Battle Force 2045 Will Encapsulate Navy-Marine Corps Integration

Rear Adm. James W. Kilby visits the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) in this 2017 photo. U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams

ARLINTON, Va. — The U.S. naval force in 2045 — reflected in a forthcoming force structure study called Battle Force 2045 — will reflect a more closely integrated Fleet and Fleet Marine Force to meet the challenges of the future operating environment.  

In an Oct. 29 webinar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and Huntington Ingalls Industries, Marine Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commander, Marine Corps Combat Development Center and deputy commandant for Development and Integration, and Vice Adm. James W. Kilby, deputy chief of naval operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, discussed the integration needed between the two services to support each other in support of combatant commanders in a joint environment. 

Asked by moderator retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly to offer any insights on the forthcoming Naval Force Structure Assessment and the subsequent fleet assessment by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Smith said, “The most importance from my perspective is the need for a balanced fleet. … You can’t choose pieces, parts, and look at the easiest way to get to X or Y number. You have to look at the totality of the fleet, and its capability, of which the Marine Corps is a proud part.” 

“In our force structure assessment process, we typically took a 10-year view, and this year we went farther to 2045,” Kilby said. “The farther you go out into the future, the less sure are in what is going to be. We had different expressions of what Red [enemy forces] could be and what Blue [friendly forces] could be, but I think it is consistent with what we’ve talked in many forms where we had a more distributed force.” 

During a recent wargame at Quantico, Virginia, “we able to establish our own ability to have effects if we don’t have the full national technical means available to us,” Kilby said. “We looked at some specific platforms and [noted that] they’re as impactful as we thought they were.” 

He said the wargame showed that the amphibious warfare force structure probably needed “some new elements to help us with Expeditionary Advance Base Operations, supporting littoral operations in a contested environment.  

“When you see the results that come out, there will be more work for us to do,” Kilby said, noting in particular the need for amphibious warfare force structure to align to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s Force Design 2030.