Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Gazette Article

My latest article came out today in the Marine Corps Gazette and can be found here.

The first paragraph is below, the rest can be found at the link, along with a list of references.

A decade of war has focused Marines’ minds on insurgency, culture, and the permutations of modern irregular warfare, but the Nation’s greatest strategic threats lurk between the lines of economic stories from the developing world and just beyond the future years defense program. The debate over the future of the Marine Corps is shaped largely by our recent history and attractive concepts, such as fourth-generation warfare.1 While tactics and technology are important, they must be predicated upon a strategic understanding of the world and states’ policy goals within it in order to be successful. The dominant feature of today’s strategic environment is socioeconomic transformation in the developing world and concomitant change in the world’s power structure.2 This transformation will prevail over most of this century, affecting patterns of warfare in all intensities. America, still the clearly predominant power, is seeing its relative advantage over other states decline. The Marine Corps, in concert with the Navy, must orient itself on the rising poles of economic and military power in the Indo-Pacific theater, with the primary tasks of securing this economic center’s vital littoral and maritime lines of communications and acting as a credible and sustainable deterrent force against hostile actions by regional powers, particularly China.


  1. Nice article. But after the EFV and Osprey, you don't really think that the Marines will actually be the poster child for frugality in the future, do you? You've accurately identified the problems with the nation's national security approach, but to think the USMC can somehow achieve any separation isn't very realistic.

  2. Publius, Concur in a way. Add to your list of our acquisition nightmares the STOVL variant of JSF. We are not good at acquisition or new programs, and our claim to frugality isn't quite as strong as we'd like to think because we glom on other people's R&D, NRE, and other big dollar training, facilities, medical care, etc. However, we do have a culture of frugality that is stronger than the other services. I'm arguing to channel that in a productive rather than self-destructive way. Will we be the poster child? Probably not. Could we with more intelligent programmatic leadership, I think so.

  3. I'm in the Hilton Head/Beaufort area, where the city fathers are all excited about the F35B. Tons of new construction planned at the air station, yada yada yada, which of course translates to jobs.

    We military dudes don't have the heart to tell these excited civilians that the acquisition risk and budget issues may well doom the "B" variant, but that things will work out OK if the Corps buys the "A" variant. Which they likely will, because they'll have little choice.

    The real scary scenario is if the F35 is killed. Could happen. This country is in deep shit. It'll be in even deeper if it can't break the addiction to foreign wars. I suspect you guys in this generation of military lifers are going to learn some hard truths in the next few years. And it'll be all about money.

  4. The U.S. needs the F35. The USMC could get by without, in my opinion. We need to focus on operating independently at lower ends of the threat matrix, and rely on joint at higher.

    Us "guys in [my] generation of military lifers" mostly already gets the "hard truths." Unfortunately, we're not the ones making the decisions about money, strategy, or operations. To a man, my peers and subordinates are angry, desperate, and exasperated with the waste and stupidity. Lots of anger. Lots and lots of anger and for good reason. When I look around at my seniors in the U.S. in general, I really have a lot of anger at the position they are putting us in and the hubris with which they have done so.