- Army – Responsible for physical occupation of territory and the battlefield’s immediate front out to 30 miles or so.
- Air Force – Responsible for aerial supremacy and deep strike beyond the Army’s front.
- Navy – Responsible for naval supremacy, logistical support and transport, and short to medium range inland strike.
- Marine Corps – Responsible for rapid response and entry point seizure.
Here are some examples of duplication and overlap:
ATACMS – ATACMS missile has a 100+ mile range which more than covers the Army’s immediate front responsibility and now Raytheon is developing the ATACMS successor, DeepStrike, with a 309 mile range. This is well beyond the Army’s immediate front responsibility and overlaps and duplicates the Air Force’s deep strike. The weapon is capable of hitting land and sea targets (ships) which duplicates and overlaps the Navy’s responsibility. On a related note, the 309 mile range is a limit imposed by the 1987 INF treaty. The weapon’s actual range could, and will, likely be much longer now that the treaty is no longer in effect.
AGS/LRLAP – Although the Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System (AGS) and Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) have been cancelled, this is still an example of the Navy’s attempt to move into the Air Force deep strike mission.
Marine Aviation – The Marines have moved beyond simply providing their own close air support and have entered the areas of air superiority, anti-shipping, deep strike (well, as deep as an F-35B can go), broad area maritime surveillance, etc. The Marines are in the process of becoming America’s third air force.
MUX – The Marines have called for a MUX Group 5 UAV (same size group as Triton, Reaper, Global Hawk) to perform broad are maritime surveillance, ISR, early warning, electronic warfare, and communications relay. Well, we already have Triton broad area maritime surveillance aircraft, Growler electronic warfare aircraft, AWACS early warning and aerial surveillance and control, E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning and control, and numerous varieties of ISR UAVs. This is utterly pointless duplication.
Marine Sea Control Missiles – The Marines are looking at HIMARS and various other options for launching long range anti-ship missiles which blatantly overlaps the Navy’s sea control mission.
Super Cannon – The Army is developing a super cannon with a 1000 mile range. This duplicates, carrier strike groups, Tomahawk cruise missiles, B-1/2/52 bombers, Air Force AGM-86 cruise missiles, Navy SSGNs, etc., all capable of thousand-plus mile ranges.
And the list goes on.
This is not to say that all duplication is bad. Some is warranted and useful but – and this is the key point - the problem is that each service is seeking to expand their domain even while their own core responsibilities are not being met.
Marines lack an effective ship to shore connector that jibes with the Navy/Marine doctrine of assaulting from 25-50+ miles offshore and yet they’re expanding into fleet airborne early warning, broad area maritime surveillance, and electronic warfare with the MUX drone.
The Marines lack initial wave heavy firepower and mobile anti-air defense and yet they’re trying to establish anti-ship missile capability.
The Army lacks effective mobile anti-air defense capability, electronic warfare capability, and a Bradley replacement, yet wants to expand into deep strike.
The Navy lacks … well, everything we’ve talked about in this blog and yet they want to expand into deep strike.
If you have everything taken care of in your area of responsibility, are fully trained and 100% combat ready, and have extra money to spend then, sure, expand – but that’s never happened before and never will. The services are engaged in budget grabs, pure and simple.