Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Can the Marines Survive? If America's amphibious force doesn't adapt, it'll be dead in the water.

Can they survive?  Of course they will as they are the only force that by law must retain 3 divisions and 3 air wings.  I think only Congress could end the Marine Corps and I am sure hell will freeze over before that happens.

I do love the Marines and I do believe the USMC is an elite force but I have to take exception to this statement:

In short, the future of warfare is in special operations, and the Pentagon will need a lot more operators. The future of the Marine Corps is as a special operations force that functions in a sustained combat mode.

I do not think that the Marines need to bill themselves as special operations and in fact an argument like this just seems to me like someone chasing the newest "shiny thing."  SOF seems popular at the moment so if a little if good a lot is better.  If the Marines can execute what is a traditional SOF mission then perhaps it does not need to be a SOF mission but instead a Marine mission.  And of course there are many SOF missions that are not SOF exclusive – FID being one of them.  I would be very much opposed to having the Marines writ large reinvent themselves as SOF.   

Organizationally, the Marine rifle squad as we know it today will no longer exist. Each squad will have a signals intelligence specialist, data and communications specialists, demolitions experts, one or two corpsmen, a sniper, and two or three machine gun teams -- only one or two team members may be certified "JTACs" but all must know how to coordinate the use of precision munitions and air assets via multiple radio and data waveforms. From the lowest-ranking member of the team to the general officer leading the joint task force headquarters, live video feeds will stream continuously, giving every warfighter a clear, concise picture of the battlefield. Rarely will the Marine of the future use his personal weapon; "rifleman" will become an antiquated term.

But this sure sounds like at least a partial attempt be an SF A Team. While I have no problem with someone else using an adapted organizational construct of an A Team (which is a very good and small combined arms organization) we should be under no illusion that a Marine Rifle squad will ever be able to replace an SF A Team.  Again no disrespect meant to our great Marines who are capable of doing great things, the SF mission is appropriate for SF.  And I would just add, can anyone show us the demand signal for a force beyond 360 Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha( SF ODA) (or 120 continuously globally deployed ODAs at three to make one)?

But this statement below reminds me of the book by Richard Simpkin, Race to the Swift when he said, in 1983 I think, that the most important Soldier on he battlefield will be one that has a radio and can control fires and air.

To operate in small teams that can coordinate a massive precision-engagement campaign, Marines will have to change the way they fight and train. The ethos of "every Marine a rifleman" will shift to "every Marine a JTAC," or joint terminal air controller. A Marine or team that cannot communicate on the battlefield will die. Marines will manage and become experts on dozens of different communications platforms ensuring double and triple redundancy.
While I think that this capability may very well be an important one for the Marine Corps to have and may very well be the way of the future, I do not think that such a mission is special.  I think it is an advanced Infantry mission and  it may very well turn out to be routine.

The Marine Corps does not need to evolve or adapt and become SOF.  The Marine Corps can and will adapt to the changing environment and remain Marines.

If America's amphibious force doesn't adapt, it'll be dead in the water.


On one day in 1965, a large sortie of U.S. Air Force F-105s dropped over 600 750-pound bombs on the Thanh Hoa Bridge, just 70 kilometers south of Hanoi. The result was the loss of five U.S. aircraft and a complete failure to destroy the bridge. Amazingly, the bridge would withstand over 800 more sorties from U.S. aircraft in the next seven years and receive the moniker "The Dragon's Jaw" because of its seeming indestructability and the nearby air defenses that stymied U.S. forces. Finally, in 1972, a sortie of F-4Ds carrying the new Paveway laser-guided bomb destroyed the Thanh Hoa Bridge.
Although not obvious at the time, the advent of the Paveway marked the beginning of a dramatic transformation in U.S. military technology that would change warfare forever. The revolution in precision munitions that began then has so accelerated in recent years that enemy forces can no longer operate in formations and in mass. They simply present too big a target. That, in turn, means that the days of U.S. corps, divisions, and brigades maneuvering on a battlefield with tanks, artillery, and motorized/mechanized infantry are numbered. Our surveillance capabilities allow us to sense everything on the battlefield. Any sizable vehicle formation, or single vehicle for that matter, can be destroyed with the click of a button half a world away. On today's battlefield, movement means death.

A lively debate is taking place within the Pentagon these days over how to adapt to this new reality. The Air Force and the Navy have come up with a new concept called Air-Sea Battle, which focuses on integrating naval and air forces to defeat adversaries with precision weapons backed by robust intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets. Simply put, the Air Force and the Navy are embracing new technology and have come to understand that with an integrated approach they should be able to defeat an enemy that is hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away.

By contrast, the Marines -- and the Army -- are still trained in infantry tactics that would be recognizable to a World War II vet, organized to fight big land battles with heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers. There's an elephant walking around the Pentagon these days and everyone is trying to ignore it. No one wants to talk about the fact that land forces, as currently organized, are becoming increasingly irrelevant. This is not to say that there is no use for ground troops. They are needed, but in future conflicts they will only play a secondary role. Land forces will no longer win wars. Computers, missiles, planes, and drones will. If the Marines want to survive, we're going to have to adapt -- and fast.

Struggling for Relevance

The Marines are a door-kicking service, designed to breach enemy territory and establish an entry point for the Army's strategic land capability. But the U.S. military's development of unmanned aircraft, combined with stealth technology and unmatched ISR capability, makes it almost impossible for an enemy today to significantly impede the landing of U.S. forces on a beach or at a port. Forcible entry no longer requires landing forces -- it takes precision strikes, coordinated by special operations forces as needed. But if the door is going to be kicked in by a cruise missile, an unmanned aircraft, or other platform delivering precision munitions, why does the Marine Corps insist on maintaining such a large amphibious forcible entry capability based around the same Marine who stormed ashore at Tarawa? Because to argue that the United States does not need a forcible-entry force would be to question the very necessity of having a Marine Corps. Unfortunately, that is the question the Corps must now answer.
(Continued at the link below)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Eight Points of Special Warfare

Eight Points of Special Warfare: Special Warfare is the execution of activities that involve a combination of lethal and nonlethal ac...