Friday, July 21, 2017

Upgunned Expeditionary Strike Group. What happened to "disaggregated MEU"?

Thanks to Ogden for the link!

via Shepard Media.
The upgunned ESG was a ‘concept in development by the US Navy’, said USN Rear Adm Marc Dalton, commander of the Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, addressing a question from Shephard aboard USS Bonhomme Richard.

The initiative will take the existing three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and add three cruisers, destroyers or frigates.

These additions from the Pacific Command’s Surface Action Group will protect the amphibious ships and add new capabilities.

The full upgunned ESG will make use of USS Wasp (LHD 1) when it deploys later this year from Japan with a squadron of F-35B fighters embarked for the first time.

‘We’ve used this [Talisman Saber] exercise to work concept development, especially for the cruiser/frigate/destroyer integration into the force as we build towards adding the F-35B. Wasp will deploy with the F-35B in early 2018 for the first time. That will be our first opportunity to operate the complete package as we see the upgunned ESG,' Dalton explained,.

‘We’ve got a tremendous amount of insights into how we can take full advantage of that integration between amphibious capabilities and surface combatants, and all the capabilities with the aircraft and helicopters that the task force brings, so that, as we add the F-35B, it will be just another step and we will be proficient much more quickly in bringing these capabilities together.’
Story here. 

Sounds good don't it?  Sounds like a real smart thing to do don't it?  If the F-35 ever delivers as promised then it will take a dedicated task force to challenge our Expeditionary Strike Groups don't it?

But wait!  What about the freaking "disaggregated MEU concept"!!!!

via Marine Times.
Operating in multiple theaters and under separate chains of command likely will become a more common experience for troops deployed with Marine expeditionary units.

It's known as being disaggregated and split. The latter means ships within an amphibious ready group are more than 200 miles apart, the range of a helicopter. The former refers to those same ships operating in differing combatant commands.

Splitting an ARG is fairly routine, said Marine Col. L.M. Landon, branch head of plans, policies and operations. But disaggregating an MEU was much less common not long ago, he said.

"Historically, they generally stay together," Landon said. "Usually, you would have all three ships within a couple of hundred miles."

But that has changed over the years. The recently returned 22nd MEU, for example, undertook simultaneous operations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East and Africa during its deployment.

"I don't know how much more complicated you can get," said Navy Capt. Neil Karnes, ARG commander, during a briefing before policy experts at a Virginia-based think tank earlier this month.

There are several reasons driving the shift, said Landon, the primary one being the lack of standalone ARGs in the Mediterranean as well as in Central Command.

"You could ask most military guys: We'd rather have an [ARG] in the Mediterranean and another one in CentCom, but right now we can't get there," Landon said. "Disaggregate has become more common way now of operating."
So on one hand we're increasing the combat power of an MEU and on the other splitting it up?

I don't get it.

I don't understand how these competing ideas can be allowed under the same roof.  Additionally if the F-35 is the key to leveraging all this capability then the LPD and LSD are just around for shits and giggles.

Maybe the real answer is just to cancel the LX(R) stop work on the LPD class and just sail LHA/LHD.  They certainly can carry enough Marines (the air company and then the wing can act as SOCOMs bitch), so we would economically have a one ship MEU with an upgunned escort.

That's the only way this actually makes sense.

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