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  • #31
    The last large-scale ship to shore operation was OIF. A MEF consisting of the 1st Marine Div, 2d USMC Expeditionary Brigade, British 1st Arm Div (7th Arm Bde, 16 Air Assault Bde, 3 Commando Bde), made a combination of cross beach & air landing operations to seize the Al-Faw peninsula. 22 Infantry bn, 3 tank, 2 arm recon, seven artillery battalions. Plus a similar number of ground and air support units. In simple terms a corps landing force of two divisions. 5+ composite air groups supported.

    Previous largest was set in motion during Desert Storm. A reinforced Expeditionary Brigade was to land on the Kuwait coast. Unfortunately the USN discovered its neglected minesweeping forces failed to clear a useful lane and the USS Tripoli had its hull badly breached. The operation was aborted. Why the USN had allowed its mine sweeping force to become ineffective is a long story extending from Congressional tightfistedness to NATO politics..

    Previous combat ops were in the Caribbean. On Grenada a Navy amphib group landed a Marine battalion team on central Grenada while the Rangers & Cuban construction workers were busy pinning each other down. The Marines were unexpected due to successful intel deception op. Three rifle companies & a artillery battery ran amok across the under defended island seizing police stations & eventually coming up on the rear of the Cuban force.

    In Panama a Battalion Landing Team seized assorted points on the coast.

    The last large scale operation I trained for was in 1997, placed in North Korea. Those were a staple of that era & if the Marine Corps Gazette is reliable rehearsals for amphib incursions into Korea with multidivision corps continued far into the 20th Century. Those covered both map exercises to test planning and staff work, and live air. sea. land exercises on the coast.

    Enemy air defense has been a problem from WWII forward. In simple terms preparation fires and counter fires are the primary remedy. The term 'fires' here includes electronic warfare & deception techniques. This effort is at two levels. The first targets the longer range weapons. Targeting the C3, the radar, & any airborne air defense. Jamming, the modern version of Wild Weasels, air strikes and fires from naval vessels or artillery ashore are used. The second level of targets are the local AD weapons, usually shoulder fired. Suppressive fires on the ingress & egress routes & on the LZ are made. Aggressive counter fires are run from accompanying gunships and supporting aircraft or artillery. Deception actions like chaff or flares are common these days.

    At its core USMC doctrine for any attack is two part. 1. Attack where the defense is weak. 2. If the necessary attack focus is not weak you make it weak with Neutralizing & Suppressive fires. If you can't do either you judge the strategic gain vs the increased casualties and decide accordingly. Usually that leads you back to #1. Neither US politicians nor generals are very happy with casualty lists, so for the last 80 years US generals have usually hedged their bets.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post

      You have to give credit to British officer training to organize and improvise, both operations were slapped together quickly. Good officers and training cadres worth more than equipment?
      Been proved more times than I could count in my lifetime.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post

        Operation Musketeer 1956 - Anglo-French Invasion of Egypt

        war-of-algeria-operation-musketeers-or-operation-700-le-31-aot-1956-picture-id162857513.jpg

        Operation Sutton May 1982 - British invasion of the Falklands

        The_empire_strikes_back_newsweek.jpg
        Aside from the MEF operation in OIF there was also the Argentine invasion of the Falklands. A two for one there. So, we are up to four executed, and one aborted in the last few hours to H hour. Below the brigade size there dozens of small operations by many other nations than the US. The world is mostly surface with water & lots of hostile shore lines. If you want to impose your goals on the people on the far shore you had better be able to carry military operations across the water in a effective manner.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post

          Been proved more times than I could count in my lifetime.
          Hope you are feeling better!

          I think my ideal British officer is Wavell, I don't know even what rank to give him, he seems to have so many. Amazing all the improvised operations he was able to accomplish.
          Monty%2C_wavvel%2C_auk.jpg
          center figure, between Montgomery and the Auk
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Auchinleck
          Attached Files

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          • #35
            Originally posted by OttoHarkaman View Post
            I think my ideal British officer is.......
            Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 25th Chief of Clan Fraser and 15th Lord Lovat;

            or,

            Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill.

            "Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed." - "Mad Jack" Churchill



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

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            • #36
              Everyone is forgetting the (military) politics of this. When we get involved in a war, everybody wants to come to the party--witness Grenada and Panama. If you don't have the proper toys to play with others, you won't get invited. If they were light infantry, the Marines wouldn't have been involved in Desert Storm.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                Everyone is forgetting the (military) politics of this. When we get involved in a war, everybody wants to come to the party--witness Grenada and Panama. If you don't have the proper toys to play with others, you won't get invited. If they were light infantry, the Marines wouldn't have been involved in Desert Storm.
                I can't really say they wouldn't have been. Certainly they wouldn't have been part of the spearhead into Kuwait. But the landing feint would have still happened. And certainly other forces like the Foreign Legion went into Desert Storm without heavy armored assets. In a major land war, I sort of see the Corps as a 'fire brigade' type of force that moves quickly to a point where the Army might be having some trouble, be it a city, a heavily forested area, etc. In those circumstances, heavy armor is not always necessary and can be an impediment to rapid repositioning.

                I see the Corps as defending or attacking things like Islands in SE Asia and the Pacific. And making or being the spearhead of amphibious assaults into major theaters. At which point, like the Airborne, they're pushed past by Big Army and then take a rapid reserve role. Make the beachhead, hold it against local counterattacks, maybe take a port town/city, and then the black bottoms bring in the Mechanized Divisions and Armored Cavalry to pursue follow-on operations.

