The Marine Corps commandant said Tuesday his new document detailing how the force must transform by 2030 will be released within weeks, and is set to include plans to contract manpower and divest from legacy systems to fund modernization reforms. 

Gen. David Berger told attendees at a Center for a New American Security event he is currently in the process of sharing his force design review with leaders of the congressional defense committees to gain feedback before its release.

Gen. David Berger, the Marines Corps commandant

“We’re not going to be left in the dust, but it’s that time for the Marine Corps where we have to now make a fundamental change,” Berger said. ‘We picked a [2030] timeframe where it’s far enough out where it’s not in the turmoil of manpower and budgetary churn, which is five years and in. We have gone down that road before and tried to make pretty large changes, and it’s difficult when you’re inside that churn.”

Berger noted that while the Marine Corps’ recent FY ‘21 budget request doesn’t include the large changes to get after the new force design, it does begin the process by increasing investments in areas such as  long-range precision fires. 

“Next year, the year after and the year after that, there’ll be much more fundamental changes, in terms of divesting and getting rid of some things that are legacy and investing in things that we don’t have right now,” Berger said. 

The Marine Corps’ request also details initial efforts to bring down its overall manpower, with Berger noting that larger cuts are expected to continue throughout the decade to find further savings. 

“We have to contract the Marine Corps, to some degree. We’re not sure exactly how much. This year it’s a couple thousand. And we’re contracting in order to use those resources, because we don’t own $13 billion ships, we own people. That’s where our money is. We have to get smaller to get better,” Berger said.  

Berger has previously discussed the force design review’s detailing capabilities the Marine Corps will require in 2030 and beyond to maintain overmatch on peer competitors such as Russia and China, to include longer-range anti-ship missiles, more unmanned systems and an emphasis on “strapping weapons onto decks of ships” (Defense Daily, Oct. 3).