Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Commandant's ASW Podcast

Commandant Berger was a guest speaker on a USNI Proceedings podcast (1) and discussed his vision of Marines conducting ASW.  A link to the podcast is referenced below.  It’s around 44 minutes and is well worth listening to.  It offers some insight and perspective on the Commandant’s thinking on ASW and a number of other topics.  I’ll examine the Commandant’s statements and see what insights we can gain.  The podcast timeframes are listed with each quote, for those who wish to hear it for themselves.

 

The Commandant started by laying out the basis for his motivation and he cited Title 10 and his desire to support naval campaigns.  Of course, the cynical might see that support as a budget grab more than a core belief.

 

More specifically, his rationale for involving the Marines in ASW is that precision strike has eliminated any inherent advantage the surface Navy has.  However, he believes that the Navy retains a significant advantage in undersea warfare and wants to help ‘maintain and grow’ that advantage and sees Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) as the means to do that.

 

Berger acknowledges that most of the EABO discussions and planning were classified or not publicized, leaving observers to form their own idea about what his vision is – the implication being that observers are wrong.  I got the sense that Berger felt that the lack of public support – or out and out opposition and criticism – was unfair.  Well, that’s what you get when you operate in total secrecy.  If you want support, you have to provide at least some basic information.  No one is asking for detailed operational plans but you have to give observers something to work with if you want their support.  The lack of transparency has been a strategic mistake on his part.

 

Here is Berger’s statement about a major portion of EABO operations which is different than what has previously been put forth:

 

I think a huge aspect of how we’re going to use EABO going forward is how we’re going to, what the naval force might call scouting and counter-scouting, or the Army calls reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance.” (1, 8:27)

 

Expeditionary naval forces … they’re going to have advanced sensing capability forward.  We don’t have it yet. … We’re experimenting with all that now. (1, 8:50)

 

‘We don’t have it yet.’  Um … okay, if you don’t have the sensing capability why are you remaking the Corps as if you do?  This seems eerily similar to concurrency where you build as you design.  You’re rebuilding the Marines around a capability that doesn’t yet exist and is only now in the early stages of development.  We’ve seen the disasters of the F-35, LCS, Zumwalt, and Ford concurrency debacles and now you want to add the entire Marine Corps to that list?

 

Just to confirm, for anyone who still thinks the Marines will conduct amphibious landings,

 

The big amphibious landing … that’s not where we’re headed. (1, 9:17)

 

This kind of leads into another problem.  I don’t think the Commandant is truly focused on combat.  I think he’s more focused on peacetime activities and monitoring.  He says as much:

 

We’re going to organize, train, and equip to compete in the maritime gray zone and help contribute towards this scouting, counter-scouting competition ...  all of this in the framework of deterrence and, potentially, de-escalation. (1, 9:20)

 

and,

 

The game is about deterrence and competition. (1, 22:50)

 

He seems to be viewing all of this as a peacetime, gray zone, deterrent exercise more than a high end war effort.  This is troubling in the extreme if he’s remaking the Marine Corps from a combat organization to a peacetime, deterrent organization.  Of course, he acknowledges in his comments that if the gray zone transitions to war, the Marines at the EABOs will have to fight but that appears not to be the EABO focus and main purpose.  Very troubling.

 

If EABOs are a peacetime construct, this raises the question of where these bases will be located.  The US owns almost no territory in or around the first island chain and very few countries (likely none) will allow the US to establish such bases on their territory.  Further, if such bases can be established during peacetime, they’ll hardly be secret.  Their locations will be pinpointed and in the first several minutes of a war, will be targeted with a handful of cruise missiles and cease to exist.  No matter how you twist this concept and look at it, it makes no sense.

 

Discussing his idea of the Marines being involved in ASW, Berger acknowledges that other Marines and observers may think the idea is questionable but he says:

 

I think that’s close-minded. (1, 11:00)

 

I think this reveals Berger’s ‘smartest man in the room’ syndrome:  only he can see the brilliance of his ideas.  The rest of us are not capable of grasping the glory of the concept.

 

I am pushing folks to think wider, to elevate, to think in a non-conventional, non-traditional way.  I’m not asking them to go into science fiction but this is reasonable.  Move beyond the traditional comfort level in your intellectual boundaries.  (1, 11:05)

 

Again, this is showing his belief that he, and he alone, can see the future.  Now, to be fair, this is the characteristic of true visionaries.  They ARE the only ones who can see the future and grasp the new revelations.  Da Vinci, Einstein, and others could see what no one else could.  Of course, for every Einstein, there have been thousands of others who claimed to be able to see what others could not but were proven to be completely wrong.  Is Berger one of those very, very few who CORRECTLY see what others do not or is he just another misguided, incorrect failure?  Only time will tell but the problem is that if he is wrong, he will have destroyed the Marine Corps in his pursuit of his vision.

 

Berger believes that the problem is that outside observers don’t have the imagination to think of the uses that he’s come up with.

 

… public conversations about what EABO could bring to the Navy-Marine team are less imaginative than the ones actually happening behind closed doors.” … I’d ask folks to stretch out their brains for us and think of EABO much wider than that.

 

I seriously doubt there's anything he can think of - THAT MAKES SENSE - behind closed doors that I can't think of. I'm sure there are lots of things he can think of that are every bit as idiotic as his hidden bases idea and that would never occur to me … BECAUSE THEY'RE STUPID.

 

Regarding Marines and ASW, Berger said,

 

Although some would think, immediately, what kind of weapon system are we talking about, my first thought is how do you paint a picture … Is there a way where Marine units could complement, could add to that undersea picture? (1, 18:57)

 

All right, now this has some validity, at least conceptually.  Literally, throwing torpedoes into the water from shore, as was postulated in some articles, is ridiculous but providing an ASW ‘coastwatcher’ capability would be quite useful.  Of course, this ignores all those pesky bits of reality like how you set up and operate a sonar array without being detected and how you operate a sonar analysis station in the jungle, using Marines, and so on but, at least, the underlying goal is valid.  Anything that can extend the undersea picture is quite useful.

 

Though not related to ASW, the Commandant touched on the light carrier concept.  He sounded ambivalent and only mildly interested.  He seemed to have no particular interest in it and gave no indication that it was important to the Marines. 

 

… we’ll have to sort through going forward is this whole notion of a light carrier and what that might mean and I don’t know where that one will go … (1, 30:52)

 

That being the case, that it is not a Marine interest, this means that it is a Navy interest, only, which changes the various views of how a light carrier would be used.  Those who are interested in the light carrier concept should now be asking what the Navy would gain from such a concept because, clearly, notions of Marine aviation using a light carrier to support ground forces is not a concern or interest of the Commandant’s.

 

Further reinforcing the impression that the Commandant had little interest in a light carrier, he was asked about possible upcoming experiments or exercises involving a light carrier and his answer, boiled down, was that there were no plans to do so.

 

The Commandant was asked about manning and his reply was that he sees budgets as holding or declining and he has chosen to reduce manning to pay for modernization.  In his mind, the end result is,

 

It will be a better Marine Corps, just a little bit smaller. (1, 34:30)

 

This is the oft repeated and never realized rationalization for manpower cuts to enable more shiny new toys.  Berger has bought into the same flawed reasoning as everyone else.  Taken to its logical conclusion, the best possible Marine Corps would have only a single member surrounded by a Star Wars death star.

 

Asked about professional education (1, 40:00), Berger was strongly in favor of it and firmly believes that it is mandatory for a competent force and that educational efforts over the last couple decades have vastly improved the force.  If that’s the case, why is the Corps at its lowest point in decades as far as capability, readiness, operational and tactical expertise, etc.?  Shouldn’t it be at a peak?  This suggests that professional education offers little or no direct warfighting benefit.

 

Finally, and to return to the EABO/ASW concept, hey, Commandant, why don’t you try your concept?  Have the US military look for you while you clandestinely establish a base on some island off the Carolinas or Florida and see whether you can do it without being seen.  Then, do your listening for submarines and see if you can detect any.  And, just for fun, simulate a cruise missile attack on your base and see if you can survive it.  I’m betting that this kind of exercise would give you all the answers you need to evaluate your concept and I’m pretty sure what that evaluation would be.

 

I think this podcast offered some good insight into the Commandant’s thinking.  It all boils down to this:  if the Commandant is a true visionary and is right, then he is in the midst of accomplishing an amazing transformation of the Corps.  However, if he’s wrong, the Marines are finished as a useful fighting force and will be decades recovering from this disaster.  I know which of those options I believe is happening but I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusion.

 

 

 

_____________________________________

 

(1)USNI News website, “CMC Berger Outlines How Marines Could Fight Submarines in the Future”, Megan Eckstein, 8-Dec-2020, Proceedings Podcast Episode 198 – “Commandant on Marines Fighting Subs”, 7-Dec-2020,

https://news.usni.org/2020/12/08/cmc-berger-outlines-how-marines-could-fight-submarines-in-the-future


184 comments:

  1. But why should Marines switch to ASW at all?

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    1. According to the Commandant, it's part of the general support for the naval campaign. Being an integral part of a naval campaign is the role the Commandant is professing. I think it's utter nonsense but that's the rationale he's offering.

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    2. Using hi-tech sensors to search for Subs from a secret island base doesnt really fit with the "hoo-ra Marines" image does it...

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    3. I can't tell. Is the Commadant trying to actually put the USMC in the ASW role? Or is he trying to use USMC EABO concepts to enable the USN in the ASW role? There's a world of difference between Marines providing fuel and sustenance to a Navy helo at a forward base and actually having Marine sonarmen. I always assumed the former, but the more he talks the more it sounds like the latter.

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    4. "I always assumed the former, but the more he talks the more it sounds like the latter."

      Reread the quotes in the post and the actual podcast. He specifically talks about providing the 'picture' (meaning sensing - presumably sonar) for the Navy to use. In fact, providing fueling and stores is almost an afterthought and nowhere near a priority, as you hear him discuss it. One major problem with providing refueling and the like is that you pinpoint your base location. The Chinese are not going to miss traffic flying to and from some supposed empty island without drawing the proper conclusion - in the incredibly unlikely event that they didn't know you were there already. Then, a couple of cruise missiles and you're out of business.

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    5. Putting the USMC in the sonar sensor business is a poor choice.

      "The Chinese are not going to miss traffic flying to and from" You assume the sensor has to fly. It's logical but not required. There's no reason a very small boat couldn't be the sensor. I just think the USN should be own and man the boat, not the USMC.

      "Then, a couple of cruise missiles and you're out of business." IN a worst case scenario maybe. But there are immense challenges associated with getting a good and timely enough grid to launch a precision missile, and the juice is probably not worth the squeeze with even basic active and passive defenses.

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    6. Putting the USMC in the sonar sensor business is a poor choice. Enabling USN assets to do their thing is one thing, replacing USN core competencies is a whole other.

      "The Chinese are not going to miss traffic flying to and from" You assume the sensor has to fly. It's logical but not required. There's no reason a very small boat with a dipping sonar couldn't be the sensor. I just think the USN should be own and man the sensor and the problem, not the USMC.

      "Then, a couple of cruise missiles and you're out of business." IN a worst case scenario maybe. But there are immense challenges associated with getting a good and timely enough grid to launch a precision missile, and the juice is probably not worth the squeeze with even basic active and passive defenses. Even one C-RAM complicates the issue significantly, for very little juice.

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    7. ""The Chinese are not going to miss traffic flying to and from" You assume the sensor has to fly."

      Are you being deliberately obtuse? We're talking about providing refueling for aircraft from some sort of forward base.

      "C-RAM"

      ?????? We're talking about platoon size units - PER THE COMMANDANT'S DISCUSSIONS - that use their small size to attempt to remain hidden. Now you want to add a C-RAM unit? At best that would just mean a couple extra cruise missiles required. C-RAM is not a magic shield.

      Do you seriously believe that the Chinese couldn't locate a unit on an island if they know it's there?

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    8. Providing refueling for aircraft is AN example of a capability but not the only one.

      You're talking about platoon size units. Everyone else is talking about Regiments....

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    9. No one is talking about regiments. The only mention the Commandant has made of regiments is an undefined reference to a downsized Littoral Regiment that would provide the penny packet platoon size units.

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    10. Marine sends divers to find sub? Ridiculous!

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  2. Said it before, good luck recruiting USMC:" The few, the proud,...the sub hunters"....yeah,that really fits the typical recruit for USMC.

    Why do I get the feeling Berger knows there's serious opposition to this EABO/dismantling of USMC but he doesn't give a sh#t??? Ego, superiority complex, just doesn't believe or understand what USMC is and its history?!? I cant just be DoD budget struggles and money grab.

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    1. Time to coin a new phrase - 'every Marine a sonar operator' - watch 'em roll up to the recruitment station.

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    2. "every Marine a sonar operator"

      No one has said what magic sensor the Marines are going to use to find these subs so I assume it would be some kind of sonar array. Of course, it takes years to train a competent sonar analyst in the Navy and even then they have a very hard time finding subs using giant, high powered hull mounted sonars or towed arrays that stretch miles. How a simple Marine, in the middle of a jungle island, is going to deploy a (low power?), simple sonar and find anything is a mystery to me. Of course, how a small Sea Hunter unmanned vessel with a low power sonar is going to find and trail subs when our very best ship based sonar tracking systems and highly trained analysts can't do it is also a mystery to me. Apparently, a man-portable, pocket sonar kit is equal to, or surpasses, the Burke's SQS-53 hull sonar. Maybe a fishing boat and a sonar on the end of a fishing pole?

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    3. Just made me realize about ASW and USN, maybe I missed it even though a follow a lot of defense news but I'm not particularly aware that USN asked USMC for help in the ASW domain...so why USMC barged in on USN and ASW??? Just another money power grab? Seems an odd play....

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  3. As for USMC and ASW, I thinks it's at best a bad idea. Even if I give USMC the chance to establish an EABO undetected, resupply undetected,etc... USMC going out there with ASW helicopters, ASW UAVs or even just provide basing for USN ASW assets, you have to be one of dumbest most uncurious Chinese sub captain not to wonder and investigate where all these ASW assets are coming from....especially if there is no US carrier TF or big battle group near by....nope, I guess he won't ask himself who's chasing him and where they coming from....so USMC just announced to Chinese were they are, in the high unlikely case China didn't already know where they were!

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    1. Ehhh. I was originally under the impression the USMC was looking at providing basing for the ASW mission, which would still be a USN role. Now that they're hinting at USMC sub hunters, I'm utterly lost as to the purpose.

      That said, over and above the "our core competency must be everything" problem, just because a unmanned or manned vessel of some stripe is nearby doesn't mean that sub Captain has a targetable grid to pass off.

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    2. The assumption that adversary is omniscient is a bad one. He has the same difficulties finding you as you do it. The USN/MC should continue to develop capabilities to make that even more challenging. CCD, dispersion, and active defenses can work, were we even remotely practiced and proficient at it.

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    3. Maybe on the open ocean its difficult to be found, but c'mon, if the island is irrelevant, than it wont be watched. If its relevant it will be. And if the enemy starts taking fire from said island, then they're found. Then the Marines either try to run away at 15kts, or get hammered. Its not that the enemy is omniscient, its just assuming common sense. Of course maybe thats assuming a lot, considering our vaunted Pentagon has gifted the naval meme factory with LCS, Lightning Carriers, the Ford, and now EABO....

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    4. Just think about what you just said. It's an island, not a ship. Hitting one part of the island doesn't destroy the thing. Most of these islands measure 10-30 square kilometers in size. Even if you knew where you shot from to the grid square, unless you can get it down to a 10 digit grid you're wasting ammunition.

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    5. Just what it requires to get to that 10 digit grid? Something flying low, slow, and vulnerable; not to mention with 100+ nm range.

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    6. I mean let's think through with this. Consider the Chinese perspective. If the USMC force is as potent as they claimed it to be, does it make sense to not treat the island as a big immobile ship? Consider the fact that they are willing to expend upwards 10-20 missiles on a ship and possibly more. It's hard for me to doubt they will spare little expenses in erasing a group of troublesome HIMARS (and possibly F-35s!).

      That's if they choose to use missiles. Unlike us, they procure and develop advanced cluster munitions on a daily basis.

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    7. Does it? How many missiles do YOU imagine they have versus how many are allocated to OTHER missions?

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    8. Why does that change anything? This is the matter of survival. If the threat is serious enough, wouldn't you choose to eliminate it before it does any (more) damage? Let's even put ourselves in their shoes. What would we do if advancing into the first island chain = eliminate the missile boats lurking around it? Are we willing to risk $1billion+ destroyers just to not shoot some 200 millions missile boats? What makes you think the Chinese won't attack ot by all means of it threaten their ability to operate?

      Even by going the numbers route, Commander Berger indicated that they will be acquiring about 20 LAWs which at best equals to 20 different islands. If you use 10 per island (an overkill by my standards), that's 200 missiles in total. A small dent in the current Chinese inventory of 2200+ ballistic and cruise missiles. Again, they could also use cluster bombs or munitions to complete the same task.

