Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Must Read. Gates challenges Marine Corps missions.

via Forbes (read the whole thing here)

The Marine Corps is facing a historic defeat at the hands of Defense Secretary Roberts Gates, and hardly anyone inside or outside the Corps seems to grasp what is happening. On January 6, Gates disclosed a series of proposed budget cuts that included termination of an amphibious vehicle the Marines have been developing for 15 years. He said the vehicle cost too much — around $17 million per copy — and that the service therefore should extend the life of existing amphibious vehicles while searching for a more affordable replacement. Gates stressed that, “This decision does not call into question the Marines’ amphibious assault mission.”
Taking that assurance at face value, prime contractor General Dynamics launched a campaign to convince Congress and the Obama Administration that buying a smaller number of the vehicles while upgrading current amphibious systems would be more cost-effective than canceling the program and starting over. Many backers of the Marine Corps on Capitol Hill seem favorably disposed to the idea. But what neither Congress nor the contractor seem to understand is that the Gates move isn’t really about the cost of one program. It’s about the cost of the whole “forcible entry” mission at the heart of the modern Marine Corps identity, and the desire of competing claimants on the Pentagon’s budget to use that money for other purposes.
Is this the real reason for "Next Generation Bomber" and other programs that seem to suck money but provide no benefit?

Is it time to put guns back on amphibs?

Above you see the commissioning photo of the USS Tarawa.  Notice the two 5 inch guns on its bow?

What happened and why did we lose these weapons?

If the requirements are changing and we expect assault echelon ships to make runs toward the beach to disembark its Marines (since holding at 25 miles off shore is no longer considered any safer than 10 miles in)...then why don't we have these fabulous weapons, along with modern warheads to engage shore based missile batteries, small boats and other threats in the littorals.

Maybe its time to take a blast from the past and put guns back on amphibs!