The Navy and Marine Corps are working through their respective emerging operational concepts for high-end warfare and have developed a “Maritime Fight” plan that outlines how applying the concepts of Distribute Maritime Operations (DMO) and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) would play out in actual operations, and how the naval force in partnership with its Marine Corps counterpart would distribute and concentrate power within an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environment. While not a finished product, this strategic change is designed to help the United States maintain its competitive advantage among the emerging global threats of the 21st century.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps’ “Commandant’s Planning Guide” and the Chief of Naval Operations’ “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0” have sent a strong signal that the Navy and Marine Corps must adjust their strategy to be successful in the high-end fight today and into the future. This guidance reaffirms the Navy and Marine Corps’ commitment to a partnership and unified approach to combating our adversaries in the maritime domain. Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE), and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) places a new emphasis on dynamic force employment, agility, and disaggregated operations. This new strategy will have a significant impact on our force structure, future technologies, weapons, and warfighting techniques, tactics, and procedures. Additionally, this strategic guidance has refocused the U.S. government and the strategic studies community on the new challenges of maintaining maritime battlespace dominance in contemporary and future A2/AD environments. What could this strategic shift look like in practice? Will this new strategy set us up to be in a position to defend ourselves (if required) against pacing threats? Only time will tell….