The Threat that Informs the Design
We are redesigning the Corps because current and future threats call for a significantly more capable force, with new operating concepts.
Advancements in sensors, signal processing, and machine learning, coupled with robotic applications, will give rise to new use cases for autonomous systems. Even undercapitalized collections of people can use relatively inexpensive and risk-worthy drones and loitering munitions to conduct effective intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; strike; and command and control within a contested airspace to counter armor and mechanized units.
Potential adversaries are building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains, enabling them to impose their will on others. Contested norms and persistent disorder confrontations will likely become violent and will include competition below the threshold of traditional armed conflict.
Future adversaries use ground-based, long-range, precision anti-surface and air defense system – integrated with air, maritime, cyberspace, and space strike capabilities – to deny forces access to the conflict zone.
If entry is achieved, enemy extended range, massed fires, augmented with precision munitions engaging in high payoff targets, challenge traditional large-scale land assembly, maneuver, and sustainment.
The reach of modern stand-off weapons like hypersonic glide vehicles and associated targeting systems are so great that Marines will constantly operate under threat rings of these systems; they will not be guaranteed freedom of movement without the enemy’s cognizance. Near-peer states will have an anti-access/area-denial capability, but numerous adversaries will also have at least some capabilities to challenge US operational access.
Implications for Marines:
Marine formations must operate within the adversary's weapons engagement zone and under technical surveillance that is ubiquitous in nature. Smaller and lighter units of action must be capable of disaggregated reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance operations.