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  4. To me its simple... The Marines support a naval campaign by disembarking ships and going ashore to take hostile ground. Whether theres a future call for amphibious assault is debateable, but thats their job. This EABO nonsense, and giving up tanks and arty so they can what, buy some backpack portable sonar gear??? Maybe some ELF in a box??
    C'mon...hes grasping for somthing thats more absurd than current doctrine. He should be fighting for more,better connectors, CAS Marine A-10s, and a hundred other important needs, but we get EABO instead. Even the acronym sounds dumb!!!! Sorry but Im just out of patience with the idiocy...

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    1. Nonsense, dumb, or idiocy???

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    2. If you meant where i said " the Marines support a naval campaign by...", then No, I DIDNT describe EABO, i was talking an amphib assault. I meant taking hostile ground, NOT sneaking onto some uninhabited rock hoping to potshop at passing ships....

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    3. "You just described EABO."

      EABO can mean different things to different people. In its current usage - meaning, by the Commandant - it means platoon size units hiding on islands and lobbing missiles at passing ships and listening for subs (by whatever magical means they would do that).

      EABO could also mean a Guadalcanal type, large air base but that's not the current usage.

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    4. You again go from platoons operating isolated to wings operating on fixed bases without acknowledging the gradient in between.

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    5. Jjabatie,
      What's the point of taking this hostile ground?

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    6. "You again go from platoons operating isolated to wings operating on fixed bases without acknowledging the gradient in between."

      I'm not going anywhere. I'm discussing the Commandant's usage of the force levels. Again, if you have a disagreement, talk to him. In the meantime, catch yourself up on the topic by reading the Commandant's articles on the Internet.

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    7. https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Portals/142/Docs/CMC38%20Force%20Design%202030%20Report%20Phase%20I%20and%20II.pdf?ver=2020-03-26-121328-460

      Per his official guidance, the word Platoon is not even found once. So please, tell me exactly where he said it had to be either a platoon or a wing and could be nothing in between?

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    8. If platoon size was so important, why'd he forget to include it in his planning guidance? Or are you just creating the absurd in order to reduce the argument to absurdities.

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    9. Platoon size units have been referenced repeatedly. You need to come up to speed. Here's the very first reference that popped up in a search. It's from a Marine Corps Times website article: Marines

      "war fighting concepts that Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger has pushed in which Marine units, some platoon or squad-sized, would take pieces of ground for short periods and conduct sea control and sea denial for naval commanders."

      I'm going to terminate this discussion until you come up to speed and politeness.

      Delete
    10. You're playing the delete game again huh.

      Delete
    11. I have no interest in wasting my time trying to get you to come up to speed and acknowledge what the Commandant has stated publicly, many times. If you wish to deny reality, that's fine but I'm not going to allow it to be posted to mislead other readers. You're done with this discussion so don't bother replying.

      Delete
  5. I got a feeling that Commandant Berger might be thinking towards more of a defensive posture. Basing from the excerpts he said today, he is probably proposing a blockade possibly implemented in the first and second island chain. The intention to provide our A2/AD zone to prevent a possible breakout of the Chinese Navy.

    I also think that this is also another extension of the Distributed Lethality Concept. Similar to this graphic:

    https://wiki.nps.edu/download/attachments/732364896/image2016-12-8%2017%3A27%3A51.png?version=1&modificationDate=1481246845000&api=v2

    At least, the Commandant's view is inline with the Navy and their concepts are complementing each other instead of duplicating. But this is like putting all eggs in one basket. The moment that the concept failed to materialize, we are left with Marines that can't move and waiting to be destroyed; ships too scattered to provide any meaningful self defense. For the Chinese, it's two birds with one stone!

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  6. Nothing like having every man an infantryman keep his ears away from the bullets to hear the sub. I feel like this is their way of getting their large UAV and then using it for what they really want. At best, they ought to have a way to detect UUVs and USVs in the surf.

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  7. Let me try to follow the logic.

    The Marines have a role in the Pacific. Check.
    They will probably be on islands. Makes sense.
    While on the islands, they should be able to influence the water around them. Sure.
    That includes recon (sensors) and attacking nearby enemy naval units (NSM and HIMARS vs. ships) in some cases. That's tricky, but doesn't sound crazy.
    That also includes detecting and attacking nearby enemy subs. Okay, this does sound crazy.

    How? A portable mini-SOSUS? Underwater drones (of course)? Marine ASW helicopters hidden in the jungle? As long as we're talking crazy, why not equip the Marines with fins and gills for squad level ASW patrols?

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    1. There's a potential fundamental flaw in your logic and that is your very first proposition. Why do the Marines have a role in the Pacific? I don't see that as a given, at all. In fact, if you have to search that hard for a role and can only come up with minor tasks then maybe there isn't really a role.

      Unless the Chinese take over islands throughout the Pacific (and we allow it in peacetime!) there won't be any islands to seize and the idea of platoon size Marine units exerting any significant influence on a war is ludicrous.

      So … is there really a role for the Marines?

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    2. "So … is there really a role for the Marines?"

      Apparently, their new role is to act as peacetime "sub-watchers".

      Or so Berger says.

      Why is he not asking for gajillion dollars in funding for landing on mainland China instead?
      It's still essentially impossible, but at least it'd be a cooler budget grab.

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  8. If the Marines are out of the business of amphibious assault, seeming more interested in airborne light infantry and field artillery tasks (eg baby sitting missiles on island).

    One wonders if we need a Marine Corps any longer. Perhaps we just role that budget into ships that can fight.

    Like we'll ever build fighting ships again but one can dream.

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  9. Marine, like other units, fight for defense dollars.

    Key problem today is -- every weapon systems are way too expensive. Too many on the food chains which leave little money really used in what we intended.

    Been in high tech manufacturing for a long time, it is really b***shit to listen to people say weapons MUST be expensive. I can tell you, almost all computer chips used in weapon are less powerful than your iPhones' CPU.

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    1. While I have heard the same thing, I have always the impression that the major costs increase is related to the length of the support. While a normal CPU maybe much more powerful, the decision to stop supporting it lies with the company. A military CPU while vastly weaker have almost unlimited support (if the company hasn't gone bankrupt yet) until the military phases the system out.

      Two other things that I thought may increase costs are scale of manufacturing and chips hardening. I am however not sure if this has make the difference. We have seen before that production cost savings may never be realized. I also think chips hardening is compulsory but very costly. However, too few information exists for me to assess this. Taking all of this into account, do you think the Navy could still get cheaper CPUs?

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    2. "While a normal CPU maybe much more powerful, the decision to stop supporting it lies with the company. A military CPU while vastly weaker have almost unlimited support (if the company hasn't gone bankrupt yet) until the military phases the system out."

      I have no actual knowledge about this topic but I do know that there's a world of difference between, say, a commercial new cell phone which is designed and produced within a very short window (a year or two???) and a military system which is designed and built in a 5-20 year window. The F-35, for example, had its systems spec'ed almost 20 years ago so the chips for the various systems must have been ordered many, many years ago and are a reason why the systems being installed today on a brand new F-35 are already long ago obsolete by commercial standards and must be expensive to obtain replacements for today.

      Again, no actual knowledge. Just speculation.

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    3. The JSF and all future things will work similar to civilian computers. There will be cheap upgrades as software works on all hardware. This is a big change.

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    4. https://www.aviationtoday.com/2018/09/27/harris-lm-icp/

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    5. "There will be cheap upgrades"

      :) There's no such thing as a cheap upgrade in the military! I would invite you to consider the Navy's attempt to 'upgrade' toilets on carriers. What a disaster!

      Delete
  10. The Marines have become a service in search of a mission, and EABO and ASW are not exactly winners. When people who are supposed to be smart do stupid things, there are two possibilities—either they aren’t really smart, or their decisions are restricted by outside constraints.

    I think there’s some of both. So what external constraints do I see and how did they happen?

    1) In Vietnam, Westmoreland sent Marines north to play army in I Corps, rather than south to the Mekong Delta, where they could have paired up with the brown-water Navy to conduct riverine amphibious operations. The Army and Navy never sorted this out, but Marines would have been an obvious choice to do so. This started moving Marines away from their naval roots to function as baby army. In Iraq twice and in Afghanistan, there was little amphibious role. In Desert Storm, the ARG conducted a demonstration operation that distracted enough Iraqis to make the Army job easier, and in Afghanistan the Kandahar campaign was a cooperative Airborne-Marine operation that was a long reach for amphibious, but those were about it. To retain a slice of the budget, Marines started taking on baby army occupation and presence missions. That is not what Marines do—they get in, get done, and move on—but they have gotten roped into a presence role from a combination of external events and own choices.
    2) While Marines were taking on non-Marine jobs, their core missions were impaired by Navy decisions. LHAs/LHDs can haul a lot of Marines and equipment from point A to point B, but once they get to point B—or, more correctly, 25-50 miles offshore from point B—they have no viable connectors for moving tanks and heavy artillery ashore. Marines are responding by giving up the things they can’t get ashore and becoming a very light infantry, with a hard time finding viable missions.

    Let Army have responsibility for large overland missions, and let the Marines fill in the commando and amphibious roles. Think Army as a hammer, Marines as a Swiss army knife.

    EABO units are basically commando-sized, and that could lead to transforming the USMC to a commando force. That’s what the Royal Marines did when faced with budgetary extinction in the 1960s and 1970s. I could see merging SOCOM and the Corps, where SpecOps forces would total about 60,000 personnel—30,000 Marine commandos as the cadre, with the Army, Navy, and Air Force each keeping about 10,000 Green Berets, SEALs, and AFSOCs, respectively, to supplement for operations in their particular areas, similar to how SAS and SBS work with the Royal Marines.

    An opposed amphibious assault of either Russia or China is unlikely. But with air superiority and NGFS, amphibious assaults are still possible and useful in many places. The only countries we can attack overland are Canada and Mexico, neither likely enemies. So any war will require a significant airborne or amphibious element. I think we can pretty clearly delineate responsibilities between airborne (inland, light) and amphibious (littorals, heavier). We need different and smaller amphibious ships—but the LAWs are too small and incapable. I suggest a more traditional, conventional PhibRon/ARG—smaller LHA/LHD like Juan Carlos, LPH like Mistral, LPD/LSD like Albion, LST with beachable LST bow, LPA/LKA, and NGFS frigate. I would enlarge the MEU to a force of about 3200, including infantry battalion, tank company (probably with a lighter tank than the Abrams), gun and missile artillery batteries, AAW battery, amphibious armor company (including amphibious tanks like the Chinese), special operations company, and aviation detachment (focused on insertion and CAS for Marines, giving up air superiority to Navy). 10 ARGs/MEUs would be 60 ships and 32,000 Marines, and Marine rotation policy would require a force of about 96,000 to sustain.

    Add 15-20,000 for administration and training and you’d have a smaller and more focused USMC of about 140-145,000.

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    Replies
    1. "That’s what the Royal Marines did when faced with budgetary extinction"

      You do realize that you're proposing modeling the Marines after a RN model that was a bad decision forced by a bad budget. Wouldn't you rather have a good model for the Marines, doing something that offers a good and useful capability rather than the least bad thing you can think of?

      I would remind you, we already have an entire SOCOM organization. If you feel the Marines have nothing USEFUL to offer, leave SOCOM alone and let the Marines cease to exist … … … or, give them a good purpose, not SOCOM administration - which already exists.

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    2. SOCOM exists, but as a joint command with rotating commanders, for which no one service has cognizance and responsibility. And all branches love to use photos of their SpecOps forces on recruiting brochures, but they are often kind of the red-headed stepchild when it comes to budgetary and other support. I believe putting one service in firm charge with ongoing accountability could bring improvement.

      The RN decision may ave been a bad bargain forced by bad budgetary constraints, but by all accounts it has turned out to be an effective organization, and coordination with SAS and SBS appears to have worked well at least the first time out in the Falklands, which admittedly was not against a peer opponent. I'm told by many who would know that the RMs are still the one organization that our Marines respect most.

      I guess part of where I'm coming from is that I don't see anything useful that the EABOs can evolve into, unless they roll into a commando organization.

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    3. " but they are often kind of the red-headed stepchild when it comes to budgetary and other support."

      I would vehemently disagree with that assessment. Special forces are the darling of Congress and, from what I can see, get the very best equipment and support available. Just run down the list of publicly acknowledge special equipment they have and you'll be blown away. Their special helos, alone, are incredible. The weapons they have are the envy of the Army and Marines. And so on. I don't see anything broken about the SOCOM organization other than it's vastly oversized and, because of that, is being used as regular ground forces, far too often.

      If you're casting about for a mission for the Marines, as you clearly are, a far better one would be the core mission of port seizure which I've discussed repeatedly. That's a mission worthy of a Marine Corps.

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    4. I don't disagree with the port seizure mission. And I agree that special forces are the darlings of Congress. All those recruiting posters inspire voters too. But Congressional support does not always translate into what is needed at the operational level.

      In "casting about for a mission for the Marines," as you describe it, it seems to me that we should look for things consistent with the Corps's history. The Marine MO has typically been get in, get done, and move on, not presence and occupation. It has become a baby army, and he EABO concept threatens to turn it into a troop of Boy Scouts with BB guns. I think SOCOM is bloated because everybody has to get a piece of the rock, and there is not really a lot of accountability. Put in some metrics that contain it, and give one branch responsibility and accountability to make it work. That's what works in the business world, and I see no reason why it would not work here.

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    5. "it seems to me that we should look for things consistent with the Corps's history."

      Absolutely not! We should look for things (missions) that are relevant to the wars we expect to fight. Looking for missions from history is the worst case of fighting the last war.

      I've analyzed the expectations for future wars and I see no need for major amphibious assaults. In that, I agree with the Commandant. He's seen the same thing though for different reasons. He's scared of them and I simply see no strategic need. What I see is the need for port seizures in the Pacific theatre, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.

      You don't go looking for missions in history, you look for them in the wars you expect to fight. History may, and should, inspire you and offer valuable lessons - as I demonstrate daily on this blog - but missions come from expected combat requirements.

      SOCOM is not a core mission for anyone. It is a very limited, specialty offshoot of what the services routinely do. The entire SOCOM organization is an abomination and, far from being centralized as the new Marine Corps, it should be abolished and its component elements returned to the oversight of the parent services while greatly reducing the size of those elements. For example, a thousand SEALs are all that should be necessary for the Navy IF THEY RETURN TO THEIR CORE MISSION OF CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS FROM THE SEA. The Rangers, Green Berets, Delta Force, and others can handle the land missions.

      If you truly want to be consistent with the Corps' history, it is as naval infantry and naval ship/base protection, not SOCOM or even amphibious assaults. Amphibious assault was a one time, needs-driven requirement of the Pacific theatre of WWII. Unless we're going to refight WWII, that need has largely or totally vanished. If we ever have need of a massive amphibious assault it will be patterned after Normandy (meaning the Army, not Marines) rather than the Pacific islands (unless we allow China to seize the entire Pacific Ocean territories and then, yes, we will have to refight WWII).

      Look to war requirements for the Marine's mission, not some organizational business case reorganization.

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    6. “We should look for things (missions) that are relevant to the wars we expect to fight.”

      And have the people who can do those things do them.

      “You don't go looking for missions in history, you look for them in the wars you expect to fight. History may, and should, inspire you and offer valuable lessons - as I demonstrate daily on this blog - but missions come from expected combat requirements.”

      Which is exactly the point I am making. We just differ somewhat as to expected combat requirements.

      “What I see is the need for port seizures in the Pacific theatre, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.”

      And so do I. I just see a bit more in the way of littoral/amphibious operations (assaults or raids) in those areas, including the first island chain, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Baltic. But a force built to do one could pretty much to the other as well.

      “SOCOM is not a core mission for anyone. It is a very limited, specialty offshoot of what the services routinely do. The entire SOCOM organization is an abomination … “

      And I would argue that the reason SOCOM is an abomination is because it is not a core mission for anyone. Make it a core mission for someone, and give them the responsibility and authority and accountability to fix it. I just happen to believe that is a better fit for the Marines than for any other branch. Someone on WarOnTheRocks posted that Army is the sledgehammer, Marines are the Bowie knife, and SpecOps are the scalpel. I say keep Army as the sledgehammer and make Marines the Swiss Army knife.

      “If you truly want to be consistent with the Corps' history, it is as naval infantry and naval ship/base protection, not SOCOM or even amphibious assaults.”

      I think that the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli both involved significant amphibious and/or special ops components, so they go back pretty far as mission areas. I agree with the naval infantry and ship/base protection roles, and I think the Corps that I am envisioning would perform those missions quite ably.

      “I've analyzed the expectations for future wars and I see no need for major amphibious assaults. … If we ever have need of a massive amphibious assault it will be patterned after Normandy (meaning the Army, not Marines) rather than the Pacific islands (unless we allow China to seize the entire Pacific Ocean territories and then, yes, we will have to refight WWII).”

