Naval analysis provided by ComNavOps, Commander - Naval Opinions
Quick question … why are Marines still deploying on
amphibious ships if they have no AAV/ACV landing craft to get ashore from the
They still have LAV-25s, which have limited amphibious capability (according to the Wikipedia article, they're limited to non-surf bodies of water, i.e., rivers and lakes); and I'm sure the LCAC can serve in a pinch.But yes, it was stupid of the Pentagon to let the factories that built the AAVs and the components needed to keep the vehicles in service, to go out-of-business and then close down, without even a token government subsidy to keep these factories open and their employees employed. Future generations will surely denounce the fact our government used the "peace dividend" as an excuse to let our defense industries to wither away after the Cold War, if they have any brains.
The question is not, can the Marines, if given enough time, cobble together some way to eventually ferry troops ashore. The question is why and amphibious ASSAULT force that can no longer conduct a viable assault is bothering to deploy for months on end. That would be like sending a carrier on deployment with pilots but no aircraft. The Marines have already dropped their tanks and now their AAV/ACVs. They're reduced to foot infantry swimming ashore almost. Wouldn't it better, at this point, to leave the ships in port where they can save wear and tear and get some badly needed maintenance? Wouldn't it be better to leave the Marines home to get some badly needed training; admittedly, they have no mission to train for but that's another topic.The LCAC CANNOT serve in a pinch. They have been deemed non-survivable in a contested environment and CANNOT serve in an initial assault. They are logistics follow on, only.
"Wouldn't it better, at this point, to leave the ships in port where they can save wear and tear and get some badly needed maintenance?"Yes, it would. The USN has run its ships and their crews ragged, on "freedom of navigation operations" and other pointless missions. It then fired the last officer with the courage to publicly question the point of these pointless missions, i.e., Brett Crozier.The USS John S. McCain wasn't ready for the mission that ended with her colliding with a civilian tanker, but her captain didn't refuse the mission, due to fear such a refusal would negatively impact his career; ten seamen died because of his cowardice. With the way things are, I fear we'll suffer more deaths due to these pointless missions taking up time a crew needs for training and rest, before an admiral takes his head out his rear and stops them."Wouldn't it be better to leave the Marines home to get some badly needed training;"Yes, it would. As a US Army veteran, I have personal experience with the consequences of overly deploying our service members to their breaking point. IT IS NOT PRETTY."admittedly, they have no mission to train for but that's another topic."They can serve as peacekeepers on UN peacekeeping missions. They can assist the border patrol in securing our borders- and considering drug smugglers are often armed, they can get some combat training this way. They can stand beside our government leaders, and look menacing in an attempt to deter would-be assassins.All of these missions are more meaningful, with higher chances of success, than the half-assed ones the current Commandant has in mind.
MEUs mostly run HADR missions with LCACs and LCUs or Embassy reinforcements/security with helicopters. The Harriers / tanks / artillery and AAVs are rarely used.As for the peace dividend, it gave us the strongest military because we cut the weak out of end strength but kept the new gear Reagan bought. Instead of maintaining our gear like Koreans or Israelis, we purposely ran it into the ground to save money for new programs that never panned out: exhibit A: F18s with wing stress to buy F35s, exhibit B: AAVs falling apart to buy the EFV. The EFV was too complex and unreliable so we scrambled to buy a quick replacement in the ACV which still has some issues. Everything requires some adjustments, but the ACV shows promise and will not hurt MEUs while it gets its issues fixed. This is not as dire as the CNO makes it sound.
Navy still has LCUs that fit on gators. They are upgrading them to a better model, slowly. The army has the same, plus a small amount of huge LCUs that are pretty much ships in their own right.
I think that AAV was designed to land under enemy fires. This has become impractical. However, amphibious landing is still necessary but only after clean up enemies on shorte. After that, you can then land all equipment without under threat.AAV7's amour cannot defend against any anti tank missiles or terminal bombs which I know. Amphibious assaults against a major power under fire is thing of past.
