Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Modern Combat Op/Actions that are influencing Marine Corps development.

The USMC like any other institution seeks to learn relevant lessons from its past.  These lessons are passed down in a tribal setting by the impromptu school circles that leaders give, professional education, and word of mouth around the bar while talking to friends and thinking about good/bad times.

Luckily its also preserved by the Marine Corps Historical Division and those archives are open to all.  Most don't take advantage of the treasure trove of information but its there today (maybe not tomorrow so get it while its hot).

Having racked my brain and considered all actions that are influencing our future, I've come up with these big 5 4 combat ops/actions that are so seared into the brains of our leaders that I believe EVERY weapon system now being procured/tactic devised has its roots in solving an issue that raised its ugly head in these battles first.  Below is my list....

1.  The 2nd Battle of Fallujah.

via Wikipedia.
After Navy Seabees from I MEF Engineer Group (MEG) interrupted and disabled electrical power at two substations located just northeast and northwest of the city, two Marine Regimental Combat Teams, Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) and Regimental Combat Team 7 (RCT-7) launched an attack along the northern edge of the city. They were joined by two U.S. Army heavy battalion-sized units, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment (Mechanized). These two battalions were followed by four infantry battalions who were tasked with clearing the remaining buildings. The Army's mechanized Second Brigade, First Cavalry Division, augmented by the Marines' Second Reconnaissance Battalion and A. Co 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, was tasked to infiltrate the city and destroy any fleeing enemy forces.[34] The British Army's 1st Battalion, The Black Watch, patrolled the main highways to the east. The RCTs were augmented by three 6-man SEAL Sniper Teams from Naval Special Warfare Task Group-Central and one platoon from 1st Recon, who provided advance reconnaissance in the city, Joint Terminal Aircraft Control (JTACS) and unilateral overwatch throughout the operation. The United States Air Force provided close air support for the ground offensive, employing F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, B-52 Strato fortresses, and AC-130 gunships to carry out close-quarter precision airstrikes against enemy strongholds within the city. The Air Force also employed MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and precision strikes, and the U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft for intelligence collection, surveillance and reconnaissance before, during, and after the battle.
The six battalions of Army, Marine and Iraqi forces, aided by the USMC and SEAL Sniper and JTAC elements pre-fire operations, moved into the city under the cover of darkness; and once aligned with the reconnaissance elements, began the assault in the early hours of 8 November 2004, preceded by an intense artillery barrage and air attack. This was followed by an attack on the main train station, which was then used as a staging point for follow-on forces. By that afternoon, under the protection of intense air cover, Marines entered the Hay Naib al-Dubat and al-Naziza districts. The Marines were followed by the Navy Seabees of NMCB 4 and NMCB 23 who bulldozed the streets clear of debris from the bombardment that morning. The Seabees used armored bulldozers to plow the streets while remaining safe and protected from enemy fire. Shortly after nightfall on 9 November 2004, Marines had reportedly reached Phase Line Fran at Highway 10 in the center of the city.
There are many notable battles from Iraq that deserve much more attention.  This combined effort of the Marines, Army, elements of the Navy, and others is in my mind the telling battle of the era.  No other fight seared in the mind of Marines the fight there.  It will take another decade before all the acts of valor, sacrifice etc...are known.  Khe Sanh was hard.  In my opinion this was harder.

2.  The Heliborne Assault into Afghanistan 2001.

via CNN.
About 500 of an expected 1,000-plus Marines landed south of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar on Sunday. They were quickly in action, with the Pentagon confirming reports Monday afternoon that U.S. helicopter gunships attacked an armored column near the airstrip they control.

"They are not an occupying force," Rumsfeld said. "Their purpose is to establish a forward base of operations to help pressure the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, to prevent Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists from moving freely about the country."

Rumsfeld said the base they have established could be used for humanitarian operations or for special operations troops, but won't necessarily be used to put more U.S. ground troops into Afghanistan.

The Marine force includes members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit of Camp Pendleton, California, aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Peleliu; and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, aboard the USS Bataan. Both ships are stationed in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Pakistan.
Story here. 

This one action has had on OUTSIZED influence on current and near term future Marine Corps operations.  It catapulted Mattis into rock star status and started his cult of personality.  In essence he conducted the heliborne assault for the record books.   I've tried to see if I could find a longer distance helo assault by any other force in history and I haven't.

Why is this influencing future Marine Ops?  You hear long distance Marine Corps raid by MV-22, think of Mattis/Afghanistan.  You hear about Marines sending infantry by MV-22 to assist in the air sea battle by taking out enemy air defense sites...think Mattis/Afghanistan.

This one action probably saved the MV-22, and gave Marine planners the key to unlocking Congressional purses when it came to Marine Aviation.  If you can strike deep then you need the other widgets to support those Marines on the tip of the spear.  But even if that was enough it also tossed a bone to others.  Did you catch Rumsfelds wording?  Can be used for humanitarian assistance or to support Special Ops?  This was where the supporting SOCOM meme was born.

3.  Invasion of Iraq.

via Wikipedia.
On 23 March, a convoy from the 3rd Infantry Division, including the female American soldiers Jessica Lynch, Shoshana Johnson, and Lori Piestewa, was ambushed after taking a wrong turn into the city. Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed, and seven, including Lynch and Piestewa, were captured.[147] Piestewa died of wounds shortly after capture, while the remaining five prisoners of war were later rescued. Piestewa, who was from Tuba City, Arizona, and an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, was believed to have been the first Native American woman killed in combat in a foreign war.[148] On the same day, U.S Marines from the Second Marine Division entered Nasiriyah in force, facing heavy resistance as they moved to secure two major bridges in the city. Several Marines were killed during a firefight with Fedayeen in the urban fighting. At the Saddam Canal, another 18 Marines were killed in heavy fighting with Iraqi soldiers. An Air Force A-10 was involved in a case of friendly fire that resulted in the death of six Marines when it accidentally attacked an American amphibious vehicle. Two other vehicles were destroyed when a barrage of RPG and small arms fire killed most of the Marines inside.[149] A Marine from Marine Air Control Group 28 was killed by enemy fire, and two Marine engineers drowned in the Saddam Canal. The bridges were secured and the Second Marine division set up a perimeter around the city.

On the evening of 24 March, the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, which was attached to Regimental Combat Team One (RCT-1), pushed through Nasiriyah and established a perimeter 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) north of the city. Iraqi reinforcements from Kut launched several counterattacks. The Marines managed to repel them using indirect fire and close air support. The last Iraqi attack was beaten off at dawn. The battalion estimated that 200–300 Iraqi soldiers were killed, without a single U.S. casualty. Nasiriyah was declared secure, but attacks by Iraqi Fedayeen continued. These attacks were uncoordinated, and resulted in firefights in which large numbers of Fedayeen were killed. Because of Nasiriyah's strategic position as a road junction, significant gridlock occurred as U.S. forces moving north converged on the city's surrounding highways.
No comment on this one.  Just read the history from official sources.

4.  US Marine Artillery provide fire support in Syria. 

I include this one because I consider it unique.  For the first time in recent memory the USMC Ground Combat Element was not asked for as a "complete unit".  Instead a portion of it was desired to provide fires.  I find this interesting, and perhaps a bit troubling but I also consider it the future.  Once the Marine Corps sold itself as a combined arms team.  Now bits and pieces are being used.  What does that spell for the future?

This was just a quick and dirty.  I'm sure others can come up with more consequential battles but these are the ones that stood out in my mind  What's your list and where did I go wrong?

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.