One thing HQMC has been doing to perfection is throwing so many concepts out that it boggles the mind. Alternate transport for Marines was the "hotness" last year. Let me bring you up to speed on what leaders were saying. via USNI News Nov, 2015
Major General Richard Simcock said at a Marine Corps Association event on Nov. 19 that he wants more L-class amphibious ships in the region but will use whatever strategic lift he can get.And then this from Marine Corps Times Jun, 2015.
“I have to fight tonight, I have to do that most dangerous mission, I have to take what I have and I have to adapt. And we’re doing that,” he said.
Simcock joked that he spends a lot of time with the Commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific/Commander of Task Force 73 because “he owns every weird ship that there is in the Asia Pacific,” from logistics ships to the Littoral Combat Ship to the Expeditionary Fast Transport.
“We use them. We experiment, and we adapt. And you don’t say no, and you take what you have because you have to fight tonight,” the general said.
For this reason, Dunford said, the Pacific is one of two priority regions that may host new alternative platforms as they become deployable. Designed to alleviate some of the burden on an overtaxed amphibious ship fleet, the new platforms include, among others, the joint high-speed vessel and the tanker-like mobile landing platform, which can be fitted with a flight deck and berthing space to create the afloat forward staging base.As a theory alternate transport sounds good on paper.
The heads of U.S. Africa Command have already requested that an afloat forward staging base be positioned near that continent to assist with crisis response and security efforts, and Dunford indicated the Pacific might be a candidate to receive one or more of the ships as they become available.
"If I were to give you priorities, probably the two priorities right now would be mitigating the risk in AFRICOM and mitigating the risk in the Pacific Command," he said. "And there's plenty of other places that we could use [alternative platforms.]"
If the threat hadn't changed.
But it has.
Terrorist, rebels, freedom fighters, whatever you want to call them are no longer acting like ragtag bands of ultra light infantry. They're "meching up". They're acquiring heavy weapons of all types. They have everything but an air force to include heavyweight anti-ship missiles that can destroy our "alternate transports".
The theory was cute but reality is a bitch. Put Marines on logistics ships, JHSVs, Mobile Landing Platforms (I refuse to follow Mabus' idiotic rebranding) and you will hazard those ships to perform missions of dubious value.
The Navy and Marine Corps need to take a second look at alternate shipping/independent ship operations to see if its worth the squeeze.