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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

36th Commandant of the Marine Corps releases planning guidance

29 Jan 2015 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

Gen. Joseph Dunford, 36th commandant of the Marine Corps, released his official planning guidance Friday, continuing the tradition begun by the 34th Commandant, Gen. James Conway. The purpose of the document is to present the commandant’s goals, priorities of work, and intent or desired end state for the duration of his tenure as the Corps’ senior leader.

The 13-page document opens with a summary of Dunford’s observations of the Corps in his first few months as commandant. While Dunford feels that the “Marine Corps  is fundamentally in good shape,” he goes on to identify “foundational priorities and focus for the coming years,” as well as areas in which the Corps can begin improving immediately.

Dunford indicates he wants the Corps to operate in a decentralized manner, with more power given to base commanders to implement programs, services and policies that best fit their particular installation. Recognizing a dearth of noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned officers in certain types of units (particularly, those that are not deployed or preparing to deploy), he would also like to increase the number of NCOs and SNCOs so as to improve small-unit leadership.

In a move that is sure to be hailed by commanders and others seeking consistency and cohesion in their units, Dunford appears to be putting an end to the cherry-picking that decimates non-deploying units to fill out the rolls of deploying ones. Dunford states, “The end state is to provide the continuity and quality of leadership and the appropriate leader-to-led ratio needed to sustain the transformation and enhance our combat effectiveness through personnel stability.”

Dunford emphasizes his desire to maintain a high level of support for Marine families and wounded warriors. Additionally, he wants to ensure that geographic and functional combatant commanders have the support necessary to carry out their missions.

Looking ahead, while Dunford discusses the naval character and history of the Marine Corps, he addresses the need to focus on the new “anti-access, area denial threat environment.” He said Marine Corps training exercises and weapons development programs need to focus on countering modern area-denial weaponry possessed by our enemies.

Dunford’s final list of priorities include enhancing relationships with our partner nations, taking full advantage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, developing our offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities, and improving the Corps’ maritime training and ship-to-shore mobility.

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico