Marine Corps Commandant Neller offers some amazing views of future combat as reported in a Marine Times article. (1)
“… the next fight will be far more complex and deadly than the campaigns in
and Iraq that have
shaped the force and its leadership over the past 16 years. Afghanistan
“I don’t think the next fight is going to be a stability op/counterinsurgency: It’s going to be a violent, violent fight,” Neller said …”
Neller is saying the right thing but his actions, meaning the acquisitions the Marines are pursuing, the developmental path they are on, and the doctrine/tactics they are pursuing, all indicate the wrong things. There is a mismatch between his words and the Corps’ actions. Despite the Nellers verbal recognition of where the Corps needs to be, the reality doesn’t match. Even Neller acknowledges this.
“In June, Neller told Congress that, right now, the Marine Corps is “not currently organized, trained and equipped to face a peer adversary in the year 2025.”
Further indicative of the mismatch between words and actions is Neller’s assessment of the strength of the Marines.
““The center of gravity that we have to protect is the network, and the network is dependent on space.”
“The opening salvos of future wars will likely be fired in space, Neller believes.”
Neller fails to grasp that future peer warfare will be incredibly brutal and violent and victory will go the side that can muster and apply the most explosives. In contrast, Neller believes that victory will go to the side with the best network. Ironically, he also acknowledges that space will be contested and compromised which means the network will fail and yet he believes this failure prone construct is the Marine’s center of gravity! Unbelievable.
Consider further … Neller claims to see a “violent, violent fight” as the future of combat but the Marines are shedding tanks, artillery, and heavy vehicles, leaving tanks out of MEU/ARG loadings, emphasizing aviation, pursuing battlefield lightness over armor, and becoming a light infantry force. How is that preparing for a “violent, violent fight”? There’s a mismatch between words and actions.
Neller needs to heed his own words, end the mismatch, and start preparing the Marines to fight and win a “violent, violent fight”.
(1) Marine Times website, “The Next Fight: The commandant is pushing the Corps to be ready for a ‘violent, violent fight’”, Jeff Schogol,