An interesting discussion is going on over at the USNI Blog about the Marine Corps’ lamentations over what they are getting in terms of lift capability and Naval Gunfire Support and the state of the Marine Corps-Navy team.
We now have the smallest amphibious capability since WWII and on that is far short of the shipbuilding plan agreed to in 1992, without any change to the requirements agreed to in the DoN 2 Lift Study. We have seen a reduction of over 25 percent in our surface landing capability that is inadequate to project combat power ashore as called for in OMFTS doctrine. Somewhere along the line, the Marine Corps appears to be on the high road to hell, and the Navy is giving us a ride to get there.”
The discussion in the comments of the blog is what’s interesting. The question really is, what level of amphibious landing capability DO we need? The Marine Corps hasn’t conducted major landing operations in quite some time. Granted, that’s because they’ve been entrenched in some little sandboxes called Iraq and Afghanistan. But if massive lift capability hasn’t been needed, much less the ability to conduct large scale opposed entries, then should the Marines be surprised that they aren’t getting what they think they need?
An example I used in the comments was the submarine force. During the Cold War we were arguable at our highest numbers. It was a submarine battle. Mutually assured destruction coming from the second strike capability of ballistic missile subs and all that. But since then, the sub force has been desperately trying to find new jobs to do, and trying to sell that fact to Congress in order to keep funding going for new ships. The COCOM’s of the world don’t need convincing. They know exactly what submarines bring to the table and are always eager for more of what we can do. But since so much of what subs do is classified, there’s not much public discussion about them. Then, when it’s time to divvy up the funding pie, the Navy has to argue their use in order to get new subs built.
My point is, if you don’t demonstrate that you’re using it, you lose it. The Marine Corps, not by their own choice, has not been conducting amphibious landings lately. They are stretched thin by the current operations and that’s understandable. But the way you overcome this is argue your point before those who hold the coin purse. Not by arguing that the Marines should take over for the Navy in regards to amphibious operations, as COL Anderson has suggested.