The Marine Corps remains an agile, lethal, and sea-based expeditionary force, light enough to rapidly deploy, yet capable enough to operate independently in austere and remote locations.
From the Pacific island-hopping campaign of WWII, to the March on Baghdad in 2003, and recent operations in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, logistics has always been key to the Marine Corps’ ability to rapidly generate combat power, deploy, and fight. An enduring aspect of the nature of war – providing logistics at the right time in the right place – will prove even more challenging and decisive in the 21st Century, as our national defense strategy “pivots” to the vast expanse of the Asia-Pacific Theater and other volatile regions in the “Arc of Instability.” Marine Corps logistics provides the fundamental sustainment ability to enable our essential expeditionary capability.
The recently published Expeditionary Force 21 (EF-21) establishes the operational framework for the Marine Corps, and serves as a guide for the continued development and refinement of our expeditionary logistics capabilities to better support crisis response, exercise support, training, and other operations across the range of military operations (ROMO).
EF-21 concepts challenge our Marine Corps logisticians to become even more creative, agile, and responsive in supporting distributed, forward-deployed and pre-positioned forces, operating from both land and sea, in disaggregated and distributed operations, in austere, unstable, and uncertain environments, and within an increasingly constrained budgetary environment. Simply put, we must sustain logistics effectiveness while finding efficiencies in everything that we do.
Expeditionary logistics is the ability to rapidly develop the responsive and agile architecture necessary to support and sustain operations in austere environments or in those lacking in robust infrastructure, frequently on short notice, and where operational requirements may dictate the dispersal of forces across a large geographic area. Marine Corps Expeditionary Logistics:
• supports the Expeditionary Force 21 global laydown of forward-deployed forces with improved logistics responsiveness and agility through scalable task-organized, multi-purpose logistic elements while sustaining the equipment readiness of dispersed, disaggregated, and afloat forces,
• is agile enough to allow commanders to minimize their expeditionary logistics footprint to quickly exploit opportunities in a dynamic and hybrid threat environment,
• is integrated with Naval Logistics while interoperable with Joint and/or Allied logistics, as well as Host Nation support (HNS),
• maximizes MAGTF sustainment from the sea base, capable of quickly reacting and adapting to changing demands based on operational tempo,
• leverages bases, stations, and depots to deploy, sustain, and redeploy forces,
• and employs more efficient electrical generation and distribution systems, leveraging Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy Systems (GREENS).
The Expeditionary Logistics effort collaborates with other functional Advocates to fully integrate future expeditionary logistics concepts into the overarching focus on expeditionary operations. In the near future, unmanned air and ground logistics systems, operating from both sea and land bases, will support materiel distribution requirements on the battlefield; be able to traverse rugged, nonlinear lines of communication; and provide a complementary distribution capacity to the MAGTF. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) will rapidly transport Marines and their equipment from arrival areas to the sea base for further employment ashore. Our Naval Logistics Integration (NLI) initiative, in partnership with the other Naval Services, will optimize U.S. Navy – U S. Marine Corps – U.S. Coast Guard logistics interoperability, while our MAGTF Logistics Integration (MLI) effort will reduce supply chain redundancies and increase internal effectiveness. By aligning NLI and MLI efforts into a complementary MAGTF logistics design, we will optimize MAGTF logistics performance in support of our global and regional Special Purpose MAGTFs, MEUs, and other task organized expeditionary organizations, to include MARFORSOC Marines.
The challenges and threats associated with the future global security environment generate a clear requirement for lighter and leaner forces, capable of rapid deployment, effective employment, and sustainment over greater distances. We will maximize the positive effects of existing technology while evaluating emerging solutions to improve logistics support. We will continue to examine how we organize, train, educate, equip, and employ our Marines. Our collective efforts will result in 21st century logistical capabilities that support operations across the ROMO.