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The US Marine Corps, the National Defense Strategy, and the future of expeditionary warfare

China’s fast-growing economic, military, and maritime power and mounting influence in the Indo-Pacific have underscored the need for new approaches to the complex and constantly evolving security landscape. In the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS), the Department of Defense describes China as “our most consequential strategic competitor” and highlights the importance of integrated deterrence to meet current and future challenges. The strategic objectives of the NDS call for fresh thinking concerning the U.S. military’s future posture, capabilities, and responses.

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has taken steps to holistically redesign the force over a 10-year time horizon. Its “Force Design 2030” initiative details the development of a single, integrated naval expeditionary force built to support joint maritime operations and successfully operate within enemy contested areas, with special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. Its move towards advanced technology development, and modernization and its focus on forward military campaigns raise questions about the USMC’s departure from traditional Marine Corps models, including how it is organized, equipped, and trained.

On August 26, Brookings will host a discussion on important issues related to the future of the U.S. Marine Corps, its efforts to adapt to emerging geopolitical threats in the Indo-Pacific, and its ability to provide credible deterrence. Brookings Fellow Melanie Sisson will moderate the conversation between Amy McGrath — a retired USMC lieutenant colonel and the first woman in the Marine Corps to fly a combat mission in an F/A-1 — and Brookings Senior Fellow Michael E. O’Hanlon.

Viewers can submit questions via e-mail to or via Twitter at #USMC.


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