Friday, July 20, 2018

13th MEU Deployment Tidbits

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) just left for a deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East.  There are some interesting aspects to the deployment including a detachment of F-35Bs.  Here’s some more tidbits of interest.


Essex ARG includes Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23), and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47).

  • "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 (MH-60S helos)
  • Assault Craft Unit 5 (LCAC)
  • Naval Beach Group 1
  • Beachmaster Unit 1
  • Fleet Surgical Team 3
  • Tactical Air Control Squadron 11

13th MEU is commanded by Col. Chandler Nelms and consists of

  • Command Element
  • Aviation Combat Element
  • Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced)
  • Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211
  • Ground Combat Element
  • Battalion Landing Team 3/1 (Reinforced)
  • Logistics Combat Element
  • Combat Logistics Battalion 13.
  
The F-35B’s belong to VMFA-211 (Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz.) and will make up part of the 26-aircraft air combat element.  A MEU typically operates around half a dozen Harriers in addition to MV-22s and various transport and attack helos so, presumably, the F-35B’s will also number around six.

Deployment training evolutions included exercises in maritime interdiction operations, anti-piracy operations, close-air support, air assaults, reconnaissance, amphibious landings, humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuation, assisting the State Department. (3)  Note how many of those missions are non-combat.

One of the interesting aspects of the ARG is the apparent lack of advanced communications and data linking as compared to other surface warships.

“Olin [Capt. Gerald Olin, Amphibious Squadron 1 commander and commodore of the Essex], who’s served on warships and a carrier, said he was surprised when he came to Essex – his first amphibious ship assignment – and took command of PHIBRON 1 in November after serving as its deputy commander. “I didn’t see an air picture. I didn’t see a robust link picture,” as he did on other ships.

“We’re trying to up that game a little bit, ensure that the command-and-control piece is much more clearer for the leader controlling forces,” he said of the Essex ARG. (1)

The Marine Commandant noted the same types of issues.

“Neller [Commandant of the Marine Corps] voiced concerns about continued shortfalls in advanced joint communications technology among the Navy’s L-class inventory of amphibious ships, particularly as it enables the Marine Corps to maximize the capabilities and features of the Joint Strike Fighter. “They need to have a comparable capability with other ships,” the commandant said.

With the F-35 shipboard deployments looming ahead, “I’m not sure we’re going to optimize the capability of that airplane on the big-deck amphib because of some of the command-and-control. So we’ve got to fix that,” he added.” (1)

And,

“The Marines’ new F-35Bs have the sensors to gather vast amounts of data and the computer smarts to “fuse” and make sense of it, experts tell us, but the Navy amphibious warships it will fly from lack the networks and computing to download and use all that intelligence. (4)

“almost none of our ships are equipped communications-wise to make full use of all of the information an F-35 can send to them in real time,” (4)


How long has the F-35 been under development and the Navy still hasn’t addressed aircraft-to-ship communications and data linking?  It’s not like this is a sudden, new problem.  The communication and datalinking issue has been highlighted for many years in DOT&E reports.

F-35 sensor fusion remains a problem.  Note the use of the phrase, “a little bit funky”.

“Shoop, VMFA-211’s commander, said the F-35B’s AN/APG-81 distributed radar “is the best one on the market, hands down,” noting among other features its multiple air-to-ground nodes to link with ground forces. Various sensors fused for situational awareness into a single display remain “a little bit funky,” he said, but pilots “get a God’s eye view.”

“It’s good right now. It’s getting better as software fusion algorithms get tweaked,” he added.”

The MEU will also deploy with a small UAV, the RQ-21 Blackjack.

“The F-35B isn’t the only new aircraft the 13th MEU will have for the first time. The air combat element will have the RQ-21 Blackjack, a small, tactical Group 3 unmanned aerial vehicle from a detachment from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, based at Yuma.

“There are some naysayers about the RQ-21 deploying with the MEU, because it does have a fairly limited radius as a platform,” Nelms said. “It’s got an incredible amount of time on station, but it’s only get a fairly limited amount of combat radius for us because it’s a line-of-sight controlled platform.”

The UAV has a “range” of 50 kilometers, or 31 miles, according to Naval Air Systems Command. (Boeing, whose subsidiary Insitu, Inc., developed the RQ-21, advertises a “line-of-sight range” of 55 nautical miles, or 63 miles.)” (1)

Blackjack UAV

These kind of UAVs are a niche capability but, under the right circumstances, can be quite useful.  Whether they’re worth the space onboard ship is an open question especially since the ARG/MEU has plenty of full size helos with much greater range.

