Monday, October 16, 2017

Neller's Mismatch

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 Iraq and Afghanistan that have shaped the force and its leadership over the past 16 years.

“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.

China and Russia, on the other hand, see the future of warfare quite clearly.  They’re developing families of heavy armored vehicles, massive artillery forces, advanced cluster munitions (while we are unilaterally eliminating our ours), mobile anti-aircraft vehicles, and battlefield electronic warfare.  They’re preparing to fight and win a “violent, violent fight”.  We’re still preparing to fight another insurgency.

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, 18-Sep-2017,


  1. The quickest solution is to bring back the LAV-AD and buy 200 more. This 25mm gatling is a great anti-air, anti-helo, anti-UAV, anti-APC, anti-bunker, anti-infantry weapon. It is even anti-tank as a spray of 25mm can disable heavy tanks.

    And put 120mm mortars in the back of AAVs! This should have been done decades ago as the Army uses this combo with M113s and even LAVs. 155mm towed arty became obsolete decades ago when counter-battery radar appeared.

    During an amphib assault, these could stop on a sandbar and start firing away.

    1. Umm ... I'm not a land weapons expert so I could be wrong but nothing I've read suggests that 25mm can take out a modern tank and certainly not from the front. Older tanks with thinner armor and/or from the side/read is doable.

      The 120 mm would certainly be useful but artillery provides a heavy hitting, long range weapon that the mortar does not. Russia and China certainly don't believe that artillery is obsolete!

    2. You are right about 120mm mortars being needed, but they need to be in AAVs or ACVs to come ashore with the landing force and keep up with the force as it goes inland.

      155mm is not obsolete. The variety of ammo (precision Excal, DPICM, ERBB, etc) and the range are unrivaled by any mortars (30km with RAP or B.B. 155 vs 6-8km with 120s). 120mm is very effective against dismounts but tends to only chip paint on armor; 155 in direct fire is devastating and can easily get mobility kills with DPICM. If anything, towing 155mm M777s with LAVs like the Canadians might be a great idea to increase mobility and crew protection if we cannot afford self propelled artillery.

    3. The LAV-ADATS was also supposed to have the ADATS which is a dual purpose short range AA missile and ATGM. A vehicle like the LAV-ADATS would be very useful. A mobile wheeled platform with a search radar, autocannon, and dual purpose atgm/aa missile has several uses.

      The Paladin looks obsolete. It has a slow rate of fire and short range. The Paladin does not compare well to systems like the K-9, MSTA, or Panzerhaubtize. We really need a better system than the Paladin.

  2. His rhetoric is a mismatch because he is playing for a new audience—the Trump administration and Senator McCain. And the political opposition is also becoming increasingly anti-Russian as well. Talking about peer warfare is to appeal to his new audience while his actual stays the same just repackaged.
    Soon we will see every program in trouble or with critical flaws justified for peer warfare...
    All of them.
    Politicians in uniform are as old as the country. During the Civil War General McClellan lost battle after battle but was popular enough to try running against Lincoln for the presidency. Perhaps Neller sees all the generals in the present administration and is hoping for a position.


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