ComNavOps has already roundly and soundly mocked and discredited this concept for a variety of reasons including :
- The impossibility of supporting and supplying bases inside enemy territory
- The implausibility of believing that a base can stay hidden
- The impossibility of sailing through enemy territory with impunity and invisibility to deposit Marines and aircraft at these hidden locations
- The near uselessness of a small number of aircraft in terms of any operationally benefit
- The impossibility of maintaining modern stealth aircraft at any useful degree of readiness in a remote, crude, island base given the impossibility of doing so during peacetime with unlimited parts, maintenance, manufacturer support, and perfect conditions
- The inability to target beyond the horizon
While all of the above is more than enough to discredit the concept, there is yet another consideration that renders this concept suspect and that is that the enemy might choose to do the exact same thing – and they’re a lot closer to these magic, hidden islands than we are!
If we have this absolutely brilliant idea to put small, hidden units on these islands to exercise sea control for hundreds of miles around, wouldn’t the Chinese have the same idea? Being much closer to the islands – and already controlling many of them – wouldn’t it be easier for them to implement the idea? When our ships attempt to penetrate to deposit their Marine sea control units wouldn’t the Chinese sea control units see them and destroy them since our ships will have, apparently, few escorts and little protection? If we think our sea control units can see and destroy everything for hundreds of miles around, why wouldn’t we think the Chinese sea control units could do the same? Or, is this just more of the military’s tendency to think that everything we do will work and nothing the enemy does will work and that the enemy will actively cooperate in their own destruction? I’ve repeatedly documented this tendency to exhibit one-sided thinking on the part of the US military and the Marine’s sea control concept seems to be the latest manifestation of the phenomenon.
I suspect that Commandant Berger and many of the hidden, jungle base proponents out there would simply say, if the Chinese are already on an island then we’ll pick another island. Well, if we can see the Chinese bases that easily, won’t they be able to see ours just as easily? And, if that’s the case, there goes the entire ‘hidden’ aspect which was the only protection for the base. If a small unit comes under attack, it will have zero chance of survival – that’s the problem with these penny packet distributions of small units (well, that’s one of the problems!).
|Are We Going To Put a Ghillie Suit On An Entire Island?|
Every time I hear or read about this island base / sea control concept, including from Commandant Berger, the discussion always starts with our forces already being established on the island and fully equipped. No one ever explains how these forces will penetrate into enemy territory undetected and land their small units. Also, no one ever seems to account for enemy activity and surveillance. We’ll see everything around us but the enemy will never see us. Amazing, isn’t it?
I just realized where all these ideas came from: Guadalcanal and Khe Sahn. Except in this case it would be a total disaster for the reasons you cited.ReplyDelete
Wake Island & its Marine force may be a better analogy to how the above scenario would play out!Delete
There is a need to pull this thinking into the 21st century. This strategy, even if conventional, needs to feel like the gray zone. Drop some containers and sailors into a mangrove and make a resupply base for XLUUVs cutting down their transit times. Think narco subs in reverse. They build them in a swamp, we can rearm and refuel them if no ship is available to be a tender. The ocean is full of overboard containers bouncing around. dump some with whatever you need up current and let them drift in for the kill whatever the payload. Loyal wingmen, other UAVs, missiles. Build an inflatable raft that deploys as a platform when ready. Probably lots of class 3 drones to connect shooters with targets quickly and at a tactical level. It all needs to be a smaller footprint and more expendable than the conventional forces being suggested.ReplyDelete
Andy, I didn't quite follow what you're suggesting but I think you've got an interesting concept in mind. Please take another shot at explaining what you're thinking.Delete
Basically dial the subterfuge dial way up and don't expect outsize results. Be more of a nuisance than a target. F-35s are way too important to expose or pass up. A massive field of smart trash. One sensor floating in the water picks up a target. Emits no signal until go time. ANother container picks up the signal, inflates the raft and launches the missile, drone etc. If people are involved their footprint should be no more than what might be observed as fisherman, drug dealers, or pirates. Probably new tasks for a crew with a special forces mindset. Really when you think about the limits of special forces insertion from a submarine would be defining the limits insofar as people in any of these operations.Delete
Hmm … interesting. So, you're envisioning a bunch of floating, passive sensors somehow linked to ?sunken? containers waiting for a signal? Kind of like mines? These sensors, floating on the surface of the water, would have severely limited fields of view.Delete
If successful, a ?single? weapon would launch.
Is the difficulty and cost in implementing such a scheme commensurate with the potential benefit? Limited field of view and very few weapons - is it worth it?
I think the navy is already on top of sunken and smart mines. I really want a cheap mess floating through their area of maneuver that they can't do anything about. Maybe make it a line of site sensor talking to sensor, like repeating all calls until the signal gets back to the shooter.Delete
Used container - $1,500
Large raft - $10k
Small motor for positioning - $1K
Payload? Most expensive, multi shot per container.
Drifting sensor - Cost of a sonobuoy, ideally less.
You realize that there's an attractive 'force' between objects floating in the sea? It's why giant 'islands' of garbage form. A bunch of unpowered, floating sensors are going to wind up bunched together!Delete
How would this mass of floating 'stuff' get deployed to the correct area? How would it avoid being swept away from the area of interest by currents? Sonobuoys last for around 8 hours or so. How long do you figure this floating network will last before power runs out?
On the power issue alone, there is commercial IoT (Internet of Things) technology out there that has sensors and communications equipment operating for months on special batteries, so I think that part could be solved. The issue then comes back to mobility and command/control - which is perhaps a stickier issue.Delete
The real key is getting the military into the mode of thinking up a solution that doesn't exist yet for the problems they will encounter. Working prototypes in days that the opposition doesn't know about and has no time to counter.ReplyDelete
Is this an attempt to redo the threat in being concept? Make the chinese wary of which islands are being occupied ao they will have to spend time and firepower sterilising the islands that are in the way to the combat zone?ReplyDelete
In that respect this is not that much different from the Japanese island fort strategy of WW2.
"Make the chinese wary of which islands are being occupied ao they will have to spend time and firepower sterilising the islands that are in the way to the combat zone?"Delete
You've done exactly what I stated in the post - you've started your thought from the position of being already fully established and hidden on these islands. HOW did that happen? How did you penetrate hundreds of miles into Chinese controlled and monitored waters to establish these bases without being detected? How are you getting food, fuel, water, and reloads to these bases without being detected?
I still think the real problem is what you described in your recent blog about eliminating aviation amphibious ships--the LHA/LHD.
You've got a Marine Corps built around a traditional expeditionary/amphibious mission. But you've given them a set of so-called amphibious platforms from which it is impossible to conduct a viable amphibious assault. As long as they remain 25-50 miles offshore, there are no viable connectors for an amphibious assault. Aircraft/helos can't carry heavy stuff like tanks and artillery, boats are too slow, LCACs are too unreliable, and attrition kills a long-range assault before a viable force can be landed. But I think the problem is not so much the connectors as the transports.
This leaves a Marine Commandant with three options:
1) Convince the navy to go back to an amphibious force from which a legitimate assault can be launched, specifically one that can be brought within 5 miles offshore, with a variety of methods to get Marines and equipment to the beach, or
2) Come up with some new mission, or
3) See the Marine Corps become irrelevant.
This Commandant seems to be pushing 2) by creating some hidden base concept that seems impossible to execute, while nudging the Navy a bit toward 1) with his call for smaller amphibs. I don't necessarily agree with his hidden bases, but he's shopping from a very short list of options as long as the LHAs/LHDs are in the picture.
Faced with this choice in the 1960s, the Royal Marines chose 2) by recasting themselves as a commando/special operations force. I don't think that option exists for our Marines. The SEAL and Green Beret communities are too well established for them to get much of a piece of that rock.
