Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Attack the Gaps

Breaking Defense website had an article with a title that stated (paraphrased), Marines won’t attack head-on but will find gaps.  I won’t bother citing the article because I’m not going to quote anything or even reference any information from it.  The phrase “find the gaps” is the only relevant item, for my purposes.

The Marines will find the gaps.

That seems reasonable.  Why attack the enemy’s strength when you can find the gaps?  There’s only one problem with that concept:  gaps usually exist because there’s nothing worth defending, or, conversely, worth attacking there.  A gap exists because the enemy doesn’t care about it. 

Well, sure, the gap doesn’t contain anything worthwhile but exploiting it allows us to get our forces ashore and then they can advance to the actual objective.

That seems reasonable.  Only, there’s a few problems with that concept.  First, given the long range of modern artillery, rockets, helos, cruise and ballistic missiles, and whatnot, the gap will probably be a very long way from the actual objective.  That means that we’ll have to travel/fight on land for a very long distance to get where we really want to be.  Traveling and fighting for long distances requires a very robust logistics tail.  As we’ve discussed, our current ability to supply such an endeavor is suspect, at best.  How will we get huge amounts of supplies over the beach and then transport them long distances to the advancing force?  That’s a challenge that I don’t think we’re currently equipped for or doctrinally/tactically prepared for.

Second, while exploiting the gap may allow us to bypass the enemy’s initial resistance, once we arrive at the actual objective it will, presumably, be heavily defended and we’re right back to attacking the enemy’s strength only now it will be at the end of a very long and shaky logistics trail.  Yes, we will have gotten the bulk of our forces ashore but they will be in a precarious position logistically and will be “fought out” to a degree, just having had to fight through a long distance of enemy territory to get to the objective.

The concept of a gap is almost a leftover from the days of line-of-sight combat.  If the enemy soldiers and tanks couldn’t directly see you, they couldn’t engage.  Yes, there were mortars and artillery but they still required line-of-sight contact for targeting.  In other words, the gaps were already close to the objective – just beyond line-of-sight.  Today, if you have to move fifty or a hundred miles away from the objective to find a gap, that leaves the attacking force a very long way from its actual objective, as described above.

Certainly, for smaller, less important objectives I’m sure there will be exploitable gaps that aren’t too far away but for any major objective the concept of exploiting gaps may be far more problematic than anticipated. 

One last point about gaps …  An implicit assumption about gaps and logistics is that we will be able to freely move troops, equipment, and supplies about the battlefield with helos and MV-22s.  That, in turn, contains the implicit assumption that we have aerial supremacy.  Against any peer enemy we will find that we do not have air superiority.  At best, we’ll be lucky to achieve a no-man’s land in the sky.  Our ability to move men, equipment, and supplies through the air will be severely constrained.  Remember, we’ll be fighting on enemy soil where the enemy can make use of thousands of man-portable SAMs, an established air defense network, the entire weight of the region’s air forces disbursed and operating from multiple bases, and likely against superior enemy numbers.  In contrast, we’ll be at the end of a very long logistics trail (we’ll be fighting in China, Iran, N.Korea, or somewhere far from friendly bases) with very limited and sporadic Air Force support due to lack of bases in theatre and naval aviation that will probably be fully occupied defending the fleet.  Yes, we will attack enemy bases and defense networks but the point is that our assumption of freedom of movement in the skies is invalid.

Who’s gaming this out?  Has anyone tried an exercise simulating a contested march across a hundred miles to test the logistics of this?  ComNavOps is not a land combat expert by any means but so much of the Marine assault concept seems disjointed and poorly thought out.  Perhaps all of this has been carefully conceived, planned, exercised, and proven but nothing I’ve seen indicates that is so.

Gaps?  Let’s exercise this concept before we commit to it.

36 comments:

  1. CNO,

    Please also consider deception as a means to "stretch out" an enemy and create gaps!

    Armies, even really massive ones like the Soviet Army during the last year of WWII, have gaps because forces are not uniformly distributed across the front, but rather concentrated into groupings of forces (divisions, corps, armies, and in the case of the Russians fronts (collections of armies)). Professional western armies have not fought as *herds* since before Alexander the Great.

