Expeditionary Warfare


            In World War II, the United States faced near-peer opponents on multiple fronts. To counter Imperial Japan’s aggression in the Pacific, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy launched a joint expeditionary campaign. The Navy’s fleets captured objectives by sea while the Marine Corps seized ground by amphibious force in an aggressive island-hopping campaign.  Today, the United States faces a similar threat from near-peer adversaries China and Russia. A modern approach to the World War II Pacific campaign will be necessary to form a joint effort between the Marine Corps and the Navy to adequately respond to these threats.  In recognition of this threat and the challenges surrounding it, on February 2nd and 3rd, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) brought together representatives from the military, government, and industry to its virtual Expeditionary Warfare Conference.

            Navy Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer’s remarks focused on objectives in the Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operation (DMO) plan.  The concept of the DMO is essential for the Navy and Marine Corps to jointly conduct enduring sea control and power projection missions.  Vice Admiral Sawyer began stating, “the sea control and power projection mission hasn’t changed in 200 years, but the way we do it today has.”  The concept of using the Navy and Marine Corps to position themselves to capture ground from the enemy remains the focus, but the methodology will be different.  A modern conflict with Russia and China will fight in multiple domains taking advantage of innovations in artificial intelligence, microelectronics, and cybersecurity. The fleets must develop ships, weapons, and systems capable of functioning under the assumption that all domains are contested and train accordingly.  The maritime defense industry's readiness and shipbuilding capabilities must reflect the requirements of the sailors it supports and the capacity of a more extensive, hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms in coordination with Marine expeditionary teams.

            The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Berger, underlined the Marine Corps' need to modernize.  The Marine Corps that deployed to the Middle East will not be the same as the Marine Corps needed to fight Russia and/or China.  To only improve legacy systems and repurpose existing equipment will be futile and irresponsible, he said.  A modern force will need an advanced command and control architecture capable of striking across many platforms.   The Marine Corps will rely on industry assistance to creatively equip Marines as the biggest demands are long-range fires and amphibious warships.  Ground-based anti-ship missiles (GBASM) equipped with sensors capable of tracking adversaries will allow Marine ground forces to move and seize ground from the enemy.  A lighter, faster amphibious warship capable of operating manned and unmanned will add to the speed and mobility necessary to win.  The Marine Corps welcomes collaboration with industry to best train forces, modernize equipment, and implement technology to be the tip of the spear in any conflict.

            The Marines and Navy both had similar requests from both the government and industry to help support their needs moving forward.  Both branches are optimistic with budget language that supports force design from Congress. However, the Navy and Marines are willing to communicate with Congress the need for more funding for future shipbuilding plans, microelectronics, and an interconnected platforms capable of functioning across multiple domains.  To field the new equipment and technologies, the Navy and Marines emphasized the need for a more effective acquisition process. The services can no longer afford to field equipment and technologies that are obsolete by the time they make it to the fleet. Collaboration between the government, industry, and the military will be important as our adversaries are not waiting in their drive to counter US capabilities. 

            NDIA is proud to host the Expeditionary Warfare Conference to open lines of communication between government, industry, and the military to ensure the warfighter is best armed to face any adversary.  For more on upcoming events, feel free to join on NDIA Connect or NDIA.org.

Topics: Expeditionary Warfare

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