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  • USMC proposed restructuring

    There appears to be some changes coming for the USMC:

    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...rones-missiles

    https://news.usni.org/2020/03/23/new...ittoral-forces

    https://www.overtdefense.com/2020/03...0-china-pivot/

    Even if the USMC needs to restructure into a lighter force, cutting so much artillery seems risky. Can rocket batteries really make up the difference?
    Last edited by KRJ; 29 Mar 20, 23:58.
    "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

  • #2
    I read somewhere, no tanks as well?
    (oh I see one of your articles is about that)

    I wouldn't even think of invading those fortified islands, if its all out war I would gas or neutron bomb them.
    Last edited by OttoHarkaman; 30 Mar 20, 06:09.

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    • #3
      In general I find ditching the Abrams to be fine. The USMC doesn't particularly need to be just another corps sized element of the Army. From an amphibious operations perspective, the Abrams is an absolute PITA to deploy onto a beach, both in transportation and in terrain choice. What the Corps needs is a solid replacement for the AMTRACK, and then if you want more, a light tank. Something like the Weisel weapons carrier could also be rather useful as you can put a whole platoon of them on an LCAC for a landing and get a lot of protected fire support onto the beach rapidly.

      I'm not a huge fan of the downsizing of the air elements though. When I was in, the doctrine was beach + air assault inland of beach as a simultaneous evolution to overwhelm a defense and get maximum numbers of infantry into the fight quickly all across the assault point. I still think this is a valid doctrine as in the modern era an amphibious landing is going to be mostly about speed to get your forces ashore before the enemy can occupy commanding defenses.
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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      • #4
        Originally posted by KRJ View Post
        There appears to be some changes coming for the USMC:



        Even if the USMC needs to restructure into a lighter force, cutting so much artillery seems risky. Can rocket batteries really make up the difference?

        I think you really have to cut the artillery if you want to go lighter. I'm a bit ambivalent about the rockets as well. Though stuff like the Israeli Spike NLOS and such would at least give the idea that you can have relatively portable long-range precision fires. In the artillery department I'd cut down on the M777 batteries, and maybe go to a vehicle-mounted 120mm mortar as my primary artillery for my infantry, relying on air support for counter-battery against near-peer opponents.

        If I was working on procurement for the Corps, I'd have these questions to ask about any new piece of equipment:

        1) Is it amphibious on its own. If yes, good to go.

        If no:

        2) How many of them can be fitted onto a single landing craft. You want maximum efficiency to get the maximum ashore as quickly as possible.

        3) Can you lift it by helo, internally? externally? Osprey capable?

        I think that everything in the inventory for the Corps should be able to fit within these requirements, you want a force that is optimized for breaking IN, and then for light and quick movements once the Army has taken over the main effort. You don't need the heavy mechanized forces and artillery batteries, you have ships, aircraft, and your organic support weapons should be maximizing their speed of ground movement and ease to get ashore or bring in by bird.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #5
          Theres a lot to see here & only a few new things. Most of the new is in the form of technical gadgets & evolution of exiting technology. When I entered the Corps in 1975 there was ongoing debate over the increasing weight in the USMC units. To fight on the NATO fronts the Marines were having to heavy up to compete with Red Army of Warsaw Pact equipment and methods. The exercises, analysis, tests, ect... indicated 'light' infantry or rifle battalions with light support were ineffective vs Red Army style units. This led to the high fire power combined arms units of the 1980s & 1990s that could severely damage Warsaw Pact type ground combat units. Overkill in the case of the Iraqi army of 1990.

          After a decade or so with the Marines I understood this light vs heavy debate had been underway since the very early 20th Century. The last time the Marines truly fielded light infantry was in Nicaragua 1924-1934. Even there it was light only in the sense the battalions were not oversupplied with weapons. Mostly rifles & BAR with a few MG. But the Marine regiment (Brigade actually) in Nicaragua was actually fairly hefty with a independent logistics element, and a large composite air group. For half a decade in this Banana War the Marines substituted air support for artillery. Overall the trend was to wards heavy with some periodic steps back to lighter. There was usually a mix of light and heavy. ie: The Raider and Para battalions were a return to light infantry, while the other Marine battalions added weapons & heft in fire power and combat vehicles.