    Returning to the Normandy invasion, the Germans had almost 400,000 troops in France, while the allies embarked only about 192,000 troops. Of the embarked forces, the allies were really only able to land perhaps half (plus another 25,000 paratroopers).

    Thus the Germans greatly outnumbered the allies, but could not defend everywhere. This was the reason for reserves which relied heavily upon panzer, panzer grenadier, and motorized formations to provide speed and punch. These reserves had the capability to crush an invasion provided that they could pinpoint the real landings (which of course the Germans did not do, nor were they able to commit their armor in a timely manner).

    The Germans mounted fixed defenses, primarily with second class troops around key strategic positions like ports, and relied on their armor knowing that even with the entire French coastline open to possible invasion; the allies ultimately would have to seize at least one port to supply their armies.

    GAB

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    1. GAB, a very good point. I should have been clearer. The gaps I refer to in the context of this post relate to the immediate objectives of a Marine assault rather than the larger strategic gaps of an overall campaign. The Normandy invasion was the exploitation of a gap (not sure that's the word I would use; a less defended area may be a better description) with the objective lying across the continent in Germany.

      "Gap" in my context refers to a weaker area relative to a more immediate objective and much closer to the objective. It's true that the immediate gap and objective may simply be part of a much broader campaign but from the perspective of the isolated action of the Marine assault, the objective and possible gap would be fairly closely located.

      Normandy, as an example of an immediate amphibious assault, rather than just step one of a vast campaign, was still heavily defended (if less so than other possible areas). To find a gap, as conceptualized by current Marine assault thinking, around the direct assault on Normandy would probably have required relocation some distance away with all the attendant drawbacks and tradeoffs. This is the point of the post - that simply dismissing all the identified weaknesses in current Marine assault capabilities by blithely stating that we'll attack the gaps, lumps a host of challenges and difficult realities into the category of wishful thinking while bypassing the required doctrinal thought to actually make it work, if it even can.

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    2. perfect analysis in my opinion. well done ComNavOps! what we're looking at but leadership doesn't realize it is another 100 plus mile run to the objective (a rerun of the invasion of Iraq) and the Marine Corps struggling to get it done. additionally as light as we're getting (my understanding is that Amos and group wanted to base Marine Infantry off the JLTV as primary transport), we're looking at a savage beating that will have Marine Air struggling to handle resupply, air support and counter air .... i just don't see it working.

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    3. Solomon,

      Thanks for your blog!

      GAB

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  2. I dont think its as bad as you think.
    Lets say you land in no man land 100miles from the target.
    You move ten miles up the coast, dig in, resupply, move another ten miles up the coast, resupply. Your subsequent landings dont have to be in the same place as your initial landing. You get the safe unopposed initial landing, then you get a series of pitched battles that you initiate, against the enemy rear, and then you resupply in the now safe landing zone closer to the objective.

    I just dont see opposed landings working. A dozen men with a solid supply of ATGMS could kill battalions of EFVs, a single battery of guns could sink a flotilla of tank landing ships.
    You just cant, the opposition has to be removed. Thats swimmers for the 100mile away, or battleships for a defended landing..

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    1. TrT, the problem with the scenario you suggest is that each pitched battle along the way to the real objective results in casualties, destroyed equipment, and depletion of munitions and supplies. By the time the landing force works its way to the real objective it will be "fought out" to either completely or to a degree and the enemy will still be waiting with their original strength.

      Could I be wrong? Is it not as bad as I think? Sure, it's possible that I'm wrong. Theoretically, at any rate. Hasn't happened yet! The point of the post was not whether I'm exactly right but whether the Marines have thoroughly gamed out and exercised this approach before committing to it. Note the closing sentence of the post!

      The problems and challenges that I bring up in the post are serious enough and plausible enough to warrant serious examination before the Marines casually adopt this doctrine with no real proof that it can work from a logistic and sustainment perspective, to say nothing of combat effectiveness.

