Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Berger's Amphibious Ships

Marine Commandant Gen. Berger has all but stated that the Marines are out of the large scale amphibious assault business.  However, he has also stated that he sees a future where the Marines will conduct small unit amphibious landings.  Note the use of the term ‘landing’ rather than ‘assault’.  An assault is, by definition, an opposed landing and requires a huge amount of support in the form of ships, aircraft, mine clearance, bombardment, and so on.  A landing, as Berger uses the term, refers to a clandestine penetration of a small amphibious ship to a remote location and the disembarkation of troops and supplies in an unopposed landing.

Setting aside the utterly ridiculous aspects of the Commandant’s vision (see, "Hidden Bases"), let’s focus instead on the amphibious ships (now called Light Amphibious Warship – LAW) that he envisions and has ordered the Navy to procure.  Breaking Defense website gives us the first glimpse at what these ships might look like.(1)

In briefing slides presented to the defense industry last month, the Navy said it plans to begin buying the 200- 400 ft. Light Amphibious Warships  ships in 2023, and it is looking for mature commercial designs that can carry a crew of 30 and travel 3,500 nautical miles. (1)

Hmm …   A 200-400 ft amphibious ship?  That sounds a bit small.  Just for fun, I’ve assembled a silhouette comparison of various amphibious ships set to a common scale so that I can visualize where this 200-400 ft amphibious ship fits in the amphibious world.  For comparison, I’ve represented the 200 ft and the 400 ft ships as just a generic RO/RO ship, scaled appropriately.  Take a look.




Wow!  I thought that amphibious ship sounded small but when you actually see it next to other amphibious ships you instantly realize that we’re talking really small !  At this point you begin to see just how small Commandant Berger’s dispersed units will have to be.  We’re talking not much more than platoon size and with very little accompanying equipment.  Go ahead, take another look at the graphic and really soak in the size differential between real amphibious ships and Berger’s ships.

The Drive website provides a few more specs on what is now being called the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW).(2)  Note that these values are minimum rather than maximum values but, realistically, they’re not going to increase much.
  • Transit Speed  14 kts
  • Troop Capacity 75
Unloading will, apparently, be by ramp, over the beach, as opposed to landing craft.


All right, let’s consider some of the aspects of this ship and concept that haven’t really been discussed by the Marines or in the press, to date.


Stealth.  In order to have any chance of penetrating into enemy territory and surviving, the ship needs to be stealthy to the maximum extent possible.  This is completely at odds with the Navy’s desire to acquire an existing design since none are sufficiently stealthy.  This concept requires stealth on the order of the Swedish Visby.  How that’s accomplished while still mounting many large cranes, ramps, and deck cargo handling equipment is a mystery.


Speed.  One of the keys to Berger’s concept is the ability to penetrate enemy territory very quickly.  Let’s face it, every minute spent near or in enemy territory is more chance to be spotted.  This dictates speed, speed, and more speed.  Again, this is the antithesis of traditional amphibious ship design and utterly at odds with the 14 kt transit speed specification.  Apparently, the enemy is going to be blind to this vessel so that it can make leisurely 14 kt cruises in and out of enemy controlled waters.  This represents and absolutely amazing  degree of self-delusion about the enemy’s complicity in their own destruction.


Range.  This should be an obvious requirement.  If we’re talking about penetrating into enemy controlled waters we need great endurance and range.  For example, the distance from Guam to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea is around 2300 miles or 4600 miles for the round trip.  Considering that the concept is for the small, secret sea control units to be able to quickly relocate, at a moment’s notice, it is obvious that the LAW has to remain with the land unit which requires extended endurance and range.


Obliviousness.  In order for this concept to succeed, the LAW has to remain with the land unit so that it can assist with instant relocations, as we just discussed.  This assumes that the enemy has zero ability to spot a non-stealthy amphibious vessel hanging around islands in enemy controlled territory.  The degree of obliviousness that the enemy must demonstrate for this concept to work is breathtaking.


Self-Defense.  An amphibious vessel sailing on a 14 kt leisure cruise through enemy waters just might have to defend itself (repeatedly) during the course of its cruise.  For example, the leisure cruise from Guam to the Spratly Islands will require 6 days during which it will be subject to detection and attack.  Unless we provide substantial Aegis (Burke) escorts, the likelihood of surviving the trip is nil.  Of course, this creates a vicious circle of logic.  The more escorts, the more likely the group is to be spotted but the fewer the escorts, the less likely the vessel is to survive the slow motion transit.

Since there has been no mention of escorts in this concept, as yet, we’ll assume that the vessel will be self-escorting which suggests a need for substantial self-defense such as ESSM, RAM/SeaRAM, and CIWS.



Conclusion

Even a cursory examination of this concept reveals that it has not been well thought out.  Well, actually, it hasn’t been thought out at all.  As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, the degree of cooperation by the enemy required to make this concept work is staggering and possible only in a world of total fantasy.

Commandant Berger would have us believe that a small, undefended, painfully slow, non-stealthy vessel is going to be able to penetrate deep into enemy waters to land very small units that will exert total maritime dominance for hundreds of miles around – all while totally undetected.  This is not a concept anchored in reality.  I don’t know what wargames the Commandant has been playing that lead him to believe this concept can work but it’s clear that Dungeons and Dragons has a firmer basis in reality than whatever games the Commandant has been playing.