13th MEU will also bring along M1 Abrams tanks – something that is becoming less and less common.

“Along with a full company of 19 light-armored vehicles, more than it took on its prior MEU deployment, it will have a platoon of [four] M1A2 Abrahms main battle tanks.” (1)

The Marine’s focus on non-combat capabilities shows with the 13th MEU deploying with a Female Engagement Team (2) which is, according to the Marines, a small group of women as advisers and liaisons uniquely poised to cut through cultural sensitivities surrounding gender.  What a bunch of bilgewater!  If you need a Female Engagement Team then you’re not engaged in combat and you don’t need the Marines.  The Marines are meant to fight, not talk.  We have plenty of other organizations that can talk about feelings and sensitivities.

Female Engagement Team - Seriously?

The 13th MEU’s deployment is demonstrating the changes the Corps and the MEU’s are undergoing as they transition from powerful, feared, credible amphibious combat units to non-combat, light infantry, crisis response groups whose focus is steadily moving away from combat and towards humanitarian missions.  Peer level combat seems to be a fading priority.




______________________________________

(1)USNI News website, “Challenges Ahead as 13th MEU, Essex ARG Prep for First West Coast F-35 Deployment”, Gidget Fuentes, 12-Feb-2018,










42 comments:

  1. So the Marines are to stay 50 miles off shore to
    avoid ASMs, RQ-21 range 31 miles, check.
    F35B, stealthy MADL to talk to its fellow F-35s, Link 16 non stealthy to talk the Essex equipped MK1b grease pencils, check.
    F-35-Beta, funky sensor fusion, meaning hit the reset button often while flying, check.
    Good News, the FET will be presenting the "Pirates of Penzance" as a comment on the state of the Navy.

    At least their mission is sensible.
    JS Gilbert

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  2. """"Female Engagement Team """


    The photo looks more like a Transsexual Engagement Team.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. I wonder how well that would go down in the Islamic culture they are supposed to be communicating with!

      SOM

      Delete
  3. Well, at least they brought the MBTs this time around. The lack of data fusion options is worrisome though.

    I wouldn't worry that much about the Female Engagement team. For such a small investment into training a few personnel, you might get a better result when interrogating locals about possible hostile numbers/location/equipment, and there are always going to be some civilians around, even in high-end peer-state war.

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    Replies
    1. "I wouldn't worry that much about the Female Engagement team."

      Well, you're partially right and completely wrong. You're right that the presence or absence of a few extra females makes no difference in the overall scheme. However, - and this is the big however - the mere presence of a FET demonstrates the mindset that has infected the Corps - a non-combat mindset - with a focus on non-combat interventions with local populations. That's not what the Marines are supposed to do. As I stated in the post, we have lots of organizations that can interact with the local populace and work on nation building or whatever. We only have one Marine Corps and they're supposed to be 100% about combat.

      So, yes, I worry immensely about FETs because they indicate the failed/failing mindset of the Corps. A real Marine Corps combat leader, about to embark on a deployment with his MEU should absolutely refuse to take a FET because he's focused on combat, not talking.

      "you might get a better result when interrogating locals about possible hostile numbers/location/equipment"

      If we can get better intel from some scared women than we can from our bazillion dollar network sensors with data linking and sensor fusion and distributed sensors, etc. then we've been badly lied to by the military.

      If some local women know about any enemy troop locations then the enemy is already far too close and is most likely already killing us. Locals only know about activity within a few mile radius, at best, probably less. Again, if we don't know about enemy forces within a couple of miles of us, we're already screwed and dead.

      Seriously, what's the odds that some local woman is going to know anything of value that we don't already know, be willing to talk about it, but only willing to talk to a female Marine? I'd say somewhere around zero.

      Delete
    2. You're a little too dismissive of the Female Engagement Team, I feel. They've been pretty useful in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they remain useful in dealing with cultures where there is gender segregation, where the women do not talk to other men. Certainly the guys I know who went over to the sandbox, boots on the ground, appreciated having them.

      The reality is that while you decry the concept of the Female Engagement Team, it's something that's been pretty useful and relevant for the counterinsurgency ops and operations other than war that the US has been doing for the last 20 years.

      And come on. They're still Marines, they still carry rifles: in a srsface infantry fight they're going to be used as extra rifles. At least they're already carrying their rifles and wearing their kit. If the cooks and bakers are expected to pull their weight in a firefight, why do you assume an FET that works every day with the infantry will be deadweight?

