Yes, we assign many other tasks to our armed forces but those are lesser concerns and, frankly, the wisdom of many of them is suspect. But, I digress …
Our armed forces exist to fight and win peer wars. Every plan we make, every item we buy, and every exercise we conduct must be run through the filter of, ‘how will this enhance our peer war capability?’. If we can’t answer that with a good, solid rationale then we shouldn’t do it. Yes, we can plan, equip, and train for lesser contingencies after we’ve completely nailed down our peer war capabilities and nothing we do should detract from our peer war capabilities.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the latest nonsense and drivel being put forth by the Navy/Marines.
Consider this statement,
The Navy and Marine Corps recently used a new Littoral Combat Force concept to command and control units spread over 2.2 million square miles of land and sea, in the latest demonstration of what a future operation near and on the shore might look like. (1)
Outstanding! A demonstration of future peer war combat capabilities! I mean, what else could such a momentous effort be geared towards, right? But, hey, how about some more detail? Okay, there’s this:
After the two services signed out the Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) concept in 2017, they’ve been trying to understand what gear they’d need to support moving small units of Marines around the littorals to take a beach, establish sea control from ashore, and more. (1)
Uh, wait … what now? Small units of Marines? How is that related to a high end, peer war with China? How are small units going to defeat China? I’m getting a bad feeling about this.
There was also no command and control model that adequately reflected that, under LOCE, there would no longer be a traditional blue-in-support-of-green or green-in-support-of-blue relationship. Rather, ships at sea would provide cover for Marines trying to get ashore, who could then set up temporary anti-ship missile launchers and contribute to sea control from ashore … (1)
Ships at sea provide cover for Marines trying to get ashore who then establish sea control??? This is classic Catch-22, circular logic and we've discussed it before (see, "Land To Enable Landings????"). We have to land Marines in order to establish sea control but if we can land Marines don’t we already have sea control? The Marines have stated before that they envision landing and establishing sea control so as to enable landings. Landing to enable landing? Again, circular logic! If you need to establish sea control to enable landings (and you do!) then how do you land the Marines who will establish the sea control? I know … I’ve got a headache, too, but this is the Marine’s latest vision of future war.
Surely this major concept and core foundation for future war can’t all be about small units, can it? Well, there’s this,
Last year, the Navy and Marines first tested out a key tenet of LOCE: the Littoral Combat Group, which would combine a traditional ARG and embarked Marine force with at least one surface combatant … (1)
So … a key tenet … an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG/MEU) plus one escort ship? That’s the big game changer for future war? This is not peer war combat power. If we’re going to war against anything more than an irate Boy Scout troop we’re going to be in trouble!
I think the real problem and the real goal is incorporated in the following statement.
He’s [CNO Gilday] certainly intrigued by that, and I [Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Commander Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle] owe him a few things as we capture all of our lessons learned and try to rewrite and organize the Navy’s integrated maritime power and talk about how we fight and how we also render assistance” in a disaster relief type of scenario. [emphasis added] (1)
You see it right there at the end of the statement. I think this is all geared towards the ‘render assistance in a disaster relief type of scenario’ because it sure isn’t geared towards peer war! Troublingly, the Navy does not seem to see peer war as a either a responsibility or a likelihood. Instead, they seem focused on very low end threats, humanitarian response operations, and budget expansion.
Of course, what would all this be without some good buzzword bingo?
“I suspect that when he [Marine Commandant] comes out with his guidance here real soon, there’s going to be a heavy portion of it that discusses naval integration and how the Navy and Marine Corps and the Coast Guard can work better as an integrated American seapower team.” (1)
An ‘integrated American seapower team’! I’m bursting with pride! In fact, I think I just wet myself a little.
What a bunch of garbage all around. We have no concept of how to wage a peer war and, far worse, we seem to have absolutely no interest in trying to develop a concept. The Navy and Marines seem to believe that peer war is not even a possibility which must make the Chinese very happy.
The part I don’t understand is why the Navy is allowing the Marines to drive this effort. It’s the Marines who came up with the Catch-22 ‘land to enable landings’ idiocy and they’re, somehow, getting the Navy to play along. Baffling. Our Navy and Marines are most definitely headed off the tracks.
(1)USNI News website, “Navy, Marines Practice ‘Littoral Combat Force’ Construct in Alaska”, Megan Eckstein, 23-Sep-2019,https://news.usni.org/2019/09/23/navy-marines-practice-littoral-combat-force-construct-in-alaska