My approach would be primarily 1) but maybe with a bit of 2) thrown in as well. Rebuild the phibron with maybe a smaller LHA/LHD, an LPH, an LPD/LSD, an LST, an LKA/LPA, and a land-attack frigate that could provide NGFS with both 5-inch guns and rockets, plus be able to land commando teams.
I would revise the MEU headcount from about 2200 up to about 3000 (the lift capacity of my phibron), by increasing the size of the tank, artillery, and AAV elements and adding a commando element to the current ground, air, and logistics elements. Somewhere in there I’d put some amphibious tanks like the Chinese.
As far as connectors, I think we need some distinct improvement in that area, but I think we need to rethink the phibron first, and then the connector issue gets easier.
While not the preferred path, hasn't option 3 just about already happened? A very light infantry force with no amphibious capability is pretty much irrelevant in any scenario other than very low end embassy protection or some such.Delete
We certainly appear to be headed there. And that is a really sad commentary for on organization with the proud history of the USMC.Delete
Somewhere, a Chinese general just crossed the USMC off his list of threats.Delete
I think the Marines need a distinct mission area of their own. I would expand on the expeditionary/amphibious role. I see the Army focusing on large land battles, the Air Force focusing on strategic attack, air defense, and CAS for the Army (and if the Air Force really doesn't want that latter role, let them give their A-10s to the Army--that will go over like a lead balloon), and the Navy focusing on control of the seas and sea lines of communication and commerce (SLOC).Delete
That leaves the littoral areas, and I'm okay with letting the Marines take the lead from shallow water to about 200 KM inland. That means the Navy needs to come up with amphibious and green water ships to support the Marine mission ashore, but that's kind of how we thought it should work back in my Gator Navy days. I certainly don't think the Marines and Navy together could come up with a worse concept for a Littoral Combat Ship that the Navy did by itself. By combining air, infantry and armor under one command at the MEU level, I think the Corps can avoid some of the politicking things like what goes on between Army and Air Force over CAS.
I think the Commandant is right to ask for smaller amphibious ships and I think you are right to call for getting aviation-centric LHAs/LHDs out of the amphib business. I laid out how I would go, with both the Maine and amphibious components. I would invite other suggestions.
"I think the Marines need a distinct mission area of their own."Delete
Of course they do! But, it's not just generic 'littoral' areas. Recall that in WWII, at least half the amphibious assaults were by Army troops so there's nothing really all that special about it.
What would be unique is port seizure and I've stated that this should be the Marine's core mission. Now, if they could master amphibious assault, meaning amphib tanks and ways to get heavy equipment ashore in the initial wave, and so forth, then I'd include that in the mission set but they've shown absolutely no interest in that and are, in fact, dropping all the heavy tanks and equipment to become a very light infantry.
So, it's port seizure or irrelevance and they seem firmly committed to irrelevance.
I think it needs to go a little further than port seizure, but that needs to be an important part of it. What Marines shouldn't do is the kind of stuff they've been doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. They're not set up to occupy and hold territory.Delete
We've been playing lip service to "the littorals" for 20 years, and all we've really got to show for it are the useless LCSs. If the littorals are really important, then we need to plan intentionally for them. Let the Marines take the onshore side of the problem and let the Navy take the shallow water part, and let's come up with things that could really work. For the Navy part, maybe some ideas from the New Navy Fighting Machine for green water forces, plus a reconfiguration of the PhibRon. And whatever, for goodness sake, come up with a viable approach to mine warfare.Delete
"I think it needs to go a little further than port seizure"Delete
Okay, like what? Specifically, not generic 'littoral' coverage. What specific mission that some other branch couldn't do as well or better?
"Let the Marines take the onshore side of the problem"Delete
What 'problem'? What's the littoral problem? I did a post on this from the Navy's perspective and concluded there was no such thing as 'littoral' (see, Littoral Warfare - Is There Such A Thing?
What unique attribute do the Marines possess that makes them much better suited to fight near a shore than the Army?
I'm not looking to argue with you, only to try to help you pin down what mission you think the Marines are suited for and why.
"I'm not looking to argue with you, only to try to help you pin down what mission you think the Marines are suited for and why."Delete
I think the answer to your question depends largely on the tense of the verb. If it's what are they good for today, as a light infantry without significant armor or artillery and with no good way to get ashore from the transportation that the Navy provides, the answer is not much. I think you and I both agree on that. So that needs to change.
What I'm trying to determine is what the answer should be in the future tense. If you saw my earlier post, I am looking at beefing up the MEU by adding tanks, artillery, and armored amphibious vehicles. I'd like to add something like the Chinese amphibious tank. That can't possibly take 10 years to reverse engineer. And I'd like something that can get tanks and heavy artillery ashore faster. Your complaint against the EDA-R L-CAT is that it is too big, so why not build a smaller one? That force has what it needs to do port capture or other amphib missions-- landings, raids, strikes, or special ops.
Now what the Navy has to do to support that mission is go back to a phib force that is cheaper, more versatile, and can work a lot closer into shore than the LHAs/LHDs can be risked. I've laid out what I'd see as a future PhibRon. It would include a fire support frigate that has 5-inch guns and rockets, and could also transport spec ops commando teams in close enough to shore. I would also want to see 8-inch cruisers and 16-inch battleships from the blue-water fleet to support assaults.
Do those things and I think we could have a force that could do assaults, even opposed assaults. And that would certainly seem to be a force that could accomplish port seizure, raids, strikes, and spec ops missions. Right now, the Marines can’t do that mission. But change their structure and change the gator navy, and they could.
"What unique attribute do the Marines possess that makes them much better suited to fight near a shore than the Army?"
One, I think they have an advantage in that they have combined operations (land, sea, air) in one force with ultimately one commander, and that unity of command reduces or eliminates some of the coordination issues that exist when Army and Air Force (and/or Navy) try to work together, at least in theory. Two, if they adopt and embrace this mission, and are provided the resources to accomplish it, then the next thing that happens is we can then take that force and have it conduct realistic training on a focused mission. The Marines can specialize and focus and be the experts, while the Army has more generalized missions. In this model, I would expect the Marines to be innovators and testers/evaluators of new strategies and tactics, to identify “best practices” which could then be shared with the Army.
I think the answer is determine a mission, get a CONOPS, build your force with the personnel and equipment to execute that CONOPS, and then train, train, train. Don't just train until you can get it right, train until you can't possibly get it wrong.
“Okay, like what? Specifically, not generic 'littoral' coverage. What specific mission that some other branch couldn't do as well or better?”Delete
I think the question is not whether other branches can perform them, but whether there are unique aspects of the Marine Corps that enable them to be more proficient at them. I think there are some:
- Combined arms (land, air, sea) under unified command
- Ability to specialize and devote all training and strategy/tactical development to a niche capability
Those advantages may not exist today, because the Marine Corps, and the Gator Navy, are not designed to take advantage of them. We can give up and go home, or restructure to accomplish them. I prefer the restructuring approach.
“What 'problem'? What's the littoral problem? I did a post on this from the Navy's perspective and concluded there was no such thing as 'littoral' ”
IIRC, your post was basically along the lines that there was only littoral combat if there was some littoral asset that we wanted to take from the bad guys, or keep them from taking it, and that under the current vertical envelopment air assault concept, there really was no contested littoral asset.
I think where I’m going is to fundamentally change that idea, and determine that there may be littoral assets that we want to gain—ports, beaches, airfields, other—and that one essential element of littoral warfare is gaining control of such assets, and that the Marine Corps is the proper organizational element to take on that mission.