      "A dozen men ..." Almost makes one wish we had 16" guns for suppressive fire, huh?

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    2. If you consider the pre-landing bombardment of Iwo Jima (16-19 Feb 45), the Navy pummeled the island with the guns from six battleships (14" guns), five cruisers (12" guns), and numerous destroyers. On the 19th, three 16" class battleships and three additional heavy cruisers joined the bombardment. The gunfire support was nearly constant for those three days and nights, with breaks for dive bombing and strafing from the escort carrier aircraft.

      There were no CDCMs, no double digit SAMs, no A2/AD threats that would push the fleet a minimum of 65nm over the horizon. The enemy was defended by small arms, light artillery, coconut log shelters, caves, concrete bunkers, and a fanatical will to serve the emperor. We had 9 BBs, 8 CAs, DDs, DEs, CVEs at the pinnacle of our naval combined arms amphibious capability and 96 hours of continuous bombardment from a few thousand yards off the beach... we still spent more than a month trying to completely clear 8 square miles, with 7,000 KIA, 19,000 wounded, and one carrier sunk.

      If we want to do this kind of operation in a future environment, it will be equally bloody, if not more so. I don't think a few 16" guns are really going to make a difference, so leave the battleships as museums.

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    3. Trons Away,

      What would have happened if there had been no bombardment at Iwo Jima?

      Another counter to your argument is to compare the fire support at Normandy and North Africa.

      I am not wedded to any particular platform, but the ability to project chemical and mechanical explosives via air, gun or other method is essential to modern war.

      GAB

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    4. GAB,

      To answer your first question: I suspect we wouldn’t have made it ashore.

      As to the second point: the nature of the North African coast allowed more flexibility to land at multiple less opposed sites – you could call them gaps. The Pacific Theater allowed no such flexibility. The Japanese had spent 10 years acquiring and preparing the best island real estate, thus requiring a full amphibious frontal assault against well defended beaches.

      By 1945, the Navy, Marines, and Army had been conducting opposed amphibious landings nearly every other month for four years. Prior to the war, the Navy and Marines had extensively prepared for ORANGE. They had studied, wargamed, surveyed beaches, procured equipment, and done several fleet exercises to refine the doctrine and tactics. The Navy had planned for a cross Pacific thrust, seizing advanced naval bases along the way, in order to relieve the PI and force a decisive naval battle with the IJN, and as Nimitz stated, the Kamikaze was the only thing that surprised them. We had the doctrine, tactics, men, equipment and experience - arguably the most capable force in history to conduct amphibious assaults. Yet we still lost 7K at Iwo.

      Today, we are 60 years removed from the last truly contested amphibious landing and have few of the above resources. Anti access technology has slewed the advantage further in favor of the defense. I can come up with several tactical level ideas how to prepare a beach. I’m simply saying, let’s not try to fit our square tactical pegs (whether new gen 5 stealth jump jets or old battlewagons) into oddly misshaped strategic holes. Take a pause, determine if, why, when, and where we would like to conduct such operations in the future, study and wargame the problem, then develop the tactics and procure the equipment to properly execute.

      TA

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    5. TA, the actual landing at Iwo was essentially unopposed. The resulting casualties were the result of the subsequent land battle. In a sense, the Japanese resistance and tactics were the result of the success of previous US amphibious landings. The Japanese adjusted their tactics.

      It may be a matter of definition, and debatable, but the amphibious landing was completely successful. We were able to land our troops and supplies largely unhindered. The subsequent land battle was costly. It's a question of whether, in your considerations, you separate the ultimate objective from the landing itself.

      Regardless, your general points are quite correct.

      Thanks!

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    6. Yup! Fully aware of the tactics. Thank you for clarifying my remarks sir!

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    7. TA,

      You have not addressed the ETO, and particularly the Normandy invasions, and your assertions regarding the application of fire in the PTO are unsupported as a general theory of war.

      The WWII German Heer was a far more dangerous enemy than the IJA, although I concede that the individual Japanese soldier was a more dangerous opponent.