          As the Marines got heavy in the 1980s there was a louder cry from a minority the Corps needed to lighten up. We were told we'd never fight a enemy like the Japanese again, that the future was fighting irregulars & guerrillas in Third World nations. The light proponents ignored the NATO commitment that placed Marine task groups in the path of Pact tank divisions. DESERT STORM put a end to that for a while. DS II twelve years later showed the value of heavy high firepower when we blew through the Iraqi army a second time. Over the next decade the light proponents had the better argument as the Marines were required to fight a guerrilla war in a urban environment. by 2010 the pendulum began swinging back. The return of a aggressive Russian state & reviving NATO commitments meant the artillery battalions ceased the security mission & started serious training with the cannons, as did everyone else.

          Looking over the linked articles above what Im seeing is the problem of fighting a maritime war along the Pacfic rim. Which is the same problem the USN/Marines were looking at since the war scare of 1907. & I'm seeing the same basic solutions.

          Do these sound familiar?

          The aim is to have three Marine Littoral Regiments (MLRs) stood-up by 2030 equipped and trained for the sea-control and sea-denial fight, closing sea lanes to the Chinese fleet. The MLRs will likely operate in small task elements around islands in the Pacific, focusing on the South China Sea, establishing Expeditionary Advance Base Operationsto deny freedom of maneuver to the PLA Navy. The MLRs will be supported by three Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) able to deploy globally.
          Between 1908 & 1925 the Navy developed Base Defense Battalions. These were to provide a solid defense of key islands, either to deny them to the enemy, or protect a forward base there. These were task organized units, usually centered on batteries of 3" DP & 5" DP cannon. For area sea interdiction they usually had a composite air squadron or group to attack over the horizon. The Marine Littoral regiments are at their heart the same thing. Missiles and swarms of drones replace the naval guns and single engine fighters and dive bombers of the 1920s, 30s & 40s. The base defense battalions were task organized to fit the specific location & mission. These littoral regiments are a combined arms pool from which tailored task forces can be made up for deployment.

          This new concept of operations will see the Corps operating more closely with the Navy than ever before. Marine elements will be seamlessly incorporated in the larger naval expeditionary warfare battle plan
          Nothing new here. The seamlessly incorporated forces are not unlike the Marine Expeditionary Brigades and Amphibious Forces of the 1920s & 1930s. As the Pacific war progressed combat & operational experience refined the amphibious forces into a very effective combined arms Naval, Ground, and Air unit. Operations in Korea, Viet Nam, & Iraq drew the Marines ashore as a attachment to the Army, but the combined amphibious force continued underused but refined and modernized. Whats really happening here is that in a war on the Asian Pacific Rim the Marines will be operating as part of a combined maritime or sea force that can use the coastal land features as well as the water to operate.

          with the Corps actively trailing a concept known as HIMARS Rapid Infiltration, or HI-RAIN which would see HIMARS air transported into a contested area and conducting a fires mission before being rapidly exfiltrated again by air.
          Again the past is future. Artillery raids reach back as far as crew served projectile throwers existed. In Viet Nam artillery raids now used helicopters. Such were a staple of our training to the end of my service in 1997. In 1985 a division artillery operations officer & I planned a massed raid of three artillery battalions using ground movement to & from the firing positions. In 1991 a similar multi battery raid was executed vs the Iraqi defense. Swiftly shifting cannon around for a specific hit & move mission was used in Iraq & Afghanistan occasionally. Toting the HIMARS around the battle area with vertical lift vehicles is more of the same with different model numbers on the equipment.

          Could go on at length. but it would become redundant. There are probably some items which the USN/Marines have not used much or not at all, but Id have to look at this in detail to see exactly what.

