Sunday, March 17, 2019

MEF sized forces controlling distributed operations with some units as small as Rifle Squads? Command/Control is gonna be a bear...

Members of I Marine Expeditionary Force taking part in Pacific Blitz 2019 may find themselves helping the Navy attack enemy ships with long-range precision fires from shore positions.

About 5,000 Marines from I MEF joined approximately 5,000 sailors operating on four ships from the Navy's 3rd Fleet on March 12 for the large-scale, joint exercise off the coast of Southern California. It runs until March 26.

For the Marines, some of the focus of the exercise will be on "how are we doing naval integration in such a way that we can contribute to the sea control fight that the Navy would be prosecuting" against a near-peer adversary such as China or Russia, Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of I MEF, told defense reporters Friday.

"Some of [what] we are looking at is ... by putting a landing force ashore, for example, how would that landing force project fires, both kinetic and non-kinetic, to help achieve sea control?" he said.

This could be made possible using developmental missile technology designed to be retrofitted onto the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS, Osterman said.

"We would be able to ... project things like that ashore to be able to conduct anti-surface fires from the shore," he said.

Marines might also act as forward observers from shore, using high-tech sensors on unmanned aerial systems to target enemy ships for naval fires.

"Maybe the force that's ashore is actually doing the target acquisition and target identification through electronic means or visual means. Or let's say a UAS operating from the shore then cues a naval shooter that is over the horizon," Osterman said. "This would allow, from a sea control perspective, for the ground forces to actually be woven in … That we could help contribute to."

It has been about two years since I MEF participated in such a large-scale exercise, but the Marine Corps is trying to get back to having a MEF-level exercise every year, he said.
Story here. 

Well we've gotten the answer to at least one question.  We understand better the buy of the Predator UAVs.  The Marine Corps is going all in on the fighting for sea control from the shore.  The Predators are gonna provide targeting data to fires from ships, MLRS, shore based anti-ship missiles batteries and everything else they can get networked in.

Additionally I don't have an answer (at least in this story) about the Marines buying land based anti-ship missiles.  I do however get the impression that its gonna have to be compatible (in what way I don't know) with the HIMARS platform.

Last but not least I have to wonder if a MEF will be able to control all the tasks that are being thrown under its roof. 

I expect the sea control fight to happen simultaneously with the fight on land. So they're gonna direct widely dispersed unit while at the same time fighting the naval battle?

That sounds like a command and control nightmare.  I don't have much insight to this part of things but do they have the bandwidth to do all the things they want?

Are we setting ourselves up to have one point of failure that they enemy will try to exploit?  Attacking our comms would be mission number one for any threat force if I was them.

I'm sure planners are aware but I haven't read anything that indicates how they plan to solve the problem.  That should be interesting.

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