Regarding the previous post, reader GAB made a comment that is too astute to let go without amplification. The point of the post was that we are not following our own doctrine as we train for amphibious assaults. In addition, it has long been ComNavOps’ contention that the Navy/Marines (and military, in general) are not conducting realistic, and therefore useful, training. GAB took the opportunity to expand on the post’s theme and pointed out, item by item, the utter lack of any semblance of realistic training. His points just scratched the surface of the issue. There are many other items that should have been included in any worthwhile training but were clearly absent.
Here is the text of his comment.
I can forgive the stand-off distance, but the things that are really missing and telling in the photos:
1) Man-made obstacles (AT ditches, hedge hogs, razor wire, PMN mines, AT mines...).
2) Engineering vehicles to counter any residual mines (the enemy is also sure to have air and artillery delivered scatterable mine systems).
3) Mine sweepers.
4) Smoke - seriously, I would hope that we plan to lay down massive amounts of multi-spectral smoke to blind everything from the naked eye to image intensifiers and infrared optical systems. This is particularly true if you land in daylight…
5) Chaff - the enemy will employ radar to include synthetic and active aperture radars –we need deal with them.
6) Surface screen – seriously, we have no FAC or patrol craft to protect the landing force on the way into the beach, or to suppress immediate threats on the beach with mortars and rockets – really…?
7) And what about that fire support – I favor short neutralization fires, not the 7-day pre-landing bombardments of the Pacific - even so, you need the ability to really hammer at least two linear nautical miles of beach with DPICM (the sub 1% dud rate), HE-frag, and fuel-air/thermobaric munitions.
So, given that all that was lacking, what is this level of training accomplishing? These Marines are being led to believe that a major assault will be nothing more than a couple of minute transport ride to a clean, harmless, obstacle free beach with guides directing them where to go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Setting aside the distance issue, the Marines who actually make it ashore alive will encounter smoke, mines, obstacles, craters, confusion, gunfire, aerial attacks, explosions, and death – and that’s if things go well.
How are we helping these Marines to prepare for combat? We’re not.
Well, maybe these photos are just from a few exercises that were not intended to be high end, major assault training. The problem with that thought is that the exercises span several years and represent the highest, most intense training we’ve conducted. The Bold Alligator series, for example, is the premier amphibious assault exercise that the Marines conduct.
As an aside, has anyone ever thought to intentionally conduct an assault exercise in bad weather? High sea states? In the real world, we don’t always get to pick ideal landing locations during periods of calm weather – ask Eisenhower. We'd learn a lot by being forced to cope. But, I digress …
It’s not cheap to conduct a major training exercise but it would cost little to seed some dummy mines in the surf and on the beach, use some smoke, fly small UAVs overhead (has anyone figured out how we’ll defend against small spotter or strike UAVs during an assault?), place some obstacles, induce a little forced confusion (intentionally reroute some landing craft to the wrong locations and see if the troops can sort it out), maybe use some pyrotechnics to add a bit of an explosive feel (yes, there’s a tiny element of risk but that’s better than having troops that are totally unprepared – the air forces all accept a degree of risk when they train), and have an enemy force with tanks and artillery greet the landing force. How about having half the supplies and equipment that land be placed off limits to represent combat losses?
The point is that our training time is precious and there is so much more value we could get out of it for a relatively very small cost. Why aren’t we?
Let me close with yet another comment from GAB. Paraphrasing, he noted that we have two options: we can play at preparing for war or we can prepare for war. Right now, we’re playing.
Note: My apologies to GAB if I've embarassed him by spotlighting his comments but this is the kind of intelligence that must be recognized. Salute!