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United States Marine Corps: Strategic Alignment Report


Introduction

The evaluation of internal factors that may influence enterprise performance and strategic goal accomplishment is one of the possible tasks an internal consultant can get. The essence of this work is to understand the peculiarities of the organizational strategy and identify such internal factors as resources, capabilities, systems, and processes, etc.

In this paper, the evaluation of the United States Marine Corps and its internal factors and strategic goal accomplishment will be offered to analyze the current situation of the company and its possibilities to gain a competitive advantage and use its resources and capabilities properly.

The VRIO framework and ideas about strategic management developed by Barney and Hesterly (2015) will be used in the analysis. Besides, several recommendations will be offered to the US Marine Corps to deal with the points in its “Worry List”. The US Marine Corps is a powerful organization that can do a lot of good and helpful things to its country, and its resources and capabilities should not become a problem but a chance to realize that many improvements can be achieved.

US Marine Corps: Current Situation

To comprehend the current situation in the US Marine Corps, it is necessary to realize what the idea of being successful in developing corporate-wide and business-level strategies means. There is thought that many people are still confused by the impossibility to identify the differences between business and corporate strategies and continue considering them as the same types of activities (Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington, 2009).

Still, it is very important to corporate-wide strategies and business-level strategies have many differences, and its core difference lies in their orientations. A corporate-wide strategy helps to identify the main values, concepts, and capabilities and meet a competitive advantage, and a business-level strategy is used to introduce the main steps, activities, and resources in order to meet the goals and visions of an organization (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2006).

When an organization chooses its strategy, it tries to investigate as many alternatives as possible and clarify what steps are preferable for competitions. The success of the choices is predetermined by evaluation of the situation and the impossibility of other companies to duplicate the activities.

The current situation that can be observed in the US Marine Corps is not complicated because its strategies and activities are based on its vision statement, roles, and goals. Besides, there are not many similar organizations that can imitate the responsibilities that lie on the US Marine Corps.

As one of the main “Nation’s force in readiness” (Marine Corps Vision and Strategy, 2013), US Marine Corps should be responsive to the needs of commanders and deal with the existing uncertain environment and possible irregular threats. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is used to united all missions of the organization and create a balanced environment for the US Marine Corps.

The main steps that should be taken are focused on the defense of the homeland from attacks, prevention of the emergence of a hostile regional power, and promotion of the stability of the global system and survival of a nation (Marine Corps Vision and Strategy, 2013).

Internal Sources of the Organization

The implementation of the organization’s strategy is a crucial step that has to be taken properly. The evaluation of the extent to which the resources, capabilities, systems, and processes should be recognized is necessary. The VRIO framework offered by Barney and Hesterly (2015) is one of the possible tools to examine the internal environment of an organization and identify the resources and capabilities that can determine its competitive potential.

There are four main questions that should be answered in the analysis: what are the value, rarity, imitability, and organization of the company. The U.S. Marine Corps is not the organization that can provide the list of tangible and intangible resources and organizational capabilities that have to be evaluated. The company plays an important role in national security and can deploy the required portion of the force to deal with a threat in any part of the world in a short period of time.

Tangible benefits that are available to the company under analysis are connected with financial resources, insurance and family healthcare opportunities, appropriate housing and facilities, and the abilities to get an education, travel, and vacation (Benefits, 2016). Besides, there are many personal and professional resources such as properly forces and people, who know how to use them, organized controlled systems, modern facilities, and strategic planning processes.

There are also the issues that can be identified as intangible resources. These are a political and public support to promote military operations and a number of personal traits like courage, desire to protect people, knowledge, and trust (Benefits, 2016). The US Marine Corps’ capabilities vary considerably. The current improvements and technological innovations make it possible to involve more people in military affairs and inform ordinary citizens about their possibilities.

The stakeholders of the US Marine Corps are properly motivated to protect the nation, get access to new products, and have enough sources to support its infantry. The peculiar feature of the Marine Corps is its attention to the authority and a high level of responsibility. Deployment capabilities should be mentioned as well. The organization succeeds in placing its forces at sea so that constant access to maritime roads and services provides the company with a possibility to react to any kind of national or international incident quickly.

The following table can be used to understand if the strategies offered by the company make it competitive advantageous or not.

