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Marines release new TV ad showing future of warfare

Shifting Threats: U.S. Marine Corps Commercial. (U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
October 27, 2022

The U.S. Marine Corps released a new recruitment ad on Thursday, which highlights how the service is preparing to fight in a new era of warfare. The ad comes as the service is rethinking how it would fight major nation states like China, which is trying to overtake the U.S. as the dominant global power.

Titled “Shifting Threats,” the commercial plays on the motif of a shifting landscape with Marine forces and transforming threats, like a flock of crows that shapeshifts into a swarm of enemy drones.

The commercial showcases Marines landing on a jungle island, like the kind they would expect to see in a hypothetical war in the Indo-Pacific region. The commercial also shows Marines using vehicle-mounted Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) to knock out an enemy drone swarm, and directing Marine F-35s to destroy an enemy warship.

The commercial is a clear shift in how the service is depicting the types of threats prospective recruits could expect to fight.

Throughout the Global War on Terror (GWOT) era, the Marine Corps’ advertising has showcased desert environments like the types Marines have fought in during U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. During this GWOT era, Marines fought against insurgent groups without much of the formal force structure and modern equipment fielded by nation-state adversaries.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, the U.S. military has begun to focus more heavily on fighting near-peer adversaries. China has been rapidly expanding and modernizing its military in recent years and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the type of fighting that could be expected between modern nation-state forces.

Earlier this year, the Marine Corps unveiled its plan for how to prepare the service to fight in this renewed era of conflict between nation states, known as “Force Design 2030.” As part of their updated force design, the Marines have done away with tanks. The service has also created a new unit concept, the so-called Littoral Combat Regiment, which is meant to be able to more easily maneuver and fight across islands in the Pacific, establish beachheads and coordinate strikes on enemy naval forces.

Explaining his changing force design and decision to cut tanks in 2020, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger told the Wall Street Journal he believes Marine forces would need to move from island to island every 48 to 72 hours to avoid Chinese retaliatory strikes. Berger believes that by creating a highly mobile and distributed fighting force, Marines could present “a ton of problems” for the Chinese forces and be “very difficult for them to counter.”

Berger told the Wall Street Journal he expects Marines would have to fight within range of Chinese missiles, planes and naval forces and would either fire land-based anti-ship missiles at the Chinese ships or provide targeting data to air and naval units.

The portion of the new recruitment ad showing Marine ground forces directing Marine F-35s to destroy an enemy warship is a reflection of the type of fighting Berger has envisioned.

The portion of the commercial showing Marine systems jamming enemy drone swarms also highlights how the service is preparing to face the developing threats posed by China and Russia.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen widespread use of both advanced and cheaper commercial-grade drones to carry out attacks. China has also demonstrated advances in its drone swarm technology.

This new Marine recruitment ad is also chock full of flashy technology and explosions at a time when all U.S. military services have struggled to attract new recruits. The Marine Corps, did manage to hit both its enlisted and officer recruiting goals as well as its retention goals, while the other branches missed some of their goals and the Army marked a historic 25 percent recruiting miss.