      Delete
    3. "Female Engagement Team, it's something that's been pretty useful and relevant for the counterinsurgency ops and operations other than war that the US has been doing for the last 20 years."

      Thank you! You just made my point. I'm not at all saying that a FET has no value. I'm saying that it has no place in a COMBAT MEU. As you stated, an FET is useful for "counterinsurgency ops and operations other than war". They have no value in actual combat which is the job of a MEU.

      As I stated in the post, if we're at the stage of talking to women about cultural or gender sensitivities then we're not really fighting. So, I'm all for FETs attached to the Military Police or Army or State Department or whatever - just not combat units. The fact that MEUs have been used in non-combat missions is yet another problem - again, we have other organizations better equipped to conduct non-combat missions. The Marines should be exclusively training for and conducting combat missions. They are the very tip of the spear, not the hind end doing clean up and policing duty.

      As far as females in combat, I've made my thoughts known on that. ALL females are deadweight in combat. The physical disparity between the average man and the average woman is so great as to be insurmountable. This has been proven repeatedly in sports, police forces, and the military. It's not even debatable.

      In short, FETs have no place in the Marines and certainly no place in the MEU.

      Delete
    4. You had the inklings of a point above, but then you lost it with your strawmanning... the FET functionally acts as an interpreter to local women that the marines encounter in the field. By that logic, perhaps we should do away with interpreters, who are unarmed and only speak english and the local language, contributing nothing to the fight?

      Also, I'm not sure the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan getting shot at would agree with your assessment that they weren't doing combat missions. Operations other than war =/= noncombat. Kinda hard for Dakota Meyer to pick up a Medal of Honor if he wasn't in combat. The many Navy Crosses, Silver Stars and Purple Hearts picked up in Iraq and Afghanistan would, I submit, strongly suggest there was combat going on there. :V

      This is, I submit, another symptom of how you get focused over weird details. 12 people (at most) is not going to make or break an MEU's combat power; a crane, a boat and a squad's worth of rifles doesn't drastically drive up the cost of a warship.

      Delete
    5. All this ignores that the US isn't going to be fighting a seriousface war with China anytime soon, China doesn't intend to fight a seriousface war with the US if it doesn't have to, and for all the talk of warfighting and combat power etc etc, it's a dirty little secret that the US has never actually fought a peer opponent since Midway; it has always tried its level best to stack the deck qualitatively and quantitatively. A MEU isn't going to be able to force an opposed landing on its own against a peer opponent, but ever since Korea MEUs have been used against non-peer opponents, and that's not going to change for at least another decade.

      Delete
    6. "interpreter to local women"

      By definition, if you're operating in a leisurely enough mode to have chats with local women then you aren't engaged in combat. You may be engaged in policing or nation building but aren't engaged in combat.

      The mere fact that you might occasionally get shot at does not mean you're in combat. I know you understand what I mean by combat and yet you're trying to engage in a semantics battle. I have no interest in doing that so I'll terminate this discussion.

      Delete
    7. Infantry combat doesn't appreciably change whether the troops are engaged in high intensity war or MOOTW. The principles remain the same: base of fire, suppression, flanking, fire and movement, pinning the enemy in place for supporting arms (mortars, artillery, CAS) to make the kill, or advancing to and defeating the enemy in close combat.

      Delete
  4. Of course we overblow the issue, but my experience is that some units like military police and civil affairs *can* make great use of female troops.

    Even in high-intensity war, there is a need to deal with refugees and displaced people (often the civilian population of allies) to include body searches, directing people to flee to another location, use alternative routes, find allied civil defense at location X, and so forth.

    Again, we tend to be overly sensitive, but this typically goes more smoothly with women soldiers.


    GAB

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    Replies
    1. "to include body searches, directing people to flee to another location, use alternative routes, find allied civil defense at location X, and so forth."

      That's fine but that's not what the Marines should be doing and certainly not what a MEU should be doing. Marines should be fighting, not directing traffic. The Marines are the very tip of the spear. Follow on Army units can deal with civilians.

      We don't need to pay for 30+ major amphibious ships and float ARG/MEUs to deal with interpersonal relationships. If that's what we're doing with MEUs then we need to drop the entire amphib concept and just fly Army police units in when/where needed.

      As I said, my larger concern is less with a few extraneous females and more with the mindset that a FET demonstrates.

