Tuesday, April 20, 2021

U.S. Army and Marine Corps in the Pacific

Now that the focus of the U.S. military has shifted away from Afghanistan and Iraq toward the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps are working toward fielding long-range strike and anti-ship missiles to hold Chinese targets. Both the Marine Corps and the Army have similar plans in regard to the future of this region. The Marine Corps is seeking to change from a land-heavy force to a mainly maritime force that is light and able to threaten Chinese forces inside the South China Sea. The Marines are also adding the Navy’s new anti-ship Naval Strike Missile and its Tomahawk missile to its ground-based fire quiver. The Army, on the other hand, is working toward a 2023 fielding of its Precision Strike Missile, a new seeker to be able to target ships, as well as toward fielding its Long-Range Hyper-sonic weapon.


Many conflicting views exist regarding the missions of the Marine Corps and Army in the Pacific. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula said, “The fact of the matter is the services need to adhere to their core competencies. And the United States Army reaching out to develop weapon systems that operate at thousand-mile range truly is encroachment.” However, this creates the question of if the services should continue in the roles they traditionally play, or if it is natural to expand missions and abilities with the shift of national interests and issues of national security.


Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville says he does not see the Army as in a competition with the Marine Corps and instead that the two services bring complimentary capabilities to fight in that part of the world. Similarly, Eric Sayers, a former aide to former Indo-Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris said, “That’s the kind of thing we should be encouraging: Not having the same capabilities but complementary capabilities with varying ranges and missions.” This being said, it will be interesting to see how events play out in the Indo-Pacific region with the defense budget recently facing cuts. Many believe the U.S. military does not have the budget or resources to meet the challenge of great power competition, and that this is most evident in the Western Pacific with the increase in China’s naval power.

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