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(1)Breaking Defense website, “Marine Commandant: Less A Second Land Army, More Light Amphib Ships”, Paul McLeary, 3-Apr-2020,
https://breakingdefense.com/2020/04/marine-commandant-less-a-second-land-army-more-light-amphib-ships/?_ga=2.202751505.1458028291.1585949453-1757035925.1542652267

(2)The Drive website, “Navy Wants To Buy 30 New Light Amphibious Warships To Support Radical Shift In Marine Ops”, Joseph Trevithick, 5-May-2020,
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/33299/navy-wants-to-buy-30-new-light-amphibious-warships-to-support-radical-shift-in-marine-ops

87 comments:

  1. If thats what they're going for just buy off the shelf Damien LSTs. they come in three different sizes, have twice the range of what they're looking at, are big enough to mount decent armaments on and have a flight deck. Is it me or has the whole leadership in the navy just gone stupid.

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  2. THe requirements they posted and the concept seem miles apart. The requirements sound like they just want to convert a platform support vessel that is more capable than any of the Army's watercraft and smaller than existing amphibs, yet can make the beach on its own.

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  3. Well, hope not but since we know USMC is going light and Chinese Marines seem to be going heavy, I'm afraid we'll find out who was right! Just last night, news was breaking that Chinese Navy/Marines were going to do a simulated Taiwan island invasion, bet they use more than 75 troops....might even bring a tank or 2.

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    1. Could you cite where you got the info on the exercise?

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    2. "Could you cite where you got the info on the exercise?"

      They exercise a Taiwan invasion all the time! They've conducted practice air assaults, air superiority, amphibious assaults, etc. routinely in bits and pieces and occasionally in a much bigger, integrated exercise. Here's the first article I came across. You can find more on your own.

      Taiwan Invasion

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    3. Here's an exercise being reported now: Taiwan

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  4. Actually there is a way to make the concept work (sorta). Take the equipment you would have wanted to land, and attach it to the ship. Make sure you have your radar, and drone catch and receive so they can work while underway. For your MLRS include a small magazine. Should work as well as the original concept. Unfortunately no room for Marines, oops.

    If you want stealth do like the one ship did escaping Singapore in WWII, dress it up as an island with palm fronds. :)

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    1. Do you just beach the ship and leave it there, is it expendable? Or do move it around?

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    2. I'm more of a traditionalist. I think ships are usually more useful when they have freedom of movement. But hey, beaching them may be more "transformational". The ship I described could be useful. The problem is the penny packet model that the EABO describes isn't useful no matter what ships or equipment the Marines use. It is a recipe for defeat in detail. As for expendability, all ships and even units are expendable if they accomplish an important enough mission.

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  5. This whole thing has to be misdirection or propaganda to throw of the enemy... Or at least a misprint!!!
    Maybe we're getting 200, 400ft LSTs..??
    400, 200ft LSTs??
    If not, then a handful is as much a waste as the concept that spurred its existence, and both belong in the book with tales of tornado travel to Kansas and glass shoes...

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  6. I dont know what's more surprising: that USMC Commandant thought this up and thinks its awesome or number of defense talking heads agreeing with him....u think this would have more opposition, its beyond stupid and death of USMC but surprising how many people think this is the future of USMC!

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  7. The LAW specs are broadly similar to the majority of WWII-era LSTs.

    LST-542,
    Length: 328 ft (100 m)
    Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
    Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)

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    1. So … is that good, bad, or irrelevant?

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    2. They were instrumental to winning the war in the Pacific, so, I guess, good?

      You seemed favorable towards the cheap n cheerful LST back here,

      https://navy-matters.blogspot.com/search/label/LST

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    3. I love LSTs! But not for this mission. This is an abomination of a mission and the LST only makes it worse because it's not suited for the mission. I outlined in the post what characteristics were needed for a ship with this mission and an LST has none of the required characteristics.

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  8. This sounds like more round hole, square peg thinking. A small amphibious ship might have a place, but, it shouldn't be the only option. I think we seen other examples that prove the point of specialization. We need ships tailored to a specific task not a task tailored to a specific type of ship. We seem to have forgotten the lessons of the past in that we need to decide what we want to accomplish before we decide how to achieve it. Smaller, LST style transports are fine compliments to larger more capable vessels, but, they don't come across as the answer to the mission laid out by the Marine Corp leadership.

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  9. If he replaced the picture of a tradational ship with that of a special ops - carrying submarine, the whole thing would make a lot more sense quite frankly. Its like he accidentally swapped out the images.

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  10. It sounds like they need to use a submarine.

    Am I missing something?

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    1. "Am I missing something?"

      Yes. The sea control missiles will be launched from moderately large vehicles. Such vehicles can't be transported and delivered from submarines.

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    2. Well, yes, except for that.

      In keeping with the preposterous nature of this mission, maybe the submarine could be equipped with a fifth wheel and pull a flatbed trailer for the vehicles.

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    3. Could just buy more subs....

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  11. Again, hate to beat a dead horse, but the problem is the LHA/LHD. We put virtually all of our amphib eggs in one basket, which is bad enough. But it gets worse, because it turns out there is no way to launch a viable opposed assault from such ships.

    That's the dilemma the Commandant faces, and he has to find a way to craft a mission around that severe restriction. What he's coming up with sounds poorly thought out, because the restriction under which he is operating is an unreasonable one.

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    1. I disagree. I don't think it has anything to do with LHA/LHDs. I think he sees the same thing I do - that there is no NEED for amphibious assaults in the foreseeable future. That being the case, he's casting around, looking for a new mission and he's come up with this idiotic secret base with missiles concept.