      Delete
    2. 1. A MEU is a footnote, if that, in the context of a major war – we ought not to get wrapped around the axle about an infantry battalion looking for employment.

      2. Rethink the reality of civilian military interaction! Look at the challenges that all sides faced in dealing with European civilians, particularly displaced peoples, in 1940, 1943, 1944-1945.

      3. A brigade sized force can take up 10 miles on *several* parallel highways when moving, making it all but impossible to avoid constant military civilian interactions. In most places that we have serious defense commitments (NATO, Japan, Taiwan), this means dealing with tens of thousands, to potentially hundreds of thousands of civilians.

      4. The message may be “sod off, we are coming through!”, but remember that in most scenarios, we are ostensibly there to protect those civilians.

      GAB

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    3. Please don't misunderstand. I'm not debating the need or usefulness of some type of crowd control personnel. I'm saying that a MEU is not the place for it. A deployed MEU has no extra room that we can tack on additional functions. As far as I know, every berth and every slot in the MEU manning table is full to begin with. Every FET or 3D printing team or mini-drone operator or cultural sensitivity specialist or information warfare person that is added is counterbalanced by removing an infantryman. That's my point and an embarked MEU is too small to be losing infantrymen to FETs or whatever.

      In an Army with many divisions and lots of overhead positions, sure, add whatever functions you want. In an embarked MEU, with no extra room, adding non-combat functions takes away from the MEU's main function which is, or should be, combat.

      The MEU, and the larger Marine Corps, is already becoming less and less combat oriented and this is yet another step down the path of combat irrelevance.

      Delete
    4. The real problem is the relevance of the MEU as a concept.

      I am not knocking Marines, but any realistic scenario that an "infantry battalion" +-, can solve (and there are not many), can be solved by airlifted forces that arrive much faster, better trained, better focused, and at far less cost than acquiring and maintaining a MEU at sea.

      It should be noted that these forces are suitable for non-combatant evacuation operations, counter terrorism operations, and so forth, but are not major combat forces suitable for high intensity war.

      GAB

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    5. "It should be noted that these forces are suitable for non-combatant evacuation operations, counter terrorism operations, and so forth, but are not major combat forces suitable for high intensity war."

      You are correct and this is one of my overarching themes.

      The problem is that the military/Marines seem to think they can do major amphibious assault operations so I'm forced to address those beliefs as if they were real. Hence, my concern about adding extraneous, non-combat FETs and the like to an assault, combat MEU. The fact that I agree completely that a MEU is incapable of any significant combat operation is, in a sense, irrelevant since the Marines think it is.

      I operate this blog on two levels: I discuss what is and what that means and I discuss what ought to be (or ought not to be). Discussing MEUs and FETs is addressing what is rather than what ought to be. The Marines can't have it both ways. If they think the MEU is a combat capable group then they can't be diluting it with non-combat FETs and the like. If, on the other hand, they want to load up on non-combat capabilities then they can't claim to be combat capable.

      I don't think we have any disagreement!

      Delete
  5. The F35B is a vast improvement over the AV8B Harrier in every facet. The problem with interfacing this extremely capable flying computer with the fleet elements will obviously take time.

    The issue with command and control suggests that the armed forces have become very 'slack'. For a high ranking officer to admit to this state of affairs is quite worrying. It suggests a failure of leadership within the officer corps as well as a major morale problem.

    As an outsider, there appears to be to much fraternising with industry looking for the high paying post service job, rather than making sure that every unit is combat ready at the highest possible level. It also suggests that the marine corps and navy do not communicate that well with each other.

    SOM

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  6. I know some of you might think I'm being too harsh but actually, including the FET makes perfect sense since realistically, MEU won't face any serious opposition. IT CAN'T. It's there to show the flag, provide humanitarian assistance, some disaster relief, anti piracy, evacuate US nationals, etc,etc....that's not high end combat. Six F-35s and 4 MBTs? Anything more kinetic than evacuating an US embassy (and even that might be pushing it) and this MEU isn't enough: it needs reinforcement or gets into trouble. Don't believe me? Would it be any good in Syria as it is constituted? Not without USAF providing cover. Yemen? 4 MBTs would be very highly prized targets, not enough without US Army to help out. Africa? Tyranny of distance would mean they would be stretched out and very vulnerable to ambushes....South East Asia? China? LOL! North Korea? Artillery would get them and again, USAF would be there...so really, FET makes perfect sense since MEU as constituted is not meant to fight anything serious.

