Marine Commandant Says Corps’ Focus Must Be on Wars of The Future

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Marine Corps Commandant Robert B. Neller speaks to the San Diego Military Advisory Council. Photo by Chris Jennewein

America’s top Marine said Wednesday that after 17 years of fighting in the Middle East, the corps is increasingly focused on the potential wars of the future.

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Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, said the corps has been effectively organized, equipped and trained to battle an insurgency, “but the next fight is not going to be like that. It’s going to be different.”

The next war might be in space, cyberspace or elsewhere, he said, adding that the Marines may have to fight to the front in a future conflict. “The game has changed,” he said. “I think everybody realizes that.”

Neller spoke to community and civic leaders at the San Diego Military Advisory Council‘s monthly breakfast at the Navy Mine & Anti-Submarine Warfare Base on Pt. Loma.

Responding to questions from the audience, he touched on a wide variety of issues facing the corps:

  • Terrorism: The terrorists who led to the focus on insurgency are still still out there, he said, and the U.S. military’s primary objective is to ensure that “all our games are away games.”
  • F-35B: The corps “still learning how to leverage the capability” of the advanced 4th-generation stealth jet, he said, adding that “you’re going to read a lot of stuff about the airplane.”
  • Recruiting: The corps is in a “good place” for attaining its goal of 186,000 active-duty Marines.

Neller told the group, many of whom represent the defense industry, that despite improvements in weapons technology, the cornerstone of the Marine Corps’ effectiveness remains the individual Marine.

“If we don’t get really good people who want to serve and are willing to submit to the rigors of this life, we will not be operationally capable,” he said. “The Marine is the system.”

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