Into the Pacific Expanse: Focusing the USMC on the Pivot

  • September 01, 2014
  • Lieutenant Colonel Giles R. Boyce

This paper examines the roles and missions of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) within the Asia-Pacific as part of the Department of Defense and U.S. government rebalance towards this important region. It briefly describes the growing importance of the region, the complex and dynamic geo-political environment and postulates a number of illustrated scenarios or vignettes to frame the strategic and operational context for likely USMC missions. Next, the paper assesses the capabilities and roles of the other services within existing concepts (Joint Operational Access Concept, Air-Sea Battle, and the Army’s Pacific Pathways concept) and divines the niche capability or “sweet spot” uniquely suitable for the USMC. The paper argues that the USMC should focus on the development and employment of company and battalion sized expeditionary units to meet the related likely contingencies while also focusing on developing a force generation model that assembles a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) for larger more deliberate forced entry operations as part of a larger joint task force. It concludes with recommendations on how to better focus USMC company and battalion force development efforts on USMC “sweet spot” capabilities.