The Corps was upgrading the AAVs with addition armor plate, better buoyancy, and mine protection.They canceled the program so they could buy more ACVs.As it turns out, the ACV breaks every time the wind blows and the troops are easily trapped inside even on land. The ACV, as it turns out, can't be towed in the water so it is banned from water operations while BAE figures out how to rape the government for the most money to fix their design flaw.
Practically, add armor is impossible as this would reduce soldiers and cargoes an AAV7 can carry. This is a typical problem of armor vehicles - if you make them as study as tanks, they can then no longer carry enough goods.
"add armor is impossible as this would reduce soldiers and cargoes an AAV7 can carry."I don't think so. Armor is added externally which doesn't change the internal volume available for troops. What would change is a reduction in speed, range, and maneuverability due to the increased weight.
Well, there are still LCU's and LCAC's. Admittedly they can't be used for an assault on a contested shore, but that wasn't going to work anyway (at least against a peer power) for other reasons, right? There are still uncontested landings for raids, humanitarian assistance, and whatnot. Now whether these potential functions justify having MEU's permanently at sea in ships, I can't say.
The demise of the once "few, the proud" Marine Corps has been a truly sad thing to watch. What is even sadder is that I don't know where they go from here, or even if there is anywhere for them to go from here.
There's also, of course, the possibility of delivery by helicopter/osprey. Again, you've pointed out in other posts that you can't support anything long term by air, so that would also be for raids or lower level combatant stuff like embassy support/evacuation or humanitarian assistance.Again, the possibility of these types of missions leaves open the question of whether they justify permanently deploying multiple MEU's at sea.
They don't. The USMC is now like horses, military useful in certain circumstances, and NOWHERE ELSE. Retire the damn thing in favor of something with greater versatility, and thus, utility.
"Retire the damn thing in favor of something with greater versatility, and thus, utility."But what?Clearly, there is no future along the path upon which the USMC is currently embarked. But what future is there, and on what path?
"There's also, of course, the possibility of delivery by helicopter/osprey"Even that option is limited. The ARG/MEU standard operating doctrine is now to operate disaggregated. Thus, the three ships of a ARG are sent off to separate, non-supporting locations. Of the three typical ships of the ARG, two do not have any significant helo capability. Only the LHA/LHD have numbers of aircraft. The LPD deploys with one or two helos and the LSD deploys with none or one. So, two of the three ARG ships can only transport a squad or two at a time via helo. Not only is that not assault-capable, it's not even raid-capable.The Marines are a train wreck.
"But what?"Stand up new Ranger Regiments, US Army Special Forces A-Teams and Navy SEAL Teams. Add amphibious assault to these units' training courses.This may seem repetitive, but at least the Army isn't delusionally insisting it must have its own navy battle fleets IN ADDITION TO its own navy transports, with its own battleships to provide naval gunfire support, AND its own aircraft carriers to provide air support.
I guess I see a lot of folks saying that a contested amphibious assault against a significant prepared defense is now impossible. But this begs the question of why is China spending so much effort to prepare for that exact operation (the invasion of Taiwan). They're not dumb, even if we are.
The difference is China has invested in the technology and techniques necessary to perform such a mission; we didn't, because we bought into the delusion we can "skip a generation" in military technology, and thus, failed to maintain the necessary technology and techniques, e.g., we didn't subsidize the factories that built the AAV and the components needed to keep the vehicles operational, allowing them to close down and then deny us the ability to build replacements for vehicles that should've been scrapped decades ago.Also note how militarily WEAK Taiwan is in comparison. China certainly isn't going to conduct an amphibious assault against America, nor does it need to; in contrast, American armchair generals keep thinking we need the ability to conduct an amphibious assault against China.
"in contrast, American armchair generals keep thinking we need the ability to conduct an amphibious assault against China."Let's be real. I'm quite sure that no American general believes that we have or need the ability to conduct an amphibious invasion of China. It would be insane to try. If you think I'm wrong on this, I'm going to have to demand some actual evidence.
