MCWL Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory


Quantico, VA


Michael Villalva -
Ana Alley -

Operating Status Summer 2023:


Student Requirements:



To develop and examine threat-informed, future-oriented concepts and capabilities and to provide analytically-supported recommendations to support Marine Corps Force Development and Design.

About the Lab

The Warfighting Lab identifies future challenges and opportunities, develops warfighting concepts, and comprehensively explores options to inform the combat development process. MCWL’s purpose is to assist senior leadership in understanding the future operating environment (FOE) and facilitate effective decision-making. MCWL’s method for accomplishing this is to pursue its learning demands through closely integrated activities, guided by the Lab’s Lines of Effort (LOE) and designated Collateral Efforts, driven by cross-functional, mutually-supporting LOE Action Groups.

What kinds of projects do interns at this lab participate in?

Conceptualize the Future Force: We focus MCWL-wide efforts on the application of a naval expeditionary force and identify its future capabilities through the analysis of operational concepts, science and technology, wargames, and experimentation, in support of fleet operations within an actively contested maritime space in a common future operating environment frame projected out as far as 25 years.

Naval Integration: We combine Navy and Marine Corps forces, processes, efforts and products to produce and support unified operating concepts, concepts of operation, concepts of employment, wargames, experiments, and future capabilities.

Assessment: This effort organizes and integrates a deliberate process involving data inputs, evaluations, assessments, and analysis from across MCWL to determine how well the outputs and outcomes support Future Force Development.

Science and Technology (S&T) Integration and Force Modernization: This program supports the Office of Naval Research for S&T and will provide the oversight, management and transparency to coordinate the execution of the S&T investment strategy across the Marine Corps Research and Development enterprise in order to meet the demands of the future strategic and operational environment.

Distributed Operations (DO): Project Metropolis 2 is a 5-year campaign of learning and addressing challenges specific to the conduct of landing force operations in a dense and complex urban environment using the Distributed Operations approach. The focus of this project is the development of capabilities required by warfighters from when they cross the line of departure until the primary purpose of the mission is completed (actions on the objective). The objectives of dense urban operations involve identifying, developing, examining, and assessing material and non-material elements that (1) improve situational awareness, (2) improve capabilities of the unit headquarters to process information and issue direction, (3) expand the scope and depth of lethal engagement options available to small units in the dense urban environment (DUE), (4) improve that unit’s ability to operate in and dominate subterranean environments, and, (5) examine and assess developing technologies that may have the potential to improve the landing force’s ability to operate in the DUE.

Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO): We assess the challenges associated with operationalizing the EABO concept to enable sea control via a distributed, integrated, defense in depth. Live-force experiments will examine C4ISR, fires, logistics, mine countermeasures, information environment operations (OIE), and force protection technologies. Objectives include: (1) Assessing and enabling integration and interoperability of naval C4ISR in a denied, degraded and exploited environment, (2) assessing and enabling littoral maneuver, establishment and sustainment of EABO in a contested environment, (3) assessing and enabling integration and effects of sensors and fires in support of sea-denial/sea-control, (4) assessing and enabling counter C4ISR-T (i.e. military deception, signal management, etc.) as EABO protection efforts, and, (5) assessing and enabling the contributions of experimental technologies that enable EABO.