Monday, May 20, 2013

Marine Corps Insists on High Speed ACV

The crowded sea lanes and widespread, cheap overhead surveillance, commercial, as well as, military, make the idea of maintaining tactical surprise by staying just over the horizon with an invasion fleet about as realistic as painting an elephant charcoal grey and trying to hide it in Time Square.  The truth is today’s naval forces cannot conduct an amphibious assault today against even a moderately equipped enemy with an army, air force and air defenses.  And, if a few amphibious tractors and helicopters made it ashore, how would these meager Marine elements meaningfully exploit the landing? The answer is clear: The Marines could not penetrate inland fast enough to either secure gains or survive.

Thus, the real question is if “force entry” with amphibious Marines is not operationally or tactically viable why do we need 3 divisions and 3 wings of Marines along with more than 30 large amphibious ships?  In addition, if the Marines are going to restrict their operations to Third World areas where modern military capability does not exist – Fiji, Haiti, Belize, Liberia, Namibia etc…  – then, the operations the Marines propose to conduct can be executed with far fewer Marines than we have today.

 The Marine Corps has very limited maneuver/exploitation capability.  It deploys two small tank battalions (33 tanks each) and four LAV (armored trucks) battalions with very limited artillery. In the words of a Naval War College Analyst: “The Marines are similar to the Jordanian Army, with one third of the Jordanian Army’s armored vehicles.”

It is force that depends heavily on air strikes for survival and effectiveness as explained in this 2004 report from Iraq:

“… in Najaf, two battalions of the Army’s tanks did what a lighter marine battalion could not, inflicting huge casualties on Mr. Sadr’s insurgents while taking almost none of their own. The 70-ton tanks and 25-ton Bradleys pushed to the gates of the Imam Ali shrine at the center of the old city. Meanwhile, the marines spent most of the fight raiding buildings far from the old city. Even so, seven marines died, and at least 30 were seriously wounded, according to commanders here, while only two soldiers died and a handful were injured.”

Alex Berenson, The New York Times, August 29, 2004

May 14, 2013
Marine Corps Insists on High Speed ACV
By Matthew Cox

U.S. Marine Corps officials told lawmakers that speed is a top requirement for its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle even if it means trading troop capacity to get it.
The Marine ACV program is designed to produce a modern ship-to-shore vehicle that’s twice as fast as the current Amphibious Assault Vehicle. 

Corps officials maintain that the ACV is one it the services top modernization priorities, but lawmakers at a May 14 Senate Armed Services hearing seemed skeptical since the Marines last attempt at such an endeavor – the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – ended in a $3 billion failure 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wanted to know “What are we doing differently this time? … When you look at the cost of the high speed in the water issue; when you look back on it in retrospect, it is just nonsense,” McCain said. 

Marine officials explained that the Corps using all the lessons learned from the EFV program – which focused on achieving increased high-water speed – to ensure the same mistakes don’t occur again. 

“Capabilities such as high-water speed will be weighed carefully for affordability and for trade space so we understand what we are giving up if in fact we want to achieve the high-water speed,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Mills deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration. 

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, wanted to know how many Marines the new ACV will carry.
“The present AAV is designed to carry at least a squad of Marines,” Reed said. “When you look forward to the new ACV, is that going to maintain that same unit integrity?”

 Marine officials said they would know more in October when the Corps is scheduled to receive a report from industry that will look trade space areas that will help program officials set requirement priorities.

 “The number of Marines inside it would be one of those areas where we would look at possible trade space,” Mills said..

 The ACV is capable of traveling at more than 15 knots in high water, compared to the current AAV which has a top speed of seven knots, Mills said.