Perhaps one way you can view this is from the perspective of casualties. What is an acceptable level of casualties may be different between China and the U.S.If a contested amphibious assault averages 10% casualties (random number) for example, this may be an acceptable level to the Chinese but not to the U.S, it is therefore seen as impossible.Taiwan is also seen as a rogue province so the idea of unifying China may be far greater in importance to the average Chinese than we would otherwise think, which of course lead to them being able to tolerate higher casualties.In short and vastly simplified terms, maybe they want it more.Loc
"I see a lot of folks saying that a contested amphibious assault against a significant prepared defense is now impossible."It's no more impossible today than it was in WWII. It simply requires the right preparation and forces.One of the problems in today's military discussion forums is that people latch on to 'truisms' that are not actually true. They're just statements that get repeated often enough that they become 'true' in people's minds. One of the things I've done on this blog is examine and analyze those supposed truisms and disprove them. This 'can't do an assault' thing is just another false truism. Sadly, the Commandant of the Marines bought into it and is destroying the Marines because of it.
""I see a lot of folks saying that a contested amphibious assault against a significant prepared defense is now impossible."It's no more impossible today than it was in WWII. It simply requires the right preparation and forces."Amphibious assault it impossible....if the standard is to expect zero casualties.Lutefisk
"Amphibious assault it impossible....if the standard is to expect zero casualties."Perhaps more relevant to their current thinking, training to do a proper amphibious assault is impossible ... if the standard is zero casualties.
"I guess I see a lot of folks saying that a contested amphibious assault against a significant prepared defense is now impossible. But this begs the question of why is China spending so much effort to prepare for that exact operation (the invasion of Taiwan). They're not dumb, even if we are."I'm not sure that an invasion of Taiwan is truly their objective. For one thing, Taiwan suits their objectives pretty well as is. There is a ton of Taiwanese investment in mainland China, and Taiwan can give them that same capitalist enclave conduit to the rest of the world that Hong Kong was supposed to be, until the natives got to uppity. And China is better insulated against that with Taiwan because there are not thousands of Chinese who commute to work daily in Taiwan.Suppose China's first objective is not Taiwan, but rather other places around the South China Sea that have not girded their loins so heavily to face a Chinese invasion. Malaysia and Indonesia, for example, would give them control over Sunda and Malacca, which are essential to the inbound flow of oil and outbound flow of exports. If they got control of the first island chain except Taiwan, then Taiwan would pretty much have to do their bidding.I think they can see the utility of a significant amphibious capability without regard to Taiwan. Perhaps we should see the same, without regard for an opposed assault on the Chinese (or Russian) mainland, either of which would be fool's errands.
"Perhaps we should see the same, without regard for an opposed assault on the Chinese (or Russian) mainland, either of which would be fool's errands."I agree. Obviously we're not going to do an amphibious invasion of China or Russia. But we do have treaty allies in the region. Japan and the Philippines, for example. If the Chinese took an island (an actual one with inhabitants, not an uninhabited rock) from one of them, wouldn't we want to be able to take it back?
We are basically killing our amphibious capability at the same time that our ostensible peer rival, China, is upgrading its. Do they know something that we don't?
"Do they know something that we don't?"Well, they know we're idiots so …That aside, they have different goals so different needs. On their schedule is an invasion of Taiwan and possible invasions of Vietnam, Philippines, and others. I suspect that, longer term, they're also looking at invasions in Africa and South America.We have nothing on our schedule.
