Lately, the Navy and Marines have been making a point of conducting cross-training operations with other navies in order to demonstrate and develop interoperability. This begs the question, to what purpose? Does anyone really believe that the
will cross-operate with another country’s military
in a real war? US
It’s never happened to any significant degree and it never will. Interoperability cross-training is a pointless, useless, waste of time.
The first problem is that, short of a world war, it is highly unlikely that another country is going to join us in a conflict. Is
really going to militarily join us in a strike? They rarely have and I see no reason why they
will in the future. Is Spain going to commit their military to a joint military
conflict? France has denied us simple overflight permissions in
anti-terrorism strikes. There’s no way
they’ll join us in actual combat operations.
France , a NATO ally, has denied us basing and operations
(3). They’re not going to join us in
combat operations. Turkey is slowly ejecting us from their land and is
constrained by legal limits on military action.
The Japan has joined us but their military is dwindling fast. UK
The next problem is practical and involves logistics. Are we really going to send MV-22’s to fly from a Royal Navy carrier – a carrier that lacks the spare parts, trained maintenance techs, maintenance manuals, and diagnostic equipment required to actually operate the aircraft? I would hope not.
Another problem is public relations. Is the Navy going to allow Marines to conduct an assault from a Royal Navy ship when we have a fleet of 30+ big deck amphibious ships sitting around that need all the justifications they can get? Of course not. How bad would that make the Navy look in front of Congress?
Combat effectiveness is also an issue. A recent example is the deployment of US Marines onto a Royal Navy amphibious ship.
“A total of 150 US and British Marines and up to three Osprey aircraft will be deployed on HMS Ocean.” (4)
What purpose does that serve? Three MV-22s and 150 troops are not an effective combat force.
How many combat operations have we screwed up on our own? Remember President Carter’s ill-fated hostage rescue attempt in 1980? And we want to layer on the added confusion of trying to operate from, and with, a foreign navy? That’s insane.
Common sense also rears its ugly head. An occasional cross-training of a very few units/troops is not going to provide across the board competence by either the
or whatever foreign country, in operating with the other. If the time were to come to cross-operate for
real, the very, very few units/troops who had actually trained for it would
have been long since dispersed, retired, or unavailable. Why would we possibly try to operate
aircraft, under combat conditions, on someone else’s carrier when we have all
the deck space we need to operate the aircraft from our own ships? US
Consider a recent cross-training exercise,
“The Corps will test capabilities for the first time in November during the large NATO exercise Trident Juncture, Cooling [Brig. Gen. Norm Cooling, deputy commander of Marine Forces Europe-Africa] said, putting Marines aboard the Ocean for two weeks and working on the Spanish amphibious ship Juan Carlos I for several days and then the Ocean for two weeks.” (5)
How does a week or two of cross-training build any permanent and useful capability or skills? We can’t even build competence in basic ship handling when we sail our ships full time!
Cross-training makes for good public relations opportunities and photo ops, I guess. Consider this example - MV-22’s operated from the HMS Illustrious in 2007 and 2013.
“Lieutenant Commander Nigel Terry, deputy head of HMS Illustrious’ Flight Department was also on board when the Osprey visited in 2007.
He said: "Opportunities like this present an invaluable opportunity to continue to grow our ability to work together with other nations. This is absolutely essential in modern naval operations.
"It allows us to grow our understanding of our different procedures as well as providing valuable training for our deck crews.” (1)
This Royal Navy spokesman is either delusional or just engaged in public relations spinning. How does the Royal Navy briefly operating an aircraft they’ll never have help the RN? For the reasons I’ve already enumerated, the
is never going to operate MV-22’s from an RN
vessel. This is absolutely pointless. US
I suppose there’s some small benefit on a person-to-person level in getting to know foreign sailors but that doesn’t begin to justify the effort and expenditure of the exercise. If we want people to conduct group hugs we can schedule port visits when a ship happens to be in the area.
Here’s an example of how/why our goals so seldom mesh with another country’s. Consider the criteria of use for some of
’s new ships. Italy
“Previously, the Italian Defense Ministry said that the new warships [frigates] would be used only for humanitarian operations.
In 2015, the Defense Ministry and Fincantieri shipyard signed a contract to build an amphibious assault ship equipped with a helicopter deck.
According to the ministry, the ship would be used for humanitarian operations, including to aid in the evacuation of refugees. This is why the ship was dubbed a "humanitarian aircraft carrier." In addition, recently laid down patrol ships were also planned for humanitarian missions.” (2)
A country building “humanitarian aircraft carriers” isn’t going to conduct military operations with us.
There may well be countries that fight beside us in future conflicts. The Royal Navy, for example, will always stand with us but they will fight beside us, separately, not mixed in with us. With that in mind, there is value in exercising communications and command/control procedures but that’s not the kind of cross-training this post is talking about.
Why are we cross-training when we haven’t mastered our own procedures, operations, and tactics? If we get to a point where we have totally mastered all of our own “stuff” and we’re sitting around bored, looking for something to pass time, then sure, let’s go cross-train. Until then, let’s stop wasting time.
(1)Royal Navy website,
20-Sep-2013, retrieved 19-May-2017,
(2)Sputnik website, “
to Respond to Italy ’s Presence in the Mediterranean With Naval Reform”, Russia 29-Nov-2016,
(3)Los Angeles Times website, “US Seeks Overflights in
”, Esther Schrader and Richard Boudreaux, Turkey 12-Mar-2003
(4)Sunday Express website, “Hundreds of US Marines to be deployed on British warship amid
threat”, Nick Gutteridge, Russia 16-Jun-2015,
(5)Stars and Stripes website, “With fewer ships at their disposal, Marines turn to allies”, Steven Beardsley,