      The Normandy invasion was much more of a gamble than any of the PTO invasions, in fact the entire campaign (really the ETO) was in doubt until the British and Canadians closed the Falaise Pocket in mid August.

      In WWI France the allies used artillery the way the Navy/USMC did in the PTO and expended millions of shells, weeks of preparatory bombardments that often included gas, and generally achieved little - in fact the artillery sometimes was more damaging to the assault troops.

      Yet by the end of WWI, Georg Bruchmüller repeatedly broke very strongly defended allied positions for the German Heer using artillery assaults sometimes as short as 2.5 hours in duration.

      The assertion that massed fires achieve little because of the high casualties sustained by marines does not invalidate the concept of fires, just the execution. And sorry, but looking solely at amphibious operations in the Pacific to glean lessons for future amphibious operations is deeply flawed.

      GAB

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    8. Despite having all the surface and air supporting fires we wanted, combined with years of experience, guided by decades of operational planning, nested within well defined strategic guidance, a strong industrial base, and the will of the American people, we still suffered intense casualties during opposed amphibious operations in the WWII Pacific Theater of Operations. I've never even hinted that the concept of fires is in invalid. Conversely, today we couldn't generate the fires we had in WWII, whether at Iwo, Normandy, North Africa, wherever. We have maybe 100 5" mounts today, 2 155 AGS mounts, a smattering of 76mm, and crew served small arms. There were probably more gun mounts off the coast of any of the WWII landings than are in the entire fleet today. We have nothing like an ATACMS or HIMARS, or mortar support on our ships. What makes up the difference? Carrier Air? Happy to oblige, but there's only so much ordnance you can put on a Super Hornet, and you can't reload airborne like in the simulator.

      We have an EF21 concept that essentially takes all but the Zumwalts and TACAIR out of the game by conceding the first 65 nm to the enemy.

      We have existing amphibious doctrine that we can't support with the current fleet against anything other than a moderately defended landing site.

      We don't have the capability to effectively attack dynamic targets over the horizon outside TACAIR - which has ramifications for sea control, power projection, and amphibious operations.

      In any case, all we currently could support is finding gaps or crisis response, which CNO has aptly argued eliminates the need for 30 dedicated amphibs and all the supporting resources.

      More importantly, we don't have a clear strategic or operational concept of why we would ever risk so much again. "Pivot to the Pacific" is a bumper sticker. Where will we land a large force against a heavily defended coast? The Spratleys? The Philippines? Vietnam? France so we can land the M1s and push back the Russians, or Norway to open a Northern Front. Somebody make a case beyond the fact that the world is a dangerous place, and we might have to someday.

      Even with the advances in combined arms, there is a reason the world considered WWI, the war to end all wars. Like 1919, we in a postwar era of retrenchment. There are currently few things in the world that the American public is scared enough of that they would be willing to lose 5-7k personnel in one operation.

      This isn't the end of history, and we'll likely fight again, let's just spend some time thinking about what type of capabilities we really need based on the strategy we wish to pursue. Is that really flawed thinking?

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    9. We do have ~160 bombers that can reach anywhere in the world in a day or so. Each bomber, with up to 80 500lb JDAMs, can make up for some missing naval guns (that used to fire only dumb ordinance).

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    10. TA,

      How do you explain why the British and Canadians were able to get off of Sword, Gold, and Juneau beaches, but the USA floundered at Omaha, and would have foundered at Utah (had we hit the right beach)?

      This is particularly telling as the most serious opposition to the Normandy landings were the German Armored formations closest to the British and Canadian beaches.

      GAB

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    11. The Commonwealths brought tanks and Hobart's Funnies; the US didn't?

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    12. TA, I seem to recall that the US had around 32 of the "swimming" tanks (DD) but 28 or so sank before making it to shore. You might want to check that before taking as truth. I may be remembering it incorrectly.

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    13. B.Smitty: "We do have ~160 bombers that can reach anywhere in the world in a day or so. Each bomber, with up to 80 500lb JDAMs, can make up for some missing naval guns (that used to fire only dumb ordinance)."