"I suspect that, longer term, they're also looking at invasions in Africa and South America."Even a casual glance at China's recent activity will show no such thing is being planned- nor will they ever be, because unlike the idiots currently running the US government, China knows its political, diplomatic, military, and economic (to support the three aforementioned factors) limits.More plausible will be China offering support to African and South American governments in the latter's efforts to maintain control over their own territory- NOT overthrowing those governments in favor of more pro-China ones, as that'll require a MASSIVE investment in time, effort, and other resources, and as I stated, China knows its limits. Some "amphibious assaults" may be staged for propaganda, but those in the know- which, sadly, does NOT include the CIA and other intelligence agencies- WILL KNOW they're staged, and will likely fail in the face of serious opposition.It should also be noted our State Department spent the last 30 years outright alienating African and South American governments that could've and should've been our allies, as our government leaders overreached, insultingly treated foreign leaders like vassals, and created vacuums Russia and China happily filled up. "Human rights" don't matter when human needs aren't being met- specifically, ECONOMIC needs, i.e., jobs so one has food to eat, clothes on one's back, a roof over one's head.
"Even a casual glance at China's recent activity will show no such thing is being planned"If that's your interpretation of China's actions, you're welcome to it. On the other hand, I look at China's increasing efforts to establish footholds in Africa, South America, the Middle East and elsewhere and I see the prelude to annexation/invasion. Thus far, China has clearly demonstrated that what they can't get legitimately, they're perfectly willing to obtain via intimidation, military threat, and invasion of other country's territory (Vietnam, Philippines, India, etc.). It seems inconceivable that China would resort to those measures throughout the first island chain and yet refrain from those same tactics elsewhere. That would be inconsistent. "China knows its limits."I guess that depends on your definition of 'limits'. Clearly, China is hugely overstepping its geopolitical limits. It is sowing the seeds of resistance and animosity among those it deals with by using debt traps, ignoring treaties it is a signatory to, invading territorial waters, etc. That's not the actions of a country that knows its 'wise' limits. Those actions may provide short term gains but are guaranteed to produce long term problems.
"On the other hand, I look at China's increasing efforts to establish footholds in Africa, South America, the Middle East and elsewhere and I see the prelude to annexation/invasion."That's laughably alarmist. Chinese political and military leaders surely observed us as we invaded Iraq with forces INSUFFICIENT TO SECURE THE COUNTRY; if they actually wanted to invade, they should be smart enough to assemble a large enough force to do what must be done AFTER a foreign country invades and then overthrows the current government.Does China currently have enough transports to send over 100,000 infantrymen- and God knows how many cooks, armorers, mechanics, medics, and other noncombatants are necessary to support those infantrymen- to invade and then occupy even one nation in the Middle East, Africa, and South America, for the DECADE necessary to ensure the pro-China government it just stood up, will remain standing?
CNO, I like your picture of the Marines' new landing technique.Talk about Distributed Lethality! YES!!!!
Actually, I've been wondering whether the MEU is the right type of unit to be constantly deploying, even WITH AAV's. For non-war type missions (like embassy reinforcement or evacuation, humanitarian assistance, or non combatant evacuations) I imagine the MEU (which is a reinforced battalion with a few additional attached units, like air support and whatnot) is usually overkill. But when it comes to combat, how much can a single battalion (reinforced or otherwise), plus a few helicopters and a handful of F35's, actually do? Is a single battalion really enough force to do an opposed amphibious landing, even WITH AAV's? I'm sure there is a range of missions that are possible, but is the range really broad enough to justify the massive expense of keeping all those folks at sea all the time?
"I've been wondering whether the MEU is the right type of unit to be constantly deploying, even WITH AAV's."The short answer is, no, a MEU should not be deployed. There are only ?7? MEUs and normally only one is deployed at a time. Thus, in the event of a crisis, unless the crisis was completely predictable ahead of time (almost not possible by definition), the odds that the single deployed MEU will be within action range of the crisis is exceedingly low. If a crisis can be predicted, then there is time for other forces to be relocated. If a crisis arises without warning, we have various Army/AF units tasked with responding anywhere in the world in a matter of hours.Add in the recent detrimental developments such as the dropping of tanks and elimination of AAV/ACV from deployment and there is even less justification for a MEU.
