Gen. Berger has prioritized family leave for Marines with proposals for up to a year’s leave for new mothers (1) as well as,
Furthering gender integration in job fields previously closed to women, expanding maternity leave and raising the intellectual bar for infantry troops are among the Marine Corps’ priorities, the service’s top officer said.(2)
Is this really a priority? Not only does it have nothing to do with combat but it will clearly hurt our combat capabilities. It also raises a host of questions. Will new mothers be counted as combat ready troops in the Marine’s table of manning? Will returning mothers, fresh off a year of leave and the exhaustion of infant rearing be instantly combat ready? Of course they won’t so what good are they? Will returning mothers have to undergo some type of refresher boot camp to get back into shape and regain their combat skills (I can’t type that without laughing but …) – essentially amounting to even more time off in terms of being a combat asset? The Commandant wants to give female/mother Marines what amounts to a year and a half to two years off to have a child and return to combat readiness? If a female Marine wants to have multiple children are we really going to pay them to have several years off to do the family thing? Theoretically, a female could have several paid years off (and highly restricted duty when back) to raise a family, all on the Marine’s dime and without ever serving on a deployment or being combat capable. Isn’t that called welfare? Since when did the Marine Corps become a kiddie day care center or a social experimentation program? Who’s going to fill the female’s vacated billets? Who’s going to deploy in place of the females? Yeah, that would be the men. I don’t see any resentment happening because of this.
|The Few, The Proud, The Mommy Welfare Group|
Additional priority items include (4):
- Exempting pregnant Marines from “standing at parade rest or attention for longer than 15 minutes”
- Increased gender integration
- Increasing enlistment test scores
The few, the proud, the out of shape exhausted mothers! The Chinese are trembling in fear.
Continuing the befuddlement, the Commandant is now stating that the Marine’s top ground forces priority is sea denial which he envisions accomplishing by placing small units with anti-ship missiles on distributed islands or land.
The Marine Corps is all in on fielding mobile anti-ship missiles in the Pacific to challenge China’s growing Navy, declaring it in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee to be its highest ground modernization priority.
“A ground-based anti-ship missile capability will provide anti-ship fires from land as part of an integrated naval anti-surface warfare campaign,” the written testimony reads. “This forward-deployed and survivable capability will enhance the lethality of our naval forces and will help to deny our adversaries the use of key maritime terrain.” (3) [emphasis added]
The Marine’s ground mission is sea control?????
The Marines, who should be concentrating on figuring out how to get an amphibious combat vehicle from 50 miles offshore to the beach, who should be working to rediscover their amphibious assault capability, who should be taking on the core mission of port seizure (my opinion, not the Marine’s), who should be frantically working on mobile anti-aircraft/anti-cruise missile capability, who should be reversing their trend of shedding tanks and artillery, who should be emphasizing ground force lethality, are now going to switch to sea denial as their new top priority? Isn’t that the Navy’s mission? Have the Marines solved all their problems and have so much extra budget that they can now take on a Navy responsibility?
I’m sorry but sea denial is about dead last on my list of priorities for the Marines – just ahead of maternity leave.
So, setting aside my stunned disbelief, how do the Marines see this sea denial working?
The Marines are looking at not just one but two anti-ship systems: one is based on a remote control version of the HIMARS vehicle (why remote control? what does that gain us if the troops are there anyway?) firing a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile and the other is an anti-ship version of Tomahawk which would be launched from an, as yet, unknown platform. Okay, let’s look a bit closer at this concept.
What’s the overall concept? According to the Marines,
The Marine Corps’ concept of operations, as outlined by Berger in last year’s planning guidance, … the Marines want to be able to spread their forces in small groups around islands in the Pacific and deny freedom of maneuver to the Chinese fleet. (3)
Has anyone wargamed this with even a small dose of reality? How are we going to infiltrate Chinese controlled areas and land HIMARS vehicles, missiles, men, and supplies without being seen? You don’t transport HIMARS vehicles and Tomahawk launchers on combat canoes. They’ll have to be transported on amphibious or cargo ships of some kind. Won’t the Chinese kind of … you know … see that? Or, is this more of the military’s ever-growing tendency to assume that the enemy will cooperate in their own destruction?
