...The Marine Corps will continue to focus, as it has since the end of World War II, on sea-based forward engagement and crisis response, and supporting joint campaigns of both short and long duration. The primary adversaries in the future will be "hybrid" in nature, with access to the full range of guided weapons--referred to as G-RAMM, Guided Rockets, Artillery, Mortars, and Missiles.I could nit-pic, but I won't. That is a solid concept to work with. He would have received an A+ if he hadn't used the phrase "hybrid warriors."
There is widespread agreement that there may be times in the future where access may be hard to come by, and we may have to fight to get it. This comes out strongly in Secretary Gates’ call to improve our ability to defeat anti-access/area denial threats.
In light of these circumstances, Secretary Gates has asked whether or not we should retain an amphibious assault capability--the ability to inject intact, ready-to-fight combat forces ashore from the sea--and if so, for what mission and how much capacity. We have been studying this question for the past year. We will be arguing our case this Fall.
We believe, and will argue, that the joint force should retain a modest amphibious assault capability, focused on the theater entry mission. As Phil Ridderhof explains, the USMC's WWII experience was conducting seizures of defended islands for the purpose of seizing an advanced naval base. We believe that a future amphibious assault, if conducted, would look more like US Army theater entry missions conducted in the ETO, which are designed to facilitate a follow-on joint land campaign. Since these types of missions will be relatively low probability, we think the ability to land 2 MEBs is the minimum capacity necessary, provided there is a rapid reinforcement capability. The inclusion of Army Airborne, MPF squadrons with new Mobile Landing Platforms, and JLOTS capabilities in our thinking will therefore be critical. And any theater entry will be a joint endeavor, relying on Air Force space and air support.
In an anti-access environment where the enemy has a capable battle network capable of firing salvos of guided weapons, the initial phase of any theater entry operation will require achieving air, sea, undersea, and overall battle network superiority. This will mean this type of operation will be deliberate and take some time to develop. This does not mean "damn the G-RAMM, full speed ahead." It means, "take your time, roll the G-RAMM threat back, and then land at a time and place of your own choosing." No 10-day landings in this environment.
Once ashore, the primary threat to the lodgment will come from G-RAMM "counter-attacks" and hybrid warriors who most likely will hide amongst the people. This will require the Marines to concentrate on establishing an inner G-RAMM perimeter designed to keep guided rockets, mortars, and artillery suppressed/out of range. The joint force, especially the defending Navy battle network, will concentrate on defeating the longer range-G-RAMM threat.
Let's posit that if we needed to, and we dedicated the assets to do so, we might be able to inject 2 ready-to-fight airborne BCTs into a joint lodgment over a 2-3 day period. We are recommending we retain a capability to inject just 2 MEBs. In other words, we are recommending we retain the ability to inject just four ready-to-fight BCTS out of a planned force of 86 BCTs equivalents (73 Army BCTs, 12 Marine RCTs, 1 Ranger Regt). The remaining 82 would have to be assembled in theater, once their equipment (generally delivered by sea) and people (generally delivered by air) arrive. Improving the rapid reinforcement/rapid assembly capability will obviously be critical.
We don't think this is a big force, and are not recommending a major increase in amphibious landing forces. However, we think retaining the capability to conduct a modest theater entry mission supported by sea-based forces is critical. We hope OSD and the Joint Staff will agree.
Best, Bob Work
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
In response a solid post over at SmallWarsJournal by Robert Haddick, Under Secretary of the Navy - and reader of CDRSalamander - Robert Work responded in an exemplary manner in comments.
If he wasn't nice to me he would have been knocked down a full letter grade ... but today I am feeling happy with life and will be petty and play favorites.