CP – Competitive Parity

TA – Temporary Advantage

SA – Sustained Advantage

KFS Value Rare Imitability Organization Competitive advantage
Resources (Tangible)
Financial resources
YES NO YES YES CP
Healthcare and insurance YES YES YES YES SA
Housing and facilities YES YES YES YES SA
Education YES YES YES YES SA
Travel YES YES YES YES SA
Controlled systems YES YES YES YES SA
Resources (Intangible)
Political support
YES YES YES YES SA
Public support YES YES YES YES SA
Trust YES YES NO YES TA
Courage YES YES YES YES SA
Knowledge and skills YES YES YES YES SA
Capabilities
New products and services
YES NO NO NO CP
Motivation YES NO NO NO CP
Infantry support (ground combat) YES YES YES YES SA
Logistics combat element YES YES YES YES SA
Aviation combat element YES YES YES YES SA

Taking into consideration all these resources and capabilities of the US Marine Corps, it is possible to calculate an average point and come to the conclusion that the US Marine Corps has a competitive (sustained) advantage and is ready to use it even if there are some shortages, competitors, or other misunderstandings that can prevent the completion of a quality work.

Value Chain Analysis

A value chain analysis is one of the possible tools that can be used to analyze specific activities of organizations that have to create a competitive advantage. Porter introduces five main activities that have to be identified and investigated: inbound logistics (receiving and storing inputs), operations (activities that create value), outbound logistics (offering services and products), marketing and sales (attracting attention of the potential consumers, advertising, etc.), and service (enhancement of a product value) (Sekhar, 2009).

Though not many organizations try to create serious competition for the US Marine Corps, it is still necessary to consider the steps that may be taken by the company and make potentially valuable and rare resources like healthcare insurance or traveling opportunities difficult for others to imitate. The value should be based on tangible and intangible resources and capabilities.

The US Marine Corps has successfully implemented activity-based cost and management operations and identified several areas for cost savings.

The financial resources and properly trained and educated people are organized so that they can respond to any kind of event and deal with a crisis. Besides, the US Marine Corps view themselves as an organization that provides its nation with a number of helpful services and ideas. This team consists of people, who believe in a warrior culture and are ready to share its main principles with other people.

Due to the existing public and political support, the US Marine Corps pays more attention to the institutional organization and the necessity to meet the requirements set. The staff evaluates the competencies and possible improvements of operational environments. Therefore, it is possible to say that such resources as public and political support make the company under analysis valuable and rare.

The following table introduces the value chain that may be applied to the US Marine Corps and the activities that make it recognizable.

Inbound Logistics Operations Outbound Logistics Marketing and Sales Services
1. Public and political support;
2. Education and training;
3. Controlled systems.
1. Household and facilities;
2. Travelling;
3. Vacation.
1. Trust;
2. Courage;
3. Protection.
Service profitability. Constant readiness and powerful and rapid response to a crisis or threat.

Organization and Management of the US Marine Corps

There are three main capabilities that make the US Marine Corps a valuable organization (Marines Structure, 2016). The Ground Combat Element is based on such issues as constant training, battlefield dominance, and ground equipment. The fact that this element is supported by such intangible resources and warriors’ skills and commitment makes the organization unique by its nature. Young people want to know more about the organization and activities to be performed.

In its turn, the company has to provide its infantry with the best equipment, vehicles, and tanks to complete their functions and succeed in training. The Logistics Combat Element takes responsibility for the supplies, services, and various types of communication that can be used for MAGTF. Besides, this element is the one that keeps all marines in a state of constant readiness to begin any type of operation.

The capabilities offered by this particular element are focused on the connection without which the completion of operation can hardly be possible. Finally, there is the Aviation Combat Element that completes such functions as offensive air support, assault support, electronic welfare, etc. Maneuverability and flexibility are the two main characteristics of services that can be offered.

There are two main chains of command in the US Marine Corps: service (starting from the President and ending with the Commandant of the US Marine Corps) and operation (starting from the President and ending with the commanders of commandant teams). Each chain has its own obligations and duties in the organization that have to be performed on a high level.

SWOT Analysis

Strategic planning is a technique that helps to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization. In addition to a properly identified business objective, the identification of internal and external factors should take place. Strategic strengths include all those positive characteristics that may promote an advantage of a company.