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    2. I would not go so far as to say no need for amphibious assaults. Maybe there's nowhere that we would conduct an opposed landing today or tomorrow, but that doesn't mean never. And I would definitely disagree with the suggestion that we don't need a broad amphibious capability. There are a lot of useful missions for amphibious platforms. I think we are severely handicapped because the available platforms are so ill-suited to the tasks.

      I wonder if he may be looking at what the Royal Marines did when facing elimination--recast themselves as a commando/special forces unit. I think we need a greater capability in that area given the world we face today, and Marines might be a viable solution, but I don't see secret island missile bases as the way to go.

      The one things the Marines are not well-suited to be is what we are using them for in Afghanistan and Iraq--combination army/police force with the objective of occupying and holding onto territory. That is 180 degrees out from what Marines are designed to do.

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    3. "There are a lot of useful missions for amphibious platforms."

      Can you name a single amphibious operation in our lifetime? And, if you can, could it not have been done as well or better using Army/AF?

      The point in force design is not the question of whether something could, ever, in the entire future of mankind, be needed. The question is whether you can anticipate enough real world potential uses to justify an entire Marine Corps and an entire fleet of multi-billion dollar ships just to cover the theoretical but incredibly unlikely and unnecessary 'what if' of some far future event.

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    4. The invasion of Afghanistan was, in part, an amphibious operation. Not landing craft for sure, but deep STOM air assault.

      Grenada had an amphibious assault component.

      If you go by our actual usage, the air assault components appear to be more valuable than the surface assault components.




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    5. "The invasion of Afghanistan was, in part, an amphibious operation. Not landing craft for sure, but deep STOM air assault."

      Without getting too deeply into semantics, the Afg mission that you're referencing was a simple passenger flight to FOB Rhino which had earlier been 'assaulted' by Ranger units who found it to be empty and abandoned. The Marines were later ferried to the base and set up housekeeping. Hardly an assault and the 'invasion' had already been executed by the Rangers.

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    6. "Can you name a single amphibious operation in our lifetime? And, if you can, could it not have been done as well or better using Army/AF?"

      I think you are wanting to postulate things in the context of a peer war with China. I am more interested in trying to avoid such a peer war. Suppose we had my enlarged MEU/ARG operating in the first island chain area on a regular basis, and conducting regular combined amphibious operations with the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Do you think that just might slow China down a bit?

      My sense is that China is going to take whatever they can easily. The development of islands in the South China Sea suggest that. But increase the degree of difficulty, and I think they slow down or stop. Would China risk a potential peer war with us to keep expanding in the SCS? I think not.

      Turning your question around. I can think of one operation that was done by Army/AF that would probably have gone better with a MEU doing an amphib landing--Mogadishu--although admittedly that may have been a problem with ROEs as much as anything. And I can think of another case where having a company of Marines ready to come ashore would have swung the balance of power and quite likely have prevented a terrible situation--Benghazi. OK, that's two situations, and probably 5,000 Marines would have been way overkill for the two combined. But to have 5,000 Marines in those two places requires a lot more Marines in a lot more places, in order to be ready for whatever happens wherever.

      Now, I agree with you that we don't need a fleet of multi-billion dollar ships to do this. The fact that they are multi-billion dollar ships pretty much renders them useless because of the risk factor. What we need are smaller, cheaper, and more versatile ships that we can risk taking into harm's way. And I agree that we are pretty much kidding ourselves about our ability to conduct an amphibious assault without useful ship-to-shore connectors. An assault with a bunch of those amphibious tanks like China has would send a very different and powerful message to defenders ashore. But the connector problem can be solved if, and pretty much only if, we solve the ship issues.

      IMO, anything more than, say, 50 miles inland needs to be Army/AF. Anything along the coast should be primarily amphib. Of course, that assumes that amphib has the advantage of being able to get tanks and artillery and other heavy equipment ashore, which is highly problematic with the current LHA/LHD CONOPS. The Marine operation in Afghanistan, while fairly impressive in its execution, IMO really helped get the Marines away from what they should be doing.

      If the Marines chasing goats around the hills of Afghanistan had instead spent the last 15 years as part of an MEU/ARG operating in the South China Sea as an expression of willingness to enforce international law, I think places like the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoals would be very different today.

      If we want to postulate a peer war with China, put everything we have into SSNs, SSGNs, and SSBNs, because in a true peer war with China, those are pretty much the only platforms worth having. But if you want to make avoiding such a war your highest priority, then you need a much more varied and balanced force, with the ability to project power in multiple effective ways.

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    7. "urning your question around. I can think of one operation that was done by Army/AF that would probably have gone better with a MEU doing an amphib landing--Mogadishu--although admittedly that may have been a problem with ROEs as much as anything. "

      Actually Mogadishu was done by the Marines before it was done by the Army.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Task_Force

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    8. "Do you think that just might slow China down a bit?"

      History says … it wouldn't slow them down in the least.

      We operated EP-3 aircraft and it not only didn't slow them down, they seized it!

      We operated UUV drones and it not only didn't slow them down, they seized one!

      We operated ASW units and it not only didn't slow them down, they intentionally fouled them!

      We've operated dozens of FONOPs and they not only haven't slowed them down, they built artificial islands and then claimed territorial status for them!

      We have a Pacific fleet that routinely operates in the South China Sea and it not only hasn't slowed them down, they've annexed Philippine territory!

      I say this as gently as I can … you're delusional if you think operating a few more ships in the area is going to slow the Chinese down!