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  7. Sorry, unrelated topic:

    I had no clue that French Navy still operated the SM-1.

    http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/focus-analysis/naval-technology/6367-video-french-navy-still-fielding-and-firing-sm-1-medium-range-sam.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Marines are developing a larger VTOL UAV called MUX, which is expected to have the capability of staying on station for 8 hours at a range of 350 nmi.

    https://news.usni.org/2018/04/23/marines-zero-requirements-future-mux-unmanned-aerial-vehicle

    With a good set of sensors and optics, this would be a real game changer for the Marines.

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    Replies
    1. "this would be a real game changer for the Marines."

      How so?

      Delete
    2. To put a good set of eyes 350 miles out is valuable capability. For example, one of the core tasks of an MEU is the recovery of downed pilots and aircraft. Having extra eyes allows you to widen your search area and find your target sooner. It can also help size up the the local resistance and any obstacles along the way. Also, an MEU would be able to scan much further ahead prior to deploying troops ashore adding to their situational awareness prior to deployment. Add some Hellfire missiles or small bombs and you have additional close air support.

      Delete
    3. Search and rescue is not really a core Marine task but, setting that aside, let's look at the other tasks you mentioned.

      "size up the local resistance" - If you're looking at local resistance then you don't need a large, long range UAV. The Blackjack UAV they already have is adequate.

      "scan much further ahead" - So, you believe that a peer enemy is going to allow a large, slow UAV to leisurely circle overhead and report back to us? You don't think a large, slow UAV would have a lifespan measured in seconds over a peer battlefield?

      "close air support" - Hellfire missiles have a very short range and require getting very close to the enemy in order to launch. Again, do you think a large, slow UAV will be survivable in that scenario?

      Would the ability to launch a couple of Hellfires be worth the cost of designing, building, and supporting an entire family of aircraft? Or, would the money be better spent on artillery?

      You seem to have the same skewed, one-sided view of combat that the military does: that everything we do will work and the enemy will do nothing to hinder or counter us. That makes for great Powerpoint slides but poor combat performance.

      Turn your idea around. Can you imagine us allowing a large, slow UAV to circle over our troops or ships and report back to the Chinese? Or, do you think we'd shoot it down the moment it appeared? OF COURSE WE'D SHOOT IT DOWN INSTANTLY!!!! So why would you think the Chinese wouldn't do the same?

      Delete
    4. The tactical recovery of personnel and aircraft IS a core MEU responsibility.

      "If you're looking at local resistance then you don't need a large, long range UAV. The Blackjack UAV they already have is adequate."

      Given the limited range of the Blackjack, less than 10% of the range of the MUX, how is getting a group of ships that close to shore a good thing? Especially against a peer or semi-peer adversary?


      And, all the arguments you offer can be made against the Blackjack and for that matter, ANY other type of aircraft.

      Delete
    5. "The tactical recovery of personnel and aircraft IS a core MEU responsibility."

      No, it's not. They have no specialized equipment for it. They do not train for it. I can't recall a single instance of it ever having been done. I invite you to read the linked Marine Corps description which makes no mention of it.

      Marines

      Regardless, it's a very, very, very rare occurrence even if they did the mission and would not even remotely justify an entire new aircraft. That's about the end of that discussion.

      "Given the limited range of the Blackjack"

      YOU specified "size up the local resistance". The Blackjack has a range of 30-60 miles depending on which source you choose to believe. If "local" is further than 30-60 miles than it's pretty obviously not local. The Blackjack is more than adequate for sizing up local resistance, as you specified.

      "And, all the arguments you offer can be made against the Blackjack and for that matter, ANY other type of aircraft."

      Outstanding! Now you're beginning to think about the overall force structure AND THREATS. When you begin to consider the threats, you quickly realize that UAVs have no significant role in a modern battlefield because they simply aren't survivable. They might be useful for keeping an eye on uncontested flanks but that's about it. Even manned aircraft have severe vulnerabilities and we need to rethink how we intend to use aircraft.

      I encourage you to keep thinking operationally and tactically FROM BOTH SIDES. The enemy will respond to our threats and we need to take that into account instead of just being impressed by our own Powerpoint slides and assuming the enemy won't respond. The very best way to assess ideas is to turn them around. Would they work against us? If not, then they won't work against a peer. The notion of a large, slow, not particularly stealthy UAV leisurely flying over the battlefield feeding us real time data about the enemy is absolutely ludicrous and unrealistic in the extreme. Those UAVs will have lifespans measured in seconds.