      So if there is, “no need for major amphibious assaults,” then whether that non-existent assault would be an Army or Marine evolution is a pretty irrelevant data point. Neither one should focus on that, and both should focus on what they do best. Right now, I don’t foresee an amphibious assault of the Chinese mainland, but I am focusing on keeping China off the islands.

      “Look to war requirements for the Marine's mission, not some organizational business case reorganization.”

      That’s what I’m doing. We just have different views of what future war requirements might be. My only reference to history or a business case is that if we have one force which has spent 200 years doing large land wars, and another that has focused on get in, get done, and move on, then it makes sense to regard those institutional capabilities in dividing up future responsibilities.

      I think we are disagreeing within the context of agreeing about most of this. We both believe that Normandy-style assaults are a thing of the past. We both agree that focused missions like port seizure are relevant going forward (ironically a big part of Normandy was to seize the ports of Cherbourg and Le Havre, it just made more sense to build a beachhead at a less heavily defended location and then branch out from there to take them). We both agree that EABO makes little sense. We both agree that SOCOM is a mess. My solution is to consolidate it in the Corps, your solution is to eliminate it. I’m happy to leave it at that, with the understanding that we both have valid points.

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    7. "Make it a core mission for someone, and give them the responsibility and authority and accountability to fix it."

      Absolutely not! That just leads to parochialism and budgetary empire building.

      If we had no special forces whatsoever, we'd suffer no great loss of capability in a war. Gen. Schwarzkopf, for example, wanted no part of special forces in Desert Storm. He considered them a waste of resources and effort.

      "a better fit for the Marines than for any other branch."

      Settling for the least bad fit is not the same as a good fit.

      Special forces offer almost nothing in conventional war and are of use only for peacetime assassinations, hostage rescues, and the like. That's a useful capability, to be sure, but it's also a very much small, niche capability and does not justify many tens of thousands of personnel … and now you want to enshrine it as an entire branch of the military? An entire branch that offers no warfighting capability???????

      "make Marines the Swiss Army knife."

      Do you hear yourself and your analogies? The Swiss Army knife is the jack of all trades - great at nothing and useful only if you lack the proper tool. That's exactly where the Marines are now and you want to move them further down that path of irrelevance?

      "Neither one should focus on that, and both should focus on what they do best."

      Correct!

      "My solution is to consolidate it in the Corps, your solution is to eliminate it."

      Not quite. My solution is to break it up and hugely reduce the size while returning the component elements to the parent services. A few thousand of each type is sufficient. In huge contrast, you want to make special forces an entire dedicated branch of the military with between 60,000 and 180,000 members (to be fair, I'm not completely sure exactly what you have in mind beyond an absolutely massive SOCOM organization). That's a major deviation in competing visions.

      Let me repeat one statement I made that you need to address: you would devote an entire, massive branch of the military to a non-warfighting capability. One quarter of our entire military budget (yeah, I know the actual budget figures aren't that - I'm making a point) devoted to a non-warfighting, niche capability. That's a non-starter and unconscionable from a national security perspective and, I might add, from a responsible business case.

      Now, if you want to make the Marines into SOCOM and knock the entire Marine Corps force down to, say 10,000 people (5,000 operators and 5,000 administrative support), divest the entire Marine aviation element, and eliminate all other missions then I'm on board. Otherwise, this is an absolutely horrible idea.

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    8. " you want to make special forces an entire dedicated branch of the military with between 60,000 and 180,000 members (to be fair, I'm not completely sure exactly what you have in mind beyond an absolutely massive SOCOM organization)."

      I don't have any idea where you're getting that. As I've said about ten times, here are my numbers:

      Marine commandos 30,000
      Army Green Berets 10,000
      Navy SEALS 10,000
      Air Force AFSOC 10,000
      Total 60,000

      And I don't see this as a non-war-fighting capability.

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    9. That's 60,000 which is exactly in the range I thought you had stated. So, that means you drop the other 150,000 existing Marines, the entire Marine air element, and all of their amphibious support.

      None of those elements you've listed have any war fighting capability. They are the lightest of light infantry, at best, useful only for snatch and grab type operations. I don't know where you get the idea that they can contribute to a peer war other than in the most peripheral of ways.

      If you don't see this as a non-warfighting capability then you've forgotten what real war is. It will be artillery, tanks (not the Marine's, obviously!), aircraft, cruise missiles, 500-2000 lb bombs, etc. Only the heavily armed and armored will survive. I don't see any of that in your list of elements.

      I repeat, you've created an entire branch of non-warfighting, niche military.

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    10. "Make it a core mission for someone, and give them the responsibility and authority and accountability to fix it."

      I think the best example against this point is the Navy leadership. How many committees and board that the Navy assembled to investigate and implement changes in the system? Hoe many of them ever get implemented? How many of them really address the crux of the issues?

      The problem here, as CNO previously stated, is the fact there are no warfighting missions for this new SOCOM-Marines organization. Look into every single niche mission that SOCOM does. None of them could ever and ever be considered as a core mission. The only reason SOCOM becomes as big as it is today is related to the fact they took terrorists-killing mission as their core. That is clearly not a war-fighting core mission.

      Now if you considered port seizure as a core mission, I have to agree with CNO that it's pretty insane for light infantry to hold a core objective. They are probably very useful for the initial phase, to seize the objective but after that they are tactically irrelevant. You (or is it someone else?) make the point that Marines will have to involve themselves in the fighting at least for the first few operations. There are many benefits (catching them by surprise, exploiting the hole in the defensive line, creating a buffer zone, etc.. ) to this and I would consider this a core mission as well. This all show that we need a heavier and stronger fighting force, not lighter and weaker.

      Give a core war fighting mission that requires the need for huge amount of light infantry and I will gladly (after some analysis) support your perspective. As it stands right now, I see no need for such missions.

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    11. "Give a core war fighting mission that requires the need for huge amount of light infantry and I will gladly (after some analysis) support your perspective. As it stands right now, I see no need for such missions."

      "That's 60,000 which is exactly in the range I thought you had stated. So, that means you drop the other 150,000 existing Marines, the entire Marine air element, and all of their amphibious support."

      I seriously question wether you are actually reading what I have written multiple times.

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    12. Perhaps you should question whether you're writing as clearly as you hope?

      You keep talking about rolling 60,000 SOCOM into the Marines. Does that mean, in addition to the existing 180,000 Marines for a resultant force of 240,000 SOCOM Marines or does that mean cutting 150,000 of the existing 180,000 Marines for a resultant force of 60,000? Or some other combination?

      Write clearly, now!

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    14. No, let me try this one more time.

      What I have said over and over is a total SpecOps function of 60,000, including 30,000 Marine commandos as cadre, with 10,000 each of Green Berets, SEALs, and AFSOCs to complement for missions in their specific areas of expertise.

      I would have another roughly 100,000 Marines to support the naval infantry/FMF component. I have proposed an amphibious lift capability of 32,000 and Marines like to rotate among 3 units--one employed, one recovering from employment and re-staffing, and one training to be the next to go. Three times 32,000 is 96,000.

      I have structured my amphibious fleet around 10 PhibRons/ARGs to haul 10 MEUs of 3200 each, including infantry, tanks, artillery, amphibious armor, and air, with the air focusing on insertion/removal of Marines and CAS. The Navy would take over the air superiority mission with Marine F/A-18 squadrons joining Navy CVWs.

      In this structure the Marines would establish a Marine commando school patterned after the Royal Marine commando school, generally regarded as toughest in the world. Every Marine E-5 or above would be commando qualified, and they would rotate between the commando force and naval infantry force.

      So the proposed Marine Corps would be 30,000 commandos plus 96,000 naval infantry/FMF, with 15,000-25,000 for admin and training, or a total active duty Corps size of 140,000-150,000. I hope that clarifies my numbers, once and for all.

      I'm sorry, but I think if you go back and read my prior posts, that's pretty much exactly what I have been proposing for some time. I hope this time it is clear enough.

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    15. Your numbers don't add up!!!!!

      You're proposing 60,000 spec ops be added to 100,000 (rounding from 96,000) marines. That would be a total Marine Corps of 160,000.

      You then, contradict yourself by saying "a total active duty Corps size of 140,000-150,000" of 30,000 Marine commando plus 100,000 (rounding up from 96,000) regular marines. Where are the other 30,000 spec ops? The Army Green Berets 10,000, Navy SEALS 10,000, and Air Force AFSOC 10,000 from your list?

      You see what I mean about writing clearly? Your own numbers don't add up and are inconsistently applied.

      As best I can tell, you seem to want:

      Marine commandos 30,000
      Army Green Berets 10,000
      Navy SEALS 10,000
      Air Force AFSOC 10,000
      Regular Marines ?96,000? (or maybe 96,000 + 15,000-25,000? - that's, again, unclear)

      Total = 156,000 (or maybe 171,000 - 185,000?)

      I truly would like to understand your force structure but I honestly can't make heads or tails of it. If you simply add 60,000 from your list of spec ops to the existing Marines, you get 240,000. In order to add 60,000 and get somewhere in the 140,000 - 180,000 range, or whatever it is you think you'll get, you'll have to cut LOTS of personnel.

      Think this through carefully, put it in a simple column listing and try again. Clearly, this time!

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    16. From my post of December 17, at the top of this subthread:

      "I could see merging SOCOM and the Corps, where SpecOps forces would total about 60,000 personnel—30,000 Marine commandos as the cadre, with the Army, Navy, and Air Force each keeping about 10,000 Green Berets, SEALs, and AFSOCs, respectively, to supplement for operations in their particular areas, similar to how SAS and SBS work with the Royal Marines."

      and

      "I would enlarge the MEU to a force of about 3200, including infantry battalion, tank company (probably with a lighter tank than the Abrams), gun and missile artillery batteries, AAW battery, amphibious armor company (including amphibious tanks like the Chinese), special operations company, and aviation detachment (focused on insertion and CAS for Marines, giving up air superiority to Navy). 10 ARGs/MEUs would be 60 ships and 32,000 Marines, and Marine rotation policy would require a force of about 96,000 to sustain.

      Add 15-20,000 for administration and training and you’d have a smaller and more focused USMC of about 140-145,000."

      I think that is pretty clear. And I think I've said the same thing before in other threads, although admittedly that may have been in posts on other sites.

      I'm perfectly happy to take criticism of what I am proposing, but please try to keep it to what I have actually said.

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    17. Perhaps this is where you are getting confused. The 10,000 Green Berets would remain Army, just as SEALs would remain Navy and AFSOCs would remain Air Force. I suppose individuals would have an opportunity to transfer, but if they did they would form part of the 30,000, not increase it. I would expect Marine commandos to work with them the way RMs work with SAS and SBS.

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    18. Perhaps this is where you are getting confused. The 10,000 Green Berets would remain Army, just as SEALs would remain Navy and AFSOCs would remain Air Force. I suppose individuals would have an opportunity to transfer, but if they did they would form part of the 30,000, not increase it. I would expect Marine commandos to work with them the way RMs work with SAS and SBS.

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    19. Perhaps this is where you are getting confused. The 10,000 Green Berets would remain Army, just as SEALs would remain Navy and AFSOCs would remain Air Force. I suppose individuals would have an opportunity to transfer, but if they did they would form part of the 30,000, not increase it. I would expect Marine commandos to work with them the way RMs work with SAS and SBS.

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    20. Not sure why that posted three times.

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    21. "Perhaps this is where you are getting confused. The 10,000 Green Berets would remain Army, just as SEALs would remain Navy and AFSOCs would remain Air Force."

      Okay, this is brand new or did not come across at all. You had repeatedly stated that you wanted to roll SOCOM into Marines. Nowhere did I pick up that you wanted various elements to remain under different services. Wouldn't that defeat your stated purpose? No wonder I'm confused!

      "Not sure why that posted three times."

      Probably for emphasis!

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    22. You had stated that you wanted ALL of SOCOM under one command, the Marines, so that they could receive proper funding and support. Wouldn't parceling out the elements in small quantities to the various services ensure that they WOULDN'T receive proper funding and support since none of them are the core missions for any of the services?

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    23. And, wouldn't that further fragment the command and control structure? The fragmented command and control is EXACTLY why the central SOCOM structure was created! You're proposing to return to the same problematic structure that birthed SOCOM. What am I missing?

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    24. So I'm still unclear. What is the final Marine tally? Is it,

      commando 30,000
      regular 96,000
      support 15,000 - 25,000
      ARG/MEU 32,000

      Total: 173,000 - 183,000

      Or, are some of those numbers subsets of others and the total would be less? Again, for clarity, it would help to provide a correct, columnized list, as I just did.

      You've cited all those numbers and it hasn't been clear which are stand alone addons and which are subsets of others. I think you can see why this has not come across clearly. Give me a final list and total!

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    25. I really can’t see why it hasn’t come across, but I’ll try again. Final list, same as it has always been:

      60,000 total special operations forces (a slight decrease) as follows:

      30,000 Marine commandos
      10,000 Green Berets—remain Army
      10,000 SEALs—remain Navy
      10,000 AFSOCs—remain Air Force

      Concept is that Marine commandos would be generalist cadre, and other services would augment with specialists as needed. When the RMs went the commando route, Army wanted to keep SAS and Navy wanted to keep SBS. So they worked it out. I’m pretty sure that if they could figure it out, we can.

      As for the naval infantry part, 32,000 would be the number that could be lifted by the entire Phib force—10 PhibRons making 10 ARGs, each hauling an enhanced MEU of 3200. Marines like to rotate in 3s, so you’d have 32,000 employed/deployed, 32,000 in training to go next, and 32,000 just back and recovering and reorganizing and integrating new troops, so total 96,000 naval infantry/FMF personnel. Now, for this to work, Navy has to provide the PhibRon ships plus adequate NGFS and air superiority, but that’s a separate topic.

      30,000 commandos plus 96,000 naval infantry/FMF totals 126,000. I’m not sure how many would be needed for admin and training, but estimate 15,000-25,000 for total Corps of 140,000-150,000 (again, decrease from today, but more focused on mission).

      I would focus Marine air on air assault and CAS, with air superiority and long range attack turned over to the Navy. Marine F/A-18 squadrons would join Navy CVWs, increasing the number and size of air wings.

      I would expect every Marine E-5 and above to complete commando qualification and would rotate commando qualified Marines between the commando forces and the naval infantry forces. I can see where commando skills could come in handy on assaults. To the extent they have shipboard Marines, the Brits do this. I would also use Marines to guard/secure bases and possibly have more shipboard dets. Whenever we had Marines aboard, they manned mount 32, and that would seem a useful possibility. But those numbers would come out of the 96,000 naval infantry, particularly since except in time of war we would not expect to have the full 32,000 at sea.

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    26. You did it again. I can't make heads or tails of what you're proposing for the Marines. You're flinging numbers around and I have no idea what's part of what. I get that the Army/AF/Navy would each get their 10,000. After that, I have no idea what you want for the Marines.

      Can't you provide a simple list for the final Marine composition? Here's the list that you seem to want. Just correct it, if needed. You don't need to provide 28 paragraphs. Just one simple list that includes all the components. Just edit my list. Simple!

      commando 30,000
      regular 96,000
      support 15,000 - 25,000
      ARG/MEU 32,000

      Total: 173,000 - 183,000

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    27. No.

      30,000 commandos (supplemented by Green Berets, SEALs, and AFSOCs)
      96,000 naval infantry (including up to 32,000 deployed/employed at any one time)
      15-25,000 admin/training
      141,000-151,000 total

      I really don’t understand why it’s so hard for you.

      As I have said, I’m willing to have discussion and criticism of what I am proposing, but I would appreciate it if you don’t try to make me defend things I am not proposing.

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    28. Clarity, son, clarity! A simple list. That wasn't so hard, was it?

      Now I understand your proposal. You'll convert 30,000 Marines to commandos and downsize from 180,000 current to 141,000-151,000. You'll scatter groups of 10,000 each to the Army/AF/Navy.

      So, how does this not worsen the 'red-headed stepchild' phenomenon that you identified?

      Why are the Marines better suited for specialized land combat than the Army which is tasked with land combat?

      Since you seem to think there's a need for amphib ops, why not focus the Marines on that one mission and that alone and let them get good at it instead of institutionally splitting their attention between two different mission sets? Just like a Burke can't be good at both AAW and ASW, the Marines can't be great at both amphib assaults and commando stuff. You can't split attention and budgets and get good results for both.

      Do you really think the nation needs land combat 40,000 spec ops (Marines + Army)? Is there really that many raids or rescues that need to happen?

      I notice you completely left out the Rangers who would certainly consider themselves special. That further increases the land combat spec ops. How many do we really need?

      I notice you left out Delta Force. Even more land combat spec ops!

