With publication of his Commandant’s Planning Guidance in 2019 and Force Design 2030 in 2020, General David Berger made clear that the Marine Corps is restructuring its tables of organization and equipment and the methods in which it employs them to facilitate a strategy of deterrence against Chinese naval forces in the western Pacific. These sweeping changes signal that, for all intents and purposes, the United States is locked in a new cold war with the People’s Republic of China. As the Marine Corps begins the long work of preparing for this 21st-century rivalry, it should look to history for lessons from the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.
Though the United States and the Soviet Union squared off from 1945 to 1991, the two superpowers never fought one another directly. Instead, they clashed through client states and proxy forces. The United States could tangle with China through similar means.
1. SSgt Kathleen T. Rhem, USA, “Korean War Death Stats Highlight Modern DoD Safety Record,” American Forces Press Service, 8 June 2000, web.archive.org/web/20120114121831/http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45275. Reporting on the number of wounded varies, but the Department of Veterans Affairs lists 103,284 nonmortal woundings. VA Office of Public Affairs, “America’s Wars,” November 2019; www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf.