Echoes From History

No Accident: The Newly Configured USMC Amphibious Ready Group 2016

By Ed Timperlake

03/05/2011 – “In short, simply by completing the procurement of what the USN and USMC are in the course of doing in a very short period, (F-35B, MV-22, CH-53K, LCS and LPD-17) the nation gains significant flexibility to deal with ambiguous strategic situations.”

“Gone to fight the Indians, be back when the war is over.” (Commandant of the Marines (1820-1859) Archibald Henderson)

In 1829 President Andrew “Andy” Jackson tried to incorporate the Marines into the Army. That Presidential action triggered Congress, the voice of the people to say no. In 1834 Congress passed “Act for the Better Organization of the Marine Corps.” This act of Congress kept the Marines as part of the Navy and focused on ensuring the Marine’s unique role on being ready warriors across global oceans. Commandant Henderson’s quote also captures the focus on the ethos of the Corps, which is to go to the fight. Now yet again the mission of the Marines has been challenged. However, there is no need to give credibility to the current shallow and ignorant debate because the Marines have already won that battle.

Credit: USS Kearsarge LHD Involved in Preparation for Current Libyan Operations
www.kearsarge.navy.mil


Combat tested Marine Officers mostly at the LtCol (05) and Colonel rank (0-6) are taken from their combat commands of Infantry Battalions, Aviation Squadrons and Marine Expeditionary Units to sit in cubicles and both help those in combat and also plan for the future of the Corps. Quietly away from the action these officers some of whom will return to combat often as General Officers will all give their professionally best shot in looking into future war requirements and make the very hard resource decisions. That system has worked. New amphibious ships– the LPD-17 USS San Antonio is soon to join the fleet  –the MV-22 is a war tipping aviation asset already serving in combat and is ready now. The F-35B will make the Amphib air component more modern than any large angle deck carrier with the F/A-18 and the CH-53K will enhance lift over the beach.

The Battle for the operational future of the Marine Corps has been won. Technologies have been identified that will continue to make the Marine Corps amphibious mission and combat reach the best in the world. The battle for enough resources is about to begin. Just when civilian “cubical commandos” started full cry in their pontifications about their not being a need for Marine amphibious capability— a distant verse in today’s headline echoes from history “to the shores of Tripoli.”

Currently, American’s are watching a series of unique events around the Globe especially in the Mediterranean  (a Latin translation can mean middle of the earth), all of the Middle East including Iran and also Asia especially the Peoples Republic of China is erupting. The human struggle evident and being paid in blood is the never-ending quest by individuals simply wanting the basic right of not being oppressed and exploited. How the events cascading from Tunisia, to Egypt to Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China will eventually play out is totally unknown. However, what is known is a Navy/Marine amphibious force is ready with a force combat tested.

Not since the early nineteenth century wars on the frontier taught a generation of West Point Officers maneuver warfare going into the Civil War has a battle hardened US military force forged in Iraq and Afghanistan been more ready for all contingencies. Those officers in cubicles at HQMC have done their job well. The current MEU off Libya has the most essential element aboard– the Marine Military Occupation Specialty 0311 “Rifleman” some of whom have lived through a decade of combat. With the basic 0311 ready to engage for the next decade, the technology coming will revolutionize that force.

Not since the early nineteenth century wars on the frontier taught a generation of West Point Officers maneuver warfare going into the Civil War has a battle hardened US military force forged in Iraq and Afghanistan been more ready for all contingencies. Those officers in cubicles at HQMC have done their job well. The current MEU off Libya has the most essential element aboard– the Marine Military Occupation Specialty 0311 “Rifleman” some of whom have lived through a decade of combat. With the basic 0311 ready to engage for the next decade, the technology coming will revolutionize that force.

It is often said in times of trouble leading up to a major conflict the question is asked,  “where are the Aircraft Carriers.” However, an additional question should always now be asked, “where are the B-2s, F-22s and tankers”—the fact that the USAF has those assets in limited supply is a national defense preparedness scandal.But my history lesson is only focusing on  “The Libyan Crisis: How the New Amphibious Ready Group Expands the President’s Options.” The current Navy/Marine team – leaving Crete to go up close to the Libyan coast ready to execute what ever is directed by the National Command authority — will only get better in the future. The entire effort by those Marine warriors in cubicles at HQ MC to identify and develop the best war fighting technologies is beginning to pay off and will “re-norm” the entire amphibious warfare capability of the U.S.

The current options for U.S. action as the events in Libya are highlighting are complex and resource heavy and have all kind of consequences. However, the future force already identified and briefed and in testing by Marine officers will “re-norm” the entire employment of ready amphibious force assets. Soon, if supported by Congress to ensure an ability to have an appropriately sized contingency, forces can be afloat in any crisis situation. This emerging range of options by the US National Command authority will be invaluable. It is up to Congress just like they have since the founding of America to give the Marines what they need-and always know however events develop around the globe the Marine/Navy team will not let America down.

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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