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    9. "Mogadishu"

      Come on, now. You've got to read up on your history! We had several battalions of the 10th Mountain Division, Rangers, Delta Force, Army aviation battalions, the USS Lincoln, and many other units available. In addition, we DID have an amphibious force with the USS New Orleans LPH-11, USS Denver LPD-9, USS Comstock LSD-45, USS Cayuga LST-1186 on scene.

      This was a classic failure of intel and arrogance combined with poor operational planning (no contingency force, for example).

      If you want to claim, in hindsight, that the operation could have been better conducted, well, that's valid but it could have been better conducted by the Rangers, Delta, and everyone else who was there. The amphibious forces brought nothing that would have been any better than what was already there and available.

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    10. "And I can think of another case where having a company of Marines ready to come ashore would have swung the balance of power and quite likely have prevented a terrible situation--Benghazi."

      Again, you're attempting to rewrite history from hindsight. Are you advocating having a ARG/MEU standing by every embassy in the world? 'Cause that's the only way we could have prevented that. Again, this was a failure of political leadership. We had several military units available and ready and all were told to stand down. Having a MEU available wouldn't have mattered because they would have been ordered to stand down just like everyone else was.

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    11. "Without getting too deeply into semantics, the Afg mission that you're referencing was a simple passenger flight to FOB Rhino which had earlier been 'assaulted' by Ranger units who found it to be empty and abandoned."

      You asked earlier, "Can you name a single amphibious operation in our lifetime? "

      These certainly still qualify as amphibious operations, though, I grant, you probably meant to ask about "amphibious assault operations in our lifetime".

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    12. "Actually Mogadishu was done by the Marines before it was done by the Army."

      And that part was actually fairly successful. That was kind of a variation on your port/airport seizure model, and it enabled a substantially larger force to enter.

      "In addition, we DID have an amphibious force with the USS New Orleans LPH-11, USS Denver LPD-9, USS Comstock LSD-45, USS Cayuga LST-1186 on scene.
      This was a classic failure of intel and arrogance combined with poor operational planning (no contingency force, for example)."

      And shouldn't the Marines on those amphibs have been the contingency force?

      "Are you advocating having a ARG/MEU standing by every embassy in the world?"

      No, but I am advocating having one stand by when you have an ambassador in a potentially very lawless and likely unfriendly place like Benghazi. What I would actually advocate is never sending an ambassador or any other high official into such and environment, but if there is something so critically important that you have to take the risk (and nobody has ever identified what that was), then you had better have plan B a quick boat or helo ride away.

      "We had several military units available and ready and all were told to stand down."

      This is kind of a myth. We really didn't have anybody who could get there with the ability to do anything until long after the ambassador had reached room temperature. We had jets two hours away who could do a flyover, but for what little they could do on the ground, we might as well have sent the Blue Angels. We had some Marines in Rota, but they were 2500 miles away and would take several hours to get organized to go. The closest other ground forces were 2000 personnel in Djibouti. The closest amphibs were an LHA in Bad el Mandeb (mouth of Red Sea, basically as far away as Djibouti) or an LPD off the west coast of Africa. September 11, there were already riots in Cairo, and we had zero amphibs in the Med. In my days in 6th Fleet amphibious forces, we would have had a standing PhibRon in the Med, and on a day like 9/11 we would have split them up and deployed them to places where they might be needed to evacuate US nationals--Cairo (obviously), Beirut, Tripoli, Benghazi. I don't know when that SOP changed, but I'm guessing that some combination of our 1) reducing the number of amphib hulls in going to the LHA/LHD and 2) kind of losing interest in the Med after the Cold War ended had something to do with it.

      I'm not sure there was ever a true stand-down order. Rather, there was never a stand-up order because there was nobody to stand up. I have said before that if I had been on-scene commander, there would have been a stand-down order because I would have given it. Suicide missions accomplish nothing other than perhaps creating folk heroes.

      Yes, it is fair to say that I am rewriting history from hindsight. Except that I would have done the same from foresight. The decisions made were stupid, and they're stupid at the time based on information that was well known at the time.

      And yes, I know, I tend to blame the LHA/LHD for a lot of our problems. In this case, as in the others, I think that is justified. It's just absurdly stupid to place all our amphib eggs in one very expensive basket, so expensive that it cannot be risked to do a proper amphib assault.

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    13. ""Mogadishu"

      Come on, now. You've got to read up on your history! We had several battalions of the 10th Mountain Division, Rangers, Delta Force, Army aviation battalions, the USS Lincoln, and many other units available."

      The Marines landed well before 10th Mountain, the Rangers, Delta, etc arrived.

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    14. "And shouldn't the Marines on those amphibs have been the contingency force?"

      They could have been, as could any of the dozens of other units in the vicinity, WHO WERE ALREADY ON THE GROUND AND READY TO GO!!!! The Marines would have brought nothing that wasn't already available. What we lacked was competent leadership.

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    15. "I say this as gently as I can … you're delusional if you think operating a few more ships in the area is going to slow the Chinese down!"

      Thanks for being gentle.

      The incidents you list--the P-3, the UUV, the towed sonar array--were characterized by three things. One, the target was a lone, and largely unprotected, US asset. Two, the US presence that each one represented was sporadic rather then constant. Three, the US did pretty much nothing in response. A MEU/ARG operating regularly in the area, accompanied by a CSG or SAG/HUK would be a horse of a different color.

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    16. "What we lacked was competent leadership."

      Ab-so-lute-ly. We didn't know who was on first, and we had no real plan. The first part of the mission, the capture of the target personnel, actually went off okay. It was what to do next that nobody appears to have planned for.