      A good first step by you. Keep it going!

      Delete
    6. "Amphibious Ready Group And Marine Expeditionary Unit Overview"

      MEU Mission Essential Tasks
      Amphibious operations
      • Amphibious assault
      • Amphibious raid
      • Maritime interception Operations (MIO)/Visit, board, search, and
      seizure (VBSS)
      • Advance force operations

      Expeditionary support to other operations/crises and limited contingency
      operations — operating across the Range of Military Operations
      • Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
      • Humanitarian assistance (HA)
      • Stability operations
      • Tactical Recovery of Aircraft
      and Personnel (TRAP)
      • Joint and combined operations
      • Aviation operations from
      expeditionary shore-based sites
      • Theater security cooperation
      activities
      • Airfield/port seizure

      https://www.26thmeu.marines.mil/News/News-Article-Display/Article/516590/marines-rescue-downed-pilot-after-fighter-jet-crashes-in-libya/

      Delete
    7. "No, it's not. They have no specialized equipment for it. They do not train for it. I can't recall a single instance of it ever having been done. I invite you to read the linked Marine Corps description which makes no mention of it."

      The tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel is a core capability of a Marine MEU(SOC) and partly why they are special operations capable. You might remember Scott O'Grady, who was shot down over Bosnia in 1995 and rescued by Marines from the 26th MEU. The 26th MEU also rescued an Air Force pilot shot down over Libya in 2011.

      I'm not trying to beat you up or score cheap points. Its just that you are completely wrong on this and I'm trying to respectfully set the record straight.

      I invite you to peruse these selected stories.

      3/8 MARINES TRAIN FOR TACTICAL RECOVERY OF AIRCRAFT, PERSONNEL

      https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/600375/38-marines-train-for-tactical-recovery-of-aircraft-personnel/

      Tactical Recovery of Aircraft Personnel: Never Leave a Marine Behind

      http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/656631/tactical-recovery-of-aircraft-personnel-never-leave-a-marine-behind/

      TRAP FORCE SUPPORTS INHERENT RESOLVE

      "The Marine Corps grabbed international attention on March 22, 2011, when Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit recovered a downed Air Force pilot conducting missions over Libya."

      https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/554858/trap-force-supports-inherent-resolve/

      GREYHAWKS SINK TALONS INTO TRAP MISSION

      "Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161, “Greyhawks,” conducted tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) training mission at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 6."

      https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/1032176/greyhawks-sink-talons-into-trap-mission/


      Also, review MCWP 3-24 on assault operations. The purpose of the TRAP mission is described on pages 3-4 and 3-5.

      Sorry for so many cut-n-paste links, but your blog doesn't support active links.

      Delete
    8. Okay, you made your case. I'll give you that.

      However, merely listing (or even training for a mission) does not make it a core task. To hear the Marines (or any of the services, to be fair) tell it they have 98 "core" missions. That's absurd, of course. You can only be good one or two things. For example, the Navy lists ASW as a "core" mission of the Burkes but that's a joke. They have the equipment and, on paper, they occasionally run a training exercise but they have no core competency in it. The train for AAW, not ASW. A core competency is something you train for every day. I'll accept correction if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure the Marines don't train every day for search and rescue.

      To continue and return to the MUX issue, a very minor task that is very rarely executed does not justify an entire new aircraft line. There simply is no case for the MUX. It's a case of the Marines continuing their expansion into the areas of other services. They're attempting to appropriate AEW, deep strike, ASuW, and many other responsibilities. They're doing so, not because they think they can the job better and provide a vital service but because that will allow them to ask Congress for a bigger budget slice.

      Delete
    9. "Sorry for so many cut-n-paste links, but your blog doesn't support active links."

      It kind of does but you have to know HTML to utilize it. I use quite often. For example, here's a link to an old post.

      Amphibious Assault Doctrine

      If you want to know more, Google "href" and you should get a complete explanation of the syntax/format.

      Delete
    10. USSOCOM long ago won the "MEU(SOC)" argument, and the USMC elements capable of special operations have been placed under the command of SOCOM.

      I can think of ways to make Amphibious forces far more relevant, but the principal component of a MEU is an infantry battalion was eclipse as a principal maneuver unit before the Cold War started.

      GAB

      Delete
    11. The tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel is a defined Marine Corp Task. In this case, it is MCT 6.2.1.

