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    General Berger is looking forward to meaningful dialogue regarding the CPG.

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    I’m still digesting it, but if we can execute on half the things in the guidance over the next four years, I think we’ll be well positioned for the next 25 years.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by .

    General Berger seems to be a very forward thinking Marine and is obviously looking to the battlefield of the future while keeping true to the primacy of what makes the Corps unique among all the branches as a Naval Expeditionary Force. While much of his guidance makes great sense, as a former Reserve Marine, I was disappointed in the brevity of guidance for the Select Marine Reserves. I don’t recall if it was General Krulak or Jones, but sometime during the beginning of my enlistment I remember great strides being made from guidance to Command to treat all Marines as “one force”. I’ve seen this eroded 1st hand with I&I staff now treating Reserve Marines completely different than their Active Duty counterparts. While I understand there are differences, the same level of respect should be shown regardless of Active or Reserve.


    As a smarter colleague often tells me, this is a great time to be a Marine! The CPG signals a lot of positive change. I welcome the challenge to respond to the CMC’s latest guidance and hope many others join in to create a much needed dialogue on the changes to come.

    This will be the first of several posts. In the spirit of making my thoughts digestible and avoid an overtly lengthy post, I’ll respond to each idea piecemeal. If any readers would prefer to continue a dialogue offline, please do contact me directly.

    To begin:

    “The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) cannot be our only solution for all crises. Instead, we are defined by our collective character as Marines and by fulfilling our Service roles and functions prescribed by Congress.”

    I would challenge us to go a step farther and say that the MAGTF cannot be our primary solution for all crises. At this point, we have become as reliant on the MAGTF as a construct as the Army has historically been reliant on the Brigade Combat Team (BCT). That is, we rarely think/plan to send in anything less than a MAGTF in response to any contingency. Whether the solution could be solved with a team of hand-selected SME’s or a force package that is as small as a company, our default reaction is to assemble an entire MAGTF and hurl it at the problem.

    Shouldn’t we simply tailor the package to the problem? The primary principle of the MAGTF’s utility is that it can be tailored to the mission, but we are now beholden to the MAGTF construct and are afraid to break with it. We should be more agile than the Army, and we won’t be as long as we are married to the MAGTF as our primary response option. To this point, current, ‘regular’ SP-MAGTF rotations are not even a requirement for any given mission, but appear to largely be a byproduct of PP&O advocacy. How many combatant commanders have leveraged these SP-MAGTF’s in response to real world missions? Would they be more inclined to ask for Marines if we did not respond with, ‘you get the entire SP-MAGTF or you get nothing’? If the combatant commander only needs a rifle platoon, can’t we just give him a rifle platoon? The danger here is that the Army may very well become more responsive than the Marine Corps, and the President’s or the Combatant Commander’s first thought may very well be, ‘Send in the Army’. This is in no way a knock on the capabilities of the Army, but if the Army can do what the Marine Corps is supposed to do, why maintain a Marine Corps?

    There is certainly utility in the MAGTF, but the second line of the above statement from the CPG should drive force design, generation, and planning. Let us tailor the force to the mission, rather than trying to squeeze a MAGTF into every mission-sized hole.


    “The focal point of the future integrated naval force will shift from traditional power projection to meet the new challenges associated with maintaining persistent naval forward presence to enable sea control and denial operations.”

    Presently, we spend a lot of resources rotating Marines on Unit Deployment Programs (UDP) and similar deployments that don’t meet this intent. Yes, putting more Marines on Okinawa gives them the chance to deploy and learn a thing or two about the III MEF AOR, but this doesn’t reinforce sea control/sea denial.

    To better meet the CPG’s intent of naval integration, why not think of the UDP and similar deployments as an Expeditionary Advanced Base (EAB) Deployment, or as a Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) Program?

    That is, for an EAB Deployment, put Marines in either expeditionary locations inside a potential adversary’s threat envelope, where they can rehearse capabilities that provide this sea control/sea denial? Alternatively, for a DFE program, put Marines in not necessarily expeditionary locations, but in locations that are inside the threat envelope, where they could be rapidly shifted in purpose to provide sea control/sea denial?