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    17. "This is kind of a myth."

      As one example, here's an article about possible responses: Benghazi

      A simple search will provide others.

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    18. "I am advocating having one stand by when you have an ambassador in a potentially very lawless and likely unfriendly place like Benghazi. "

      No, having a ARG/MEU standing by just in case is the height of wastefulness. If you think an embassy might be in danger then you have a defensive unit on site, permanently.

      Of course, your point about why we would establish an embassy in such a place is completely valid.

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    19. "A MEU/ARG operating regularly in the area, accompanied by a CSG or SAG/HUK would be a horse of a different color."

      Consider what I hope is a ridiculous example. Suppose a Chinese vessel pulled up to a ARG ship and demanded that it surrender and be boarded. Would we resist? Before you answer, you might recall that this EXACT scenario occurred in Iran when they seized our two riverine vessels and we complied. I'd like to laugh at this scenario but I honestly can't say with 100% certainty that we would resist - can you? Can you actually see a naval commander ordering his crew to open fire on Chinese naval ships or boarders? Isn't it possible that he might refrain and surrender and assume that higher-ups would sort it out? I'd like to believe that we would resist but I would have liked to believe that two heavily armed riverine attack boats (relative to the Iranian patrol boats) would have resisted and yet they didn't. 100% sure? I'm not.

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    20. "As one example, here's an article about possible responses: Benghazi"

      Link didn't work, but I found it with an Internet search. The troops in northern Italy were 1500 miles away. Sigonella is about half that, but I'm not sure how many folks we had there. We did have a Marine special response force there at one time, but not sure they were there then. Either way, you're talking several hours to get ready and loaded, then a 3-6 hour flight, which makes it dicey, at best, whether they could have gotten there in time to do anything about an incident that lasted 11 hours.

      I'm sure there were all sorts of folks all around the Med who were just itching to go and help, but what we didn't have was anybody right there who could have done anything. My guess is that if you look out to see and see the silhouette of a US amphib full of Marines just waiting to respond, you probably don't do anything in the first place. Terrorists are typically not hugely brave individuals.

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    21. "My guess is that if you look out to see and see the silhouette of a US amphib full of Marines just waiting to respond, you probably don't do anything in the first place."

      The people in Mogadishu didn't seem to have any hesitation in attacking despite US helos, troops, etc. waiting to respond.

      "Link didn't work"

      Sorry about that. It worked for me. Don't know what the problem is. At least you found it!

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    22. "Either way, you're talking several hours to get ready and loaded, then … whether they could have gotten there in time to do anything about an incident that lasted 11 hours."

      Do you really think a MEU, starting from a cold status, could have responded in time, even sitting 10 yds offshore? You don't just get a call and two minutes later hop in a AAV and drive off the end of the ship. It would have taken hours to spin up, plan, and begin to deploy - after whatever time delay for civilian command authority to debate and approve any action which, as we saw, never happened.

      Yes, we could park an entire ARG/MEU off every at-risk embassy in the world but, as I said, that would be the height of wastefulness. An entire ARG/MEU tied up against the remote possibility of needing embassy protection??? As I said, a platoon/company, already on site as permanent protection would have been more than adequate, IF THEY HAD ROE THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THEM TO FIRE ON ATTACKERS. If not, it wouldn't matter how many troops we had (witness the Libyan barracks bombing). If your ROE won't allow you to respond, it doesn't matter (guards with unloaded rifles????? Seriously? And yet we had that and probably still do!).

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    23. "I'd like to believe that we would resist but I would have liked to believe that two heavily armed riverine attack boats (relative to the Iranian patrol boats) would have resisted and yet they didn't. 100% sure? I'm not."

      If I were giving the orders we would resist, but then again if I were giving the orders it would never get to that point. Partly because if they knew we were going to resist, my money says they wouldn't try.

      The Iran thing still bothers me. I have a theory about what happened. I know this sounds conspiracy-theory-ish, and it certainly borders on the political, but it's the only thing that makes sense to me. I think it was all planned. I think they were told to surrender. The reason? The administration was trying to sell the Iran treaty (it was a treaty, even though never called that officially) to a skeptical American public. Here's an idea. Let's have a US patrol craft or two wander into Iranian territory and get captured. Let's apologize and have them return the boats and personnel the next day. That gives us the talking point, "See, the Iranians are reasonable. We violated their territory and they returned the violators the next day. We can trust them because they are reasonable, peaceful people. So we should support this agreement."

      Sorry if that goes too far into either conspiracy theory or politics, but I really can't come up with any other explanation that makes any sense at all.

      But this gets back to my earlier point about milquetoast wimps running the Navy. We need to get back to having warriors in charge.

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    24. " Partly because if they knew we were going to resist, my money says they wouldn't try."

      What in our history would suggest that we would resist? Was it the EP-3 crew that surrendered? Was it the drone crew that didn't resist? Was it the riverine crews that surrendered?

      I understand that you or I would issue different orders but the point is that the Navy has not resisted a single warlike act in, well, seemingly forever! That being the reality, a MEU or an entire fleet serves no purpose or, at least, not the purpose you ascribe to it.

      "but I really can't come up with any other explanation that makes any sense at all."

      As Sherlock Holmes says, the simplest theory that fits the facts is, invariably, the correct one. The simplest explanation for the Iran riverine incident is that our Navy is not mentally prepared for confrontation. It really is that simple. That being the case, an entire fleet won't deter the Chinese and, back to my hypothetical scenario, I'm not 100% sure we wouldn't surrender an amphibious ship!