MEUs are hugely useful, without equal in NEO, embassy reinforcements or HADRs. MEUs are just configured wrong. Expensive high end combat capabilities are almost never used, such as F35s with their small payload.LHAs / LHDs are almost always disaggregated for other missions or never come close enough to dangerous shores to keep their valuable aviation cargo safe.A better MEU deletes LHAs/ LHDs, tanks, and hard to bring ashore cannons and distributes its battalion on LPDs & LSDs with UAVs and Hueys for air support. The MEU ships need HIMARS launchers for precision fire support. 105mm howitzers pulled by Humvees can come ashore on LCUs without needing LCACs and provide volume fire support and variety of munitions.Fix the MEU, don’t kill it.
"Fix the MEU, don’t kill it."I completely disagree but, for the sake of an interesting discussion, let's explore your idea a bit further.You seem to indicate that the only true value of a MEU is in its NEO capabilities. If that's the case,-what size should a MEU be since NEO operations have never involved thousands of troops and logic says they never will?-LPD/LSD type ships cannot and do not support much in the way of aviation assets and yet, one of the most useful aspects of NEO ops would seem to be aviation, specifically transport helos. How do you reconcile your desire to delete LHA/LHD while emphasizing NEO?-If you downsize and down-capable the combat aspects of a MEU (eliminating tanks, fixed wing aircraft, numbers of helos, etc.) why do we need any combat capability in the Marine Corps beyond very light infantry (almost police level)?-Can we justify a Marine Corps of 180,000 men and high end combat equipment for just NEO?-Wouldn't a pure cargo ship with, say, a company of Marines be much better equipped for HA/DR? It could certainly carry much larger quantities of relief supplies.-One of the challenges with a MEU is that it is rarely in position when a crisis arises. How many times has a deployed MEU ever actually been used in a HA/DR - or other NEO, for that matter? Might a home based Army/AF quick reaction unit be better at rapid response?-What do we do with NEO MEUs when an actual war comes since they'll have almost no combat capability?
The Marine Corps is tasked with two missions by law: Amphibious operations and Crisis Response.MEUs are the main crisis response. They train for and mostly conduct 4 missions: TRAP, NEO, Security Reinforcements, HADR. None of these have high intensity combat as part of the mission, which eliminates the need for fixed wing and tanks. A MEU of 3 LPDs can bring a Battalion Landing Team with its Logistics company and have 12 Ospreys or CH53s which is sufficient for those 4 missions including NEO. It will also need some HIMARS rocket pods on the deck for fire support and some vertical takeoff UAVs with Reaper like capacity for Hellfires and two 500 lb JDAMs for air support against low threat environments.Amphibious operations are higher end combat operations and will require fixed wing assets and direct fire support (like tanks provided). These are larger operations and the fixed wing component must provide more payload than an F35. F18s or similar more capable platforms can fly in to support amphibious operations. The Marine Corps needs fixed wing aviation and direct fire support for amphibious ops but not on a MEU. With the money saved by cutting back LHD/LHA and their air wing, we can buy enough LAWS or other rides for the rest of the Marines. Whatever cannot be embarked becomes irrelevant when it is left on the beach, we need enough ships to deploy the Marines we have.
Break them up. Transfer the appropriate hardware and manpower to the branch that could use it best.The sarcastic side of me wants to hand the USMC over to the Space Force. Let the Sci-Fi nerds work out a better way to use them. Hire Elon Musk to develop suborbital drop pods or hypersonic insertion vehicles.
That's just begging for an Airborne Laser 2.0, i.e., a cool concept that falls apart the moment you input more than five minutes of critical thinking on how it'll work on an actual battlefield, where armed enemies are shooting back and otherwise interfering with its mission.(Remembers all the garbage programs the USMC saddled us taxpayers with- and one good program, MARPAT, which the USMC prevented other services from using because the marines wanted to be "special," forcing the Army, Air Force, and Navy to start their own garbage programs to replace outdated uniforms.)Sounds about right for the USMC.
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