    This would not necessarily require an abandonment of the UDP, but simply repurpose/re-aim the UDP. Don’t just dump Marines on Oki and hope to God and Chesty Puller that they can lock on meaningful range time, or against all odds get their artillery over to Fuji to pull off some fire missions. Put them somewhere and employ them in a way that directly meets this goal of the CPG, which in turn meets the goals of the NDS.

    Finally, these deployments could be used in a meaningful way to respond to hostility in the Pacific. Presently, we respond to aggression or sharp power in the INDO-PACOM AOR by doing freedom of navigation ops. This doesn’t stop the Chinese from continuing to lean on other states in the region, or stop them from building artificial islands, or to otherwise act in ways that are harmful to international norms, the free flow of markets, etc. They would be checked much more meaningfully by a EAB deployment or a DFE deployment that provides the US and our allies with sea control/denial in response to such actions. The regular exercise of such capabilities would also better prepare the force to do it for real should they be called upon to do so.


    “Reinvigorating the FMF can be accomplished by assigning more Marine Corps forces to the Fleet, putting Marine Corps experts in the fleet Maritime Operations Centers, and also by shifting emphasis in our training, education, and supporting establishment activities.”

    Presently, there are a handful of Marine officers attached to both US Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) and US Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), and to other naval headquarters. Low hanging fruit to support the above intent is to make these Marines available for use in the MOC at key times, or to become more integrated in MOC activities so they can surge the MOC when necessary to better support Fleet operations.

    As an example, I have just been attached to USFFC as part of a waterfront support memorandum between MARFORCOM/US Fleet Forces Command, and work as the Fleet Amphibious Communications Officer in the USFFC N6. I literally work in the same building as the USFFC MOC. I inject myself into MOC activities only through personal initiative and because my leadership gives me the freedom to do so. This function, to support the above, shouldn’t be incidental or personality driven, but can be directive and permanent so naval integration at this level becomes habitual. This could be forced through direction from HQMC. USFFC/PACFLT could balance the injection of Marines currently assigned to them into their MOCs, while also juggling their primary billets, under the cognizance of the respective Fleet Marine Officer (FMO) assigned to each fleet. FMO’s could assess the impact of MOC involvement on each individual billet and weight the effort accordingly.

    Alternatively, some billets could be restructured to divest USFFC/USPACFLT of the current billets, but provide a 1-for-1 swap of billets in the MOC. I.e., lose an officer in a functional area, but attach them to the MOC. Assessment of impact by the current billet holders, their current leadership, and the FMO can help in discussions for such restructuring. Such restructuring may not be appropriate in all instances, but it could be in some, and even one Marine SME in each MOC will provide incredible potential for naval integration of the Marine Corps into fleet operations.


    The most well thought out CPG since General Krulak’s. Definitely disruptive though, like the 31st Commandant’s, and will require a concerted effort to overcome resistance to change both inside and outside the Corps. He’s breaking a little china with the MAGTF discussion, whereby we should tread carefully. It was the second session of the 82nd Congress that saved the Marine Corps from extinction by writing the MAGTF concept into law. It’s been proven that the U.S. Army can conduct amphibious assaults and advanced base operations so we need to articulate changes to the MAGTF very thoughtfully. Overall an exciting document though and, like General Krulak, it appears he’s been thinking about it for some time and is well prepared to take on the challenges of whatever the next iteration of the three block war looks like. Looking forward to hearing about the important next steps from the implementation plan. As General Krulak said so often, you have one year to make changes and then you need to spend the other three years institutionalizing them.


    Wow, Bkerg, very solid analysis and thoughts. I can get behind a lot of what you offer. I would be interested in seeing one or two of those ideas fleshed out in a Gazette article.

    A lot of complimentary thoughts on the CPG on this forum and others. From a red team perspective, that worries me. Is the CPG bold enough? If everyone is singing the praises, then is it audacious enough and provocative enough to truly push the limits? As keenly noted above, if the Corps can accomplish a fraction and institutionalize it, then we will be in a better place.

    Still, I’m concerned by the lack of pushback. We know the antibodies exist in the system. Where are they? I would prefer to know where they are opposed to lying dormant.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by .