                While tanks are undoubtedly very useful in cities, if you're building up from scratch(ish), you can optimize your lighter armor for that sort of warfare without taking away its ability to fight in the open. Things like RWSs, high angle main guns, multi-purpose rocket/missile systems, etc can be built into a new build easier than they can be retrofitted onto an MBT, and I don't see us Building an M3 MBT any time soon.
                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                  ... and I don't see us Building an M3 MBT any time soon.
                  This brings visions of US M1 tanks still in use over time rivaling the B52 bombers use. The beast has four decades on it. Will battalions still be in use circa 2060?

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post

                    This brings visions of US M1 tanks still in use over time rivaling the B52 bombers use. The beast has four decades on it. Will battalions still be in use circa 2060?
                    With passive protection realistically no different, and active protection being the new technology.

                    With the next step up being a 130 or 140mm gun, which can fit in the turret ring.

                    With there being space for a sufficient engine in the hull.

                    Yeah, I see the M1 being viable into 2060 as a front line MBT. Probably an M1A4, with a 130 or 140mm autoloader, maybe just a crew of 3, but I don't see it going away anytime soon. Realistically it's already at the top of the curve on weight, unless someone develops a revolutionary new armor scheme, which is doubtful, I don't see the hull at least changing....I see a wholly redesigned turret by then though to accomodate the gun and other systems.
                    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                    • #40
                      I could understand lightening up the MEUs for maybe raiding some hypothetical island military bases somewhere near Asia but getting rid of all armor is wrong. Sometimes, even the lightest units need a big stick. You're limiting your options and capabilities then,

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                        I could understand lightening up the MEUs for maybe raiding some hypothetical island military bases somewhere near Asia but getting rid of all armor is wrong. Sometimes, even the lightest units need a big stick. You're limiting your options and capabilities then,
                        The only issue I have with it is thus:

                        A MEU comes in with a platoon of M1s. 4 typical, 6 maximum with spares. That's a LOT of tonnage at 70t a pop set aside for just 4 tanks. And honestly, that's barely 'fire brigade' levels of force for a battalion.

                        From the landing perspective, you can't airlift them by helo, so you have to put them into a port or a beach. You take up an entire LCAC run Per Tank, so that's a LOT of time spent to bring in said tank platoon that could be spent bringing ashore a lot of tons of other things or multiples per run of smaller vehicles.

                        The only thing an MBT is 'efficiently good' at is killing other MBTs. It's patently overkill for most anything else. And modern ATGMs are good enough that they can adequately handle tanks in the infantry support role. The MBT is 'armored cavalry' and quite wasted by putting a platoon into a battalion.

                        70t tanks require a certain level of road, bridge, etc to operate. If you're running around with light armored vehicles that are averaging the weight of a dump truck, then you can be reasonably certain that they'll operate on any roads or bridges in the area designed for commercial traffic. Even in 3rd World nations. OTOH, the M1A1 or M1A2 are heavy enough that you have to think about which roads you'd be taking in the USA.....and in the 2nd and 3rd world you're highly limited to your bridges, which reduce your options massively.

                        Overall, the MBTs belong in the Army. IF we had light tanks, the Corps could use those quite well as they'd fit better into its mission.
                        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                        • #42
                          So the marines have M1s but no Bradleys? Considering Bradleys destroyed more vehicles during the Gulf war I would have thought that IFV would've been more of a help than a hinderance.
                          "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                          Ernest Hemingway.

                          "We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened by trivialities."
                          Bukowski

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                            So the marines have M1s but no Bradleys? Considering Bradleys destroyed more vehicles during the Gulf war I would have thought that IFV would've been more of a help than a hinderance.
                            Sort of the opposite.

                            The Corps has never used Bradleys. It's used a variety of other vehicles, LAVs, AAVs, and the like. The Corps would still have an amphibious IFV. It would be getting rid of the MBTs.
                            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                            • #44
                              Tac--you misunderstood what I was saying. I was agreeing with stripping the tanks from MEUs so that they would become light raiding units. I was saying that getting rid of the tank battalions was wrong since it would limit/weaken the entire Corps.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                                Tac--you misunderstood what I was saying. I was agreeing with stripping the tanks from MEUs so that they would become light raiding units. I was saying that getting rid of the tank battalions was wrong since it would limit/weaken the entire Corps.
                                I partially agree with you on your argument vis a vis the battalions.

                                The other consideration is budget. The Corps has a grand total of 4 tank battalions. Say 5 if you stripped the tanks from everything else. The Corps does not have the other assets to make a 'cavalry' division, and these would basically be 'heavy tank battalions' in infantry divisions. I'm definitely not against that.

                                OTOH, 4ish battalions of tanks means a rather sizable chunk of money, in training, in maintenance, and in equipment and personnel. The Corps is always strapped for cash to do any project. So with that in mind, if I could have 4 battalions of older model M1s, or I could have 4 battalions of new IFVs, from a budget standpoint I'd probably go with the IFVs. The Corps uses an older variant of the M1, and has not had the budget (or need) to upgrade it to M1A2 or any of the post A2 upgrades.

                                For the reasons that I listed that make the M1A1 a bit of a liability to mobility and 3rd world operations, I think that the Corps would be better served overall by getting an AAV replacement that's also a real IFV and using it as such. Or getting an AFV replacement that comes in IFV and 'light tank' variants and replace the M1s with a lighter tank that can use local bridges and roads and can cross rivers and land amphibiously if required.
                                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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