A Response to Mr. Christopher Corrow, Headquarters Marine Corps | National Review

A Response to Mr. Christopher Corrow, Headquarters Marine Corps | National Review

Marines from Lima Company, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, return fire during a shootout with Taliban fighters in Karez-e-Sayyidi on the outskirts of Marjah District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2010. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

In response to The Russian Losses in Ukraine Validate the Marine Corps’ Force Design

Concerning my critique of the Marine force structure design for 2030, I’d like to offer five comments in response to Christopher Corrow, Headquarters Marine Corps.

Mr. Christopher Corrow: “Precision-strike weapons means the Navy will not have the same dominant access at sea and in the air enjoyed for the past 30 years.”

Bing West Comment 1: The argument is that precision weapons will sink Navy ships. Marines land from those ships. So the Marines will be sunk at sea along with the Navy. 

The Navy must design the strategy and structure to survive, with the Marines adapting their structure accordingly, not launching out on their own. Marine Force Design 2030 never went through the Marine development process for transposing an idea into a deployed product.

Mr. Christopher Corrow: “Force Design 2030 is as relevant in the South China Sea as it is in the Taiwan Strait; the East China Sea; the Strait of Hormuz; or the Black, Baltic and Mediterranean Seas.”

Bing West Comment 2: Force Design 2030 is designed to land very small groups of Marines armed with a few anti-ship missiles on uninhabited islands. All the islands in the Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, Strait of Hormuz, and the Black, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas are heavily inhabited. Prior to war breaking out, the U.S. needs permission from the host nation to install weapons and troops. The host nation, about to become a belligerent, will demand a heck of a lot larger force than a few Marines with a few missiles.

Mr. Christopher Corrow: “Stand-In Forces provide reconnaissance and targeting data.”

Bing West Comment 3: The Stand-In Force, if it makes it ashore, is still out in the ocean. It is unlikely to acquire data not already reported by submarines, SEAL units, intel intercepts, and hundreds of satellites.

Mr. Christopher Corrow: “Divesting of tanks, cannon artillery, and air does not reduce combined-arms capability as much as it updates it.”

Bing West Comment 4: Basic arithmetic shows Marine capability has diminished. The Marines have significantly fewer infantry battalions, artillery battalions, and air. The Marines now have much less of the sustained close-in firepower that is required in any intense battle. Our four-star combatant commanders in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific were not consulted. In a crisis, those commanders will receive Marine forces with reduced capabilities. Force Design 2030 is the Marine Edsel. Nice slogan, poor machine.

Mr. Christopher Corrow: “The Commandant believes the tank is operationally unsuitable for our highest-priority challenges. . . . In Ukraine, Russian armor has suffered a great many casualties.”

Bing West Comment 5: Russia is not a relevant example because their army is inept across the board. It is a truism that all vehicles, not just tanks, are vulnerable. No army, however, can operate without vehicles, including the Marine Corps. The Marines can’t fight in an urban setting without tanks. The U.S. Army has the expertise and is developing a new tank. Marines should pitch in 10 percent of the money and get the opportunity to make changes on the margin.

A former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine, Bing West embedded with dozens of platoons in Afghanistan and wrote three books about the course of that mismanaged war.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.