    “For our officer corps, I require that you provide every opportunity for your junior officers and enlisted leaders to lead, educate, train, supervise, and enforce high standards. Do not encroach on their space unnecessarily and do not prescribe every action; instead, teach, coach, and mentor. Our maneuver warfare doctrine depends on commander’s intent and mission-type orders – we must train how we fight.”

    Mission type orders are increasingly counter intuitive to today’s Marine. Maneuver warfare and distributed operations demand that orders be given to whatever Marines are available in the form of task, purpose and end state. When the end state is not accomplished another mission type order is issued out of necessity.

    Mission type orders in garrison are a little different. If the Sergeant doesn’t achieve the desired end state there’s likely to be a Gunny or a Staff Sergeant who can assume responsibilities for carrying out the task at hand. If no one can accomplish the desired end state – a detailed policy is crafted to ensure the commander’s intent is understood. To achieve the effects desired by the Commandant leaders will have to assume a little bit more risk. Not in the way of safety but to what extent they are willing to trade responsiveness to their own orders for training of junior leaders. We have to ask ourselves what is a greater risk? Is maintaining our leadership’s perception of our own personal perfection that important for advancement? Or are we untrained to properly evaluate leaders who’s Marines make mistakes or “take too long” while being developed to think critically and operate independently of a detailed plan? Reporting seniors must recognize this distinction and mark the leadership sections of the fitness report accordingly and make comments to the MRO’s ability to execute and issue mission type orders.


    CPG thoughts below and what it means at different levels and areas of the Marine Corps and the joint force.

    BLUF – USMC is a force that “ensures prevention of MC and deters the escalation of conflict w/in ROMO” (this is right on with consideration of force design ICW NDS/NMS IRT the total force). USMC is a naval force to ensure access either preventive medicine or forced entry (think Wendell Fertig, Coastwatchers, and original Raiders).

    1. There is much to consider in the CPG. CMC is very direct in his language, which should help DCs, especially CD&I (CMC ID’d) in modernizing how we do business (DOTMLPF) to be a faster ‘business’ in providing naval forces ISO national security ways/means per NDS and NMS. He outlines inside-forces ISO the naval force and the need for distribution to avoid HVT for our enemies).

    2. The section on People is spot on for improving our identity – Marines (send in the Marines, any clime and place, and “expedition”-ary). We will need to live up to that in our units and challenging our Marines to “earn it every day” (it is a title, what did you do today to live up to it?). I would anticipate changes in talent management that go after greater screening and better incentives to retain quality (this has been long time coming and is easier to say than do). I have heard from Company-grade leaders that their number one challenge is boredom – BS ! What are we doing to challenge them to make them feel like Marines every day and then let them know we care about them (don’t just push them, challenge them, and treat them like they are the key to your team’s success).

    3. NAVY, NAVY, NAVY Integration is what the USMC brings the total force in spt’ing national security ways/means. Some interesting terms we should focus on to better understand and define [CW – composite warfare; stand-in forces; EABO (not new, but we never really did anything to realize this. EABO means inside-force, any clime, place, time to ensure access ISO naval forces (again, think Wendell Fertig and original Raiders); Distributed Ops (not new, but again, we never really got there to doing it. A large challenge will be trusting our NCOs to be distributed leaders or is it Capts? And then we have to figure out the C2 and log spt, maybe less log spt and more “expedition” mindset for our DO units); and NSNAT (non-standard naval air transport, yes I made that up to stress this requirement given A2AD. We have to widen the aperture on how to have, gain, and retain access to spt naval forces).

    4. There will be an updated MOC, but unified w/ Naval OC. We need to understand DMO and integrate w/in it during its development phase. We are betting big on linking w/ USN and while many may see it as hedging against US Army and USAF efforts to enlarge their piece of the budget, hope is that the SecDef and leaders get us to total force capabilities instead of service advocacy producing a less integrated total force.