I would see the Marines as a force that had sufficient firepower and mobility to bring a huge amount of firepower to bear on an objective in a very fast and surprising time frame, gain control of that asset, and at some future point turn that asset over to the Army to protect and maintain control over, while the Marines move on to their next target.
Again, I think the genesis of the problem is the LHA/LHD. As long as everything is tied to that platform, it is going to be very difficult for the Marines to find a viable mission. You can't do amphibious assaults--nor, really, any of the other marine missions--from 25-50 miles offshore. We can (maybe) insert a very light infantry--with not tanks or artillery--behind enemy lines, but I'm not sure what that accomplishes. We need a whole new amphibious CONOPS.Delete
"I am looking at beefing up the MEU by adding tanks, artillery, and armored amphibious vehicles."Delete
The exact opposite of what the Marines are doing! So, naturally, I like it!
"L-CAT is that it is too big, so why not build a smaller one?"
Eminently reasonable although from what I see, the L-CAT may be overengineered. For a high risk landing craft, the simpler the better.
"And that would certainly seem to be a force that could accomplish port seizure,"
Just a caution … The port seizure mission requires a great deal of specialized equipment that the Marines do not currently have and a great deal of specialized tactics. There would be relatively little overlap between port seizure and any other mission. I've done some posts on port seizure that you might want to review (see, "Port Seizure".
"have an advantage in that they have combined operations (land, sea, air) in one force"
Debatable but okay.
"Don't just train until you can get it right, train until you can't possibly get it wrong. "
Love it! I may have to steal that one.
"IIRC, your post was basically along the lines ... there really was no contested littoral asset."
Not quite. I wrote it from the perspective of the Navy and concluded that there was either nothing of interest or, if there was, we already have all the shallow water naval capability we need so there was no such thing as a littoral war zone.
There certainly are things we might want to seize that are situated on the shore. Ports come to mind - cities, however, do not.
See, "Littoral Warfare - Is There Such A Thing?"
"We need a whole new amphibious CONOPS."Delete
Have you considered that we already have the capability to insert light infantry with follow on heavy forces into enemy territory without needing an amphibious assault? I'm referring to the Army airborne divisions. They can assault anywhere in the world and, if they seize an airfield in the process, can fly in follow on heavy support. One could make the case that that capability makes the Marines redundant. What do you think?
That's the thing. They have to bring something to the fight that airborne can't.Delete
"Army airborne divisions. They can assault anywhere in the world and, if they seize an airfield in the process, can fly in follow on heavy support."Delete
There are some constraints on what Airborne can do. Marines are limited by distance from shore that they can operate. Airborne is limited by distance from a friendly air base or airfield. Of course their range can be extended by refueling in air, but just like the issue with spending an hour in a boat, how good are soldiers going to be after riding 10 hours in a C-130?
I think there are potential objectives that are best achieved by Airborne and others that can best be achieved by amphibious operations. In general, anything far inland is Airborne, anything coastal at a great distance from available air bases is best Amphibious. But in an era of extreme service rivalry, how do we get an objective assessment of which objectives fit in which basket?
I would consider one other disadvantage of the Airborne approach. What if you can't capture that airfield, or if you can't capture it on a timely basis, or if the enemy succeeds in disabling it, or if there isn't such an airfield? A lot depends on that. Otherwise you end up with an unreinforced light infantry with no logistics and no way of extraction if things go badly. In this time of quarantining I rewatched, "A Bridge Too Far," and am reminded of how Airborne forces can get overextended.
"I wrote it from the perspective of the Navy and concluded that there was either nothing of interest or, if there was, we already have all the shallow water naval capability we need so there was no such thing as a littoral war zone."Delete
I would question the, "already have all the shallow water naval capability we need," comment. I would identify the following areas, also identified by LCDR Murphy in the article you quoted in the prior thread you referenced, where we do not have adequate littoral capability:
1. Shallow-water ASW
2. Naval gunfire support
3. Mine warfare
4. Adequate connectors to conduct amphibious assaults, largely because
5. No amphibious ships to operate close in to shore.
What's worse is that the so-called Littoral Combat Ship addressed exactly none off these areas.
1. Shallow-water ASW-It can't do ASW at all because of engine noise.
2. NGFS-a 57-mm pop gun?
3. Mine warfare-the MCM module doesn't work, and was an absurd concept to begin with
4. and 5. Nope, wasn't designed for significant troop lift.
What I think we need but don't have to fight in the littorals:
1. An ASW corvette, with sensors and weapons configured for shallow-water ASW.
2. A shore-attack frigate, with 5-inch guns, anti-surface rockets, and possibly the ability to insert spec ops forces.
3. A shore-attack corvette, kind of a min-arsenal ship, with the ability to get in close and insert spec ops forces if the frigate cannot.
4. Cruisers and battleships with 8-inch and 16-inch guns, plus lots of VLS cells, to provide heavy-duty NGFS.
5. Dedicated MCM platforms that can actually perform mine clearance in a hurry.
6. A redesigned amphibious force, consisting of smaller, cheaper ships that can be risked to operate close enough in to launch a viable amphibious assault (or port seizure, or raid, or spec ops mission)
7. Adequate ship-to-shore connectors, although my redesigned PhibRon makes this problem a lot simpler.
8. Submarines that can operate in shallow enough water to insert spec ops forces; I know you don't like this idea, but this might call for AIP submarines
You mentioned Normandy. Normandy had a signifiant airborne element (I still remember the guy hanging from the church steeple in "The Longest Day"). But the concept was for them to hook up with the amphibious landing force in order to get necessary support and logistics. And IIRC problems hooking up reduced their effectiveness. We might want to revisit that as a model in some cases and address the problem areas.
I guess one thing about the port seizure mission that is of concern is that ports are very valuable. The enemy knows that, and therefore we can expect ports to be most heavily defended. It's a tradeoff, but we may be able to go ashore in a less heavily defended area, establish a beachhead, and use that to accumulate enough mass onshore until we are then in a position to capture ports from the land side. Obviously, one weakness in that is that we may lose the benefit of surprise and give the enemy forces time to make ready in the port. But that's kind of what Normandy was. We landed on beaches, not in the ports, and then broke out quickly to capture the ports.Delete
One other thought about port seizure. The LST, with its roll-on, roll-off capability, and two (or three) ramps, has the ability to offload a whole lot of heavy cargo in a hurry. Particularly if port facilities are damaged, that could prove very useful.
Looking back at Normandy, the invasion was 6 June 1944, Cherbourg fell on 26 June (which was easier since it was out on a peninsula that the invasion basically cut off) and the port was reopened in a month, and Le Havre fell on 12 September and the port was reopened on 9 October. I'm not sure we could have successfully assaulted either one directly, but by landing on beaches basically halfway between, we were able to take them both fairly quickly. And pretty obviously, with the large naval presence in the Channel to support the invasion, we probably denied or at least reduced the ability of the Germans to use either port effectively during June, July, and August.Delete
"we may be able to go ashore in a less heavily defended area, establish a beachhead, and use that to accumulate enough mass onshore until we are then in a position to capture ports from the land side."Delete
The main objective is to capture a port that is either in working shape or can be made ready in fairly short order. The risk we ran at Normandy was that the Germans could have rendered the ports nearly useless by destroying all the facilities and sinking ships in the approaches to prevent our ships from entering. The solution is to hit the port hard and fast to minimize the time the enemy has to wreck the port. The flip side is that's a much tougher battle than landing away from the port and eventually working toward it. If you've got a multi-year campaign in mind, as with the re-occupation of Europe, the time delay may be acceptable. If not, you need to get the port as quickly as possible.
