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Marines, Navy Scrap Over Future

Defense analyst and consultant Loren Thompson is hearing some of the same things we are about the budget pressure induced friction growing between the Navy and the Marine Corps:

Among other things, the Corps wants about 38 amphibious warships, more robust surface fire support, greatly enhanced vertical agility in its air wings, and a more versatile landing vehicle.

The Navy doesn’t want to buy hardly any of this. Its future force posture supplies about 20 percent fewer amphibious warships than Marine planners say they need. The DDG-1000 destroyer, which was designed around long-range guns that could deliver sustained rates of precision fire, will be terminated at a mere three hulls. Navy aviators have been bad-mouthing the Marine vertical-takeoff version of the F-35 joint strike fighter since it was first conceived. And the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle that would revolutionize ship-to-shore landings has been targeted for termination by the Navy secretary. In sum, the Navy leadership is opposed to much of what Marine leaders say they need for the future.
The Navy leadership knows the fleet will shrink. The shipbuilding budget will not buy a 313-ship battle fleet, and the Navy prefers to buy capital ships over amphibious assault ships. At about $4 billion a copy, new LHAs and LHDs are too costly; especially for a mission --amphibious forcible entry -- that the Navy hasn’t done since 1950.

The proliferation of low-cost, precision anti-ship missiles into the arsenals of potential enemies means large deck amphibious ships are becoming “wasting assets.” To lift troops, and the armored vehicles to protect them from enemy anti-armor weapons once ashore, large RoRo ships, High Speed Vessels and other Military Sealift Command ships with large capacities are more cost effective.

The reality is that moving men and materiel ashore requires a port, one you can enter and control; the Desert Shield/Storm model of ground force projection is a more realistic model for force structure planning than Inchon or Tarawa.

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