      As I've stated, SOCOM/spec ops is an abomination that has taken on a life of its own and needs to be completely dismantled and almost eliminated.

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    29. If we are looking at peer warfare, almost every conceivable crisis scenario demands more aircraft (mostly pure A2A fighters), and more ships (mostly submarines) – not ground (USA or USMC) forces.

      Our National Military Strategy is supporting allies and it makes sense that those allies bear the brunt of ground combat (and the casualties that come with it). The last thing Taiwan, SK, etc. need is *more* infantry.

      Every cent spent on trying to project and sustain overseas ground power is money not spent on critical aircraft and ships.

      This is as obvious as sunrise, but most people lack objectivity.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      On SOCOM: sure it should shrink in size – assuming we ramp down commitments, but SOCOM is also providing National Special Mission units to other branches of government and these very requirements are not clear in the unclassified world, nor is it clear that these other agencies will be resourced to replace SOF.

      GAB

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    30. Pardon me, CDR Chip, I must have gotten the wrong impression from your RM comparison. This may stem from your previous post where you exclusively talk about the commando force conversion and I must have misunderstood that your proposed ARG/MEU change is part of the conversion plan, not its own separate force. Now that I have cleared it out, my question is why?

      Your proposal, if broken down, are two separate forces with the same name. They have no compatible missions and the skills required to do them doesn't transfer accordingly. If anything, you make the Corps more confused in its mission. Which is it, amphibious landing or command raids? Hey why does that matter anyway, when we don't have sufficient training for both? At this point, compared to SOCOM,I have to say that their independence is much better. In risk of repeating myself, unless you can propose a better core warfighting mission than these niches that SF is doing, I see no point in having large amount of light infantry,



      Gab, you made an interesting point. I have always understood that the special forces is well the poster boy to get as many qualified individuals as possible. As they train and fight, inevitably some of them will dropout and some of them is better than the rest of the SF. These personnel could then be utilized for different more classified missions. After all said and done, I see no reasons why we couldn't disband SOCOM. These SF personnel are returned to their respective branches and the a recruiting process may happen to choose the best soldiers for respective branches' need.

      I guess that the main benefit of SOCOM is allowing any branches with sufficient intelligence to have the any SF to fall under their command with less or non-existent approval. If they are different branches, acquiring them under their command is time-consuming and may contribute to failures of time-sensitive missions. Aside from this, I don't see any other benefits of an organization like SOCOM.

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    31. @lpnam9114: “I guess that the main benefit of SOCOM is allowing any branches with sufficient intelligence to have the any SF to fall under their command with less or non-existent approval.”

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      With respect, this is not how USSOCOM works - nor should it work the way you suggest!

      I remain unmoved by the argument that the conventional forces can absorb SOCOM missions: Congress created USSOCOM because the conventional forces failed on multiple occasions at building the capabilities that SOCOM provides.

      SOCOM is a *Unified Combatant Command* with world-wide responsibilities - when directed by the National Command Authority, SOCOM it can unilaterally execute a full spectrum of missions that are beyond the capability of the conventional forces, and do it anytime anywhere.

      Some people just want to promote their pet service, other people confuse ‘elite’ with SOF as though the conventional forces do not have great soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines, and most folks making the argument cannot name five SOF mission sets, five SOF units, nor justify how SOCOM has failed to do those missions.

      Method, purpose, end state: I have yet to see an argument on this board that addresses a realistic alternative to SOCOM, how the transition would mitigate critical capabilities that SOCOM provides during the transition, and how their change would improve operation capability after implemented, let alone be more efficient ($, personnel, vehicles). SOCOM provides a lot more capabilities than raids.

      The Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the 1987 National Defense Authorization Act

      US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Publication 1 (Pub 1), Doctrine for Special Operations

      https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10545

      https://www.doctrine.af.mil/Portals/61/documents/Annex_3-05/3-05-D05-SOF-USSOCOM-Core.pdf

      GAB

      Delete
    32. Well now that we finally agree (at least sort of) about what I have been saying, perhaps we can discuss it instead of mischaracterizing it.

      Taking a few comments and responding.

      “Now I understand your proposal. You'll convert 30,000 Marines to commandos and downsize from 180,000 current to 141,000-151,000. You'll scatter groups of 10,000 each to the Army/AF/Navy.”

      Not exactly. There won’t be any overnight conversion of 30,000 Marines. Marines will have to develop commando training (I would recommend adopting the RM’s) and as they get people commando qualified, they would take over the cadre of SOCOM over several years. Existing SOCOM personnel would have the option of converting to Marines or joining their parent services’ SpecOps units, which would be retained but smaller, not “scattered.”

      “So, how does this not worsen the 'red-headed stepchild' phenomenon that you identified?”

      Nobody owns SOCOM. It can have an Army CO, a Navy CO, an Air Force CO, or a Marine CO. There is no consistent accountability. Give it to one branch which owns it, and that would create more accountability and responsibility.

      “Why are the Marines better suited for specialized land combat than the Army which is tasked with land combat?”

      Let the Army be responsible for large continental land battles, involving presence and occupation, and refocus the Marines on their historic get in, get done, get out approach. I think amphib and SpecOps both fit the latter profile better.

      “Since you seem to think there's a need for amphib ops, why not focus the Marines on that one mission and that alone and let them get good at it instead of institutionally splitting their attention between two different mission sets?”

      I’m not sure there’s that much difference. Amphib ops include raids, strikes, assaults, administrative landings, and humanitarian efforts. I don’t see commando ops as much different from the raid end of that spectrum.

      “Do you really think the nation needs land combat 40,000 spec ops (Marines + Army)? Is there really that many raids or rescues that need to happen?”

      Yes, because they do more than just raids.

      “I notice you completely left out the Rangers who would certainly consider themselves special.”

      I think of Rangers as mainly Airborne, and the Airborne mission would stay with the Army. There would be some guidelines for when we use Airborne (far inland, light infantry only), when we use amphibious (coastal/littoral, need for heavier assets), and when we use both (Kandahar).

      “I notice you left out Delta Force.”

      Delta Force could either remain with the Army or move into SOCOM. It is about 1,000 people (300 fighters and 700 support). They could very easily be part of the Army’s 10,000.

      “Your proposal, if broken down, are two separate forces with the same name. They have no compatible missions and the skills required to do them doesn't transfer accordingly. If anything, you make the Corps more confused in its mission. Which is it, amphibious landing or command raids?”

      I don’t agree that the missions are not compatible. One, the raid end of the amphibious operation scale is pretty much analogous to a commando mission. Two, I think both the Brits and the Dutch have found that commando skills are useful in many naval infantry missions.

      I think the biggest confusion the Corps has today involves the “baby army” role and that one goes away. The second biggest confusion is probably the “Navy’s Army’s Air Force.” Focus Marine air on air assault and CAS. Let the Navy handle air superiority, and let the current VMF/VMA squadrons join Navy CVWs, which clearly need the numbers.

      I don’t see us ever doing a Normandy-style invasion of either Russia or China. If we did, that would be an Army show because of numbers required. But I can see multiple possibilities for raids, strikes, assaults, administrative landings, and humanitarian aid efforts involving MEU-sized units in and around the first island chain, the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the eastern Med, and the Baltic.

      Delete
    33. "Give it to one branch which owns it, and that would create more accountability and responsibility."

      Really??? The Marines currently 'own' the Marines and they are about as messed up as one could imagine. Why would giving them control of SOCOM suddenly produce a model organization with accountability and responsibility when the Marines have none of that now? At best, that's wishful thinking and, at worse, pure nonsensical fantasy.

      Now, you may postulate that as part of this sweeping reform you're going to institute many organizational administrative reforms, as well, which will produce the desired optimized Marine SOCOM but if you're willing to postulate that kind of sweeping, successful overhaul of the Marines then it would be just as valid to postulate that same kind of sweeping, successful overhaul of the existing SOCOM organization resulting in a breathtaking example of perfect administration and, therefore, no need to realign the group.

      The logic is inconsistent. Either you're dealing with today's reality in which case there is no reason to expect that merely transferring the responsibility will produce a better result (how many decades have the Marines pissed away trying to get an AAV replacement and now that they have it, they don't need/want it for their new role?!) or, you believe in some kind of additional, almost magical administrative reform in which case the same could apply to the current SOCOM.

      Ya gotta pick one or the other and be consistent.

      Delete
    34. The “Break Apart SOCOM” argument boils down to:

      “I want the USMC to be ‘special’ instead of SOCOM. I do not know what SOCOM actually does, I do not understand the ‘why’ of SOCOM’s organization and capabilities, could not care what missions/relationships get broken in the transition to USMC, nor how long it takes to fix what gets broken. And I cannot tell you how much this is going to cost to fix. I want my USMC and could care a fig about things like the Counter-Terrorism mission, penetrating aircraft programs, the Unconventional Warfare mission, support for the Intelligence and law enforcement communities, and so forth; as long as I get my marines.”

      I challenge anyone to explain what it is that SOCOM is doing so badly that the USMC could jump in and do better?

      GAB

      Delete
    35. "The Marines currently 'own' the Marines and they are about as messed up as one could imagine. Why would giving them control of SOCOM suddenly produce a model organization with accountability and responsibility when the Marines have none of that now?"

      I don't know that the Marines are any more messed up than any other branch. They're all screwed up as far as I can tell.

      My thoughts about SOCOM are that it is out of control and needs some accountability. As a matter of organizational dynamics, generally organizations do better when there is a clear line of authority and accountability. By rotating the command of SOCOM through the various branches, that kind of accountability becomes more difficult. The way it typically happens is the Army guy takes over and blames all the problems on the Navy guy before him, and then the Air Force guy takes over and blames it all on the Army guy. I think unifying it in one service is a way to bring more accountability and hopefully address the out of control issues.

      My thoughts about that one service being the Marines comes from 1) the Royal Navy (and Dutch) experience with making Marines essentially a commando organization (albeit on a much smaller level), 2) the idea that most commando operations are small unit ops, and the Marines probably have a higher percentage of small unit ops in their history than the other branches, and 3) the fact that the EABO concept, while appearing to be an ill-conceived way to handle ASW or anti-ship missions, is at least creating the kinds of small unit organizations necessary for commando ops.

      If we want to give SOCOM to one branch, I don't doubt that there are reasons why it should be given to the Army, the Navy, or even the Air Force. I am not aware of those reasons, but I can see reasons for giving it to the Marines.

      "The “Break Apart SOCOM” argument boils down to:"

      I don't see it as a break apart SOCOM argument. I don't think I'm proposing to break apart SOCOM, nor do I think anyone else is. I've just seen combining SOCOM and the Marines proposed several places, and the arguments given in favor seem to make sense to me. I guess what I see conceptually is the Army taking responsibility for major overland conflict, the Air Force taking responsibility of overland air warfare, both strategic and tactical, the Navy taking responsibility for surface, subsurface, and air war at sea, and the Marines as an expeditionary navy infantry active in the littoral areas. Conceptually, the SOCOM mission seems a better fit with the Marines than any other branch.

      I think the Army is concerned because their mission has primarily been aimed toward combatting a Soviet invasion of Europe, and that now looks like a less likely possibility, while China looks more like a Navy/Air Force show, so they may be losing relevance.

      Delete
    36. @CDR Chip: “I don't think I'm proposing to break apart SOCOM, nor do I think anyone else is. I've just seen combining SOCOM and the Marines proposed several places, and the arguments given in favor seem to make sense to me.”

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      What you are advocating *is* absolutely breaking apart SOCOM, and doing so in a manner that indicates a profound misunderstanding of what SOCOM is and how it works – it literally amounts to: “Let’s alter reality to fit what I think sounds cool, because the USMC needs more justification for force structure.”

      Example: splitting the 75th Ranger Regiment from SOCOM would absolutely wreck multiple National Special Mission units and also break the link between AFSOC Combat Controllers and the Rangers jeopardizing the nation’s premiere Forced Entry Capability.

      You keep arguing about concepts without understanding why Congress created SOCOM with the Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the FY 1987 National Defense Authorization Act.

      GAB

      Delete
    37. @GAB, I don't think that anyone here disagree the fact that SOCOM fills an important part (no matter how niche it is). My problem with is as it stands right now, it is leading towards a more mediocre and less specialized SOCOM. All the attention and spending is geared towards how to eliminate the next terrorist organization, the very definition of fighting the last war.

      If you look at other nations, they also have special forces that fills very specialized missions without the benefit of something like SOCOM. Hell, we also have done it before so is there a tactical/ strategic shift that I am not aware of? I would even go further to say that the current SOCOM organization has became mission-creep. It has led to cases where Rangers and MARSOC takes on role of normal infantry units and the infamous "Lone Survivor" and "Black Hawk Down" incidents.

      I think the bigger problem with SOCOM right now may not comes from itself. It comes from commanders and politicans generally who thinks that high-risk SOCOM mission is preferred over any other options. Over extension and underestimation of the situation is a very real issue that may manifest itself into huge casualties in wartime. A disband of SOCOM (or at least a de-emphasis) will do wonders to the state of the military in general.

      Side question, you said: "...also break the link between AFSOC Combat Controllers and the Rangers..." Did you mean SOF TACP? Big fan of the AFSOC community when I was younger so I know a thing or two. However, I haven't see anything regarding CCT works with Rangers. I heard that CCT tends to work with Delta and the likes more. Care to comment on this?

      Delete
    38. Just a note here, like the claim above, these are purely speculations that I gathered from my limited observations. I would gladly have it squandered if it means learning new stuff!

      Delete
    39. I apologize for even bringing this up.

      It is becoming pretty clear that whatever I propose is being misinterpreted, and it is hard to have substantive discussion when other people are talking about things other than what I am proposing.

      Delete
    40. "clear that whatever I propose is being misinterpreted"

      From what I can see of the various comments, what you're writing is being interpreted correctly, as you've written it. If what you've written isn't what you meant, then the issue lies with the clarity of your writing - something I've experienced myself with your writing.

      Ask yourself, is it more likely that everyone is misinterpreting you or is it more likely that are you failing to convey what you mean? In other words, is everyone else wrong and you're right or is it the other way around?

      People can only respond to what you've actually written. They have no way of responding to what you meant but didn't convey.

      Just something to consider.

      Delete
    41. @lpnam9114:"...also break the link between AFSOC Combat Controllers and the Rangers..." Did you mean SOF TACP?”

      I meant exactly what I said: Combat Controllers in AFSOC.

      I have passing interest in other nation SOF; The USA has specific capabilities based on unique specific needs. For example, nations like England and France do not have the hard separation between law enforcement and military like we do so they routinely employ military forces Commando Hubert, SAS, EOD, gendarmes, etc. to deal with domestic incidents. USSOCOM also has SOF capabilities far exceeding those of anyone else in certain areas.

      @lpnam9114:"It has led to cases where Rangers and MARSOC takes on role of normal infantry units and the infamous "Lone Survivor" and "Black Hawk Down" incidents.”

      That is baseless speculation - there was absolutely nothing ‘normal infantry’ about ‘Black Hawk Down.’ Example: TF 160 flies H-60s just like regular Army: but compare the amount of stick time (flight hours), the training scenarios flown, operational readiness, ability to deploy, speed of deployment, ability to be fully mission capable in minimal time after arriving in theater, and you will realize that TF 160 is a very different beast compared with USA aviation units.

      SOF are not ‘better’ than normal Joes, SOF are not bullet proof, and SOF does screw up. SOF also routinely produce results that conventional forces can only dream of

      GAB

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    42. I don't see that the Marines are particularly more messed up than any other branch. They are all pretty pathetically managed at this point.

      Delete
    43. "Ask yourself, is it more likely that everyone is misinterpreting you or is it more likely that are you failing to convey what you mean?"

      Fair question. I seriously don't think people are reading it fully. I think they are reading one bit and jumping to conclusions. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've posted virtually the same wording on other sites and haven't been misunderstood. I think in a bit I may back off and try to walk through my reasoning from the start. Perhaps understanding how I got there would help people understand.

      Delete
    44. "I don't see that the Marines are particularly more messed up than any other branch. They are all pretty pathetically managed at this point."

      Quite right. So why would transferring SOCOM to the Marines improve anything?

      Delete
    45. "the Brits and the Dutch have found that commando skills are useful in many naval infantry missions."

      What has been found throughout history is:

      1. Commando operations make up a vanishingly small portion of actual war operations. In other words, commandos offer almost no warfighting capability. Thus, rendering 30,000 of 140,000 Marines (21%) into non-warfighting commandos neuters a major chunk of what is supposed to be our premier, toughest warfighting organization and makes them just an occasional peacetime group. Why would I, the taxpayer, want to pay for a Marine Corps that is 21% non-combat useful?

      2. When the occasional need for a commando type operation arises in war, we've seen that a regular group of soldiers can be collected and trained for that particular mission. We don't need a standing commando organization.

