Wednesday, November 3, 2010

USMC Leadership: Guidance, Resources and a Suspense Date

Recently, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, issued his “Commandant’s Planning Guidance” . In the guidance the Commandant envisions a globalized world, with a youthful demographic, pressured by a lack of education and opportunity. The continued competition for scarce natural resources – fossil fuel, food and water - and the rise of new powers and shifting relationships will create the future security environment. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described the resulting hybrid warfare as the “lethality of state conflict with the fanatical and protracted fervor of irregular warfare, where Microsoft coexists with machetes, and stealth is met by suicide bombers.”

The Commandant sees this world as requiring the expeditionary capabilities that only the Marines can provide. For the Corps, “Expeditionary” is more about a state of mind than just a capability and one senses that Marines feel they have sacrificed this in 8 years of continuous conflict. The Commandant seeks to re-invigorate this capability, this mindset, so that the Corps can continue to be the inherently agile force that can buy time for the Nation to react. He wants a Marine Corps that is “a multi-capable, combined arms force, comfortable operating at the high and low ends of the threat spectrum, or in the shaded areas where they overlap”. He wants a Marine Corps that can stand at that proverbial door and (in my favorite excerpt) “we possess the finesse, the training and the tools to knock at the door diplomatically, pick the lock skillfully, or kick it in violently”.

GEN Amos’ priorities are crystal clear:

  • We will continue to provide the best trained and equipped Marine units to Afghanistan. This will not change. This remains our top priority!
  • We will rebalance our Corps, posture it for the future and aggressively experiment with and implement new capabilities and organizations.
  • We will better educate and train our Marines to succeed in distributed operations and increasingly complex environments.
  • We will keep faith with our Marines, our Sailors and our families.

Under rebalancing the Corps he makes energy efficiency and reduced consumption a priority for a Corps able to operate lighter and faster, a return to their expeditionary roots. The Commandant specifically calls out the effort of the Expeditionary Energy Office and charges them with the goals of “reduced energy demand in our platforms and systems, self-sufficiency in our battlefield sustainment, and a reduced expeditionary foot print on the battlefield”. More than just goals, GEN Amos requires the production of a plan to be implemented in FY11 and fully funded in POM 13 budget cycle that will, “Concentrate on three major areas: (1) increase the use of renewable energy, (2) instilling an ethos of energy efficiency, (3) increase the efficiency of equipment”. The intent is a lighter, faster agile Corps that is less dependent on bulk supplies. The plan is due on 18 February 2011. As U.S. Army IMCOM commander, LTG Lynch likes to say, a vision without resources is an hallucination. A plan without a due date is a rolling briefing.

Good on the USMC for this definitive guidance. It has a requirement to resource and a suspense date. Now that is leadership you can believe in. If they make the plan public, we will have comments on the 19th.

Thanks to Mike Aimone for the tip.

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