Friday, January 25, 2019

Marines want amphibs armed for the coming fight...

via USNI News.
In this type of warfare, Coffman argued while speaking to reporters after his speech, a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group and the accompanying Marine Expeditionary Unit will not be sufficient. No longer can “three amphibious ships and a commodore and a colonel can move around and get it done.” Rather, he said, the Navy and Marine Corps need to become more proficient in operating larger Expeditionary Strike Groups with Marine Expeditionary Brigades that can sustain themselves for longer fights, and in fighting alongside carrier strike groups as part of a large Expeditionary Strike Force.

Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for plans, policies and operations, expressed a similar sentiment during his speech at the SNA event, noting that the ARG of today will not be sufficient for a future fight.

In his mind, the solution is either alternate ship formations that bring in destroyers or cruisers to help protect the amphibious ships and their embarked Marines, or upgrades to the amphibs themselves to allow for organic self-protection.
Story here.

Wow!  I should be getting paid for consulting work by the Marine Corps!  How many times have I shouted on these pages that we need a "Reinforced MEU" by adding another amphibious ship to the package!

But the General is getting this wrong.

He's playing outside his lane.  Why do we (Marines) keep insisting on telling the Navy what ships to build?  Navy Matters has a MUST READ that lays out his thoughts on the matter (here) but suffice it to say we're in complete agreement.

As for the part about operating in Marine Expeditionary Brigades?  I thought that was more a "command and control" function.  Didn't they exercise bringing a couple of MEUs together to form a "Brigade (-)"?

But back to the issue at hand.  Do you know the last time that I can remember the Marine Corps demanded that a ship be built?   I'm NOT talking about standard amphibs.

Yeah that's right.  This abomination that you see below...

Yeah.  The Expeditionary Transfer Dock.  I'll never forget what I heard the Skipper of one of these ships say.  To paraphrase (and this is while he was on exercise), "we're still figuring out how to use it"! 

You heard my gripe now hear my solution.

The budget is what the budget is.  The Marine Corps isn't in a position to dictate ship building to the Navy.  Adding Vertical Launch Cells or whatever to our amphibs isn't going to get us much except to make them even higher value targets in a peer vs peer fight.

Working to get more escorts is probably the way to go...fewer Destroyers sailing solo and more assigned to shadow the Gators.  Additionally we should rationalize the ESD.  We have a total of 5 on order.  Two should be the LCAC Carriers. Modifications should be relatively minor.  Instead of doing at sea transfers from amphib to ESD and then onto LCAC for our gear they would be pure landing craft carriers.

As for the other three?  They should all be brought up to the ESD Variant Class.  The modifications I would recommend is to remove the facilities at the bow of the ship and reclaim that deck space.  These ships would NOT sail alone but would serve as lilly pads for excess aircraft for big deck amphibs or LPDs.  If hangar/maintenance facilities are a must have then it would require more modification and we would revert to the original style that was first thought of long ago.  The lower deck would get "walls" to waterproof it and we would add an elevator so aircraft could be lowered to be worked on.

I think modifying these ships would be an easier sell to the Navy than demanding that we do another design change and add missiles to the amphibs.

One thing is certain.

The budget situation requires cooperation, not requests or demands.  Decreased budgets are baked into the cake (even if Trump backed down on the idea).  The money is gone.  We've got to get smarter!

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