The LCS may not be the perfect littoral combat ship but we’ve got to have something, right? I mean, you can’t successfully fight in the littorals with a blue water navy, can you? Surely, that’s obvious to everyone. Capability shortfalls aside, clearly no other Navy ship can go where the LCS can thanks to its shallow draft, and that’s absolutely critical. In short, it’s patently obvious that there is something unique about a littoral war zone that requires a specially designed naval force to successfully conduct combat operations in it.
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
Think about it for a moment… is there even a littoral war zone? And if there is, why would we want to be there? Well, the Navy said there was a need for littoral ships. They never said why but they hammered over and over again on the need. Eventually, “littoral” became a concept that everyone accepted without ever asking why. Well, now I’m asking so let’s look a bit closer.
What is the littoral zone? There is no precise definition so let’s use the common sense definition that it’s the area near someone’s coast. Don’t worry about how many yards or miles “near” is.
|Is There Something Here That Matters?|
So, that’s what a littoral zone is. Now, what makes it a war zone? Again, let’s keep it simple. It’s a war zone because we want to be there and someone wants to prevent that to the point of engaging in combat.
So, now we know what a littoral war zone is. Now, what’s in a littoral war zone that makes us want to be there? Well, the only answer that comes to mind is an amphibious assault. If you want to land troops on a hostile beach then you need to clear mines, fend off subs, stop enemy naval forces, and shield your forces from missiles.
Fair enough. That sounds like justification for a littoral combat vessel… except for two things. One, the Navy’s official doctrine is to avoid beachfront assaults in favor of aviation-borne, maneuver-based assaults in the enemy’s rear area. Two, there’s nothing unique about a coastal zone that precludes our current naval vessels from operating there.
Regarding the first point, if we aren’t going to conduct beachfront amphibious assaults then there is no littoral war zone. Remember the definition of the littoral war zone? It's a coastal zone that we want to be in and someone wants to prevent. Well, if we don’t want to be there, then there’s no littoral war zone. Wait a minute. We don’t want to conduct amphibious assaults? Who said that? The Navy and Marines, apparently,
“At a recent amphibious warfare roundtable discussion, the Navy and Marine Corps amphibious warfare leaders, RADM LaPlante and Maj. Gen Jenkins, both agreed that, ‘the World War II amphibious frontal assaults are remote possibilities in today's modern warfare.’" (1)
Wasn’t the MV-22 developed and deployed on amphibious ships to avoid doing beachfront assaults? Isn’t the LHA-6 class being built without a well deck since there is little need for beachfront assaults? Isn’t the Navy continually telling us that land launched missiles make the coastal regions out of bounds for amphibious forces?
|Burke - Helpless in Shallow Water?|
(1) Littoral Warfare: Adapting To Brown-Water Operations, CSC 1993, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1993/MFJ.htm, LCDR Frank J. Murphy,
Navy United States