      I would also note that the organization you're attempting to model after, the Royal Marines, are NOT a major combat organization. They're just what they say they are, a very light infantry commando group for peacetime work. There's a place and a use for peacetime commandos but it's not 70,000 strong (across all spec forces) and it shouldn't be the focus of 21% of the Marine Corps.

      By comparison, the RM appears to be around 8,000 personnel. That's tough to reconcile with 30,000/70,000. The RM have no heavy armor and their 'combat' vehicle is an all-terrain sports vehicle - glorified jeeps, at best. This demonstrates that they are not a warfighting group.

      The Marine Corps prides itself on being most ready for war when the country is least ready. That's been their claim and pride. Turning 21% of them into very light infantry is not preparing for war - it's preparing for peacetime hostage rescues and the like.

      The Marines already have enough things they're no good at. Adding another one is not going to help the Marines or SOCOM.

      Delete
    46. "By comparison, the RM appears to be around 8,000 personnel. That's tough to reconcile with 30,000/70,000"

      8,000 out of 148,000 is pretty much comparable to 70,000 out of 1,380,000.

      Delete
    47. "8,000 out of 148,000 is pretty much comparable to 70,000 out of 1,380,000."

      That's not evenly remotely relevant! We have a bigger military so we need a bigger commando group? There's not a shred of logic or relevance to that. What's relevant is how many missions there are and what the personnel requirement is for those missions. Unfortunately, none of us have any idea what the actual mission 'load' is because that doesn't get publicized. HOWEVER, it's very difficult to imagine that we have 70,000 people worth of constant mission demand. That would equate to almost 200 people per day on missions with each person only serving one active day per year!!!!

      Another way to look at it would be if each of the 70,000 people served 30 active mission-days per year, that would equate to 2.1M mission-days per year. Does that seem reasonable or believable?

      Even for 8000 personnel, if each served 30 mission-days per year that would be 240,000 mission-days per year. Do you think the US has a demand of 240,000 mission-days per year?

      Admittedly, I'm grossing and horrifically simplifying the arithmetic to try to gain some grasp of the scope but, come on, millions of mission-days per year?

      I also understand that not all of the 70,000 people are actual operators. Many are support personnel but, at some point, the organizational bureaucracy grows and becomes a self-perpetuating monster. What's the old saying? … "The bureaucracy is expanding to serve the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

      Delete
    48. It is relevant to the relative sizes of the military forces. Given that we have roughly 10 times as many total forces, one could reasonably conclude that we have 10 times the need for all missions, including special forces.

      Note that I'm proposing a decrease rather than an increase in total special forces personnel.

      Delete
    49. CDR Chip, I find your post to be relevant, though I vehemently disagree with you over SOCOM. Please continue posting, and please do not take offense at my push back.

      Delete
    50. "Given that we have roughly 10 times as many total forces, one could reasonably conclude that we have 10 times the need for all missions, including special forces."

      That's ridiculous. By your logic, if the next administration were to suddenly cut the military by 50%, you'd conclude that we need 50% fewer spec forces????? The number of spec forces is related to the number of bona fide missions there are, not the arbitrary size of the rest of the military.

      Conversely, if the military magically increased in size by a factor of ten, you're claiming that the number of necessary missions would increase by the same factor?

      Missions don't appear and disappear based on the size of the US military. They appear based on threats to national security, to put it broadly. We could have a billion man military and if there were no threats, we wouldn't have any need for spec forces.

      Delete
    51. @CNO: “Unfortunately, none of us have any idea what the actual mission 'load' is because that doesn't get publicized… Admittedly, I'm grossing and horrifically simplifying the arithmetic to try to gain some grasp of the scope but, come on, millions of mission-days per year?”
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      SOCOM is a tough life for actual operators.

      For perspective, prior to 9/11 it was common for SOF operators to be deployed over 300 days-per-year. In one three-year stretch from 1995-1998 I missed every Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Thanksgiving, either siting in a hanger waiting to respond to a crisis or actually deployed for an operation: that worked out to once per quarter.

      Why? In the period of 1995-1998 in Latin America, there were on average, over 234 American citizens held hostage on any given day. Most of these folks were being held by organized crime for ransom, but there were plenty terrorist organizations, including well known groups from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia that were up to their elbows in the drug trade, weapons smuggling and so on.

      The GWOT significantly expanded the amount of SOF combat deployments.

      GAB

      Delete
    52. “The Marines already have enough things they're no good at. Adding another one is not going to help the Marines or SOCOM.”

      Yes. And two of the things that are the longest way out of their wheelhouse are:

      - Trying to be baby army, and
      - Marine Air trying to be the “Navy’s Army’s Air Force.”

      So, don’t forget that first of all, I’m proposing to get rid of those two and focus on the naval infantry role. Here is (adapted from Wikipedia, not the most authoritative source, but I think close enough for this discussion) a list of the roles for naval infantry:

      - Conduct military operations in the littoral zone; operating from ships to land on and secure key points to around 50 miles inland, or as far as ship borne logistics can provide. Conduct amphibious raids, strikes, assaults, administrative landings, and disaster relief. Deploy from warships using boats, landing craft, hovercraft, amphibious vehicles or helicopters. Specialist units are also trained in combat diving/combat swimming and parachuting.
      - Perform special operations.
      - Conduct a variety of other naval roles. Stationed at naval bases or forming marine detachments on board naval ships, conduct small scale raiding, maritime boarding operations, security of naval vessels and bases, and riverine and coastal missions.
      - Perform ceremonial duties and miscellaneous other tasks as directed by governments.

      That seems like a pretty good objectives package, and it seems to say that amphibious and commando operations should be primary focal points.

      They started getting away from that in Vietnam, when Westmoreland sent them north to I Corps as baby army, instead of to the Mekong Delta to perform joint riverine operations with the green/brown-water Navy. They have moved further away from that in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, where they have basically been long-term occupiers of territory, rather than the typical Marine approach of get in, get done, and get out. And IMO (not shared, I realize) the Navy’s move to the LHAs/LHDs as the primary amphibious ship has pretty much eliminated assault, because there are no adequate ship-shore connectors to move tanks and artillery. So Marines are basically becoming extremely light infantry and searching for a mission with little success.

      As for the “Navy’s Army’s Air Force,” focus them on air assault and CAS. Assign their F/A-18 squadrons and personnel to Navy CVWs, who badly need the numbers.

      So go back to the naval infantry concept, and find their missions there. I think that points them toward an amphibious/commando orientation.

      Without a more exhaustive study than I have time or resources to complete, I can’t work out the details. I proposed an approach that would reduce the Marines by 25% and SOCOM by 15%. Those may or may not be the right numbers. Any reduction anywhere is obviously going to create a political storm.

      Delete
    53. "That's ridiculous. By your logic, if the next administration were to suddenly cut the military by 50%, you'd conclude that we need 50% fewer spec forces????? The number of spec forces is related to the number of bona fide missions there are, not the arbitrary size of the rest of the military."

      I would expect that if the next administration (or any administration) cut the military by 50%, it would be because of a determination that the requirements for such military had been reduced by 50%. And I would expect that the requirement for special operations would be reduced by something close to pro rata.

      Delete
    54. @GAB, thanks for offering your thoughts on other nation's special forces mission. I may have overlooked that in my original comment.

      Regarding the comment on the "Black Hawk Down" incident, they are independent mentions if that isn't clear. I agreed with you there is nothing normal with the operation as well, I was more referring more towards the overstretch and unprepared (again the overexertion and underestimation of enemy capabilities I mentioned) nature of the operation. I agree that SOF are not gods, they are normal people with specialized training and mission. My intention is to put the focus on that again.

      Delete
    55. "SOCOM is a tough life for actual operators.
      For perspective, prior to 9/11 it was common for SOF operators to be deployed over 300 days-per-year. ...
      Why? In the period of 1995-1998 in Latin America, there were on average, over 234 American citizens held hostage on any given day. ... The GWOT significantly expanded the amount of SOF combat deployments."

      GAB, it could be inferred from your comments that you would argue that we need even more special forces, to pass the assignments around and avoid such heavy overloads. Would you favor that?

      That's where I started originally, thinking that we needed more SpecOps forces, and that the Marines would be an obvious place to add them. Looking at the CBO primer on force structure (https://www.cbo.gov/publication/51535), in round numbers we have 32,000 Army special forces, 10,000 Navy special forces, 16,000 Air Force special forces, and 2,000 Marine special forces, total 60,000, plus roughly 10,000 civilians, overall 70,000 personnel. About half or the Army and Air Force totals appear to be Airborne-related, which have missions outside as well as inside the commando envelope. My 60,000 Marine commando led SOCOM was to return the Army and Air Force Airborne elements to their parent services, keeping the same missions and liaison. I still think of Airborne fitting more of a territorial acquisition and retention mode than pure SpecOps. That would leave about 10,000 Green Berets/Delta, 10,000 SEALs, and 10,000 AFSOCs, with a 30,000 Marine commando cadre. I still think commando ops fit way better inside what should be the core mission of the Marines than it fits what should be the core missions of the other branches. If you keep Airborne inside SOCOM then you have a total headcount of about 90,000, which would seem consistent with GAB's comments.

      To those who criticize this as a Marine power grab, note that in total my proposal would downsize the USMC by over 50,000, and focus on the commando/amphibious/littoral mission areas, while giving up the baby army and Navy's Army's Air Force sideshows.

      From talking to some students who have served as Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think getting away from their core mission areas has made the Marines kind of soft. If every Marine E-5 and above was commando qualified (in a program equivalent to the Royal Marines) and they rotated throughout the Corps, I think any softness would disappear fairly quickly. Marines need to quit being Boy Scouts with BB guns and get back to, "The Few, the Proud."

      Delete
    56. @CDR Chip: “…it could be inferred from your comments that you would argue that we need even more special forces, to pass the assignments around and avoid such heavy overloads. Would you favor that?”
      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      USSOCOM force structure needs to be trimmed - you cannot create more “SOF” given the current conventional force size and structure.

      SOF are not sausage, you have to have a certain level of experience and expertise in the conventional force that SOF draw forces from, otherwise you risk hollowing the conventional forces and screwing up the recruit quality for SOF. SOF operators, particularly the Green Berets, and Rangers rely heavily on traditional infantry skills, so there is a negative effect on the quality of applicants, if they do not get those skills in the conventional force.

      21st century military recruits have less fieldcraft skills than ever (shooting, hiking, hunting, etc.).

      For comparison, Green Beret selection (Q-course) in Vietnam was *almost* a gentleman’s course because you were getting volunteer NCOs with multiple combat tours in ‘Nam and proven records.

      But reduction of SOF should not happen unless we: 1) reduce mission demands, and 2) improve other DOD and civilian agency capabilities – particularly the intelligence community.

      GAB

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    57. All numbers and SOCOM aside, here is my bottom line. The Marines have totally lost the plot as far as who they are and who they should be. I see three developments leading to this:

      1) They have morphed from a naval infantry into a baby army. It was probably a good thing for Marines to accompany Army forces inland from Normandy, but things turned for the worse in Vietnam. Instead of sending Marines south to the Mekong Delta, where their amphibious skills would have paired up well with the green/brown-water Navy in riverine operations, Westmoreland sent them north to I Corps. That seemed a real head-scratcher at the time. In Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, Marines took army presence/occupation missions just to get a piece of the action. The demonstration action in Iraq I and the joint Marine/Airborne assault on Kandahar are the only things that were in any way naval infantry missions. That’s not who Marines are, or are supposed to be. Get in, get done, move on is their MO, not occupy.
      2) In the 1970s, those of us in the gator Navy thought the move to the LHA/LHD was putting way too many eggs in one basket. One (un)lucky torpedo or missile could wipe out your whole assault. Because of this, the Navy adopted a policy where LHAs/LHDs operate 25-50 miles offshore to avoid shore-based missiles. It is not clear how that avoids subs and torpedoes, but more importantly, there are no viable ship-shore connectors to move tanks and heavy artillery ashore from that far out—boats are too slow, helos/V-22s can’t lift the weight, and LCACs are unreliable. So the Marines are responding by getting rid of tanks and artillery and trying to find a viable mission for what is left.
      3) Marine Air has dodged this by trying to become the “Navy’s Army’s Air Force,” instead of focusing on support of Marine ground with air assault and close air support (CAS).

      So we have a “Navy’s Army” that the Navy doesn’t support with a proper amphibious assault force, so the Army has been using it to do odd jobs that they don’t want. And a “Navy’s Army’s Air Force” that doesn’t really support the naval infantry mission. I can understand the Commandant’s frustration, but his ideas don’t make sense.

      How about the Marines go back to being naval infantry? What missions does that involve?

      - Amphibious and littoral operations, to 50-100 miles inland, including assaults, port seizures, demonstrations, strikes, raids, administrative landings, and humanitarian aid (to keep our allies friendly).
      - Commando operations. The EABO concept could morph into commando teams, which unlike EABO could have some usefulness.
      - Small scale raiding, maritime boarding operations, security of naval vessels and bases, and riverine/coastal missions.
      - Ceremonial/other functions.

      We may never do a massive invasion of the Chinese or Russian mainland. But like Normandy, that would be an Army show. There are numerous opportunities for an upgraded ARG/MEU to have an impact in the first island chain, the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the eastern Med, the Baltic, or around the Caribbean and Latin America. The Navy has to build a proper ARG/PhibRon.

      Whatever the relationship with SOCOM, I think the Marines will always have a need for some commando operations, starting with raids. Establish a Marine commando school (like Royal Marines) and have every Marine E-5 or above be commando qualified. Having commando-trained NCOs throughout the Corps could restore a bit of, “The Few, The Proud,” esprit de corps.

      Marine dets aboard more Navy ships could have a gun mount for GQ, and serve as boarding and landing parties, among other duties.

      Marine air needs to get out of the Air Force business and back into supporting Marines on the ground. Let their F/A-18 squadrons join Navy CVWs, who need the numbers. What Marines need is a “Marine A-10” that is rugged, has a big cannon, carries a lot of ordinance, and can operate off a carrier or LHA/LHD.

      If the Marines get back to being who they should be, the rest should take care of itself.

      Delete
    58. @CDR Chip: “That's where I started originally, thinking that we needed more SpecOps forces, and that the Marines would be an obvious place to add them.”

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      There are serious issues with your transferring U.S. Army assets like aviation, logistics, PSYOPS, CA, and the JFK School out of SOCOM, but the real question is how does adding 30,000 Marine ‘Commando Cadre’ do to improve the National Capability to conduct SOF?

      Raids are not an exclusive mission for SOF, so which of the mission categories in the following document are all these marines going to do? https://www.doctrine.af.mil/Portals/61/documents/Annex_3-05/3-05-D05-SOF-USSOCOM-Core.pdf

      Also, how does reorienting these 30,000 marines affect the USMC conventional mission set, especially because you are essentially moving most of the marine infantry?

      Finally, you are proposal requires tens of thousands of high-level security clearances, language training, tons of new gear, extensive and expensive ongoing training and so forth: how is this more effective and efficient? Keep in mind that the training capacity is modest so it is going to take a long time to train these marine commandoes.

      GAB

      Delete
    59. GAB,

      Leave SOCOM be. I'm taking this from the point of view of what Marines should do. They have sort of lost the plot as far as what a naval infantry does, becoming instead a baby army with Marine air becoming the "Navy's Army's Air Force."

      So what would a naval infantry do?

      - Amphibious operations including assaults, port seizure, strikes, raids, demonstrations, and humanitarian relief
      - Commando operations, from raids to others
      - Shipboard or shore based security, boarding parties, landing parties
      - Ceremonial duties (embassies, Marine Band)

      I'm thinking of cutting the corps down about 25%, to say 150,000, by giving up the baby army part and by cutting Marine air back to air assault (including possibly some airborne assault) and CAS. I'd assign the Marine F/A-18s to Navy CVWs, who need the numbers of both aircraft and pilots. I'd come up with a "Marine A-10" that was rugged, easy to maintain, flew well low and slow, had a big cannon and a big bomb load, and could operate off carriers, or even better STOVL carriers. A nice to have would be the ability to operate off unimproved strips, so it could go ashore with the Marines and stay close to the front to pop up if needed.

      If the Navy reworked the PhibRon/ARG as I have proposed, one of them would be able to lift about 3200 Marines, including air, and 10 of them could lift 32,000. With the Marine 3:1 operating rotation, that would require 96,000 Marines to fully staff the Fleet Marine Force.

      The commando mission would be built up over time. The 30,000 is a target number. It would take time to train and develop that number. Along the way, we might decide on more or fewer. Ideally, every Marine E-5 or above would be commando qualified at some point, and would rotate between commando and Fleet Marines.

      So what would they do? I don't see a Normandy-style invasion of the Russian or Chinese mainland any time soon, and if it did that would be an Army show, like Normandy was. What I do see is littoral/coastal/amphib operations in the first island chain (remember, my priority is still to keep China off there), the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the eastern Med, and the Baltic. Also with China building these ports around the world, any of them could be targets of an amphibious assault or seaborne commando mission.

