marines need to remain flexible to introduce the best available technology, rather than committing to a system through a long-term contract that does not keep Marines competitive today. battlefield .

Austin said the Force Design 2030 update includes a mandate from Berger to take a comprehensive look at Marine Fires, identify gaps in the changes made in recent years, and then aggressively find the resources to fill those gaps.

Berger said the 2022 update shows that the Marines are committed to in-depth testing of new concepts and ideas, collecting data and repeating and changing course if necessary, based on evidence.

“This is factual; there is no emotion, no hypothesis, “he said of the updated plan.

Lessons learned from the ongoing war in Ukraine, changes in China’s investments in the People’s Liberation Army fleet and even the evolution of the battlefield – including the proliferation of space and ground sensors – are driving data for Force Design, Berger said, but nothing he saw. , did not make him doubt the general path of the Marines.

“Everything we know from our understanding of the environment today and in the future, and the technology and the vector that the PLAN is aimed at – which is our challenge for the pace, not the most likely challenge, but the challenge – it all guides us in this direction, “he said.

Megan Eckstein is a Navy War reporter for Defense News. It covers military news from 2009 with a focus on US Navy and Marine operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is a graduate of the University of Maryland.

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