      Hopefully, this will show up as an active link. Thanks for the html reference!

      href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Portals/138/Docs/PL/PLU/MEU%2520Overview.ppt&ved=2ahUKEwigiYmRmLTcAhWnw1QKHVQyCqkQFjABegQIBBAB&usg=AOvVaw3SNBzJioVBY0sV8muOoPqU"

      TRAP is one of several capabilities a Marine MEU must master in order to qualify as special operations capable. Each MEU(SOC) completes a Special Operations Capable Exercise as part of their pre-deployment training.

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    12. As for MUX, this wouldn't be just used for TRAP missions. As you said, UAV's have a niche capability and can be useful under the right circumstances.

      Given the proposed range and endurance of the MUX exceeds that of a helicopter, it could supplement, perhaps replace, some of the roles the Hueys, Romeos and Sierras provide. As reported by Military.com, their "Tier 1 priorities remain airborne early warning capabilities, electronic warfare, comms relay and command-and-control. In short, the MUX will be an eye-in-the-sky for the Marine Corps and a network platform to expand the reach of manned aircraft and enhance communication." If it could carry cargo, you have an additional capability to resupply troops ashore.

      The Marines have expressed great interest in unmanned systems and recently announced plans to reorganize their infantry, down to the squad level, to included UAV's.

      Here's a recent story from Military.com.

      MUX Story at Military.com

      Yeah for me! An old dog learned a new trick.

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    13. "Yeah for me! An old dog learned a new trick."

      Well done. There are few other attributes that the blog supports via embedded HTML. I don't have a list handy. It's odd, though, that the entire range of HTML tags are not supported, only a small subset. Oh well.

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    14. Let's be direct, the MEU(SOC) was created to compete against USSOCOM, and mission sets like TRAP were created to match what the Corps could provide, not what DOD as a whole needed.

      What is the difference exactly between TRAP, CSAR, SAR and Personnel Recovery (PR)? An early edition of Joint Pub 3-50.2 diplomatically put it: "Service-unique concepts and doctrines such as the Marine Corps’ tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP)." In other words, we on the Joint Staff know what we want from CSAR/SAR/PR - the USMC has its own opinion.

      More words of wisdom from JP 3-50.2 (1996 edition): "Marine air-ground task forces (MAGTFs) do not routinely train to conduct the search portion of CSAR, particularly in a medium or high air threat environment. The TRAP mission differs from CSAR in that it usually does not involve extended air search procedures to locate possible survivors."

      In short, you should be thankful for any help you get, but if you want CSAR, call AFSOC...

      GAB

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  9. ARG MEU SOC capable sounds big but is nothing more than a USMC generated requirement not documented in DoD Joint Doctrine. In other words if they didn't have the US Navy to transport them with Navy ships this is a Marine only thing. SOC this and SOC that, are USMC doctrines. Only.

    With this mix of USMC branded doctrine (and US Navy assistance) they are biting off even more on this ARG deployment with two of the most controversial aircraft ever designed and built for our smallest service's sole use- The F-35B and the V-22... Do you all remember the Autumn of 2016 when that ARG-MEU w/V-22's was deployed to the ME and the Marine aviation head (Cartwright?) and the commandant highly touted/marketed their product, unabashedly... Ultimately, that ARG participated in that ill-fated January 2017 raid in Yemen where we lost a couple V-22s. Remember that? They went quiet for a while after that...

    Well.. they're back! This is phase 2...This is what the USMC does nowadays in their own direct interests. They have a lot of 4-stars, a JCS, a EUCOM, a SECNAV and even a SECDEF to back up their parochial agenda. For an agenda is what it is....

    What particularly burns me is when they make similarities of an ARG carrier with Harriers, or F-35's, to the US Navy Battle Group/CSG and CVN-airwing combat capabilities. That's when I draw the line and call them out... IMPO, Those un-defendable (ASW-ASUW-ESM-ECM,etc) ships of the ARG-Gator world are not capable blue-water US Navy ships of the CSG. Rather, they exist, simply to transport unique and expensive USMC aircraft and support NON-joint USMC doctrine re amphibious assault and what the USMC calls SOC missions. IE- permissive NEOs, embassy support, small DA, TRAP/TRE. etc. Basically an expensive floating force, supported by part of the US Navy ship budget (and other support Sailors) to support Low Intensity Conflict at best, and maybe humanitarian ops...

    b2

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    1. I'm not sure why the agnst against the Marines and their special operations capable MEU's. When the United States Special Operations Command was stood up, the Marines didn't have a dedicated stand-alone special operation unit like the Army had with their Green Berets and Rangers and the Navy with their SEALS to contribute. The Marine Corp resisted the pressure to contribute their Force Recon Marines, who were already dedicated to the Marine Expeditionary Forces. And, everyone knows Marines are special to begin with.