      Delete
    60. @CDR Chip: “Leave SOCOM be. I'm taking this from the point of view of what Marines should do. …”
      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      My suggestion is to drop the ‘commando’ description and answer exactly what the USMC should do what *complements* the services, particularly the USN.

      After WW2 the USMC chose to embrace the promise of vertical envelopment (helicopter borne light infantry) over wartime experience which called for more combined arms warfare. I think the Corps chose wrong.

      As a starting point I suggest that the Corps reconsider the “Krulak board’ recommendation for the Combined Arms Regiment stemming from the First Gulf War experience.

      Further, we should consider not just amphibious operations, but also major river crossings, which the USA has numerous deficiencies.

      Finally, I note that most USN bases are woefully insecure: they do not need marine gate guards, but they should have a dedicated robust reaction force based around AFV mounted infantry. This would be beyond FAST company capabilities.

      GAB

      Delete
    61. "My suggestion is to drop the ‘commando’ description and answer exactly what the USMC should do what *complements* the services, particularly the USN."

      Agree totally with designing the mission around complementing the Navy. I think that commando organizations and tactics fit that objective. Raids are a significant part of amphibious operations, and commando tactics fit well there. The Brits and the Dutch clearly think so, and the Brits utilized RM commandos as well as SAS and SBS effectively in the Falklands. Marines can be the commandos from the sea, whereas Airborne can be the commandos from the air. I can see a significant potential for commando raiding capability around the first island chain (should any fall into Chinese hands), and in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the eastern Med, and the Baltic. I think such tactics might be very useful with respect to Chinese ports and naval bases established far from China. So I would not drop it. I think it fits well with the naval infantry role.

      "After WW2 the USMC chose to embrace the promise of vertical envelopment (helicopter borne light infantry) over wartime experience which called for more combined arms warfare. I think the Corps chose wrong."

      I think vertical envelopment should be kept in the bag of tricks, but should be a secondary and not primary capability. The primary capability to me is that the combined arms in relatively small and mobile units give the ability to bring a huge amount of firepower to bear on an objective in a sort time, and then move on quickly when the job is done.

      "As a starting point I suggest that the Corps reconsider the 'Krulak board’ recommendation for the Combined Arms Regiment stemming from the First Gulf War experience."

      I have proposed what could be called a Combined Arms Regiment--infantry battalion, tank company, artillery company, amphibious armor company, air wing, 3200 strong--as the basic Marine amphibious organization, and proposed building the PibRon/ARG around carrying such a regiment

      "Further, we should consider not just amphibious operations, but also major river crossings, which the USA has numerous deficiencies."

      The Mekong Delta in Vietnam would have been an ideal place for the green/brown-water Navy and the Marines to ave worked together on all kinds of riverine operations, strategy, and tactics, but instead Westmoreland sent the Marines sort to I Corps and the Army and Navy never got together effectively. I think this says something about the Army lacking the Marines' naval roots.

      "Finally, I note that most USN bases are woefully insecure: they do not need marine gate guards, but they should have a dedicated robust reaction force based around AFV mounted infantry. This would be beyond FAST company capabilities."

      I also think there is a significant need for a Marine security force such as you describe for naval bases. Also, shipborne Marines could serve as boarding and landing parties.

      I think I summarized naval infantry operations as including:
      - amphibious assaults, strikes, raids, administrative landings, and humanitarian operations
      - commandos from the sea
      - base and ship security, including boarding and landing parties
      - riverine operations
      - ceremonial (embassies, band)

      Delete
    62. In a single comment, you mentioned the following capabilities/missions for the Marines:

      "raids"
      "vertical envelopment"
      "combined arms regiment"
      "huge amount of firepower"
      "air wing"
      "ARG"
      "green/brown water"
      "riverine"
      "base security"
      "boarding"
      "landing parties"
      "amphibious assaults"
      "strikes"
      "administrative landings"
      "humanitarian operations"
      "commandos from the sea"
      "ceremonial"

      The only military action you left out was space warfare! This is the epitome of do-everything and nothing well. Where's the focus? What's the single, core mission that the Marines would do that no one else can and would excel at it? The counter argument to the endless list you described is that we already have all those capabilities in the Army, Navy, and AF. Why even have a Marine Corps? What's their singular purpose?

      This is how the Navy designs huge, useless ships - by adding in every capability they can think of and then the ship excels at nothing.

      Let's talk training. Which of those couple dozen capabilities are you going to train for and become truly great at? You can't train for all of them. You can train for one with, perhaps, a second one tossed in as a check box on a training form. A Burke is an AAW ship and can't be good at ASW because they don't have time to train for it. Which single capability are you going to train for? By definition, all the rest are not really capabilities.

      This is the definition of mission creep. Focus!

      Delete
    63. "I have proposed what could be called a Combined Arms Regiment--infantry battalion, tank company, artillery company, amphibious armor company, air wing, 3200 strong--as the basic Marine amphibious organization, and proposed building the PibRon/ARG around carrying such a regiment "

      Marine regiments with both Air and Ground combined combat capabilities? You could call it the Marine Air Ground Task Force or MAGTF, for short. Wait … that kind of rings a bell like I've heard it before somewhere ...

      Delete
    64. "This is the definition of mission creep. Focus!"

      I am focused. The mission area is naval infantry. Those are all just various subsets. They have enough commonality that equipping and training for one implies training for the others. Assaults, strikes, raids, administrative landings, and humanitarian efforts all require similar skills and, to some extent, equipment. Raids are consistent with commando ops, landing parties, and even boarding parties.

      Where I'm getting focus is no more playing baby army and no more Navy's Army's Air Force. Those are the areas not consistent with naval infantry, and that's where the mission creep has occurred, and quite frankly where the Marines have lost the plot.

      The unique thing about naval infantry is that it performs these missions from the sea. Airborne performs many of the same missions, but from the air, except Airborne can't really bring a combined arms regiment to bear on the issue until some time after it seizes and holds a major airfield. The dividing line between Airborne and Marines would be the further inland, the more you prefer Airborne, the greater the need for combined arms, including NGFS, the more you prefer Marines. Having two ways to get at an objective, and being able to choose depending on the situation, or possibly using both in a joint operation, would be very useful. Normandy was really a joint operation, where the Airborne side wasn't hugely effective, but they attracted enough attention away from the beach to give the amphib side a greater chance of success. Normandy was also a port seizure mission of sorts. We wanted Cherbourg and LeHavre, but both were so heavily defended that a direct assault on either would have been a blood bath. So we picked a point in between that was less heavily defended, landed and established a beachhead, and then moved out from there to take Cherbourg by the end of June and LeHavre in September. From the time we got the port back up and running until the end of the war, Cherbourg was the busiest port in the world.

      The Russians appear to have an interesting amphibious concept. Keep in mind that they are basically an overland power, and also that their infrastructure is still fairly poor. So they use amphibs to get reinforcements to the front. They do an administrative landing behind their own lines, and then rush the troops to the front as reinforcements. Say they were invading Western Europe and bogged down in Belgium. They would do an administrative landing in, say, Holland, and then move the troops up to the front overland.

      Delete
    65. "Marine regiments with both Air and Ground combined combat capabilities?"

      Umm, yeah.

      Delete
    66. "I am focused. The mission area is naval infantry."

      Oh, come on, now. That's like saying the focused mission area is combat. You know that no single organization can train to be good at all those things.

      We can't train crews to navigate and chew gum at the same time but you believe we can train to dozens of different skill sets????

      Delete
    67. @ComNavOps: Marine regiments with both Air and Ground combined combat capabilities?"
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Not directed at me specifically, but for the record, the Combined Arms Regiment (CAR) concept from the 1990s was supposed to be more akin to a Soviet motor rifle brigade: a combined arms force based on the LAV platform.

      The CAR could have become the first step in a true combined arms formation: a first for the Corps, which (wrongly) still looks at tanks as infantry support.

      To my mind, the CAR concept is: 1) conceptionally misplaced as a regimental asset in an infantry division; 2) organizationally flawed and logistically deficient– should be a brigade sized formation; 3) lacks sufficient self-propelled artillery (tube and rocket); 4) massively deficient in anti-tank weapons – a criticism of the Corps dating from 1947; 5) missing armored engineering assets needed for forced entry – a deficiency partially answered with the LVTE1 engineering version of the LVTP-5 which was omitted in future amphibians; 7) aviation assets confuse logistics, mission focus, and complicate command.

      In spite of the issues, the CAR represented a great experimental formation the potential to be a true combined arms force.

      GAB

      Delete
    68. "We can't train crews to navigate and chew gum at the same time but you believe we can train to dozens of different skill sets????"

      Dozens of very closely related skill sets, yes. When you start bringing in truly unrelated skill sets like ASW and anti-ship, then you have a point.

      But these aren't unrelated skill sets. In fact, the list comes from a definition on naval infantry in Wikipedia (not the most authoritative source, but I think good enough for this). Most of them are just more or less intense versions of smaller unit strategy and tactics. The Brits and the Dutch have their Marines trained to do all those things. The RMs at least work pretty well with SBS and SAS (similar to our SEALs and Airborne). And all Brit and Dutch Marines are commando trained (at the same place in UK, I believe). Yes, they are smaller forces, but scale is not really a major problem here. Maybe they just train harder than we do (which I think is a very real possibility).

      Delete
    69. @CDR Chip “We wanted Cherbourg and LeHavre, but both were so heavily defended that a direct assault on either would have been a blood bath.”
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Western Allied planning required the seizure of Antwerp to sustain sufficient armies to defeat and occupy Germany. Cherburg was a critical first step, but Antwerp moved more supplies to allied armies than all of the other ports combined from D-Day to VE day, even though Antwerp was opened at the end of November 1944.

      Keep in mind an army group required about 5,000 tons per day in WW2. There were ultimately eight (8) Allied armies in Western Europe as of October 1, 1944:
      1x Canadian Army
      2x British Armies
      4x U.S. Armies (1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th)
      1x French Army

      Most of the French rail lines were severely damaged – thus depriving the allies the ability to easily move supplies from the ports to the armies. Trucks filled the gap, but barely.

      Cherbourg - 350 miles from Germany, and moved 10,000 tons per day when opened.

      Le Harve was 280 miles from Germany, and moved 3,650 tons per day when opened.

      Antwerp was 75 miles from Germany and moved 19,000 tons per day when first opened, and later increased to 80,000+ tons per day. Moreover, Antwerp was connected by rail lines in good working order.

      GAB

      Delete
    70. "Dozens of very closely related skill sets,"

      I'm not sure you appreciate the disparity in those skill sets. For example, amphibious assaults are radically different from vertical envelopment. Raids are radically different from combined arms which is tank/AFV/artillery/mechanized operations. Combined arms is an armored/motorized unit as opposed to a raiding force which is very light infantry. Aviation, of course, is radically different from everything else. Riverine ops are radically different from amphib ops. And so on down the list.

      To call those skill sets closely related is like calling tankers and infantry closely related - they have almost nothing in common.

      You seem to have latched onto a do-everything mind set - ironically, the same as our current military leaders!

      Delete
    71. "In spite of the issues, the CAR represented a great experimental formation the potential to be a true combined arms force."

      GAB, these issues all strike me as things that could have been worked out over time, and had they been properly sorted the result would have been a very capable regiment-sized force. In particular, I think 3), 4), and 5) could have been corrected organizationally. And with 3200 personnel plus logistics support shipping, there is room for a fairly capable logistics function. As far as air, I'm conceptually cutting Marine air back to air/airborne assault and CAS, and having those commands down at regimental level should be exploited to develop some very much more effective tactics and coordination. What I'm really thinking is that, as you seem to imply, if we could make this thing work it would be an extremely potent force.

      I kind of backed into the number of personnel based upon what my notional PhibRon/ARG could carry. But I have to believe that such a combined arms regiment would present a formidable force. And the ability to deploy it amphibiously would be a major capability.

      I can see the possibility that the Army would latch onto a few of them to advance overland, rather than let them deploy amphibiously, kind of like the way they took Marines inland with them after Normandy, and that could lead back toward "baby army" territory. But keep them focused on the naval infantry, rather than overland infantry, role and I think they'd be okay.

      Delete
    72. "Combined Arms Regiment (CAR)"

      How does a CAR (even properly implemented) support the core Marine mission - whatever that is? A CAR, or any other combat unit/organization is just a tool - a means to an end - the end being the achievement of the [core] mission.

      The Army has (or has the same potential as the Marines) combined arms units, don't they? If we need CARs, the Army can, presumably, supply more - and better? - of them. So, how does a Marine CAR fit into our overall United States military force? This is another way of asking what you see as the Marine core mission?

      If the core mission is amphibious assaults, I can see lots of problems with trying to get a CAR ashore in the proper order to take advantage of the CAR capabilities.

      If the core mission is commando raids as CDR Chip suggests, a CAR is not appropriate.

      If the core mission is port seizure, as I've suggested it ought to be, a CAR would have to be heavily modified to be useful.

      If the core mission is to fight land battles via overland delivery, we already have an Army to do that.

      If the core mission is shooting missiles at passing ships from platoon size units hidden on islands, the CAR is useless.

      So, I see a CAR as being attractive in the abstract but I'm struggling to see the connection to the Marines because I'm not seeing the Marine core mission anymore.

      So, what do you see as the Marine core mission and how does the CAR support that?

      Delete
    73. "The Brits and the Dutch have their Marines trained to do all those things."

      You know what the RM can't do? They can't fight a war. As far as I know, they have no armor, no modern artillery, no armored personnel carriers, no IFV/AFV, and their heaviest vehicle is an all-terrain 'jeep'.

      Do we really want to follow that model?

      Delete
    74. @CDR Chip: “GAB, these issues all strike me as things that could have been worked out over time, and had they been properly sorted the result would have been a very capable regiment-sized force.”

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      A regiment is too small, especially with aviation, and it adds an unnecessary O-6 billet: the target should be a 5-6,000-man brigade sized force; a matrixed combined arms organization that fights as 2-3 task forces/battlegroups/kampfgruppes (led by O-5s); can cover 500-600 km, and operate for 3-5 days without resupply.

      About three (3) of these brigades would be organized under a small corps.

      And yes, the tanks can come from the Army.

      GAB

      Delete
    75. "Western Allied planning required the seizure of Antwerp to sustain sufficient armies to defeat and occupy Germany. Cherburg was a critical first step, but Antwerp moved more supplies to allied armies than all of the other ports combined from D-Day to VE day, even though Antwerp was opened at the end of November 1944."

      Yes, but we had to have Cherbourg and LeHavre before we could take Antwerp.

      Delete
    76. “How does a CAR (even properly implemented) support the core Marine mission - whatever that is? A CAR, or any other combat unit/organization is just a tool - a means to an end - the end being the achievement of the [core] mission.”

      Exactly. It’s a tool, not a mission. But I think it can be a very useful tool. You may think not. You’re entitled to.

      “The Army has (or has the same potential as the Marines) combined arms units, don't they? If we need CARs, the Army can, presumably, supply more - and better? - of them. So, how does a Marine CAR fit into our overall United States military force? This is another way of asking what you see as the Marine core mission?”

      But Army doesn’t get combined arms until you get to a much larger unit. The unique thing the Marines bring is the ability to combine arms at a lower level, and that creates some unique capabilities for small units in places like the first island chain, the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the eastern Med, and the Baltic.

      “If the core mission is amphibious assaults, I can see lots of problems with trying to get a CAR ashore in the proper order to take advantage of the CAR capabilities.”

      Since we’ve never done it before, obviously. We don’t even know how to stack stuff on the transports because we don’t know what needs to come off first. Do a few and figure it out. That’s how we mastered assault in WWII, so do it again.

      “If the core mission is commando raids as CDR Chip suggests, a CAR is not appropriate.”

      Don’t misquote me. I suggest that it’s a component of the naval infantry mission, but not the core mission, so no further comment.

      “If the core mission is port seizure, as I've suggested it ought to be, a CAR would have to be heavily modified to be useful.”

      For one thing, you’d have to bring along a SeaBee unit of some size to get the port back into shape and working ASAP. That would require additional transport(s). But the CAR would be a formidable force to start the job with.

      “If the core mission is to fight land battles via overland delivery, we already have an Army to do that.”

      That is the Army’s mission, and the less the Marines have to do with it the better.

      “If the core mission is shooting missiles at passing ships from platoon size units hidden on islands, the CAR is useless.”

      So is everything else, because EABO anti-surface is a stupid mission, just like EABO ASW.

      “So, I see a CAR as being attractive in the abstract but I'm struggling to see the connection to the Marines because I'm not seeing the Marine core mission anymore.”

      The Marine core mission is to be naval infantry. That includes several related task areas, just as any military organization has. Two of them are not being the Army’s caddie or the “Navy’s Army’s Air Force.” There are several naval infantry functions, and concentrating on them narrows the focus quite a bit.