      As I recall, the JDAM is a GPS guided bomb with a 10 or 15 mile range? How would you see them being used in an invasion bombardment scenario? Obviously, they could be individually targeted at know targets. Do you also see them being used as an area bombardment weapon where they are targeted at a specific patch of ground? If not, we're back to the issue of not having any significant bombardment capability. What do you think?

      I would also be concerned about the survivability of bombers at a range of 10-15 miles from the invasion site. As I've oft opined (he waxed poetic), I doubt our abilty to establish aerial supremacy against a peer. I know you and I have differed about the survivability of bombers but I see a massive concentration of bombers triggering an enemy feeding frenzy of attacking fighters and land based SAMs. Of course, we'd attempt to provide escort but I'm doubtful about the chances of success. Do you see it differently?

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    14. TA, you ask where we would be likely to land a large force against a defended beach. I've asked that same question in a much earlier post and concluded that we have far more amphibious ships than we need for the likely scenarios. Like you, I see few possible scenarios for that type of operation.

      On the other hand, the best answer to that question that I've heard is Iran. Our overland entry options are very limited or non-existent, depending on the politics of the moment, and a sea-based entry might be necessary. Check a map of Iran and you'll see the problem. Iran represents a potential combination of need for ground troops combined with little other option for getting them there. What do you think?

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    15. Trons AwayJuly 24, 2014 at 1:49 PM" :The Commonwealths brought tanks and Hobart's Funnies; the US didn't?"

      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      Certainly a principal factor, but add several other key differences to include the effectiveness of the UK Canadian naval bombardment, the decision to equip their tanks (a large number of which were Shermans) with 17 pounder guns, and a better assessment of the enemy and a better operational plan.

      The point of this exercise is to underscore the fact that even an amphibious campaign against a 1st class enemy can be effectively made with "reasonable casualties".

      I say this mindful that the Germans definitively missed several opportunities at Normandy, but the biggest mistake was to assume that the allies would not land in bad weather - a great nod to the value of boldness.

      GAB

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    16. GAB, good points. I'll have to research allied naval artillery at Normandy.

      CNO, I believe it was the 741st. 27 of 32 amphibious DD Shermans sunk because they launched from the LCTs farther out than planned, in rougher water than expected. Sounds like the connectors/ACV idea the Marines are currently discussing.

      As to Iran, I can see only two credible scenarios that we would enter limited war:
      1. The use or imminent use of nuclear weapons - not really much need for amphibious operations in that one. That's all STRATCOM.
      2. A strait closure - I don't know how much US-bound oil comes through Hormuz, regardless, such a move would create a global crisis. I possibly could see an amphibious landing in the Gulf of Oman to put Marines ashore to either move north and clear CDCMs or provide a blocking force to enable maneuver or amphibious forces to pivot south, secure a port and bring in the heavys. The Persians aren't dumb. They've probably thought that through, as well.

      I've heard a few interesting concepts about "turning the A2/AD table" where the Marines would deploy to or seize small islands and set up CDCMs and SAMs for sea control. Problem being, the Marines don't have those systems, unless they consider the F-35B to be a flying CDCM/SAM.

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    17. CNO,

      Air superiority (if not air dominance) is a prerequisite for an opposed amphibious assault. It's suicide without it. So if we can't gain it, we don't perform the assault.

      A cagey enemy could light off fire control radars intermittently and move frequently, in an attempt to preserve their SAM systems. But we've studied and played the SEAD/DEAD game more than our enemies have played hide-n-seek with their SAM systems, so IMHO, we have the advantage.

      We certainly can use JDAMs to attack area targets, or WCMDs, or SDBs.

      At one point there was talk of using multiple 2000lb JDAMs to clear a path through surf and beach minefields. I don't know if this was ever tested.

