USMC Gen. Dunford to describe service’s future role, plans

USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford, the services assistant commandant, will address a breakfast-hour forum on the future of the nations expeditionary force at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

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The Marines are in the early stages of a shift back to their roots as being a quick-reaction force that deploys from the sea. But just what this self-described middleweight force will look like — and do in the future — remains somewhat unclear.

Dunfords remarks are expected to shine a light on unresolved questions, such as:

• From where will the service slash to meet a first round of Defense Department budget cuts?

• Does America need a sea-to-shore deploying force for 21st century warfare?

• Can the Marines afford to design and field a new fleet of amphibious troop carriers, even as the annual Pentagon budget is shrinking?

• How small will the service get? Can it go much below 186,000 Leathernecks?