Obviously, an immediate seizure of a port is a very specialized mission for which we are entirely unprepared. If you haven't yet, read my post on port seizure and you'll get some idea of the challenges and requirements.
I've read it and it is a good discussion.Delete
It's a tradeoff. If you can assault the port directly, do it. But if you can't, the Normandy approach would probably be the best way to go about it. We had Cherbourg up and running within two months of the landing, and from then until 1945 it was the busiest port in the world. I'm not sure we can do a lot better with a straight-on assault, and we would probably pay a higher price in casualties (although we certainly had enough of those with Normandy the way it was).
That again is one of the reasons I like LSTs. If you get in and everything is pretty much destroyed, the RO-RO LST can still offload a lot in a hurry if you can just find it a place to put a ramp.
The other thing we did at Normandy was to bring over some prefab port sections that we used to create a man-made port (Mulberry harbor) at Arromanches (on Gold Beach) and tried unsuccessfully on Omaha Beach. Per Wikipedia, the total troops, vehicles and supplies landed over the beach and Arromanches were:Delete
- By the end of 11 June (D+5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies.
- By 30 June (D+24) over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies.
- By 4 July one million men.
Then Cherbourg came online and after that Le Havre.
That was great to support the initial effort but could not sustain the drive across Europe. We needed fully functional ports.
"We had Cherbourg up and running within two months of the landing"Delete
It may have been operational to some extent but it took quite a while to get it to full capacity. I just found a WWII report on the destruction and reconstruction of Cherbourg and it was a mammoth undertaking.
From a quick skim of the report, it appears that the Germans did quite a bit of damage but only about half of what was planned. Allied engineers found lots of planted explosives around many facilities and equipment that were obviously intended to be blown but, for whatever reason, were not. The report speculates that the speed of the Normandy assault may have prevented much of the planned destruction.
From the end of July 1944 until V-E day, Cherbourg was the busiest port in the world, so they much have done a pretty good job reconstructing.Delete
And we got more ports. We added LeHavre, and then later Antwerp
Again, one reason I like having LSTs is that if the port is not fully functional, they can offload a lot in a hurry via RO-RO, as long as you can find a place that they can extend a ramp or two.Delete
"Marines are limited by distance from shore that they can operate."Delete
2001, the 15th and 26th MEU's were linked together to form Task Force 58 under the leadership of BGen Mattis. The combined MEU's launched a helo assault on an airport outside Kandahar dubbed Camp Rhino.
Spanning 350 miles from ship to objective, TF 58 was conducting the deepest amphibious assault in Marine Corps history. Its sustainment depended entirely on airlift; every piece of equipment and every drop of water had to be flown in. In the previous 10 days, Air Force C-17s and C-130s had moved more than 500 Marines and more than 1,500 tons of cargo across Rhino’s unimproved runway.
The thought hit me about a question that I think defines a legitimate littoral mission. What would it take to hold the first island chain against China, or to retake parts that fell?Delete
I think it takes a serious amphibious capability that could land a landing force heavily equipped with tanks, other armor, and heavy artillery, some corvettes/patrol craft that can do shallow-water ASW and other corvettes/patrol craft that can do serious shore bombardment with guns and rockets, some AIP subs to operate in very shallow waters, some way (either corvettes or subs) to insert special forces/commando teams, and some significant commitment to mine warfare (offensive and defensive).
This would all, of course, be in addition to and not instead of the regular blue-water navy. I don't see much of any of that in the Navy's current plans for the littorals.
"2001, the 15th and 26th MEU's were linked together to form Task Force 58 under the leadership of BGen Mattis. The combined MEU's launched a helo assault on an airport outside Kandahar dubbed Camp Rhino.Delete
Spanning 350 miles from ship to objective, TF 58 was conducting the deepest amphibious assault in Marine Corps history."
While an impressive and commendable accomplishment, I think that was well beyond the scope of what should be the Marine mission. Afghanistan was a land-locked country, so that's what Marines had to do to get invited to the party.
My question is this. Would the Marines and we be better off today if they had spent the last 20 years:
a) playing baby army in land-locked Afghanistan and inland regions of Iraq and Syria, or
b) focusing on doing everything they could to hold the first island chain against China, including headcount and equipment, strategy and tactics, and training to accomplish that goal, coordinated with diplomatic actions to make it a real possibility?
I think very much the latter, and I think the whole preoccupation with the Mideast is one way that we have kind of gotten our whole military sidetracked from what we need it to be doing.
I think the Corps in particular has been badly knocked off stride by two developments:
1) Transitioning to the LHA/LHD as primary amphibious lift platform has pretty much eliminated the possibility of conducting a legitimate amphibious assault, and
2) Employing the Marines as a kind of baby army, starting with Vietnam where Westmorland send the Marines to mountainous I Corps and the army to the riverine Mekong Delta region, and continuing through Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
I see a littoral type mission out there in the first island chain, and I see another potentially in the eastern Mediterranean (see they hypothetical in CAPT Hughes 3rd edition of Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations), and a third in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. We don't know how to do any of them, nor are we manned, equipped, or trained to do them. And I don't see us moving in the direction of fixing any of that.
"What would it take to hold the first island chain against China, or to retake parts that fell?"Delete
You want to engage in island warfare and conquering countries that weren't ours to begin with???? I thought you just wanted containment?! If China gets every first island country, isn't that completely okay under your containment strategy?
No, my idea of containment is to draw the line and contest them at the first island chain, because I think that's where we can win.Delete
Step 1 is diplomatic, and almost too late. Build alliances with those folks--Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines. And we already have at least some sort of deal with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. Some as you note may already be under pretty heavy Chinese influence. But I think we can offer them something that China can't--access to the US market. So then we aren't conquering them, we are helping defend them. I'm basically adapting the Bretton Woods philosophy. I just hope it's not too late.
And no, my containment strategy is not to let them have the first island chain. My containment strategy is to contest them at the first island chain. I think it would be very hard to sustain a successful attack on the Chinese mainland. But I think we can contest them successfully at the first island chain.
"And no, my containment strategy is not to let them have the first island chain."Delete
Boy, I hate to be the one to break this to you but China almost owns the first island chain already! They've occupied the disputed islands, built illegal islands where none existed, co-opted the Philippines, made advances in most of the other rim countries. There's not all that much left for them to do!
So, what happens to your containment strategy when they complete their occupation of the first island chain without triggering a war, as they seem to be in the process of doing? Do you try to contain them at the second island chain?
If your strategy is to PREVENT them from occupying the first island chain, you're already too late. They've part way done it and are moving steadily to control/occupy the parts they haven't.
" my idea of containment is to draw the line and contest them at the first island chain"
The time to do that was when they began building illegal islands and militarizing them. The time to do that was when they began annexing Vietnamese fishing waters. The time to do that was when they annexed the Philippine's Scarborough Shoal. The time to do that was when they annexed the Spratly Islands.
" I think we can offer them something that China can't--access to the US market."Delete
This presupposes that they have anything to sell in the US market. I'm not an Indonesian economic expert but I'm not aware of any significant manufacturing in that region that would benefit from access to the US market. By the way, are they currently somehow excluded from the US market?
I think this is where your Breton Woods analogy (I think you've got that wrong, by the way, but we'll set that aside for the moment) fails. The European countries were and/or had the potential to be major manufacturing and trade partners. The Indonesian countries do not, from what little I know. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that.
"I think this is where your Breton Woods analogy (I think you've got that wrong, by the way, but we'll set that aside for the moment) fails. The European countries were and/or had the potential to be major manufacturing and trade partners. The Indonesian countries do not, from what little I know. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that."Delete
We are making a ton of stuff in China right now. With CV-19, there is going to be huge pressure to get it out. A lot will come home. A lot can't because the economics depend on cheap labor. Place close to China make sense as locations to move too.
