General David H. Berger issued the Commandant’s Planning Guidance (CPG) in July 2019, outlining his plan to transform the Marine Corps to fight peer adversaries. The CPG identified force design as the top priority for the service, and work on it began almost immediately.1 A small planning team met to provide direction for follow-on efforts, work that entered its second phase in September 2019, when this team transferred responsibility to the office of Lieutenant General Eric M. Smith, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration (CD&I).
1. GEN David H. Berger, USMC, Commandant’s Planning Guidance (Washington, DC: U.S. Marine Corps, 2019).
2. GEN David H. Berger, USMC, Force Design 2030 (Washington, DC: U.S. Marine Corps, 2019), 5 and 8.
3. Berger, Force Design 2030, 11, 18: “A major focus of my tenure as Commandant will be my direct, personal, regular engagement with our Warfighting Laboratory to drive an integrated process of wargaming and experimentation that will rapidly produce solutions for further development in accordance with my guidance and vision.”
4. Berger, 5.
5. Berger, 18.
6. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Department of Defense Experimentation Guidebook, August 2019 (Version 1.0), 5–8.
7. 10 U.S. Code § 2399,“Operational Test and Evaluation of Defense Acquisition Programs.”
8. Defense Acquisitions University, Guidebook Glossary of Defense Acquisition Acronyms and Terms, “Developmental Testing.”
9. Defense Acquisitions University, Guidebook Glossary, “Operational Testing.”
10. 10 U.S. Code § 2399.
11. COL Keith Moore, USMC, Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Experimental Assessment Report (Quantico, VA: U.S. Marine Corps, August 2015).
12. GEN Robert Neller, USMC, Sea Dragon 2025, ALMAR 024/16, August 2016.
13. Neller, Sea Dragon 2025.
14. COL C. Pappas III, USMC, Release of Final Report for Sea Dragon 2025 Phase 1 Experiment Plan, MARADMIN 186/18, March 2018.
15. Pappas, Release of Final Report, 2.
16. 10 U.S. Code § 2399.
17. Rep. Mike Gallagher, “To Deter China, the Naval Services Must Integrate,” War on the Rocks, 4 February 2020, warontherocks.com.
18. Berger, Force Design 2030, 11.
19. Jeff Cummings, Scott Cuomo, Olivia A. Garard, and Noah Spataro, “Getting the Context of Marine Corps Reform Right,” War on the Rocks, 1 May 2020, warontherocks.com.
20. Berger, Force Design 2030, 6; Berger, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 5.
21. Equipment must undergo testing to comply with uniform engineering and technical requirements to ensure it can operate in all climates and conditions. For future systems, these requirements should be optimized for the specific characteristics of the environment in which the Marine Corps anticipates fighting.