WASHINGTON — The presumed future commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps wants to accelerate the service’s implementation of its Force Design 2030 modernization effort.
Indeed, acceleration was the prevailing theme at this week’s Modern Day Marine conference, with leaders discussing ways to push the boundaries of defense funds, the federal acquisition process and relationships with industry to overhaul the force as quickly as possible. The effort is part of a move to deter China from starting a fight, but would also help the U.S. enter any battle with a decisive advantage, they say.
“I am incredibly proud to tell you today that we are well ahead of where we thought was even possible back in 2019,” Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger told the crowd June 27, referring to the year he was sworn in as commandant and started planning the generational change.
But, he said, “we need to be ahead of our competitors, we need to be ahead of where we are right now.”
Berger will relinquish command of the Corps on July 10, and current Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith will take over as acting commandant. The Biden administration nominated Smith to serve as the next service chief, but lawmakers have not yet confirmed him for the position due to a hold on all military nominations.
“Force Design is on track. We need to accelerate those areas where we can,” Smith said during his hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
If given a larger budget, Smith added, “I’m committed to putting that to things that we are already doing: accelerating being more lethal, accelerating being even more ready … because we don’t know when the fight starts.”
The commands he’ll lead say they heard the message loud and clear.
“I think Gen. Eric Smith is going to come in and we’re going to really press the accelerator,” Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said in a June 28 panel discussion.
He told Defense News afterward that he wants to accelerate the development and fielding of sensors and weapons that can find, track and kill enemy targets; surface connectors and other means of transporting Marines and supplies in and around the Pacific theater; and advances in logistics and sustainment.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, the deputy commandant for programs and resources, told Defense News he and his team are doing what they can on the money side.
“Just about every program that is directly associated with the leading edge of Force Design, we are trying to — last year was accelerate, this year is accelerate and fortify,” he said, which means not only moving faster but ensuring the whole government and industry participants can support fielding new technologies at scale.
Mahoney cited NMESIS — the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System — which is a long-range anti-ship missile launcher affixed to the back of an unmanned truck, noting the program is doing well in its cost, schedule and performance, and Marines would receive the technology by the third quarter of this year.
Source : Defense News