    5. Trng & Ed in info age? We don’t know what that is and if you ask 10 educators, you get 10 different opinions. Go w/ Marine ethos of bias for action ICW our Warfighting doctrine “observe, orient, decided, act” and then do it again, and again. Accept that we won’t get it perfect, but we can’t stand around and just appreciate the challenge. Boyd’s construction, destruction – this all w/in reason of volatility to our T&E system, you do have to have a standard to assess against (there is a balance here).

    a. Comfortable in chaos and confusion – you don’t get that via routine training and education. We are not really comfortable w/ change (humans and Marines alike), so how do we modify training to make us more comfortable w/ not knowing what’s next. Better yet, to be more comfortable w/ unknown, because we are educated and trained to be prepared (via thinking) – branch plans.

    b. No longer, “everybody graduates” from our PME schools – set a standard, assess to it, and drop if someone doesn’t meet min standards (no different than any real competitive school or program).

    c. I’m not sure I agree w/ statement that as a service, we lack the requisite naval education to engage our naval officer and peers on naval concepts (I agree we, writ large don’t study Naval concepts/history as much as we should, but Navy is less interested in PME than we are on average as a service, whether officer or enlisted).

    d. Train like we fight – we’ve said it for years, but too easy to do the sterile classroom education and training. This requires imagination, risk mitigation, and investment challenge to really offer realistic training.

    e. Wargaming is in training and education – Mindset of having an active opponent. Easy to say, harder to do, but games are great. This also ties into winning, losing, and the competitive spirit of the Marine (we are different as CMC says up front !). This is not to dismiss or disparage others, but to clearly articulate Marines are winners and losing is okay as long as it equals learning to fight again and not make same mistake (read history, do TDGs, DFCs). “Think” Gen Breckinridge’s “criticism.”

    6. Core values. Let’s change it to Corps’ Values – Our Culture. We have a different standard and while we must accept we inherit a cross-section of society, we can have a higher standard, especially if we create a better team that attracts better talent. We need to advertise/recruit this (several examples in past. This also gets directly at the quality of the applicant, screening of the applicant, and then we can train and educator harder because we have better people). Get people to believe they are part of something bigger and better, than challenge each other to “earn it every day.” Those that don’t, get separated (non-EAS attrition will go down after the quality of the team members are improved).

    a. Dignity and respect. It covers hazing, sexual assault, bullying, and the other PAC items. It doesn’t mean be nice or don’t challenge: Be tough, hard, demanding, but do it because you know we are on the same team and everyone is required for the team to be successful – teams don’t win because they have easy practices. Often times the difference in being demanding and bullying is the mindset and reason behind the action (this is the realm of leadership and command). Recognize a bad apple and separate from the team to protect the team’s reputation and effectiveness (be ruthless in this).

    b. Ruthless in enforcement of Corps’ Values doesn’t mean ‘zero defect.’ There is a method and criteria needed for commanders to provide second chance in recognition of learning. The Marine who learns a lesson is likely to pass it on and lead having learned the lesson, BUT there is a ‘no-pen line’ on what violations of our Corps’ Values rate second-chance criteria.

    c. There is an “I” in Team ! Every team is merely a collection of individuals. We cannot forget the value of the individual in the success of our team and we must appeal to the individual’s needs/fulfillment if we expect to get the performance we demand (year LV of absence for maternity), to be selfless and sacrifice because the individual is 100% committed to the team’s success (because he/she wants to be). Sometimes we do things the hard-way, just because. We must consider the Marine and family to appeal to keep the best and get what we demand from them. Marines need to “want” to come to work based upon the fulfillment they get from being a part of the team.

    7. Command and Leadership. CMC tied this directly back to Corps’ Values. We don’t need new leadership traits and principles, we just need to reflect
    upon them more and ask the question “what did I want from my leader when I was wearing the other shoe and what did I do today to be that leader?”

    8. Money ! – 19k facilities to upkeep and legacy systems. We have to divest to invest in FOE effective capabilities/technologies and people. We will accept less in total force structure to do it.

    9. p.23 – endstate of CPG (minimums): “bold move cotton,” but it is great to have our leadership put the mark out there and challenge us.

    The challenge to the CPG will be implementation w/ and assessment framework that feeds the CMC and EOS decision making. It will also be vital for endorsement by EOS and GOs IOT ensure longer-than-4yr implementation given our DOTMLPF time-horizon and speed of change/implementation. Next 30 days, we should see implementation guidance document come out; it will be interesting to see the tasks / assessments methodology.

    The above comments are just my read on it (given my biases) and hoping to get a dialog going amongst us to promote learning as we consider the CPG and our Corps (w/ each of us having our own biases, I suspect we will get more more from the document collectively).

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