Modern Marine Corps doctrine was born on 6 March 1989 with publication of Fleet Marine Forces Manual 1: Warfighting. With the ink still wet, the Marine Corps rode its new doctrine to spectacular success in the deserts of Iraq during Desert Storm. In 1997, the service revised and renamed Warfighting to Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1: Warfighting (MCDP 1) but left the core of its warfighting philosophy largely unchanged. A few years later, the Marine Corps took that warfighting philosophy with it into the war on terrorism.
After 16 years of counterinsurgency, the Marine Corps has captured many lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, but MCDP 1 remains unchanged, making the Corps’ warfighting philosophy ripe for revision. Before Iraq and Afghanistan fall too far behind in the rear-view mirror, the service should pause to revisit MCDP 1 and ensure it reflects the lessons from these past years of combat.
The Marine Corps chose maneuver warfare as its warfighting philosophy. Its version of maneuver warfare can be summarized in one sentence (“The Sentence”):