They are not currently excluded, but they don't have as sweet a deal as China does.
"Boy, I hate to be the one to break this to you but China almost owns the first island chain already!"Delete
Yep, it's way late in the game. I don't know if we can do it or not. I know they are pissed off about some of China's SCS claims, and I frankly don't know if we can leverage that plus the economic benefits into deals with them. Maybe some, maybe not others. But I think it's worth a try, even this late in the game.
One reason China has been able to play hardball is that none of them have the resources to stand up to China. We do, and maybe we can make that count for something.
“You're drawing a parallel that I don't think is valid. The Soviet Union, after establishing their boundaries, showed no interest in taking over the rest of the world.”
I think the Soviets were going to push it as far as they could. They took over the Iron Curtain countries, from Stettin to Trieste as Churchill noted. I think that had Western Europe rolled over for them they would have gone as far as the Algarve. We bribed the Europeans into having at least some guts because we were worried about that. I think the Berlin blockade was a test. And when we responded with the airlift, and then with the formation of NATO, I think we drew a pretty clear line. I think the Soviets wanted to get every bit that they could get, but they didn’t want to fight us. After 1949, I think they looked around and said, “Hey, for centuries we had to defend the whole width of the European plain. Now we only have to defend a relatively narrow gap between the Alps and the Baltic. We can live with what we got.” With the fall of the Berlin Wall, that has changed. With all the countries that got out from under their yoke, they are back to having to defend the whole width of the European Plain. And yes, I think they’re a lot more defensive and reactionary these days.
I think China is kind of the same way. They want as much as they can get without fighting us. So far, we’ve been easy. It’s time to stop.
“It's utterly immaterial whether or not any given weapon is a match for any other country's similar weapon. What matters is whether the weapon supports our own strategy and operations.”
Navies have three general missions, control the seas, deny the enemy control of the seas, and project power ashore. I think we control the seas beyond the first island chain, contest their control inside the chain, and project power by assisting our allies to hold the chain. In controlling the seas beyond, how well our assets match up with their comparable ones is a significant consideration.
“We already have it. It's called a Tomahawk missile. So, what does that leave your carriers to do?"
You’ve got more carriers in your proposed fleet than I do (27 versus 24), so what do you propose that they do? I would plan to make huge use of Tomahawks as strike assets, and to develop new and better strike missiles. One role for carriers would be providing air cover so the Tomahawk launchers can get close enough to attack.
“You've declared you only want containment which means no need to enter the first island chain. Therefore, no need to pass through mine-able waters. Therefore, mines are not a threat in your strategy.”
I am not talking about containment OUTSIDE the first island chain; I’m talking about containment INSIDE the first island chain. I plan to contain them inside the chain by holding the chain, with our allies, and not giving them unrestricted passage through. If we control the chain, mines can be a huge factor in restricting passage. And if we lose part of it and want to take it back, we will need mine countermeasures.
“Does that sound like justification for an entire Marine Corps and 33+ ship amphib fleet?”
Yes. I’ve got 50 amphibs in mind, 60 counting the fire support frigates, enough to haul 10 of my upgraded MEUs.
“Sea control requires 24 carriers???? $15B carriers for sea control?”
First, they’re not $15B carriers, they’re $4B and $9B carriers, 12 of each. So a 2-carrier TG costs less than one Ford. And they are sea control only until we come up with a strike aircraft with long enough legs to make a difference. Then carriers split the strike responsibility with Tomahawks or whatever we come up with to replace Tomahawks.
I’m enjoying this, but I’d like for you to show some of your cards. How do you plan for this to go?
"I’d like for you to show some of your cards."Delete
I've written an entire blog of my 'cards'!!!!
I've described what victory over China consists of, what strategy we should use, how to deal with China during peacetime, how to go about a war with China, what we need to fight, the fleet structure we should have, what role carriers should play, what China's goals are, and every other imaginable aspect. If there's some specific aspect or question you have, I'll be happy to answer or, more likely, point you at the relevant post that I've already written. Besides, you've been around for a while so you've probably read most of the posts and, if you haven't, I know you're spending all your free time reading through the archives!
"I've written an entire blog of my 'cards'!!!!"Delete
I'm pretty familiar with most of them, and gave them a re-read today, and I've still got a few questions.
One, with a few exceptions, I'm not following where and how you link your strategic objectives to fleet structure.
I get that you don't see the need for a large amphibious capability. I would go for more in this area, not because I see an opposed assault on China, but because I do see possibilities in the first island chain. The first island chain looks to me like the classic littoral application, a chain of islands, and I think we should attempt diplomatically to reverse the inroads China has made (which I think is still doable, since despite the economic help, China has pretty much angered them with their SCS grab policies) while building the proper littoral assets to operate in that environment (which the LCS, despite its name, is clearly not). I’m borrowing some ideas from NNFM, but not totally in that camp. The first island chain is, at least down south, close enough to mainland China that we can threaten it from there, at the same time far enough away that we have some reaction time to defend ourselves from Chinese attack. Sitting squarely astride an oil supply route that is essential to China’s interests, it poses a major strategic threat to them. At the same time the northern end (Japan and South Korea) has significant ability to defend itself, particularly if a lot of China’s military is tied up down south. Additionally, I agree that we need to prepare for a peer or near-peer war with China or Russia, but there are also other situations where an amphibious capability would be useful.
I don't see where you get your need for 27 carriers, and I don't see where that is drastically different from my 24. Also, the role you appear to describe for them in a China war--air cover for the Tomahawk platforms until the A2/AD threat is reduced sufficiently to permit air strike missions flown off the carrier--is pretty much exactly what I have in mind. Heck, the idea kind of came together in my mind from reading your posts on the subject.
Two, as I understand it, your objective for China is not physical invasion (which you correctly IMO describe as stupid) but rather the destructions of the Chinese institutions (military, academic, etc.) that permit China to be a threat. My belief is that if we can put China under the appropriate economic stress, those things will self-destruct anyway, like Reagan did with Russia. The Chinese economic model is pretty simple—export lots of cheap consumer goods, and use the cash that generates to 1) finance make-work projects with little or no economic return to keep the masses too occupied to revolt, and 2) buy overseas friendships with infrastructure projects. And it all depends on getting sufficient oil and gas, a significant portion of which has to come by sea, to keep it running. Any part of that fails, and they have massive unrest and potentially famine on their hands. We move a lot of manufacturing out, and there goes cash flow. If China has to use its navy to convoy oil tankers from the Mideast and Africa that takes away the assets that it needs to control the SCS.
Three, I agree with your idea that we need to spend more time maintaining and training, and less time deploying. But the vast majority of those deployments are to honor commitments that we made at the end of WWII to keep global commerce flowing. I know you don't agree with my Bretton Woods concept, although I’m not quite sure what you think happened instead. For us to get out of those commitments, we have to find somebody to take them on. If we just walk away we will leave a vacuum, which I would guest that China (and perhaps Russia) would be more than happy to try to fill. That’s behind my British Commonwealth idea. I see them as the one group that could take over a lot of them.
It strikes me that if all we are going to prepare for is an all-out peer war with Russia and/or China, then it seems that we need a lot of missile subs and not a lot of anything else, because those are the only assets likely to make it through a all-out peer war in any numbers. But they are of little use in anything but an all-out peer war.Delete
"One, with a few exceptions, I'm not following where and how you link your strategic objectives to fleet structure."Delete
Without repeating posts, I'll try to summarize as briefly as I can and trust that you can make the connections and fill in the blanks. In order to meet my victory conditions, which you noted, we have to penetrate all the way into the E/S China Seas (no simple containment!). Since we have no airbases, we need mobile airbases - hence, the carriers. The carrier air wings will be establishing the local (regional, actually) air superiority that will allow the AF bombers to penetrate and Tomahawk cruise missiles (I really hope we replace those with something better!) to have somewhat uncontested flight paths. That requires a LOT of aircraft since China has a LOT of aircraft that will need to be defeated.