      “So, what do you see as the Marine core mission and how does the CAR support that?”

      Naval infantry, just as it was for the first 200 or so years of the republic’s existence. And just as the Brits and Dutch see it, albeit with smaller forces to go with their overall smaller militaries. Be the force that carries out coastal and littoral missions from the sea. Those missions may differ in detail, and require different organizational components, but the ship-to-shore skill sets are common across them. And the CAR would have all the skill sets that any of them need. Let the separation from the Army be geographically based—Army marches them in, Airborne flies them in, Marines come ashore from the sea. Unless we go to war with Canada or Mexico, we’re going to have to fly them in or sail them in. Sometimes you may need one, sometimes you may need two, sometimes you may need all three.

      I tend to wonder if maybe it’s been so long since the Marines have been Marines that we’ve forgotten what that looks like.

      Delete
    77. "A regiment is too small, especially with aviation, and it adds an unnecessary O-6 billet: the target should be a 5-6,000-man brigade sized force; a matrixed combined arms organization that fights as 2-3 task forces/battlegroups/kampfgruppes (led by O-5s); can cover 500-600 km, and operate for 3-5 days without resupply.
      About three (3) of these brigades would be organized under a small corps.
      And yes, the tanks can come from the Army."

      If you organize like the Army, you're right. But I'm thinking of the Marines as a different type of organization. And my concept of aviation is helos, maybe V-22s, to transport troops and light equipment, and attack helos and a "Marine A-10" to provide CAS. Having their command unified with the infantry, tank, artillery, and amphib armor commands at the regimental level should facilitate much closer cooperation than the Army sometimes gets with the Air Force.

      As far as the tanks coming from the Army, maybe, but that starts to get complicated from a command perspective. And I've never been a huge fan of the Abrams. I think something like a Leopard might be more appropriate for Marine purposes.

      Delete
    78. "You know what the RM can't do? They can't fight a war. As far as I know, they have no armor, no modern artillery, no armored personnel carriers, no IFV/AFV, and their heaviest vehicle is an all-terrain 'jeep'.
      Do we really want to follow that model?"

      No, which is why the CAR appeals.

      Delete
    79. "No, which is why the CAR appeals."

      You're all over the map! CAR is tanks, artillery, IFV/AFV, etc. It's armored and mechanized. That's about as far from your commando proposal as you can get!

      I'm really lost as to what you want the Marines to be other than EVERYTHING. Pick a lane - and no, 'naval infantry' is not a lane. It's not a core mission. It's a generic and vague organizational descriptor.

      I think I'll have to drop out of this until you come up with a single core mission that isn't EVERYTHING.

      Delete
    80. "You're all over the map! CAR is tanks, artillery, IFV/AFV, etc. It's armored and mechanized. That's about as far from your commando proposal as you can get!
      I'm really lost as to what you want the Marines to be other than EVERYTHING. Pick a lane - and no, 'naval infantry' is not a lane. It's not a core mission. It's a generic and vague organizational descriptor.
      I think I'll have to drop out of this until you come up with a single core mission that isn't EVERYTHING."

      Actually I've been quite specific, but I think you start writing your response before bothering to read or fully comprehend what I am saying. I'm happy with dropping this, because it obviously isn't getting anywhere.

      I will try to lay it out one more time. IMO the Marines have lost the plot because 1) in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, they've been employed as baby army rather than naval infantry; 2) in going to the LHA/LHD platforms, the Navy really eliminated the amphibious assault mission; and 3) in this context, Marine air has done their own thing by becoming the "Navy's Army's Air Force" instead of focusing on helping get Marines ashore and supporting them ashore with close air support (CAS).

      So I want to refocus the Marines on the naval infantry mission. Become the army from the sea, as opposed to the army from the land (Army) and the Army from the air (Airborne and Air Force). Based on what other countries do (and what we used to do), that mission appears to have two components that draw on similar skill sets--amphibious assault and commando operations.

      For the amphibious operations, I think the Navy needs to restructure the ARG, and the Marines need to restructure into what I will call a combined arms regiment--infantry, tanks, artillery, amphibious armor, logistics, and an air assault/CAS air wing--that the CAR and ARG need to be sized together. I've looked at about 3200 Marines per CAR/ARG, 10 of them would be 32,000, and a 3:1 rotation would make 96,000.

      On the commando side, Royal Marine commandos are about 8,000 and Dutch commandos are about 5,000, and I think we want something bigger than that, so I came up with 30,000 as a working number.

      96,000 Fleet Marines and 30,000 Marine commandos would be 126,000, plus 15,000-25,000 for training and admin produces a USMC of 141,000-151,000. That's a 25% reduction in the current Corps because I am focusing strictly on naval infantry--infantry from the sea.

      I would expect every Marine E-5 and above would become commando qualified, and would rotate between commando and Fleet Marine forces. The goal would be to recreate the few, the proud, mentality and provide a fitting force second to none.

      Littoral missions would range from commando raids to full-fledged assaults, with appropriate personnel chosen for particular missions.

      Delete
    81. Naval infantry may not be quite specific enough for you, but it is a well defined term that excludes a lot of the stuff Marines have gotten into over the last 50 or so years. It may not be focused enough for you, but it's a heck of a lot more focused than where they are now.

      Delete
    82. @ComNavOps: "So, I see a CAR as being attractive in the abstract but I'm struggling to see the connection to the Marines because I'm not seeing the Marine core mission anymore." et al.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      If you see any role for marines in ground combat operations then there is a utility for the CAR, both as proposed in 1995, and the motorized/mech infantry brigades I envision.

      I see great utility in elements of the CAR (LAV based motorized infantry) serving as a true reaction force for major naval installations.

      I do not see a significant conflict with the Army over a USMC mech infantry brigade that is structured to conduct forced entry, and major river crossings. Such a force, heavy in armored combat engineers, heavy dismount strength, and training in forced entry, could easily operate alongside the USA for specific operations and provide key capabilities that the Army does not have expertise in, or force structure for.

      The Army certainly could absorb the USMC. The Army could also re-absorb the USAF, after all it was the U.S. Army Air Corps in WW2. And since both the Spartan, and Roman armies operated ships and waged naval wars, the Army could also absorb the Navy. And since Wernher von Braun’s team under the USA provided the backbone of NASA during the space race, I suppose they the Army could run all civilian and military space operations as well.

      These are just different organization concepts, there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

      GAB

      Delete
    83. "If you see any role for marines in ground combat operations then there is a utility for the CAR,"

      Granted. BUT, do I see a significant ground combat role? And if I do, under what circumstances? Just 'from the sea'? Or, are they deployed overland just like the Army - which leads to asking why have an organization that duplicates the Army?

      People list various tasks like river crossing or defense of naval bases or commando raids and those are nice capabilities to have but they do not constitute the singular core mission of the Marines. Or, if they do, then the Marines need to be downsized significantly.

      Forced entry could be a candidate singular core mission but it leads to the question, entry into what and from where? Entry across a beach? Entry into a port (my candidate for the core mission)? Entry into a city (suicidal and no need)? Entry into an air base (the Army already does that)? Only from the sea or overland, too?

      Everyone loves the Marines but right now no one, including the Marines themselves, seem to have a handle on what their core mission is.

      Returning to the CAR and ground combat, one would certainly think that some aspect of a Marine core mission would involve ground combat but what mission would that be?

      Once upon a time, after WWII, the core mission was assault from the sea but the advent of large transport aircraft has lessened the need for that, the strategic picture has changed resulting in a reduced need for that, and the Marines, themselves, have categorically stated that they are out of the iconic amphibious assault business. So, again, what core mission does that leave?

      There has also been a sort of semi-stated core mission of being the first combat responders in a crisis but, again, with readily available air transport of Army units, that capability has lessened in importance.

      The Commandant, whatever I might think of his concept, has a very clear idea of what he thinks the core mission is which is to directly support the Navy from the land by sinking ships and subs.

      I don't want to belabor the point but any discussion of the Marines has to begin with a clear understanding of what their core mission, their reason for existence, is.

      As I see it, the core mission is port seizure. They can take on a few other side tasks, if they wish (defending naval bases, for example) but the core mission is port seizure.

      What do you think the singular, core mission is? Not a task list, but the single reason for existence?

      Delete
    84. I tend to think of it in these terms:

      Army is responsible for large-scale continental overland warfare.
      Navy is responsible for surface, subsurface, and air operations at sea.
      Air Force is responsible for strategic and tactical overland air operations, and backup to Navy air at sea.
      Marines are responsible for operations in the land-sea interface, say up to 50-100 miles inland.

      This gets the Marines out of some things they are now doing, like "baby army" inland presence/occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and "Navy's Army's Air Force" air superiority and long range air attack. Within that geographic focus, they may have anything from assaults down to commando raids. That is the classic purview of naval infantry, including assaults, port seizures, strikes, raids, demonstrations, and humanitarian assistance. Marines return to a, "get in, get done, and get out," orientation.

      Navy would build new PhibRons/ARGs consisting of smaller (but more capable than LAWs) and more versatile ships that can be risked in harm's way. The force would consist of CAR Marine Expeditionary Regiments (MERs) loaded on ARGs and commando forces that may be in a mix of ARGs, other Navy ships, shore bases, and elsewhere. Eventually, all Marines E-5 or above would be commando qualified, and the Marines would gravitate toward a "meanest fighters in the world" ethos.

      With this emphasis, I would propose about a 25% reduction in active Marine headcount, generally along the lines of 96,000 Fleet Marines (10 MERs of 3200 each, with a 3:1 employment ratio), up to 30,000 commandos, and 15,000-25,000 training and admin personnel, total 141,000-151,000. I would propose offsetting increases to reserve headcount.

      On the aviation side, Marine F/A-18s would join Navy CVWs, who badly need the numbers. What Marines need is a "Marine A-10," a carrier based (preferably STOVL) close air support platform. As the new PhibRons come online, the Navy would transfer LHAs/LHDs to "Lightning Carriers" as interim members of 2-carrier CVBGs, until such time as conventional CVs can be constructed (probably to enter the fleet about the time the Lightning Carrier service lives expire). The ultimate (30-40 year) objective would be 12 2-carrier CVBGs, each consisting of a Nimitz-type CVN and a Kitty Hawk-type CV, with 2 CVBGs forming 4-carrier CTFs.

      Also, as the new amphibs come into the fleet, the San Antonios would be converted to the ABM/BMD ships proposed by HII on the same hulls.

      I hope this ties my thinking together in a coherent whole. I don't really know how to be more direct than that. I am fine shutting this discussion down at this point. I am certain the topic will come up in future treads, and I would like to discuss my ideas in terms of these specifics at that time.

      Delete
    85. @ComNavOps: “…Entry into a port (my candidate for the core mission)…”
      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Our national strategy calls for us to support allied nations (NATO, Japan, SKorea, etc.) - what scenario calls for U.S. forces to seize a foreign port?

      And almost every port is in a city.

      Port operations capability resides in the US Army (they call it Terminal Operations) as they will run all ashore logistics operations, TRANSCOM, and USSCOM (AFSOC Combat Controllers are FAA certified air traffic controllers).

      GAB

      Delete
    86. "what scenario calls for U.S. forces to seize a foreign port?"

      Any scenario where we need a port in an unfriendly area.

      Example: Recapturing ports in the Philippines if China were to invade.

      Example: Taiwan ports when China invades.

      Example: Ports along the NKorean coast.

      Example: Ports in Africa to counter Chinese armed actions.

      Example: Sri Lanka, to seize the Chinese leased port of Hambantota.

      Example: Seizing a SAmerican port in the event of a coup.

      Example: Seizing a port in Crimea or along the adjacent Russian coast to support Ukraine and/or Nato

      Example: Seizing ports in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc. in response to Chinese seizures or those countries siding with China in a war.

      Example: (historical) Seizing a port in Kuwait if Hussein had advanced to the coast.

      And so on.

      Army port operations, after seizure, is a different task from seizing and securing.

      Delete
    87. "can cover 500-600 km"

      GAB, question: How are you measuring 500-600 km? Laterally across a front, or in depth of advance.

      If you're talking about a 500-600 km wide front, I don't think a 5000-6000 strong brigade is nearly enough. If you're talking about advancing 500-600 km deep, then you're talking about something way beyond te scope of the organization I have in mind.

      Delete
    88. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    89. @ComNavOps: “Any scenario where we need a port in an unfriendly area.”

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      If we and our allies lose Taipei, or Seoul, or Hokkaido, or Warsaw, etc. – do you think there is national will to mobilize, and build up forces to reinvade?

      I am highly skeptical.

      In any event, you will need to land a combined arms force like the CAR, preferably better, in order to conduct any sort of forced entry. The Corps itself came to this conclusion after WWII, and then again in 1995.

      GAB

      Delete
    90. "combined arms force"

      Maybe someone needs to write a post about a Marine Corps version of a combined arms force? Someone … could be anyone ...

      Delete
    91. "@ComNavOps: “Any scenario where we need a port in an unfriendly area.”
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      If we and our allies lose Taipei, or Seoul, or Hokkaido, or Warsaw, etc. – do you think there is national will to mobilize, and build up forces to reinvade?
      I am highly skeptical.
      In any event, you will need to land a combined arms force like the CAR, preferably better, in order to conduct any sort of forced entry. The Corps itself came to this conclusion after WWII, and then again in 1995.
      GAB"

      I think the more likely location would be one or more of the ports that China has built or is building around South Asia, Africa, and possibly South America. China needs those ports to be anything approaching a blue-water navy.

      Delete
    92. @CDR Chip

      1) The doctrinal MEB is already based around an infantry regiment, I do not think that you can shrink the personnel package much and keep aviation.
      2) I want my brigade to move 500-600 km as actual distance travelled – this has nothing to do with unit frontages. Existing AFVs like the Puma IFV can already exceed this under ideal circumstances.
      3) My concern is the brigade be able to operate that 3-5 days for example to roll up the flank of an enemy landing force. In a high intensity war, a brigade is likely to be destroyed in that 3-5 days, but if it breaks up an enemy landing, or enables a major river crossing, or even serves as a reserve in being, it will have done its job.

      GAB

      Delete
    93. "1) The doctrinal MEB is already based around an infantry regiment, I do not think that you can shrink the personnel package much and keep aviation.
      2) I want my brigade to move 500-600 km as actual distance travelled – this has nothing to do with unit frontages. Existing AFVs like the Puma IFV can already exceed this under ideal circumstances.
      3) My concern is the brigade be able to operate that 3-5 days for example to roll up the flank of an enemy landing force. In a high intensity war, a brigade is likely to be destroyed in that 3-5 days, but if it breaks up an enemy landing, or enables a major river crossing, or even serves as a reserve in being, it will have done its job."

      1) I am trying to balance what can be carried on a PhibRon/ARG versus what is needed to do the job ashore. Right now they are looking at an MEU of about 2200. I'm going to 3200, with air included in the increment. And my idea of Marine air is transport helos to get Marines ashore, and attack helos and fixed-wing aircraft for CAS. If the Marines need a bigger organization, then either they need a bigger PhibRon/ARG or they need two or more PhibRons/ARGs. I admittedly don't have access to all the data needed to work it out, but am starting with a proposal to be fleshed out.
      2) If I understand correctly, you are thinking in terms of penetrating much deeper than I am. My Marine concept operates from the beach to 50-100 miles (80-150 km) inland. Pushing further is an Army mission.
      3) I'm not contemplating a Normandy-style amphibious assault on the Russian or Chinese mainland. I think either would be foolhardy, and like Normandy an Army show if we dared attempt it. I'm thinking more in terms of actions to capture/recapture an island in the first island chain or the eastern Med or the Baltic, or somewhere in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, or port seizure or destruction efforts against Chinese ports established in South Asia or Africa. These efforts would be mostly outside the reach of current Chinese A2/AD. I would not venture much inside that envelope until those A2/AD systems were significantly impaired.

      Delete
    94. @CDR Chip: "I am trying to balance what can be carried on a PhibRon/ARG versus what is needed to do the job ashore."
      +++++++++++++++++++++++
      The force needs to be the size it needs to be, and the ability to operate for up to 3-5 days on organic sustainment is a critical. ‘Depth of penetration’ is very arbitrary way to delineate service boundaries.

      Brigades of 5-6,000 motorized/mechanized infantry is pretty much the standard around the world, for a reason – it provides the right balance of firepower, level of command, logistics, and mobility.

      Light infantry regiments have zero prospect of stopping a Russian, North Korean, or Chinese motor rifle brigade (mechanized infantry); and that is exactly the type of force we will face in a peer combat.

      Light infantry poses comparatively little combat power, little mobility, little sustainment, but are easy to destroy, bypass, or ignore, by combined arms forces.

      In terms of high intensity combat, infantry forces can expect to lose 1,000+ KIA per day plus 2-3x that wounded.

      GAB

      Delete
  11. CIMSEC recently had a fiction week where the people who are going to do EABOs say how they see it developing.