Honestly, this sounds like some top drawer, high quality, fantasy thinking.
Marine Corps requirements and development chief Lt. Gen. Eric Smith told reporters last year during the Expeditionary Warfare Conference that the Marines want to fight on ground of their choosing and then maneuver before forces can concentrate against them.
“They are mobile and small, they are not looking to grab a piece of ground and sit on it,” Smith said of his Marine units. “I’m not looking to block a strait permanently. I’m looking to maneuver. The German concept is ‘Schwerpunkt,’ which is applying the appropriate amount of pressure and force at the time and place of your choosing to get maximum effect.”
So, we’re disbursing small units on scattered islands and they’re somehow going to ‘maneuver before the enemy can concentrate against them’? Uh … they’re on small islands. How much maneuvering can they do?
Maybe the Marines think they can maneuver to another island? Again, how will we get large cargo ships to these remote, scattered islands to re-embark the Marines and move them to another island without being seen?
Seriously, if we can sail cargo ships (and escorts? now we’re talking large task forces – won’t those be noticed?) with utter stealth and impunity all around the enemy-controlled waters, we don’t need to use Marines to control the sea, we can just send Burkes to sail up next to the oblivious enemy ships and board them.
Wait, there’s more …
Smith describes a concept where the U.S. fleet can herd Chinese ships into a contested area where the Marines can do damage from the shore.
“So, if I’m maneuvering in support of the fleet commander in a contested, confined space, through the mobility I bring in air and with surface connectors I can get to a point and block or strike something that has been herded into a contested space – something that has been herded into that space by the fleet commander.” (3)
Again, the degree of willing cooperation and the assumed utter cluelessness of the enemy is staggering. We’re going to set up these magic, hidden anti-ship units and the Chinese are going to allow us to ‘herd’ them into range? Again, if we have sufficient naval force to ‘herd’ the Chinese navy then we really don’t need a few more Marine anti-ship missiles, do we?
Here’s the takeaways from this:
How do we transport large vehicles to these small, remote islands and lands without being detected?
How do we find targets that are beyond the horizon? Are we going to build airstrips and operate long range UAVs on these small islands all without being detected? Or, maybe we’ll use the regional network that ties all the non-survivable surveillance assets together in one ginormous, real time tactical picture?
Without long range surveillance and targeting, the effective area is limited to the horizon which is 12-15 miles from shore.
A small unit’s single launcher with one to a few missiles is of absolutely no tactical significance. Will we land large numbers of launchers and missiles (along with reload equipment)? If so, again, how will we conduct these large scale landings and operations without being detected?
This Commandant is all over the map. China is his number one threat and priority and yet his first actions have to do with maternity leave???? His top ground priority is sea denial? This guy is not giving me warm, fuzzy feelings about his grasp of the issues facing the Marines.
(1)military.com website, “Marines' New Top Officer Wants to Give New Moms a Full Year Off”, Gina Harkins, 17-Jul-2019,https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/07/17/marines-new-top-officer-wants-give-new-moms-full-year.html
(2)Stars and Stripes website, “Women in more job fields, added maternity leave on top Marine’s priority list”, Immanuel Johnson, 24-Feb-2020,https://www.stripes.com/news/women-in-more-job-fields-added-maternity-leave-on-top-marine-s-priority-list-1.620075
(3)Defense News website, “To combat the China threat, US Marine Corps declares ship-killing missile systems its top priority”, David B. Larter, 5-Mar-2020,https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/03/05/to-combat-the-china-threat-us-marine-corps-declares-ship-killing-missile-systems-its-top-priority/
(4)Marine Corps Times website, “These Are The 21 Internal Memo Items The Top Marine Wants To Immediately Change”, Philip Athey, 4-Mar-2020,https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2020/03/04/these-are-the-21-internal-memo-items-the-commandant-wants-to-immediately-change-in-the-corps/