Ensuring the carriers survival will require ASW and ASuW. Hence, the escorts.
And so on for the rest of the fleet structure. You can make the logical connections yourself.
It's all predicated on what the victory conditions are and how I envision achieving them and the methodology is heavily dependent on carriers. It all flows from that.
"I do see possibilities in the first island chain."Delete
Okay, there's a few possibilities.
1. You allow China to establish large, dug in, well defended bases on the various islands. If that's the case, then you need to eliminate them. You can either do that with barrages of cruise missiles from a thousand miles off, in complete safety, or execute a very difficult amphibious assault. Remember, most of the islands are fairly small and the enemy force/base can't really hide or maneuver. They're essentially fixed targets. After missile-ing the bases to death, you can conduct a simple administrative landing if you want to use the island yourself.
2. You confront China BEFORE they establish any bases in which case you don't need to do amphibious assaults.
3. You use diplomacy to establish your own bases on the various islands in which case you only need to defend them, not assault them.
So, in only one of the three cases (No. 1.) is there even the possibility of assault and the wiser choice is to eliminate the base using stand off missiles.
Do you see some other scenario in which amphibious assaults become highly desirable?
" I don't see where that is drastically different from my 24"Delete
1. The number is basically the same but mine are tied directly to strategy and operations. Your numbers was tied, at best, to a nebulous 'sea control' function for which 24 carriers seems like vast overkill.
2. Bear in mind that I'm not saying your carrier level is wrong, only that it's not directly tied to a strategic rationale that justifies the number.
"My belief is that if we can put China under the appropriate economic stress, those things will self-destruct anyway"Delete
While you're waiting/hoping for that to happen, China is amassing a formidable military that is growing stronger every day. Every day you wait for them to collapse and they don't, you're making the eventual war that much harder on yourself.
Also, if your war strategy is simple containment, then you leave them the means (economic, industrial, academic, etc.) to learn lessons, rebuild, and come back at you even stronger. In other words, containment guarantees repeat wars. What a useless waste of deaths. This is what Israel is doing and facing by being unwilling to go in and wipe out their enemies. They just keep refighting the same war over and over.
Of course, perhaps China will collapse, as you hope, during one of the cycles but hope is not a great strategy whereas my strategy GUARANTEES one and only one war. Something to think about.
" vast majority of those deployments are to honor commitments that we made at the end of WWII to keep global commerce flowing."Delete
I'm not aware of any such commitments but you're clearly studied this aspect more than I have. Perhaps you'd care to point me at whatever treaties and agreements we made along those lines. Breton Woods, for example, I know was not about global commerce protection but, rather, about international monetary standards. So, what else was there?
" seems that we need a lot of missile subs and not a lot of anything else,"Delete
I agree that we need more missile subs. However, look at a map. The first island chain is anywhere from 250 miles to well over a thousand miles out from the mainland, depending on where you measure. That means that most of China, geographically is out of reach of missile subs unless they deeply penetrate the E/S China Seas. If all we have is a sub navy, we'll have no way to prevent the Chinese from executing massive ASW efforts and our subs will suffer extreme losses in the confined waters of the E/S China Seas.
And then, of course, there's the whole peacetime issue where we need ships rather than subs.
"Okay, there's a few possibilities"Delete
Your possibility #1, China gets dug in, is unacceptable. Unfortunately, it's also where we are headed right now. You're right, about all we can do in that case is missile strikes, followed by putting boots on the ground to hold them. Missiles for the first wave, but we can't keep shooting missiles forever, so amphib assault to seal the deal and try to hold them against future Chinese assaults.
I'm kind of hoping for some combination of your #2 and #3. Establish relationships, using our economic carrot and the promise of some military support. The reason China has had unfettered use of the SCS is because none of the other countries have the navy or other military to stop them. We can step up and say, "China, maybe we can stop you building islands, but we can draw the line and say no bases on any country surrounding the SCS." If we quit being milquetoast wusses, I think we can put a stop to that. But doing that, and reassuring our allies, requires presence with a purpose. Not just meaningless FONOPS but real presence of people with military and naval capabilities.
I think we confront China, build alliances, and establish bases as need be to show that we mean business. Rather than fixed bases, it may make more sense to have mobile forces, but that's beyond the scope of this discussion. In any event, should China launch anything at any of the islands in the chain, it would be helpful to get reinforcements there. Some could be Airborne, of course, but Marines could also fill the bill, particularly if they are recast as the more heavy-duty armor/artillery force that both you and I see.
" Perhaps you'd care to point me at whatever treaties and agreements we made along those lines. Breton Woods, for example, I know was not about global commerce protection but, rather, about international monetary standards."Delete
The formal agreement that came out of Bretton Woods was in fact the currency agreement, as you state.
The principles I have laid out and called "Bretton Woods" were actually agreed to by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941 in Newfoundland and issued in a statement that has been called the "Atlantic Charter." Three key provisions that I have referred to are self-determination (meaning the end of empires), lowering of trade barriers, and freedom of the seas, the latter of which could only be achieved by the US Navy. But that document had only two signatories, US and UK (actually it was never signed, so in theory no signatories, but it was presented as a joint statement). A number of the allies joined in the following months and years. What happened at Bretton Woods is that the US and UK rolled it out to everybody and said, "Folks, this is the way the world is going to work, because we said so. You want access to our markets, and you want the US fleet to protect your supply chains, sign up on our team against the Russkis." Flowing out of this were events like the end of the British (and French and Dutch and other) Empire, NATO, and GATT, which led in turn to WTO.
The currency agreemnt became outmoded when Nixon took the US off gold in 1971. The Cold War part pretty much became outmoded when the Berlin Wall fell. But 30 years later, we are still living by that outmoded paradigm because we haven't found anybody to take over the guarantee of freedom of the seas promise that we made to everybody who played ball with us.
I call it Bretton Woods because that's where we sprung it on the world. Call it Atlantic Charter if you prefer, or whatever. But we clearly made a. promise. My active duty consisted of one year on a FRAM destroyer that had to be taken out of commission when it started leaking on an exercise off the coast of Maine, and made it to Boston harbor with about 1 foot of freeboard, followed by 2 years in the mine force and 1 year on an LST. Because the mine warfare part of NATO had been pretty much given to the Brits, Dutch, Belgians, and Germans, there was a lot of interaction with NATO. Believe me, I lived this deal for those two years.
"The number is basically the same but mine are tied directly to strategy and operations."Delete
I guess what I'm missing is where you actually say, "This is my strategy and it requires 27 carriers to execute." I've at least laid out my rationale for 12 carrier groups of 2 carriers each--4 groups (8 carriers) for a China war, 4 groups (8 carriers) for a Russia war, 2 groups (4 carriers) for a Mideast war, and 2 groups (4 carriers, 2 on each coast) in reserve/surge mode. As far as mission, I pretty much agree with the role you laid out, at least as far as China--until we can disable their A2/AD significantly, reman relatively far out and provide air cover for Tomahawk assets to move in closer. Once we reduce their A2/AD capability, move in closer and supplement the Tomahawk attacks with air raids. I thought that was your approach, because I kind of got it by reading some of your posts.
"presence with a purpose"Delete
"promise of some military support"
I simply can't get past this point. These phrases are great slogans but you haven't defined what they mean in terms of actions.