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    18. B.Smitty, attaining air superiority against a peer defending their own territory may not be a realistic expectation. Take China, for example. We'll be operating far from our AF bases (depending on where, exactly, the assault would take place, of course) and the bulk of our naval air would be tied up protecting the carrier. That leaves little to establish aerial superiority especially when you factor in the inevitable SAMs of all types. We'll be lucky to establish an aerial no-man's land. I don't see bombers being able to operate successfully in such a circumstance.

      Now, that may mean that assaults against a peer are not a realistic option or it may mean that we have to rethink our assault doctrine and readjust our force structure.

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    19. We won't be invading mainland China. Period. Nuclear weapons and 3-600 million potential soldiers makes this idea insane.

      In the event of a war with China, the Chinese may decide to take islands in the first and second chain to bolster their defenses. We may desire to retake them.

      Itbayat Island, for example, sits right in the middle of the Luzon Strait and could be strategically valuable territory. Of course one has to wonder whether China would attack such a small island and not just invade the Philippines.

      Looking at this map,

      http://www.airpower.at/news04/0706_flanker/china-flanker.gif

      You'll see the Island is on the outside edge, but within the Su-30MKKs combat radius. The Chinese have maybe 200 or so Su-27/30s right now. The rest of their air force is shorter range, older aircraft. That 200 has to cover their entire country. Not all will be available to repel an invasion.

      IMHO, a three carrier task force should be able to maintain air superiority over Itbayat from the relative safety of the Philippine Sea. This assumes no useful land bases in the Philippines are available. I have a feeling the Filipinos would enthusiastically support our efforts.



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    20. B.Smitty, I happen to agree with you about not invading mainland China (although there's always the assault to retake a captured Taiwan scenario). If that's the case, that we're going to rule out a China assault, then we can drastically scale back our amphibious assault needs and readjust our overall force structure.

      This leads to the quandry we all find ourselves dealing with in these discussion: do we discuss only the requirements that are reasonably foreseeable or do we discuss "what if". In terms of reasonable scenarios, only an assault on Iran seems reasonable and that would not require anywhere near the same force level and structure as China. For that, we don't need 38 large hull amphibious ships. For that matter, we don't need the F-35, F-22, B-2, and so on. We could accomplish that mission with legacy equipment although newer stuff is nice to have.

      On the other hand, many people make the "what if" argument. What if we have to invade a peer? Sure, we don't know who that would be or where or when or why but what if? The problem is that there is no arguing against the what if and there is no limit to the equipment and numbers that are needed. The Marine Corps is making that argument to a large extent. They want all kinds of capability but can't really lay out a case for it other than to say what if.

      In this particular discussion, I'm talking on the what if side because that's what the Marines are talking and because that's what the post addressed. I have my personal view of the overall assault issue and I have my theoretical discussion view which is what I'm addressing in this post.

      Does that make sense?

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    21. The amphibious ships in the fleet do a lot more than just wait for a peer to assault. They provide extremely valuable forward presence. Can we get by with cheaper ships? I think so. Fewer? No, not IMHO. Less expensive Marine systems? Yes.

      The number of amphibs is driven by forward deployment requirements. It takes four-ish ARGs to keep one forward deployed. So 12 ships to keep three deployed. 36 ships allow for 3 ARGs on station around the world, constantly. 30 ships gives you 2 ARGs on station plus some reserve capacity.

      We need to discuss "what ifs", for sure. But we have to be reasonable. Retaking Taiwan would require years of preparation, just as the Normandy invasion did. We would have to build the fleet that would carry our Marines and soldiers AFTER hostilities started, IMHO.

      Bombers and fighter aircraft are necessary, near term, in virtually any crisis. Staying ahead of the world in these areas gives us a critical advantage. IMHO, the USAF should be planning to buy two to three times as many next generation bombers as they are, at the expense of F-35s.



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    22. Retake Taiwan after the Chinese have 2 to 3 years to dig in and fortify! Not a chance a US president would go for that.

      Best bet would be a massive Tomahawk launch against China to try and disrupt the landing with US carriers attacking the landing site from the eastern side of the island.

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    23. Dave P,

      Agreed. If the Chinese took Taiwan, we would not try to retake it. Not immediately, and not in a few years. Just too costly.

