The Internal War in The Marine Corps

Marine Corps / Public Domain

It is almost unheard of for retired Marine Corps general officers to criticize the policies of the sitting commandant, but three have recently done so. They joined Former Navy Secretary James Webb in criticizing Gen. David Berger’s Force Design 2030 plan to revamp the Corps’ warfighting strategy. Retired Gens. Charles Krulak (a former commandant himself), Jack Sheehan and Anthony Zinni penned an April 22 editorial in The Washington Post criticizing the new strategic vision. They appear to speak for a much larger group of retired general officers.

This is not a group of reactionary Colonel Blimps; they represent some of the most innovative minds that the Corps has produced in a half century.

Berger’s vision, which he is actively pursuing, is to concentrate the Marine Corps’ attention on China. He hopes to disrupt China’s anti-navy, access denial strategy designed to foil U.S. power projection in that region. The concept calls for having Marine Corps units occupy islands in the South China Sea to counter China’s attempt to dominate that body of water using long-range anti-ship and anti-air missiles.

The intent is to assist the Navy in disrupting the Chinese reconnaissance strike-complex that is designed to deny U.S. naval and Air Force access to the South China Sea. Once that is accomplished, U.S. and allied forces would be able to operate more freely. To buy a new range of capabilities, Berger is divesting the Marine Corps of many of its legacy combat systems. Most notably, he wants to mothball tanks. But also on the chopping block are helicopters and much of the Corps’ tubed artillery, as well as some heavy engineering and logistics assets.


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