Thursday, January 15, 2015

2-star: Despite challenges, Marines headed back to sea

2-star: Despite challenges, Marines headed back to sea: The Marine Corps is returning to its roots as a sea-based strike force after 13 years of ground wars, but getting there in fighting shape requires flexibility and resourcefulness, warned Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh.

Walsh, director of the Expeditionary Warfare Division, laid out the plan for getting the Corps afloat again — and the challenges associated with it — during the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium in northern Virginia on Tuesday. Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford is prioritizing Marines' ability to undertake amphibious operations in contested areas, he said.

"As Marines, we want to be sea-based," Walsh said.

But the Navy's amphibious assault ship force needs a chance to recuperate after more than a decade of hard-use, he added. Extended deployments, compressed training cycles and ship substitutions have taken a toll.

"We were running ships too hard and readiness went down," he said.

As the service shifts its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, it still needs to remain at the ready to respond to ongoing and unexpected crises in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The Corps is looking at placing Marines on new types of Navy vessels, he said, a concept already being tested. Marines experimented with embarking upon nontraditional vessels including an aircraft carrier, destroyer and dry cargo ship last summer.