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          • #6
            Carl Schwamberg

            I agree with your assessment, and yeah, this pendulum has swung many times since there was enough of a gear gap between light and heavy forces to make a difference.

            As a landing support guy, I remember that the biggest things we had to plan for on Beach Ops were the LCU beach and the LCAC beach. And planning for how/where to move tracked vehicles vs wheeled vehicles vs containerized loads and such. Mostly because tracks utterly shred the beach and make it temporarily impassable to wheeled vehicles until you've run over it with a D7 dozer to clean it back up.

            I guess my opinion on the Corps is one of getting back to the roots. Being a force that majors in COIN and Amphibs. If you're going to do a division-sized operation to break into say "Somalia", you land a MEU or a MEB, they take the beachhead, maybe a port, and then you bring in an Army division to do the major ground operation. The MEU then becomes a rear security force to cover the flanks and/or a 'flying column' combination of light motorized troops and air assault to take an objective or reinforce an Army unit that's found itself in a pickle.

            To that end, I think that you need to put at least 4 of our vehicles on an LCAC or LCU in order to facilitate rapid deployment once the beach has been taken. Anything heavier should be the AMTRACKs themselves.

            Ultimately I'd like to see something along the lines of a true IFV with a 30-40mm gun as the 'heavy' vehicle of the Corps. This would be the AMTRACK replacement and be self-deploying. Beyond that, I think that we need to go light on the vehicles and focus them on infantry support roles. I like the Wiesel in principle, something that can be air transported in reasonable numbers quickly, takes up little shipboard space, and brings things like mortars, light cannon, heavy machine guns, ATGMs, and air defense to the battle for the infantry in a relatively durable package compared to soft-skins but is still highly mobile and lightweight. There's nothing wrong with the infantry staying foot mobile or in later stages truck-mobile with separate support weapons carriers to push firepower assets that can be cumbersome to carry up with the light infantry....while still keeping the infantry light.

            The big thing is that with something in that class, your second wave can consist of an LCAC carrying a couple of infantry platoons and a platoon of supporting fires, getting maximum flexibility onto the beach. And the lighter vehicles won't wreck the beach exits like the tanks will, so you're overall moving faster to get off the beachhead or airhead and into creating that enclave that the Army can deploy into with its heavy assets.

            So overall you have the Infantry themselves, plus integral weapons carriers as a part of the infantry bringing heavier mortars, light cannons, ATGMs and HMGs, plus the amphibious craft with their cannons, MGs, and ATGMS, plus HIMARS for artillery supporting fires. Not a truly 'light' force, but definitely more of a 'medium' force designed for short intense bursts of combat rather than having the tanks, artillery batteries, and other assets that make them just another Army Corps with amphibious capabilities.

            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
              In the artillery department I'd cut down on the M777 batteries, and maybe go to a vehicle-mounted 120mm mortar as my primary artillery for my infantry, relying on air support for counter-battery against near-peer opponents.
              I was surprised to learn the USMC got rid of its towed 120mm mortars. But even if it goes to mounted 120mm mortars and that proves a good choice for indirect fire, is there not still a role for direct fire artillery? Can rocket units perform the direct fire artillery task to the same degree?

              "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

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              • #8
                In short bursts, yes. Long term fire support, no. But then I'd counter that if they're going to a lighter faster corps, they don't need long-term fire support, or that can be provided by air or shipboard assets. Obviously if you're doing an amphibious assault, you have a variety of 5in guns on tap.
                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                • #9
                  Sounds like the whole thing is a cost cutting program pretending to be restructuring program.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                    In short bursts, yes. Long term fire support, no. But then I'd counter that if they're going to a lighter faster corps, they don't need long-term fire support, or that can be provided by air or shipboard assets. Obviously if you're doing an amphibious assault, you have a variety of 5in guns on tap.
                    Sure, but during the era of big amphibious assaults, there were 14 and 16 inch guns on tap.

                    Funny story, somewhat related. Being a cop and a Marine you might be familiar with this.