Weaknesses show the negative characteristics of the company that may decrease the competitive advantage. The identification of the opportunities helps to understand what changes the US Marine Corps had in comparison to their competitors. Threats consist of the elements that may create some troubles or promote a challenging environment for the company.

Strengths
Career opportunities;
Technical training;
Obligatory tuition;
Housing opportunities;
Healthcare insurance;
Paid vacation;
Possibility of traveling;
The image and brand of the US Marine Corps;
Leadership management;
Regular new perspectives.
Weaknesses
Poor morale development;
Constant deployments;
Internal politics that lead to discriminations;
Stresses;
Infantry is lack of educational opportunities;
Recruiting budget.
Opportunities
The possibility of patriotism importance;
The possibility of new jobs and opportunities in other countries;
Improvements for teachers and families;
Educational opportunities for those, who cannot get them.
Threats
The possibility of non-military employment;
Robust economy;
Family protests;
The possibilities to get an education at colleges and universities.

Analysis

One of the most evident competitive advantages of the US Marine Corps is the possibility to differentiate itself as a caring and confident organization. A number of tangible and intangible strengths in addition to the commitment of its employees create a very powerful picture of an organization that can cope with any kind of challenge and help other people overcome various global challenges.

The current shift in the nature and forms of warfare may create a number of threats and challenges to the business-level strategy implemented by the US Marine Corps. There are many states that want to improve the existing capabilities, and Marine Corps have to solve the dilemma of maintaining the “ability to wage successful campaigns against large conventionally-armed states and their militaries, against widely dispersed terrorist, and everything in between” (Marine Corps Vision and Strategy, 2013, p. 22).

The business-level strategy focused on such aspects as organization, optimization, modernization, and prevention of crises. In order to minimize the risks that can be observed in the future that cannot be foreseen, it is expected to identify capable forces, describe various tasks, and set affordable costs that can be accepted and implemented by the organization. There are several ways the US Marine Corps is ready to use in order to achieve the goals they set and the values they prefer.

For example, the individual marine importance should be explained by means of constant recruitment, training, and retentions that have to be organized properly. The organization is ready to spend much money and use the best technologies to enhance a high-quality performance of every warrior.

Besides, it is expected to improve the quality of training and education and underline the possibility of hybrid threats that cannot be properly understood by each warrior (Marine Corps Vision and Strategy, 2013). Finally, it is also suggested to pay more attention to naval relations that require new knowledge and training means.

Worry List and Recommendations

In fact, the peculiar feature of the chosen business-level strategy is the fact that it does not have evident weak points or shortages. The majority of threats is external by their nature and cannot be always controlled by the US Marine Corps. Recruiting targets can be achieved in case the organization focus on its strong aspects and understand the worth of its opportunities. There are many intangible sources that provide the company with its competitive advantage and the possibilities to cope with the following issues of the “worry list”:

  1. Inability to promote the importance of moral among the representatives of lower ranks;
  2. Inabilities to provide warriors with a chance to cope with stressful situations;
  3. Poor educational opportunities for the representatives of infantry;
  4. Constant deployments that are not properly explained;
  5. Poor attention to the role of family relations.

All these problems have solutions. The US Marine Corps is the organization with a powerful organizational system and potential that can be used to identify the challenges and choose the methods that can be appropriate for the organization and its employees. There are many external factors that the US Marine Corps is not able to cope with.

Still, it is always possible to use such factors and values as personal commitment, honor, courage, and trustful relations and make an attempt to improve the situation. The US Marine Corps is a symbol of support people can have regarding the existing challenges, terrorist attacks, and misunderstandings that take place between nations. Its strategies should be a solution for people in need but not a challenge for the organization.

References

Barney, J.B. & Hesterly, W. (2015). Strategic management and competitive advantage concepts and cases. New York, NY: Pearson Education.

. (2016). Web.

Hitt, M., Ireland, D., & Hoskisson, R. (2006). Strategic management: Concepts and cases. Mason, OH: Thomson Higher Education.

Johnson, G., Scholes, K., & Whittington, R. (2009). Fundamentals of strategy. Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

. (2013). Web.

. (2016). Web.

Sekhar, G.V.S. (2009). Business policy and strategic management. New Delhi: I.K. International.

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