Thursday, April 16, 2020

Did the Marine Corps Just Commit Suicide?

via Traditional Right.
Unfortunately, the mistakes here cut far deeper than fewer or more units of this or that. The proposed changes include three strategic errors, at least two of which are sufficient alone to put the Marine Corps’ continued existence in peril. They are:

Re-aligning the Corps to the NDS, which is to say focusing on war with China. We are not going to fight a war with China, because China is a nuclear power. Nuclear powers do not fight each other conventionally because the risk of escalation to nuclear war is too great. The whole NDS is a work of fiction, designed to justify patterns and levels of defense spending that flow out of the Cold War or in some cases (especially the Navy) World War II (a cynic might say all our services have become clubs for World War II reenactors). Worse still, General Berger’s changes build a fiction inside a fiction, namely that when we fight China the Marine Corps’ mission will be taking Chinese-held islands, presumably in the South China Sea. In the war with Japan, Marines took Japanese-held islands to create a chain leading to air bases that put us in bombing range of Japan. The islands now held by China, except Hainan, have no strategic significance. In World War II, we bypassed such islands (thereby undermining Japan’s strategy). Even Hainan is significant only as the base for the South China fleet. Fleets are mobile. If we took Hainan, it would simply sail north. What all this adds up to is re-configuring the Marine Corps for a campaign that makes no sense in a war that will not happen. That great blunder puts the Corp’s existence in peril.

So does a second blunder: focusing on “hi-tech” war built around long-range fires. The Marine Corps survived the 20th century because it offered capabilities the other services did not. The U.S. military already has a vast surplus of long-range fires, courtesy of the Navy and the Air Force. Now, with these changes, the Corps will define its capability as adding a pea-shooter to a broadside of 16-inch guns. Even if we take our fictitious scenario as real, the Chinese would not even notice the Marine Corps was involved. Becoming like the other services, a strategic blunder the Marine Corp began making in the mid-1990s and will now carry forward aggressively, means we won’t need a Marine Corps any more, except perhaps a battalion of embassy guards.

A third strategic blunder will probably not be noticed outside the Marine Corps but it will nonetheless reduce the value of what the Corps offers the nation. While the Commandant references maneuver warfare with regard to dispersing amphibious forces, a move that has merit, focusing on trading long-range fires with any opponent marks a return to a firepower/attrition understanding of war. In effect, it says future war will be a contest between trebuchets flinging pianos at each other. If we look around the world, that is not where war is going. In almost every case, state armed services that have vast superiority in long-range fires over their Fourth Generation opponents are losing, including us in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Doctrinally, the Commandant’s vision faces backwards.
Then this.

.....let the other services make the blunder of re-shaping themselves to accord with the fictional NDS and go instead where war is going, to become the nation’s force of choice for Fourth Generation war overseas. Just as the other services neglected amphibious warfare during the 1920s and ‘30s and the Marine Corps of that time created a unique capability the country ended up needing, so it can do the same now with 4GW. It need not follow the other lemmings over a cliff.

The answer?

Yes.  The Marine Corps is committing suicide.

His solution?  Partially right.  10% chance of a direct confrontation with China. More likely is a fight with terrorists, Chinese proxies and rogue nations.

The USMC is gearing up for the wrong fight with the wrong force structure with the wrong equipment.

Reinforce the MEU by adding a fourth ship.  Go in the opposite direction and mech up.  The Wing is already reinforced but the Ground Combat Element has been neglected for over two decades.  Beef it up.  Increase cannons, get a decent 120mm mortar.  Get mobile on the ground and in the air (air is already covered).

Be prepared to fight hybrid terror forces and rogue nations with advanced weapons. 

Do all of the above and fighting the Chinese will be cake...if that fight comes in the next 20 - 30 years.

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