A fierce debate is raging within the U.S. Marine Corps about what comes next.
On March 9, 1862, the Union warship Monitor met its Confederate counterpart, Virginia. After a four-hour exchange of fire, the two fought to a draw. It was the first battle of ironclads. In one day, every wooden ship of the line of every naval power became immediately obsolete.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If the battle of the ironclads settled once and for all the wood-versus-iron debate, Japanese carrier-based aircraft settled the battleship-versus-carrier debate by sinking the cream of America’s battleship fleet in a single morning.
On April 14, 2022, the Ukrainians sank the Russian cruiser Moskva with a pair of Neptune anti-ship missiles. And that success posed an urgent question to the world’s major militaries: Has another age of warfare just begun? After 20 years spent fighting the post-9/11 wars, the United States military’s attention is again focused on a peer-level adversary. The Pentagon hasn’t been thinking this way since the Cold War, and it is attempting a profound transformation. Today, fierce debate attends this transformation, and nowhere more acutely than in the Marine Corps.