      We might blockade Chinese maritime traffic and launch putative strikes.

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    24. Maybe. But the cost of a blockade would be massive to everyone. You're looking at a global financial crisis. That's why I believe the initial response has to be delivered very quickly.

      Don't know about timescales but I would suspect the US is not going to have time to move marines into position or conduct much in the way of an air campaign a la Gulf war 1.

      The way I see it, the Taiwanese would be better off spending their money on anti access/ area denial weapons and training up a Fedayeen like force with plenty of manpads, anti tank weapons and IED's. Their Air force/Navy isn't going to survive long.

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  3. Kind of on topic, I've recently read a book (The Rods & The Axe, by Tom Kratman) that has a great (and I think very realistic) amphibious assault battle in it, with the objective a heavily fortified island controlling the approaches to a major canal (think Panama). It's considered Sci-fi since it's on another planet, but the tech level is basically the same and both sides are humans. In it after the first attack, the commander and architect of the defense basically says "I'm sure they couldn't take the island with ten times the force with ten years, because they lack the equipment to economically and efficiently destroy his fortifications, a half dozen heavily armored, great gunned battlewagons"

    Randall Rapp

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  4. Just an interested citizen here. CNO, I have continually been impressed by the civility and intelligence of the debates I have read here.

    I am somewhat surprised that the Tinian landing hasn't yet come up in this conversation. It's an excellent example of "finding the gaps" on a tactical level, but as far as I can tell it's also an example of how tough such a strategy would be on a theater level. The Marines intentionally landed at a less-than desirable location, and displayed great logistical acumen in getting troops and equipment ashore. They had to do so, however, in order to resist the inevitable Japanese counter-attack - the "friction" that slows any advance no matter which "gaps" you find.

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    1. archer, interest and logic are all that's required! Welcome aboard.

      Please expand on your thoughts. You're making a point about gaps and the difficulty of applying the concept to theatre level operations but, I confess, I'm missing the point. Tell me more.

      Also, what is it about the Tinian landing that you find relevant to this post? Again, you clearly have something in mind but I'm missing it.

      Help me understand! Thanks.

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  5. Its really hard to respond without masses of detail on the much larger context.

    I tend to look at things from a much smaller point than most, simply because I'm UK centric and we are smaller than the US.

    But for sake of arguement.
    Compare Dragoon to Overlord.
    Overlord was the conventional target, logistically easy, but defended.
    Dragoon was the gap, logistically harder, but poorly defended.

    Losses in Dragoon were 7:1 advantage to the allies,
    Overlord 2:1

    The Pacific Islands Campaigns are an interesting case, the tactical gaps werent there, but could we have forced strategic ones? A great many islands were assaulted, at bitter cost to both sides, to prevent the Japanese operating aircraft from them.
    But there is an obvious question, was it necesary to take the island? Or besiege it? Cut off from resupply, how much fuel, munitions and parts did the air detachment have?

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    1. TrT, Dragoon is an interesting example. The German defense consisted of second or third level troops whose armor and mechanized equipment had been depleted by transfer to other areas. The existing troops were spread quite thinly. A gap, indeed, at least on a strategic level! Of course, the gap referred to in the post is at the immediate assault level and location.

      The WWII Pacific campaign was all about strategic gaps, hence the island hopping strategy. The "gaps" were the islands that were bypassed and left to wither. On the assault level, gaps (less defended portions of an island) were exploited when possible. Ultimately, though, we still had to face the bulk of the island's defenses but the gaps allowed us to get our troops and equipment ashore with less resistance.

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  6. about tactical gaps, how can a unit of marines successfully attack an island like Koh Tang ? bad intel aside, what should USMC at that time do , in your opinion.. assuming they have to assault the island (because they got faulty intel the mayaguez crew were interned in the island)

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    1. I'm sorry. I don't know enough about the details of that operation and that target to offer any analysis. What little I know suggests that the operation was slapped together with little planning and preparation and failed utterly to take advantage of our total air and sea supremacy.

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