A new force structure assessment has concluded that the Marine Corps ideally could grow by 8,000 troops, but the service still plans on operating with an end strength of 182,000 Marines.
“The path we’re on is to go to 182,000 Marines,” Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told Military.com. “That’s what we’re going to be funded for; that’s what we’re allowed to do by Congress. But in a perfect world … we came up with about 190,000; that is the optimized force,” Walsh said.
The increase would help the service keep up with a high pace of operations, and the need to expand its cyber and technological capabilities.
A 2010 force structure assessment found the ideal size for the Marine Corps was 186,800. At the time, the service was planning to draw down its forces from a wartime peak of 202,000. The latest review follows a series of war games that tried various unit sizes and battlefield strategies, according to the story.
The service’s leaders have no plans to request an expansion to its optimized level.
“We didn’t say, ‘Let’s go to Congress and say we want that.’ Somebody may give that to us as we go to the next administration and take a hard look or the operating environment might drive us,” Walsh said. “What we’ll be able to do is if somebody says, ‘Hey, if you’ve got some money, got more force structure, what would you buy?’ We now have conducted a force structure assessment that would allow us to do that,” he explained.