Unique among the services, the Marine Corps comes out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan larger than it went in (186,100 today versus 172,600 in 1999). That growth has allowed it to maintain its traditional ground and aviation units and create new units for cyber and information warfare. Nevertheless, unlike the other three services, it grows little through FY 2024 and does not attempt to attain its previous goal of 194,000. That creates a tension in the future between creating additional new capabilities and maintaining traditional capabilities.
The National Defense Strategy (NDS) creates two further tensions. The first is the direction to create new capabilities for great power conflict, sacrificing force structure as necessary, while at the same time meeting demands to provide continuing high levels of forward deployments for global engagement and crisis response. The other tension is between preparing units for these day-to-day forward deployments or for great power conflict, the training and equipment being different for each.