Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Strategic Raids... From the Sea

LCDR Benjamin Armstrong, one of the up and coming naval officers who truly gets irregular warfare, has written a fine article on maritime raids for this month's Proceedings. His recommendation to expand the utility of carriers by adding small Marine landing teams and MV-22s makes a lot of sense. CVNs can easily augment our amphibious capacity and provide significant flexibility to conduct raids and other ground-centric missions when gators are not around. This move could be compared to the addition of F-35Bs to large deck amphibious ships to augment our CSGs striking power. In other words, our CSGs should become more ARG-like and our ESGs/ARGs can become more CSG-like. If our gator fleet shrinks further, we’ll need to get creative in how we employ all ships in support of objectives ashore, and implementation of BJ’s suggestions would be a smart step in that direction.

On a related note: MARSOC, approaching its sixth anniversary, has operated almost exclusively in land-locked in Afghanistan until recently, when teams were utilized in an amphibious capacity in the Bold Alligator exercise. MSOR elements have excelled ashore in direct action and foreign internal defense missions, but their potential for maritime use has yet to be fully realized. Their role in Bold Alligator provides some clues as to how they might be used to prep the environment for their larger MEU brothers conducting an amphibious raid.

“Those forces were used for "shaping" operations, or for missions designed to prepare the shoreline and areas inland for the arriving Marine Corps. Those troops also provided intelligence for a planned deep insert air assault against an enemy encampment at Ft. Pickett, VA, Aiken said.”

It has been said that these types of tactical operations - even those using only a handful of troops, can have strategic effects. Counter-terrorism operations the past several years have borne this proposition out to a degree, and some of these operations have been supported or even conducted entirely from the sea. Yet CT is only one of many types of raids that the sea services conduct. The list includes NEO, personnel recovery, port seizure, and punitive expeditions, to name just a few. Another timely article here discusses strategic versus tactical raids in relation to the IDF.

Regardless, discussion of the maritime raid is important if for no other reason that we seem to have forgotten why we do these “hit and run” sort of operations. It’s worth remembering the value of short term military interventions with finite objectives as we consider the myriad of negative impacts to the force from long term deployments for stability operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Philippines, and Horn of Africa.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

blog comments powered by Disqus

site stats