Are you going to destroy and Chinese asset that violates another country's territorial waters?
What about violating disputed territory?
What action will you take in response to unsafe harassment of our forces?
Will you allow the illegal islands to stand?
And so on …
"we can draw the line and say no bases on any country surrounding the SCS"
They already have bases in, for example, Philippine territory (Scarborough Shoal). Will you allow those to remain, despite the 'line' or will you destroy them?
Until you define, in your mind, what this nebulous 'presence' will actually do, it's just posturing which is exactly what the US is doing currently.
Again, I'm not really criticizing your approach, just trying to get you to understand the limits and effectiveness, or lack thereof, of your approach.
China has seized our military assets, for goodness sake! If they're willing to do that, I really don't see what 'presence' will do. How much more 'presence' can you have than a military asset - that China not only ignores but seizes!!!
Until you're willing to back up presence with force, you've got nothing but posturing. So, you need to define, in your mind, under what circumstances you're willing to use force. If there are no circumstances under which you'll use force then you have to ask yourself why you're there. This is the situation the US is in, right now. There appears to be no circumstance in which we'll respond with force to China. If we wouldn't do it when they seized our EP-3 or our UUV then I don't see it ever happening. That being the case, we've already lost the region and should just leave.
"Of course, perhaps China will collapse, as you hope, during one of the cycles but hope is not a great strategy whereas my strategy GUARANTEES one and only one war. Something to think about."Delete
I think we have a big difference of opinion regarding how solid China is. China has seldom in history stayed together as a united country very long, kind of like Germany and Italy in Europe. It has three very different ethnic and economic groups--the warlike Han in the north, the commercially viable Yangtze Valley in the middle, and the internationally oriented south around Hong Kong. And the Tibetans and the Muslims in the west don't like any of them. It's economy is totally dependent on 1) exporting cheap consumer goods and using the cash to fund over-leveraged and economically non-viable activities (like the empty cities) to keep the populace too busy to riot and 2) powering it all with oil and gas that are largely imported, and a sizable portion of which must come by sea. Foreign control of the first island chain is a huge threat to both of them. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and/or Australia can pretty much shut down their economy by interdicting oil shipments. And if China has to escort oil tanker convoys from the Mideast, there goes pretty much all their navy.
Yeah, they've got some pretty impressive ships and other weapons. But who knows how well their personnel can operate and maintain them? And a big hunk of their army is tied down suppressing internal discord. They're kind of like the USSR was, impressive military but economic feet of clay. If we could control the first island chain, particularly the Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines part that sits squarely astride their oil supply line, we would put them in an extremely awkward position, at best. Of course, that's why they don't want us to do that, and IMO that's why doing that should be a major priority. I really don't understand what was the purpose of our "Pivot to the Pacific" about a decade ago if it wasn't to do precisely that
"Until you're willing to back up presence with force, you've got nothing but posturing."Delete
Exactly, and all we have done, including specifically our FONOPS, is posturing.
Limitations on force. I would not use force to extricate China from Scarbourough Shoal. But Scarborough Shoal is not "mainland" Philippines. I remember going past it on our way from Subic to Yankee Station. And China got there not by agreement with the Philippines but by force. My objective with the Philippines (admittedly probably the toughest nut to crack because of the current leader) would be to get to a point where they don't allow any Chinese base on their mainland, and we back them on that, with certain trade and defense agreements going along with that.
If we got Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia onboard, we would seriously threaten anything going from or coming to China from anywhere in the Mideast, Africa, or Europe. I would try to get them onboard as part of my Commonwealth idea. If we could add Indonesia, then we could pretty much block their oil, or force it to travel in escorted convoys, or force it to take the long way around Australia and New Zealand. Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam would be nice-to-haves, but not as critical as the ones to the south.
As far as how to get them online, we imported $450B from China last year. After CV-19, there is going to be a push to get that out of China. A lot will come home, particularly things like military and health supplies. Say 2/3 of it came home (probably high). That would still leave $150B to distribute around to economies willing to ally with us. Indonesia had GDP a little over $1T last year, Taiwan about $580B, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore $360B each, Vietnam $260B. Split $150B evenly, and $25B would have a significant impact on any of them.
As an aside, I really, really don't understand why we haven't made far more serious efforts to cultivate relations with India and Indonesia.
As far as my "feet of clay" comment. China has, on paper, a much stronger economy than Russia did, and they have been using their economic strength to try to buy allies in South Asia and Africa, now extending to South America. But that economy has some serious vulnerabilities. If we pulled a lot of manufacturing out, it would expose a lot of their weaknesses. If we blocked their oil, it would do even more.
But we need to quit playing nice guy and start playing tough guy with them. I don't want a shooting war, and I think we can win without one if we play our cards right. So far, we haven't.
"freedom of the seas, the latter of which could only be achieved by the US Navy."Delete
I think you're overstating the degree of formality associated with any guarantee of US naval safeguarding of the seas. I'm not aware that there has ever been any such explicit statement.
For example, here's a very brief description of the features of the Atlantic Charter:
"Among its major points were a nation’s right to choose its own government, the easing of trade restrictions and a plea for postwar disarmament."
It does not mention any responsibility or guarantee that the US would provide naval safeguards for nations that support us.
Whether explicitly stated and formalized or not, I understand what your concept is and how you would attempt to use it diplomatically. I don't think it would work because, as I said, the countries you would offer it to have no significant manufacturing capability that could benefit from US markets. Yes, as you said, we can (and are to some degree) pull back out of China but none of the surrounding countries have the resources, raw materials, infrastructure, or population to be a viable new home for our industry.
"Yes, as you said, we can (and are to some degree) pull back out of China but none of the surrounding countries have the resources, raw materials, infrastructure, or population to be a viable new home for our industry."Delete
China didn't either, when we first went there. If we could. get all of the first island chain into the fold for $150B, would that be a better use of the money than 2-3 more years of winless wars in the deserts of the Mideast? Particularly considering that at this point, probably the main effect of our involvement there is protecting China's oil supply.
"It does not mention any responsibility or guarantee that the US would provide naval safeguards for nations that support us."Delete
This is from Wikipedia, but I think it's accurate.
"The eight principal points of the Charter were:
no territorial gains were to be sought by the United States or the United Kingdom;
territorial adjustments must be in accord with the wishes of the peoples concerned;
all people had a right to self-determination;
trade barriers were to be lowered;
there was to be global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare;
the participants would work for a world free of want and fear;
the participants would work for freedom of the seas;
there was to be disarmament of aggressor nations, and a common disarmament after the war."
The only country in position to guarantee that freedom of the seas was the USA. So that provision was implicitly an American guarantee. Maybe in 1941 the Royal Navy was still a force that could help with that, but by 1944 or 1945, that was pretty much up to us.
"Whether explicitly stated and formalized or not, I understand what your concept is and how you would attempt to use it diplomatically. I don't think it would work because, as I said, the countries you would offer it to have no significant manufacturing capability that could benefit from US markets."Delete
How about this as a compromise? We try to win without fighting, like we did the Cold War, through what I will still call the Bretton Woods approach (I think it's pretty clear what I mean by that), and if that doesn't work then we shoot our way to your approach.
Either one requires a vastly different approach now. And implementing mine inherently implies getting ready for yours, because otherwise mine has no meaning.
Interesting discussion, although it has wandered pretty far afield from "Hidden Bases." I still think we have more points of agreement than disagreement, including that the Navy currently has its head wedged. pretty far you know where, and the Marines seem to be trying to find out if there is room for two there.Delete
"Either one requires a vastly different approach now. And implementing mine inherently implies getting ready for yours, because otherwise mine has no meaning."Delete
"the Marines seem to be trying to find out if there is room for two there."
