General Neller, Commandant of the Marine made this statement about future combat...
I think it’s going to be based on a maritime campaign: we’re going to fight with the Navy, we’re going to come from the sea, we’re going to seize some sort of naval base or maybe forward operating base. We may have to defend it against an enemy maritime threat. There may be eventually on that lodgment … sustained combat ashore.Question. How do we seize a naval base? Or a port? The only reason why I've talked about it is because it was the only thing that seemed to make the guys that were old skool to me nervous. They would talk about tanks, machinegun nests, B40 rockets....all kinds of stuff that would literally make me shake just hearing them describe it and it never phased them.
When the conversations rolled around to (what was then) today's Marine Corps, and I chimed in about airfield seizures they would all nod politely, tell me that's not a Marine Corps mission and then they'd talk about how even training for port/naval base seizure was a wake up call.
After reading Neller's words in the USNI News, I did a search to find a manual or even writing on port/naval base seizure and came up empty.
Do we even have a manual on port/naval base seizure or would we have to pull the planning out of our ass on the fly? Does anyone know with certainty when the last time we actually practiced doing it? We list it as a capability for every MEU that floats, we talk about it being one of our core competencies but I don't know of the last time its been rehearsed (and no...putting the port back into operation after the earthquake in Haiti does NOT count...that was a pure HA/DR operation).
Is it actually possible for a MEU to seize a port? Should we bump it up to a MEB operation? Is it even possible with our restrictive rules of engagement?
I love the thought that HQMC is turning to face future challenges but we've got alot of work to do. Recommendation without complaint. Reprogram Bold Alligator into a port seizure training exercise. Do the same with RimPac. You want partnership that matters? Get allied Marines, Rangers and even SOCOM (especially MARSOC and Navy SEALs) onboard to work this problem.
If the Commandant was serious about getting into the business of port/naval base seizure then this will be a big lift!