                    The late Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame served in the USS Pennsylvania's Marine Detachment in WWII. The Pennsylvania was an older ship and not well suited to naval battles so she served as a mobile gun platform for invasions. She was called the "shootingist ship in the Navy." Unlike most battleships with a Marine Detachment, the Pennsylvania actually landed some of her Marines.

                    The story goes that a young Marine officer - guess who - was ashore on forward observer duty and bewildered in high grass (apparently Marine officers don't admit to being lost). This young officer climbed a tree to get his bearings and saw a Jap at close range about the same time the Jap saw him. The young officer killed the Jap with his 1911 while hanging on to the tree.

                    Apparently, Cooper would tell this "sea story" but would never confirm that he was the officer in question.
                    Last edited by KRJ; 31 Mar 20, 00:36.
                    "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KRJ View Post
                      The late Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame
                      That is a cool bit of trivia, if you could call it that

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KRJ View Post

                        Sure, but during the era of big amphibious assaults, there were 14 and 16 inch guns on tap.
                        So I'm of two minds on this as I get older. I used to be a BB fanboi. Now don't get me wrong, I still love the battlewagons. And I think that the Navy got rid of some seriously useful fire support assets when they retired all the BBs and CAs without any sort of replacement.

                        That being said, 14 and 16in guns really aren't the best for NGFS. Something between 5 and 8 inches is pretty much the best NGFS weapon for an amphibious assault. They're not so much overkill that they can't closely support the Marines, and they're still on average more powerful than their land-based counterparts by a decent margin.

                        For a modern landing, I'd expect it to be MEU (battalion) or MEB (Brigade) strength. It wouldn't be a case of laying down massed suppressive fires for 2-3 days in advance. Before the task force gets into position, the carriers would do DEAD to prepare the aerial battlefield. After all, no sense in landing on a beach when you're still heavily contesting the air over it. You'd want t suppress/destroy along a decent swath of coast that includes multiple likely beaches so you maximize the chance for at least localized surprise.

                        On D-Day, if you have air supremacy, you use B52s to Arc Light just inland from your beach. Nothing beats removing a grid square for shocking the enemy into keeping their heads down. You also Tomahawk all known bunkers or missile/artillery sites that could attack your assault wave. Your first wave hits the beach within an hour. Then your second wave comes in within 30 minutes of that bringing follow on troops and the landing support element that will direct the 3rd and follow on waves. Simultaneous your air support is hitting targets of opportunity and responding to calls for fire. HIMARS on the gators are also providing fires, and you have a couple of Burkes also providing fires.

                        A BB would be a great asset, but figure that it's going to only be firing on one day, maybe two tops before you're pushing towards the limits of its capabilities. I'd like to see a command ship for gator task forces that has a pair of 8in guns that could fire full caliber and/or extended range projectiles. 8in gunned ships like the Newport News were probably the most efficient ships for NGFS overall.
                        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
                          I read somewhere, no tanks as well?
                          (oh I see one of your articles is about that)

                          I wouldn't even think of invading those fortified islands, if its all out war I would gas or neutron bomb them.
                          In total violation of the Geneva Convention?

                          I'm with you, but those politicians? Not a chance.

                          But we could just MOAB them into extinction.



                          Aerial footage of strike:

                          Last edited by Mountain Man; 02 Apr 20, 15:23.
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                            we could just MOAB them into extinction.
                            I agree! I don't see an advantage with a human wave assault on those island fortresses, end up worse than Tarawa. We just need to deny their use to the enemy.

                            tarawa_beach_after_the_fight.jpg
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              I have always thought that we should have done that to the Pacific Islands during WWII, rather than slaughter tens of thousands of young Marines in frontal assaults. We had enough gas to do it, and we had safe delivery systems. After all, we nuked entire cities full of civilians.

                              Meanwhile, we no longer need the US Army. We just need a brand new, restructered and fully equipped USMC. Pans me to say that, being a retired Army guy myself, but there it is.
                              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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