As far as my Bretton Woods comments, here is the source of a lot of them:Delete
"China didn't either, when we first went there."Delete
But it did have all the potential. The surrounding countries lack the potential because they lack one or more of the resource enablers.
Today the 25th April is ANZAC day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) in Australia ands New Zealand. This is similar to the US's Memorial Day.ReplyDelete
Due to Sars-Cov-2 no one is allowed to attend services. So many houses have had a candle burning all day on their fences.
ANZAC day is on the day Commonwealth forces invaded Turkey at and near Gallipoli.
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours ... You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
These famous, heart-rending words, attributed to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was a commander of Ottoman forces at the Dardenelles during the first world war and later the founder of modern Turkey, grace memorials on three continents, including at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.
Very nice reminder for us!Delete
I was able to attend the annual ANZAC Day celebration in 2001 while deployed in Gladstone for tandem Thrust. Had no idea it was such a huge deal. We formed up three platoons of Marines to march in the parade and started downtown with a few people standing watching us. The sound of the marching was pretty ragged at this point. We came to the crest of the hill and started down toward the monument in town. the crowds were enormous! All of a sudden, as the Marines started noticing the crowds, the sounds of three platoons marching started getting crisper and heels were smashing down on the road in perfect unison. The crowd erupted in cheers as they saw the Marines start down that hill. It was one of the proudest moments of my career to be an Officer of Marines that day.Delete
An amazing memorial service to those "Diggers" of old.
Living in New Zealand, ANZAC Day is still a very big deal. This year, given the current situation, it was instead suggested that everone stand at their front gate at the same time (6am). Obviously this works much better in urban areas, but the images from across the country of people lined up in silence, often wearing their grandparents' medals, and frequently with home-made poppies decorating their fences, was truly something to behold.Delete
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.ReplyDelete
Using that kind of sound logic, clearly the Marines are going to tunnel through the earth to gain access to the islands from below...completely unobserved.
Dang, I wish I had thought of it first!
Has anyone looked at a map??? So which islands are we supposed to be magically seizing/ hiding on?? Another though to add is...if its near anything important ie; sea lanes/military traffic, itll either be under Chinese control, or closely watched. If its not close to anything important, then maybe we can occupy it, but to what end?? The whole idea is pretty silly to be honest...ReplyDelete
Well, you just neatly summed up a whole bunch of my posts!Delete
Is the Commandant talking about the small islands in the Okinawa / Philippines chain (the first island chain)? Is he talking islands in the Marianas chain (the second island chain)?Delete
The comment above about dropping the containers on islands.....i saw a video a while ago about a missile system that was self contained/camouflaged as a 20/40ft ISO container. Could this be something he is looking at?
Why couldn't these be autonomous? Or at least be remotely utilized?
"Is the Commandant talking about the small islands in the Okinawa / Philippines chain (the first island chain)?"Delete
To be fair to the Commandant, he hasn't released much in the way of details so we're largely left to speculate on our own. That said, the speculation is pretty obvious. For any foreseeable future, the only islands that would be operationally relevant are the first island chain. China isn't venturing beyond that in terms of occupation of territory, for the foreseeable future, so setting up Marines on second chain islands would be pointless. It would be like setting up outposts on islands off the US coast. You could do it but it would serve no purpose. So, yes, he must be talking about first chain islands.
Those islands are under constant surveillance by the Chinese so how our forces are going to set up on those islands without being detected and destroyed is a mystery to me. This is the one part of the Commandant's vision that he completely skips over, it seems impossible, and yet it is the unexplained key to the entire concept. If the Commandant wants the public's support (and Congress!) he needs to explain, at least in general terms, how this can happen in the face of all logic.
As far as an ISO container, don't you think the Chinese would notice a cargo ship sailing from island to island, depositing ISO containers on uninhabited islands and suspect something?
I only see the "tiny island garrison" idea working from a defensive aspect. And only then as a political/diplomatic tool.ReplyDelete
IE: we promise the Philippines and other island nations in the region that if the Chinese get aggressive, we'll put little garrisons on every one of their islands and make the Chicoms fight for every inch of sand.
In reality we'd wind up with a dozen miniature Corregidors and Bataans, plus a couple dozen islands cutoff, isolated and bypassed.
The Marines are emulating the US garrisons that the Japanese crushed in the opening stages of WW2, and the Japanese garrisons they crushed In the closing stages of WW2.
I think the real goal is that both sides have little island chain fortresses, and we can stare each other down in a stalemate over no-mans' water.
"we can stare each other down in a stalemate over no-mans' water."Delete
Except that we don't have any islands! The Philippines are far more likely to invite the Chinese to set up little fortresses than us, given their leader's inclinations, at the moment.
"Except that we don't have any islands! The Philippines are far more likely to invite the Chinese to set up little fortresses than us, given their leader's inclinations, at the moment."Delete
Trying to stay apolitical, but that's one big problem. While we've focused on no-win wars in the Middle East for almost 20 years, China has outflanked us by using their economic influence to build relationships in places like the Philippines, Myanmar, and East Africa.
"China has outflanked us by using their economic influence to build relationships in places like the Philippines, Myanmar, and East Africa."Delete
Yes! We need to regroup and refocus with a haste.
Marine Corps egos resulted in disasters in the past. For example, the World War II senseless battle of Peleliu.ReplyDelete
Peleliu was MacArthurs idea. He wanted his flank protected during his operations in the Philippines. By this time, the Japanese did not have the ability to do any sort of offensive like the one MacArthur worried about....but he wanted it so he got it.Delete
I think a peer war with China in the Pacific will be allot different than WW2 or what we have come to expect in our recent wars. Allot has changed and the concepts being thrown around are not being though of in varied proportions.ReplyDelete
-Technology has changed the range and firepower that a truck mounted system can have to threaten major air or naval units. The Isolate cutoff bypass strategy of WW2 Island hopping is not going to be viable.
-Super all seeing eyes of peace time are going to quickly for BOTH sides see themselves swing wildly from blind to clear to spotty to ghost everywhere. Movement and power projection of both sides is going to happen under around in these pushes of fog or distortion. I imagine both sides will have their bubbles of control with constant protrusions withdraws as both sides move counter. The small locally launched UAV's are proving the most survivable in such an environment. Those will need to be launched and recovered in the forward area.
-Casualties are going to happen and happen swiftly and in numbers. The idea of small units getting wiped out on a small island will be just a possible as a small unit sinking a ship or aircraft. We have gotten used to the idea of clean war with minimal losses.
-The F35B concept is not going to be out in the badlands. More like dispersed in the jungle around near existing bases to keep those bases viable in the missile threat. The forward bases would be nothing more than lily pads to either catch damaged craft in a pinch or used as a supply stop. A major limiter in PACOM is range. To have a small controlled island able to host a F35B landing thinking any island with a bit of reinforced road with say some ordinance scatter around would be a force multiplier. To be able to land and reload without a multi hour round trip. You don't need all the major stuff we are just talking quick reload and back up with maybe a tag with a tanker if needed. Fuel storage is big bulky easily destroyed seen harder to get in needed amounts so that would likely stay with the air tankers except in more better controlled areas.
I see the small units with specialized surveillance drones and anti ship/air systems like sniper teams used in urban warfare. Yes they are vulnerable to being wiped out, yes they can be deployed into the enemy lines/rear and be effective, yes they can be absolutely deadly and/or useful in the right circumstance used properly. Look to those tactics and blow up spread out the houses buildings as islands roads/fields/parking/lots water the difference being men cannot move on the water i.e. roads/fields only buildings so sniper targets are the means of travel either direct kinetic or observation relay.