      Collectively, Force Recon amounted to a small battalion of highly-trained Marines with a company assigned to each Marine Expeditionary Force and, in terms of skills and abilities, easily on par with the US Army Rangers. Instead, the Marines decided to provide additional training and equipment to their MEUs to enable them to conduct some special operations to include Inextremis Hostage Rescue (IHR), clandestine reconnassaince & surveillance, and the recovery of aircraft and personnel.

      The Marine Special Operation Training Group provides about 6 months of training that includes close quarter shooting, urban sniping, special reconnaissance, human intelligence, small boat operations, and non-lethal techiques. And, with establishment of the Marines Special Operation Command (MARSOC), a Marine MEU(SOC) is often deployed with a detachment of Marine Raiders.

      In my opinion, the non-joint doctrine talk is nonsense. When Americans are in trouble overseas, the Marines are often the first ones to respond. And, they acquitted themselves quite well.

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    2. One word enters my mind..."Hubris". This USMC single minded, corporate hubris requires, no demands, more DoN resources all the time. To be taken from the US Navy which needs reconstitution after 25 years of neglect and downsizing, in order for the USA to maintain naval supremacy globally.

      Your description of the MEU essentials is compulsory for any Marine but there is a larger subset you are not acknowledging. The services are not in competition for all the missions. DoD is more like a big toolbox with service sections for specialized jobs lead by joint doctrine. In the Marine vision it is just the Marine doctrine toolbox crammed with whatever it wants (F-35Bs/V-22/H-53K,C-130Js, etc...) and then transported around by a subservient US Navy...

      No "angst" here, just an unemotional view of a USMC on steroids, "flexing" because they have two combatant commander 4 stars, a JCS chairman, SECNAV and the "Warrior Monk" SECDEF. Basically a stacked deck of Marine celebrities!

      b2

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    3. "In my opinion, the non-joint doctrine talk is nonsense. "

      Let's be direct, the MEU(SOC) was created to compete against USSOCOM, and mission sets like TRAP were created to match what the Corps could provide, not what DOD as a whole needed.

      What is the difference exactly between TRAP, CSAR, SAR and Personnel Recovery (PR)? An early edition of Joint Pub 3-50.2 diplomatically put it: "Service-unique concepts and doctrines such as the Marine Corps’ tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP)." In other words, we on the Joint Staff know what we want from CSAR/SAR/PR - the USMC has its own opinion.

      More words of wisdom from JP 3-50.2 (1996 edition): "Marine air-ground task forces (MAGTFs) do not routinely train to conduct the search portion of CSAR, particularly in a medium or high air threat environment. The TRAP mission differs from CSAR in that it usually does not involve extended air search procedures to locate possible survivors."

      In short, you should be thankful for any help you get, but if you want CSAR, call AFSOC...

      GAB

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    4. I wonder who was OPCON during the Yemen missions I used as a fairly recent example in my post above? A "TRAP" (demolition) was conducted for a damaged Osprey left behind as I remember reading.

      BTW, during the "Hollywood movie grade", highly touted since, USMC TRAP SOC mission to recover F-16 pilot O'Grady (a natural actor) back in the mid-90's is always brought up as their template. On staff duty then I rememeber the MEU got the call only because the JSOTF had issues... That rescue was almost screwed up by the fact that the MEU CO (an 0-6) couldnt resist going himself on the helo... The Yemen TRAP has been forgotten..why is that?....;-)

      What has happened since then after 9-11 is that SOCOM has a huge budget, staff and COCOM status..for GWOT. Meanwhile the USMC continues to beat up the Navy Department to fund all their soundchamber echoes at every opportunity... like this one:

      https://news.usni.org/2018/07/24/navy-and-marine-corps-racing-to-increase-amphibious-fleet

      b2

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    5. The issue remains that the amphibious force is that it is not designed for high intensity warfare, and provides a hugely expensive and marginal capability for "small wars."

      Almost every capability a MEU currently provides could be done at lower cost by simply chartering commercial aircraft and flying an infantry battalion +- to perform whatever mission is required.

      GAB

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