      Delete
    25. "Navy has not resisted a single warlike act in, well, seemingly forever!"

      And if that is going to continue to be the case, then let's just park all the ships and forget about it.

      "The simplest explanation for the Iran riverine incident is that our Navy is not mentally prepared for confrontation. It really is that simple."

      Except that makes no sense. Even as bad as we are, we are not as bad as the Iranians. At least we don't go shooting missiles at our own ships. There is just no answer that makes sense unless this came down from on high. Number one, from where they started to where they were going, it takes an almost impossible navigation error to end up in Iranian waters. It's like getting caught in a traffic jam in downtown Boston on your way from New York City to Pittsburgh. Number two, if that's the attitude of our sailors, it really is time to park all our ships and forget about it.

      Delete
    26. "it takes an almost impossible navigation error to end up in Iranian waters"

      I agree. It would be like running aground in known navigational waters off Pearl Harbor. Oh wait, the Port Royal did that. Well, it would be like running aground in known waters off the Philippines with 30 some alarms sounding the entire time. Oh wait, we did that with an Avenger MCM. Well, it would be like colliding with a gigantic cargo ship when we have the most advanced navigational systems and radars known to man. Oh wait, that happened - not once but twice! Well, it would be like running aground in the known waters of Tokyo Bay. Oh wait, the Antietam did that.

      Do I need to keep going? Do you really believe two riverine boats couldn't get lost?

      "if that's the attitude of our sailors, it really is time to park all our ships and forget about it."

      Can you give me one instance that demonstrates an iota of fighting spirit from our Navy?

      I admire your idealistic and wishful thinking but don't let it obscure reality!

      Delete
    27. "I agree. It would be like running aground in known navigational waters off Pearl Harbor."

      Oh no, it's worse than any of your examples. It's like running aground in known navigational waters off Pearl Harbor on your way into San Diego.

      "Can you give me one instance that demonstrates an iota of fighting spirit from our Navy?"

      In the last ten years, maybe longer, no. And maybe that's the point of every post on this blog and every good natured disagreement that you and I have had. If the Navy really doesn't care to fight, then park the ships, save fuel and maintenance, and be done and dusted. It really doesn't matter how many aircraft carriers, or how big, or how many amphibs, or how many destroyers and frigates, or any of that. If the Navy is not willing to fight, there is no reason to have a Navy.

      Delete
    28. "maybe that's the point of every post on this blog"

      It kind is, isn't it? It's about the failure to confront China and Russia. It's about the failure to resist boardings. And on and on.

      My solution has been … do you recall? That's right! To pull back and stop doing deployments and presence and forward basing. Instead, we need to conduct intensive maintenance and combat training. Of course, until we change our appeasement mentality, none of the rest matters.

      Delete
    29. "If the Navy really doesn't care to fight,"

      I have to be fair to you and acknowledge that your ideas are predicated (I assume) on the Navy demonstrating a fighting, confrontational mentality. I, too, put forth a lot of ideas that are so predicated. To be fair to me, I make clear that a radical change in attitude has to occur, as well. Without such a change, neither of our ideas will work and that's why nothing the Navy is doing today is accomplishing anything.

      Delete
    30. The mission of the USMC in Mogadishu (ensuring humanitarian aid) was completely different than the mission handed to Task Force Ranger (capturing two of Mohamed Farrah Aidid's lieutenants as part of a plan to capture Aidid himself).

      Ironically, both missions were successful, but ultimately futile.

      The SECDEF actually was forced to resign as a result of poor decisions (e.g. refusing deployment of requested AFVs to support TF Ranger).

      GAB

      GAB

      Delete
    31. "And I can think of another case where having a company of Marines ready to come ashore would have swung the balance of power and quite likely have prevented a terrible situation--Benghazi."

      Or a more prudent course of action would have been to evacuate the embassy, or better to not have moved the country team there in the first place.

      Benghazi was a first rate example of hubris in a tea cup that ended tragically.

      GAB

      Delete
    32. "To pull back and stop doing deployments and presence and forward basing."

      The problem with that is that we are pretty much committed to playing the world policeman role as a result of diplomatic decisions. My approach would be to pull back some forward basing and find allies to perform the world policeman role. We could then support and assist. That would not get us completely out of deploying, but probably would allow us to cut back quite a bit, and focus on areas where being there is really worth it. SCS might be one of those areas, but we have to adopt that warrior mentality before being anywhere is worthwhile.

      "Without such a change, neither of our ideas will work and that's why nothing the Navy is doing today is accomplishing anything."

      I'm not sure if, or where, we are differing there.

      Delete
  12. General Berger's concept is explained in detail here:

    https://www.g2mil.com/Landing%20Ship%20Assault.htm

    ReplyDelete
  13. CNO, a few points on the whole concept that were missed:
    1) LAW needs to be small to be able to beach itself
    2) the ship becomes expendable because it lacks high dollar aviation
    3) a 200ft ship does not look like a warship in radar since many fishing ships are about the same size. Stealth is not needed if you look common
    4) 75 Marines is awkward for tactical employment: bigger than a 40-50 man platoon 50 and smaller than a company of 130 to 170. Most likely will deploy with a platoon and some support vehicles, corpsman and communicators.
    5) losing one ship carrying a platoon is a third of a company but the mission can probably continue whereas a MEU that loses one ship is crippled.
    The concept is sound for the likely future fight and can be adapted for lower intensity conflicts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The concept is sound for the likely future fight "

      Not even a little bit true!