    See http://cimsec.org/in-the-wez/46763 which says it will become low tech jungle warfare.

    http://cimsec.org/dont-give-up-the-ship/46755#respond also show marines in danger and fighting.

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  12. I’ve spent about 25 years traveling in SE Asia building training modules for NGOs and mining companies. I also collect Indonesian textiles so I’ve been to a lot of hard-to-reach and out-of-the-way places, which I guess are the sorts of places the Commandant is looking to place his EABOs.

    There are thousands of islands in the Indonesian archipelago, most of them uninhabited. Forest cover on these islands is still very extensive, and I can’t see any problem in concealing from an enemy a platoon of Marines, some light equipment and maybe some ASMs. The locals would know you were there of course, but in a conflict situation I expect we would shut down radio, satelite and cell phone coverage. (Indonesians don’t like the Chinese very much anyway, and won’t be in a hurry to bring down a Chinese air strike on their own homes.) Food is generally plentiful, so I think Marines could probably hang out there for a long time without needing much in the way of supplies.

    But what useful purpose they would serve is difficult to see.

    A better idea would be to replace the ‘Marines supplied by LAS’ concept with a fleet of expendable corvette-type ships such as the new Israeli Storm 6 class, and forget about the Marines altogether.

    The Israelis take defense seriously. Storm 6 class corvettes have a state of the art stealth hull form and displace about 1900 tons. They’re very heavily armed for their size with an 76mm main gun, two 30mm chain guns, 32 vertical launch cells for Barak 8 SAMs, 20 cells for the navalized version of the Iron Dome point defense system, 16 long range Gabriel ASMs - designed to operate in littoral environments - an excellent AESA radar system, 2 torpedo tubes, and hangar/platform space for a Seahawk.

    There are creeks and inlets everywhere on these islands along with millions of hectares of mangrove forest - plenty of space to hide a shoot and scoot corvette.

    With a crew of 90 and a unit cost of $120m + GFE we could build about 10 of these for the cost of a Burke, or 5 for the cost of a Constellation class frigate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While i understand the SAAR(Cov)6 is short range I doubt it can carry all the weapons it claims at the same time.

      Delete
    2. "I can’t see any problem in concealing from an enemy a platoon of Marines,"

      If you were, somehow, magically, there then, yes, you might remain undetected until you engage in some activity. The problem is how you get there undetected. That 14 kt, slow, non-stealthy, defenseless transport that the Marines want is surely going to be noticed traveling for days to that island.

      Food is less an issue than computer spare parts, water, fuel, more missiles, batteries, etc.

      Delete
    3. "plenty of space to hide a shoot and scoot corvette."

      The problem no one has solved yet is targeting. That thousand mile anti-ship missile is limited to a 15 mile range to the horizon because that's all the sensing range a ship has on its own. A helo can, sporadically (a few hours per day, at best) extend that range but also gives its own position away long before it can detect an enemy (radar can be detected long before it can detect). Passive sensing can work but it is extremely short ranged and small field of view.

      The entire distributed lethality concept is hamstrung by this targeting issue.

      Delete
    4. "won’t be in a hurry to bring down a Chinese air strike on their own homes."

      So, since we don't own Indonesia, do you see them granting us permission to operate bases on their territory and, thus, inviting reprisals from the Chinese? If not - and I'm sure they would opt to remain neutral and would deny us basing rights - , do you see us invading their territory to establish bases regardless of their declared neutrality and ignoring their sovereignty? If not, how would we establish these bases?

      Delete
    5. Furthermore:

      1) A few anti-ship missiles just aren't going to do much against a peer.
      2) After the first attack, the EABO force would be located and destroyed immediately, even if we assume it had magically remained undetected until then.

      Delete
    6. "So, since we don't own Indonesia, do you see them granting us permission to operate bases on their territory?....do you see us invading their territory? If not, how would we establish these bases?"

      No, of course not. I'm not suggesting that we establish any "bases" in Indonesia, much less "invade" them. I'm suggesting that in a hot war with China we could park a corvette under the mangrove trees on one of their thousands of islands, lurk there undetected until we find a useful target, then move somewhere else. What are the Indonesians going to about that? Maybe they'll protest if they learn about it officially, otherwise they'll probably just ignore it. Whatever their response is or isn't, we'll have more pressing concerns do deal with. Anyway China doesn't respect Indonesia's territorial waters even in peacetime, and "invades" them with its coastguard and PLAN ships every week, so we'd be the good guys here.

      Delete
    7. "lurk there undetected until we find a useful target,"

      Just out of curiosity, how are we going to find these useful targets?

      Delete
    8. "The entire distributed lethality concept is hamstrung by this targeting issue."

      Targeting is always going to be an issue in a naval conflictand isn't particular to the distributed lethality concept.

      I guess you'd locate your targets with a combination of passive and active sonobuoys, reports from submarines, satelite imagery, air recon, human intelligence (e.g. Coastwatchers). And you'd focusing on the areas where the enemy is most likely to be found, not on the 1 million square miles of Pacific where they're most likely not to be found.

      Of course the Chinese will be targeting all these assets, and many will have a very short lifespan, so we need quantity, and plenty of it, and get used to the idea that in a war with China we're going to lose a lot of stuff. We need to accept that from the get go, and view these assets as 100% expendable (including our putative corvettes).

      Delete
    9. "Targeting is always going to be an issue in a naval conflict and isn't particular to the distributed lethality concept."

      That's not quite right. While targeting is a challenge for all military and naval units, it is particularly problematic for the distributed lethality concept. Here's why … in distributed lethality, unlike other scenarios, the individual units are inserted INSIDE ENEMY TERRITORY. Thus, they're going to be found and they're 'on the clock', so to speak. They have a limited lifespan before they're found and destroyed (destroyed because they're individual and have no support and are weak units to begin with, in the case of the LCS, amphibs, and logistic ships). Thus, DL units need to be able to QUICKLY find (target) an enemy unit, shoot, and leave in order to be effective and have any chance of survival. If targeting is problematic, as it is for any individual unit, the chance of finding a target before the enemy finds you is poor.

      So, the targeting issue IS somewhat particular to the DL concept since it's the very foundation, and weakness, of the concept. The concept is doomed by the targeting issue.

      Delete
    10. "...the individual units are inserted INSIDE ENEMY TERRITORY.."

      Well, hold on a minute....I thought we were talking about Indonesia - that's enemy territory for the Chinese - for us it's neutral tending to friendly. Deploying in a "high-threat", or "heavily contested” environment, which is my understanding of the Navy’s concept, isn’t the same as deploying in "enemy territory".

      I agree that a platoon of Marines on an island is unlikely to accomplish very much (depending on the Marines and the island), although I'm not sure that they would necessarily be located and destroyed quite as easily as you suppose, nor be as ineffectual as you imagine.

      For examples look to WW2 and the Australian Coastwatchers - "United States Admiral William F. (Bull) Halsey would later state that ‘The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the South Pacific."

      Or again to Australia and their commando units in Japanese-occupied East Timor where they fought very effectively against superior enemy forces for more than a year before being evacuated.

      But I agree that deploying LCSs or LAWs would be pretty stupid, and that they wouldn't last very long.

      A small, stealthy, cheap, fast, heavily armed, lightly crewed Corvette however is a different thing altogether. A ship like that wouldn't be at all easy to find, much less to destroy. And a few dozen of them armed with LSRAMs would hugely complicate things for the PLAN, who don’t want to lose a carrier any more than we do.

      It’s important to remember just how noisy a carrier battle group moving at high speed is - passive sonar would pick up that sort of noise at a range of hundreds of miles, and then you triangulate….(okay - easier said then done, but nevertheless….).

      Target aquisition is certainly a problem, but not an insolvable one, and I don’t think it dooms the entire concept.

      Delete
    11. ".I thought we were talking about Indonesia - that's enemy territory for the Chinese"

      Not in a war, it isn't. You casually suggested that we invade Indonesian territorial waters in the event of a war, regardless of their stated position (likely neutral). You also stated that China doesn't respect their territorial claims now. In a war, China will occupy Indonesia to whatever extent, if any, they desire and the air and water space will certainly be controlled by China. That makes Indonesia 'enemy territory'. Whoever controls it, 'owns' it.

      "Deploying in a "high-threat", or "heavily contested” environment, which is my understanding of the Navy’s concept, isn’t the same as deploying in "enemy territory"."

      Enemy territory IS high threat or, at best, contested. That's kind of what 'enemy territory' means! I'm not sure what you were getting at there.

      "coastwatcher"

      Those were single individuals who did nothing to attract attention and were effective only to the horizon (eyeball sensor). The Marines concept involves platoon size units with missile launchers, ?sonar?, ?UAVs?, ?radar?, etc. - about as far from a coastwatcher concept as you can get! They'll be active and attracting lots of attention.

      "Corvette"

      Where are these corvettes going to operate (get fuel, supplies, and weapons) from, given their short range and short endurance?

      You agreed that targeting is problematic so there's still that. The same magic mangrove trees that will protect these corvettes will, presumably, block the ship's sensors from finding targets. Radar would be useless (and a dead giveaway!), sonar tucked up against an island is useless due to surf and bottom noise, passive EO can't see through trees and has a limited range. IR has a limited range. I don't see a hiding ship being able to find a target. UAVs could be used but would be quickly spotted, destroyed, and/or backtracked to the hiding ship and small UAVs (that could fit on a corvette) have limited sensing field of view.

      How will these corvettes sail, undetected from wherever they base out of to these magnificent sensor-impervious mangrove trees?

      This is the WWII PT boat scenario that I posted on and that was a dismal failure as anti-ship platforms.

      Delete
    12. I think patrol frigates 3,500 tonne eg Meko A200 addresses range.

      As to targeting, It took USA years to get its kill chain down fighting terrorists. There will be time to decamp.

      Delete
  13. It has a range of 4,000km according to the Israelis.
    Weapons fitout is per the builder's website site - why do you doubt this?
    I'm not suggesting we build an exact clone of the Israeli ship - but it shows perhaps what we could learn from a country that takes its defense seriously and doesn't have a budget for white elephants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look at ships with comparable displacement. None of them have the claimed weapons of Israel. A cruiser fit on a corvette.

      Delete
    2. You can do a lot if you're not that worried about habitability.

      Delete
    3. If you're OVERLY concerned with habitability then you aren't building WARships, you're building cruise ships for worthless deployments that accomplish nothing.

      Delete
    4. "Look at ships with comparable displacement. None of them have the claimed weapons of Israel. A cruiser fit on a corvette."

      Oh, I don't know about that. The Russian Steregushchiy class corvette, for example, has an impressive weapons fit of:

      1 × 100mm A-190 Arsenal or 130mm A-192 naval gun
      1 × Kashtan CIWS-M (Project 20380)
      8 × Kh-35 (SS-N-25)
      12 × Redut VLS cells (supposedly quad pack capable)(Project 20381)
      2 × AK-630М CIWS
      8 × 330mm torpedo tubes for Paket-NK anti-torpedo/anti-submarine torpedoes
      2 × 14.5mm MTPU pedestal machine guns
      1 x Ka-27 Helo

      Delete
    5. "If you're OVERLY concerned with habitability then you aren't building WARships, you're building cruise ships for worthless deployments that accomplish nothing."

      I'm not disagreeing with you.

      I still think a big element of habitability is the mental comfort that comes from knowing that you are on a ship that can take care of itself if need be. I spent 2 of my 4 years on active duty on ships where I didn't think we would have a prayer. If you are scared you won't survive, all the cappuccino machines in the world are useless.

      Delete
  14. I'd hate to cross an Ocean in a Sa'ar 6. Consider the German corvettes they are based on have no hangar, 2 RAM, and 4 ASM, with gun and one old school mast, the isreali ships either have a ton of ballast slowing them down, or aren't designed to sail from their home waters. And on price, the ships alone are $196M. The German ships top out over $370M so I am guessing the total cost for Sa'ar 6 is a fair bit north of that number. Maybe we need a sensor and targeting missile round we can send down range a long way and fast to get the targeting before the strike. Maybe based on Tomahawk. Potentially with the ability to launch additional small drones itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Potentially with the ability to launch additional small drones itself."

      How small would these additional drones have to be??!!!! What use would they be with pea size sensors with a range of hundreds of yards?

      Delete
    2. "Maybe we need a sensor and targeting missile round we can send down range a long way and fast to get the targeting before the strike."

      That assumes that you already have a pretty good idea where the target is and just need a last second update. A missile sized/powered sensor simply can't see much. It's not a general search capability. It's the equivalent of looking through a straw. General search has to be done with wide area sensors and wide ranging, long loitering platforms - neither requirement describes a missile.

      Delete
    3. "I'd hate to cross an Ocean in a Sa'ar 6."

      The Allies did it routinely with Flower class corvettes which were nearly a hundred feet shorter and 900 tons lighter. We've forgotten what a WARship is and why we have them.

      Delete
    4. And American ships were "comfortable" by WWII standards!

      The sailors serving on Akagi and Kaga had it much worse, for example.
      (You generally do not want to be on a ship nicknamed "Man-killing Longhouse".)

      Delete
    5. Australian ships have plenty of hotel space and sailor comforts. Else the sailors find better employers like mining companies.

      Delete
    6. Exactly. Unless you think you'll have time for a draft and can fight with trainees, a puke tank of the seas doesn't do squat in the here and now. Ships that got scrapped or pawned off as soon as it was over and only built as an emergency. As for targeting. If I can take a picture on my cell phone and text it to Djibouti in a few seconds and my friend on that end figure out where I am in the world based off that pic from google earth inside a minute a small sensor can get the job done. We just need to tear up that Amazon box and think outside of it.

      Delete
    7. "a small sensor can get the job done."

      Only if you already know where the target is. If you have to search a million square miles of ocean, a sensor with the field of view of a cell phone is useless.

      Delete
  15. The U.S. Army has a great saying: "stay in your lane" - it applies here to the USMC.

    GAB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The few, the proud, the every mission requires me?

      Got me riled up to join the USMC, I tell ya!

      Delete
    2. Probably a topic for another day but what are USMC and USN "selling" to the 18 - 21 potential recruits??? USMC isn't hitting any beaches, join us to fight subs with small UAVs? USN "see the world in a rusting hulk"? We aren't recruiting warriors anymore, probably haven't in decades...so who exactly are we bringing in? And don't get me wrong, there is a spot for cyber and unmanned systems but let's not turn the entire force over to that....

      Delete
    3. Considering that I am still in high school, I think I maybe able to provide a limited answer. The main drive for young people to join any branches currently consists of the GI Bill and Special forces. And that's even including the guys looking to be careerists! I have some friends who went into West Point and USNA for the express purpose to have an easy career with a well paying contractor job at the end of the route. Nobody ever talks about the challenge facing the nation. There is relatively few consideration and thought put into bettering the service themselves. There's even less desire for people that actively challenges authority and ideas, just anything that changes the status quo in general. That's my impression anyway, from various friends I know in the branches' pipeline.

      It saddens me a lot because I wanted to join the Navy as well. But the more I read, the more I get discouraged. The Navy, if anything, is gonna taught me and sell me ideas and expected me to take it as I am stupid and ignore historical evidence. I guess hopefully the next four years, something will change for the better...

      Delete
    4. "I have some friends who went into West Point and USNA for the express purpose to have an easy career with a well paying contractor job at the end of the route."

      Those guys will go far.

      Delete
    5. "I have some friends who went into West Point and USNA for the express purpose to have an easy career with a well paying contractor job at the end of the route."

      I have a cousin who went that route. He ended up with a great position with Raytheon. But he had to spend his active duty with the Canadians at Churchill, MB, so I guess he paid a price.

      Delete
    6. "The U.S. Army has a great saying: "stay in your lane" - it applies here to the USMC."

      But what is the USMC's lane? That's what we need to define.

      I don't think it's baby army and I don't think Marine Air's lane is Navy's Army's Air Force. I think the USMC lane is naval infantry, and Marine Air's lane is support of naval infantry.

      Delete
  16. IMO, this is how this sh#t will end: after USMC and US forces get their asses kicked out of the Pacific by China, we already know there will be an investigation, an inquiry, a commission, Senate hearings, etc,etc,... and then we will finally get to see the infamous top secret Berger war games and our collective jaws will drop at the level of stupidity and hubris. My prediction: these USMC "war games" and their results will make the Imperial Japanese navy war gaming MIDWAY campaign look honest and reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Maybe they have been reading this blog and realize somebody has to commit to doing ASW if the US Navy won't.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am baffled by the thinking, or lack of thinking, going on here with the Marine Corps.

    This is crazy stuff, why even have a Marine Corps if this is what they are thinking?

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  19. With everything going on, not just this USMC lunacy, it's like we're trying to commit national suicide.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The Marines just need to get back to being what they are supposed to be--naval infantry--and quit trying to be baby army, and Marine air quit trying to be the Navy's Army's Air Force.

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