Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula and annexed hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory in eastern Ukraine in 2014 using unconventional forces—including special operations units, unidentified conventional forces, and criminal elements—that could not be definitively tied to the government or military. The Marine Corps’ major staff exercises in use today do not train staff or leaders to face events such as these. To prepare for the challenges of the next century, the service must improve the training provided to Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) staffs. As the nation’s expeditionary force of choice, MAGTFs must be able to understand and operate in highly ambiguous environments lacking a clearly identifiable adversary, similar to the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The fictional scenarios used along the “Treasure Coast” and elsewhere, however, reduce staff-level efforts to little more than pro forma opportunities to complete training and readiness tasks.
The Exercise Has No Clothes
By Captain Will McGee, U.S. Marine Corps