      1. The WWII LST was 327 ft long and the post-war Newport class LST was 522 ft long so there is no 'NEED' for the ship to be small to beach itself.
      2. ??? A WWII battleship was expendable because it didn't have aviation????
      3. This is absurd. In war, China is not going to allow an unidentified ship to sail into its waters because it looks 'common'. It will be identified and destroyed as a matter of course.
      4. 75 Marines are useless for anything but guarding an embassy and even that is questionable.
      5. You're being inconsistent in logic. If you believe that the mission (landing small units deep inside enemy waters for sea control) can lose a ship then you believe the mission will use several ships which means - referring to point 3. - that they will no longer look 'common' but will appear to be exactly what they are: an attacking naval group.

      Delete
    2. The Chinese always intercept and sink fishing boats in the SCS now, so it's unlikely they'll ignore something bigger.

      Andrew.

      Delete
    3. 2) Battleships were not expendable but we don’t have battleships today. It is the presence of aviation on LHAs or LHDs that makes them indispensable.
      5) I see these ships used to offload on small islands where a company may be sufficient. Chinese eyes only see where they look and large ships on radar will be worth a UAV flyby but 2-3 smaller ships look like a group of fishermen and may not draw attention until we take over a few island.
      Last point: cost has to factor in these decisions and making a lot of LHAs/LHDs and LPDs will not happen in the upcoming budget crunch. The Commandant took the fiscally responsible route of going for something we can afford.

      Delete
    4. 2. So $2B Burkes are expendable?

      "but 2-3 smaller ships look like a group of fishermen and may not draw attention until we take over a few island."

      You seriously need to be on someone's planning staff! It's exactly that kind of ridiculous, fantasy-level optimism that our military is looking for!

      "fiscally responsible route of going for something we can afford. "

      How many times do I have to repeat this? You don't design combat assets based on business cases. You design for combat effectiveness. It's pointless to have a whole bunch of fiscally responsible vessels that have no combat use. If that's all you want, we already have a bunch of LCS. If all we want is fiscally responsible, let's build a thousand combat canoes - really cheap and it gives us an impressive fleet count! We'll be the envy of every navy in the world!

      Delete
  14. This is one of the ships in contention in a 60m length. https://www.seatransport.com/cargo-ship-workboats/. As these are all civvie landing craft this is their military page https://www.seatransport.com/military-ships-naval-vessels/.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The first elephant in the room is cargo/vehicle capacity: smaller ship equals dis-proportionally smaller payload capacity.

    The second elephant is the sea-keeping ability of small ships also tends to suffer badly. Seriously bad weather in the North Atlantic and Pacific is a reality.

    The concept might be valid, but I think the cost/payload/sea-keeping works against it. Also 30-crew is too much for a transport. For comparison, a Type 212 submarine has a crew <30. Apples to oranges yes, but the implications are not.

    GAB

    ReplyDelete
  16. Looking at this the other way around is interesting. What sort of opponent does this make sense against? Clearly not any kind of coastline defended by an organised military, let alone a near-peer opponent.

    But it's a lot more plausible if the mission is to arrest Somali pirate leaders, or attack the bases that send out drug-smuggling submarines. Is the Commandant of the USMC designing a force for appearing in action movies?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they think China will be doing the same. It to preempt China tactically.

      Delete
    2. "It to preempt China tactically."

      Preempt????!!!! You can't seriously believe that China, knowing a war is coming, is going to allow us to establish secret bases on islands in and around the S/E China Sea before they do? Would we allow China to preempt us by establishing bases on islands off the coast of Florida? Of course not! So why would you think China will allow us to do the same to them?

      I've repeatedly decried this kind of one-sided thinking.

      Delete
    3. I know it's good PR but all images out of China practice assault landings show a lot of armor and more than a platoon hitting the beach....just saying. China is doing the opposite of USMC if anything!!!

      Delete
    4. "all images out of China practice assault landings show a lot of armor and more than a platoon hitting the beach...."

      Exactly +1!

      GAB

      Delete
  17. I wonder how many USMC officers around Berger are thinking what we thinking: "wtf?!?"....I'm sure even a few yes men are thinking it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Gen Berger can consider the ST Marine Endurance 120 "LST" LPD

    ~400ft
    15kts (>5000Nm @12kts)
    6800 tonnes
    100 crew (~70 w/ advance automation)
    >200 troops
    Stern launch - 2LCVP, 2LCM
    "Power windows" aka bow doors

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ok...so putting the lunacy of EABO aside... Question is: will these vessels be useful as connectors or (?) in an actual amphib landing? Hate to play CONOPS shuffle here, but can we find them a traditional use?? Im saying this because I feel like the ships are coming, and im hoping the EABO nonsense passes, but at least leaves somthing for the Marines to use in their (old) mission...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "so putting the lunacy of EABO aside"

      What does that leave????

      "will these vessels be useful as connectors or (?) in an actual amphib landing?"

      Why don't you answer your own question? Given the painfully slow speed and non-stealthy nature as they approach the beach, combined with a relatively large load (75+ troops plus vehicles and supplies), would you risk these in an opposed landing?

