Tags: Marine Corps | Pentagon cuts

Amphibious Capabilities Likely to Save Marines From Budget Ax

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 12:58 PM

Afghanistan and Iraq are officially over and military leaders are wincing at current and anticipated troop and budget cuts, but one branch of America's military might, the Marine Corps, is likely to remain "Semper Fi-nanced."

That's because the unique features in the Marines' approach to combat make the service branch the go-to team in future conflicts, Dr. Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, writes in Forbes.

First, Thompson notes, the Marines' mission of being an amphibious-based assault force will be more in demand than ever in the future.

"Its utility resides in the fact that it does not require land bases or the permission of foreign governments to take military action. Instead, it is organized around Amphibious Ready Groups of three warships each, operated by the Navy, that can support a Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,200 personnel with all the air power, ground vehicles, landing craft and logistics capability necessary to execute a 'combined arms' operation against enemies ashore.

"Because Marines are based at sea, they typically will be able to respond to regional crises ahead of other U.S. forces," Thompson wrote.

The forward-looking Corps agrees. "As global natural resources become scarcer and competition for these resources increases, migration to coastal areas will rise. Add to this scenario the fact that many of these regions are undeveloped, and the conditions for conflict ripen. Fortunately for our nation and world, these emerging threats align with the Marine Corps' foremost area of expertise. Marines have the amphibious capabilities to reach areas traditional forces cannot and are able to operate without ports, airstrips or significant infrastructure," the Marine Corps website notes.

The Marines also rely on forward deployment, keeping a third of its force pre-positioned at sea near potential crisis areas and always ready to go, Thompson notes.

The Corps is flexible, capable of launching operations from unique technological platforms such as jump jets and rotorcraft that can take off and land without runways and landing craft from submerged ship-side "well decks." It maintains a regional focus, with seven expeditionary units in various geographical locations which can respond rapidly to any need.

In addition, the Corps' Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) maintains ship-based supply dumps in various worldwide locations, which "ensures that Marines can provide not only a rapid response — but a sustainable one," the Marines website notes.

"The MPF can sustain three Marine Expeditionary Brigades for 30 days, and every piece of gear can be transported from ship to shore expeditiously.

"The goal of the Marine Corps is to field combat units light enough to arrive quickly but heavy enough to prevail — or at least hold their own until the full weight of the joint force can be brought to bear. In many cases, the Marines will be the only integrated air-ground force quickly available that can deal with emergent threats," Thompson noted.

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Afghanistan and Iraq are officially over and military leaders are wincing at current and anticipated troop and budget cuts, but one branch of America's military might, the Marine Corps, is likely to remain "Semper Fi-nanced."
Marine Corps, Pentagon cuts
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2014-58-30
Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 12:58 PM
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