The Marine Corps' Urbanized Amphibious Future Domain

As of around 1998, the majority of politically significant urban areas—upwards of 75 percent—outside allied and ex-Warsaw Pact states are within 150 miles of a coastline; 60 percent are within 12 miles. Given the Marine Corps’ role as an expeditionary, and amphibious, force in readiness, it is clear that many future urban battlefields will be within its domain, whether it be for peacekeeping, humanitarian support, or outright combat. While the Corps does have an urban warfighing doctrinal guide (the aging MCWP 3-35.3: Military Operations in Urban Terrain [MOUT]), a few urban warfare training centers, and ongoing research (Project Metropolis II), the current focus of Corps’ leaders is a shift back toward the service’s amphibious roots. This shift likely is largely to counter China’s growing aggression in the Pacific region, in which there is highly urbanized terrain. Thus, it is necessary for the Marine Corps to simultaneously prepare for future urban operations while also returning to its amphibious role.

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