      Delete
    2. Were caught in a quandry... Right now we have large ships that have to stay offshore. LCACs are of questionable use for various reasons. We're short of smaller craft that carry small loads, and the time involved in roundtrips, plus attrition is a problem. A contested landing always involves calculated risk. My thought is, maybe this size of vessel is worth the risk in order to put a larger force on the beach at one time. A single tank or 4 Humvees at a time per small craft doesnt deliver much firepower, and could be attritted before the next round arrives. Yes the speed is abyssmal, and should be better. As far as regular amphibious ops, I dont see a need for stealth. If we're depending on stealth for survival, we clearly shouldnt be attempting it. Im not advocating this vessel or its use, but sadly trying to see if it has any redeeming qualities outside the Commandants fantasies.

      Delete
    3. "If we're depending on stealth for survival, we clearly shouldnt be attempting it."

      If you're an enemy missile gunner and you see a large, slow, non-stealthy vessel with a lot of troops and vehicles approaching, aren't you salivating just a bit?

      I've done posts about alternate forms of 'stealth' that can improve our survivability (like 16" suppressive fire during the landing) but we have none of those alternate forms so … that leaves us with a non-survivable mini-LST. I get that you're casting around for a use for these things but this isn't it.

      Delete
    4. "I've done posts about alternate forms of 'stealth' that can improve our survivability (like 16" suppressive fire during the landing) but we have none of those alternate forms"

      The best form of stealth for an amphib assault is laying down 16-inch and 8-inch fire to keep that gunner's head down. That's the other way (besides the LHA/LHD) that the Navy has pretty much eliminated amphibious assault from the inventory of possible actions by eliminating the ships required to do it from the inventory of ships.

      Delete
  20. On the face of it, the LAW sounds like an oversized LCU capable of transporting a reinforced company. A helicopter pad is fine, but what about command and control, medical facilities, and fire support? These are capabilities that would be needed for independent operations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "These are capabilities that would be needed for independent operations."

      You had to be laughing when you typed that, right? A LAW, conducting independent operations? In what military doctrine does that sound like a war-winning idea?

      Delete
    2. None, of course. But, I was going by what was written in the slide deck. There's obviously no concept of operations here.

      Delete
  21. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the size. .200 feet? 14 knots? Smaller and slower than OPVs! Even a slow patrol boat can catch one.

    Have to wonder if the LCS Indy Class can be modified with a sliding elongated side ramp so you can almost beach the LCS and get it to carry the marines and the vehicles ( max 170 tons). At least the USN already has them. And at least it has a handful of guns for fire support.

    Andrew

    ReplyDelete
  22. These would be adequate if you were dashing across the English Channel D-Day style. But sailing for 2-3 days? A week or longer?

    The Marines will be rolling around in rough seas, packed in like sardines, eating MREs and taking wetnap baths...

    I guess the leathernecks will be excited to exit the boats... Until the enemy rushes the beach-head with armor and artillery.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is how landings were done on a mass scale in World War II, with small ships, and for the same reasons. These amphibs are just the first wave to clear coastal threats. Then the big transports arrive to offload the invasion forces near shore.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Because large scale amphibious invasions was never the core mission of the USMC. Naval infantry is what they are, raids and small wars against 3rd world powers are their traditional mission. Ever since their inception, that has been their core doctrine. Well summed in the book Small Wars Manual released in 1940.

    The USMC gained the ability to conduct large scale amphibious assaults in WW2 by heavily copying all the work done by the Royal Navy twenty years earlier. Ever since the USMC has been slowly transitioning back to their traditional mission, raids and small wars where all you need is aggressive light infantry.

    The concept being pushed by Berger is a form of raid, but a highly flawed one against a major power like China.

    At this point, I hope that the US Army is paying attention and getting their amphibious fleet back in order.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "raids and small wars against 3rd world powers are their traditional mission."

      Without my agreeing or disagreeing with that statement, if you believe that's the case, do infantry raids justify a 180,000 man Marine Corps with its own air force and a fleet of 30+ multi-billion dollar amphibious ships?

      Delete
  25. "Do you really think a MEU, starting from a cold status, could have responded in time, even sitting 10 yds offshore?"

    One, I think they could have responded a whole lot faster than someone 750 or 1500 or 2500 miles away. Two, if they knew what they were there for, I would expect a number of them to be ready and sitting on go as soon as something happened. Three, I'm not talking about a whole MEU/ARG. I'm talking about splitting the MEU into 4 or 5 groups, and having each one on a separate amphib ship ready to fo if needed. And anyone with half a brain could have figured out pretty quickly that on September 11, of all days, they need to be spread out to places were they would likely be needed and ready to go. And Cairo (Alexandria) and Benghazi would clearly have been two of those places. But you can't split 1700 Marines on an LHA/LHD into four groups and send then four different places.

    "IF THEY HAD ROE THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THEM TO FIRE ON ATTACKERS. If not, it wouldn't matter how many troops we had (witness the Libyan barracks bombing)."

    This is another of those milquetoast wimp things that I would change if I were in charge. My ROEs would be kill anybody that needs killing and break anything that needs breaking, and you will be judged based on what you knew at the time, not what we find after 18 months of investigation.

    Again, back to my point about milquetoast wimps running the Navy.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I went and checked out the RFI for the LAW. The Q&A had the following question and answer.
    "Q: Just so we’re all on all on the same page on affordable, what does it mean?
    A: It means several digit millions not triple digit millions.
    Again, if industry thinks we’re completely off base and are we shopping in the wrong area, please tell us. "
    So, $99 million a pop times 30. ~$3 billion for ships that will get shredded in a peer conflict.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Quote from LAW RFI.
    "Again, if industry thinks we’re completely off base and are we shopping in the wrong area, please tell us. "
    CNO do you want to tell them they are completely off base?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been telling 'em for several years. They aren't listening!

      Delete

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