The Marine Corps is heading into 2017 with some anxiety about its readiness and capability.

In September, the Corps rolled out a major update to its warfighting strategy, the Expeditionary Force 21 operating concept, and Marines can expect to see a renewed focus this year on technology and small units operating independently over large areas.

"The Marine Corps is not organized, trained and equipped to meet the demands of a future operating environment characterized by complex terrain, technology proliferation, information warfare, the need to shield and exploit signatures, and an increasingly non-permissive maritime domain," the report concluded.

To address those concerns, Marines need to get back to the basics: At its heart, the Corps remains an expeditionary maritime force.

Marines will be forward-deployed at new expeditionary bases in places like Africa, Australia and Norway, where they'll be prepared to strike from the sea or provide immediate humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Small squads and landing teams will be reinforced with their own cyber warfare capabilities as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools. Those assets historically were available only at the battalion and regimental levels.

They'll be distributed over wide geographic areas, such as Africa, where already small teams with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Africa are deploying to train local military forces in places like Senegal, Uganda, Liberia, Djibouti and South Sudan.

Greater emphasis will be placed on training, education and leadership development of high-quality personnel.

"Our people have always been the Marine Corps center of gravity and the key to our success as warfighters," Commandant Gen. Robert Neller stated in the report's preface.

"Their ability to think critically, innovate smartly and adapt to complex environments and adaptive enemies has always been the key factor we rely on to win in any clime and place."