Amphibious ships could be equipped with guns, rockets and drones to take out targets from long distances, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said.

“We know we can shoot HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System] off the flight deck of a ship,” Neller said.

In order to successfully launch operations in the littorals, the Marine Corps needs to increase the fighting capabilities for amphibious ships, he said Wednesday at the Marine Corps League’s annual Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Virginia.

“You’re going to see precision fire delivered off amphib ships, whether it comes out of tube guns or rockets or delivered from unmanned systems,” Neller said.

Marines are already on high alert when amphibious ships transit choke points, such as the Suez Canal, he said.

“You’re not going to see Marines just sitting down on their bunks reading magazines,” Neller said. “You’re going to see snipers up on the weather deck. You’re going to see guys up there with Javelins and heavy guns. You’re going to see air defenders up there with air defense systems.”

The Marine Corps new concept for fighting in the littorals acknowledges that large ships pose ‘lucrative targets’ to enemy defenses.

“If the enemy has a capability to shoot my large ship or my destroyer or my carrier from a couple hundred nautical miles away – or maybe longer – I’ve got to do something about that,” Neller said. “That’s why it’s important that all of these ships have the capability to do some sort of strike or denial – or some way to suppress that capability.”