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SEA LINES OF COMMUNICATION CONTROL: A MARINE MISSION

SEA LINES OF COMMUNICATION CONTROL: A MARINE MISSION

 

CSC 1988

 

SUBJECT AREA NATIONAL MILITARY STRATEGY

 

 

 

SEA LINES OF COMMUNICATION CONTROL: A MARINE MISSION

 

 

Major Forrest R. Lindsey, USMC

 

War in the Modern Era Seminar

Marine Corps Command and Staff College

Quantico, Virginia 22134-5050

 

9 May, 1988

 

Index

 

Subject Page

Abstract 1

 

Introduction 2

The Navy and SLOC Control 3

 

Types of SLOC Choke Points 7

 

Historic Examples 9

 

Lessons Learned 17

 

The SLOC Control Base 18

 

The Use of the MAGTF 19

The Notional SLOC Control Model 22

 

Actions to Implement SLOC Control 25

 

The Covert Base 28

 

Fleet Defense in Choke Points 29

 

Conclusion 31

 

Notes 32

 

Bibliography 34

 

Abbreviations/Acronyms Used 39

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

 

 

 

Author: LINDSEY, Forrest R.,USMC

 

Title: Sea Lines of Communication, a Marine Mission

 

Short Title: SLOCs; a Marine Mission

 

 

 

 

"The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of

such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval

campaign.

 

And if there ever was a modern mission tailor made to fit our

traditional role, it's the seizure and control of Sea Lines Of

Communication choke points! Thanks to the technological advances in "over

the horizon" detection and attack means, an amphibious ground-gaining

force is more capable than ever of denying large areas of the Earth for

use by an enemy.

 

This seminar will examine the evolution of naval strategy with respect

to global choke points and, in particular, the more renowned campaigns to

gain control of those key locations. With this background, new weapons and

techniques will be examined that can be used to augment our capacity to

interdict vital straits

 

Modes of application - from peaceful entry to amplify a friendly

country's capabilities, to forcible entry to secure a channel bordered by

a hostile country - will be examined. Tactics of surveillance and

interdiction will also be proposed, from a limited objective raid, to a

fixed base for interdiction held in the face of attack.

 

This seminar will conclude that the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF)

is particularly and uniquely suited to conduct these operations. The

employment of Marines in this mission is an effective force multiplier

that can decisively affect the outcome of future wars.

 

 

Introduction

 

In battle, there are always certain advantages that weigh in

 

one side's favor against the other. In aerial coMbat, altitude

 

over an opponent can give a fighter a decisive edge. On land,

 

the high ground, well used, can give a defender victory. On the

 

sea, the forces that hold the land areas framing the Sea Lines of

 

Communication (SLOCs) control movement between oceans and the

 

lifeblood of modern war. The strategic importance of SLOCs and

 

sea control itself has been appreciated since war first moved to

 

deep water: the control of straits has been a feature of

 

significant sea actions since the Punic War. Despite changes in

 

weapons and the ships that carry them, the fundamental of naval

 

war remain the same: the force that holds the SLOCS controls the

 

seas and the force that controls the seas will control the

 

outcome of the war.

 

In its traditional role as the "landward claws" of naval

 

power and with its unique balance of capabilities, the Marine

 

Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is best suited for the mission of

 

seizing and holding the land edges of the SLOCS. As part of a

 

Joint Task Force that controls the air, surface, and subsurface

 

fight and augmented with new weapons and target acquisition

 

means, the MAGTF can be a stategic force to win a future war.

 

This isn't a new idea; several authors have discussed the

 

use of Marines for this mission, in particular Major Gary W.

 

Anderson USMC1 and Commander Bruce VanhHeertum USN2.

 

This study is intended to expand some of these concepts and

 

to refine tactics in the light of some new developments. The

 

single most powerful change in technology that makes the use of

 

land forces for SLOC control inevitable, was a small event in the

1983 Falkland./ Malavinas War3. In the last few days of that

 

fight, the Argentine Army fired an Exocet antiship missile at the

 

HMS Glamorgan from a crudely converted trailer. The missile tore

 

a huge hole in the superstructure and killed 13 men; however, the

 

effects were much further reaching: a new form of coastal

 

artillery had extended from land to influence the battle on the

 

sea. It was the first shot in an inevitable metamorphosis of

 

modern war.

 

The Navy and SLOC Control.

 

The Navy has a number of critical missions at the outset of

 

any major war as part of power projection and offensive and

 

defensive sea control. But no fleet, not even a 600 ship navy,

 

is capable of accomplishing all of these missions at once on a

 

worldwide scale. The Navy will need to stay mobile, flexible and

 

available to sortie against Soviet/Warsaw Pact units at sea,

 

particularly submarines, and to escort the crucial convoys across

 

the Atlantic to Europe. A Joint Task Force with multiple methods

 

of attack, deployed early against the jugular of Soviet seapower

 

could strangle it in its own back yard. In a tactical study4,

 

Vice Admiral Mustin states that

 

"the best means of protecting SLOCs and bolstering the full

 

alliance is by the conduct of sea control operations far

 

forward."

 

This is in consonance with the stated objectives of the

 

Navy's Maritime Strategy of attacking the enemy's naval bastions

 

at the outset of the transition to war. It is also a tacit

 

recognition of the unique weakness of the Warsaw Pact navies: all

 

of their bases, with their refit, rearm, and resupply potential,

 

can be sealed off by a few SLOC choke points.

 

 

Soviet Fleet Homeport SLOC Chokepoint

 

1. Northern Fleet Severomorsk/Murmansk Norwegian coast

 

2. Baltic Fleet Leningrad Danish Straits

 

3. Black Sea Fleet Sevastopol Bosporus Straits

 

4. Pacific Fleet Vladivostok Korea/Tsushima Straits

 

 

 

The potential exists to contain the Warsaw Pact forces in

 

their own restrictive waters and annihilate them in place.

 

Vice Admiral Must in also addressed the defensive nature of

SLOC control:5

 

"the Free World's imperative to keep the Sea Lines of

 

Communication open to satisfy its vital requirements becomes the

 

Free World's greatest weakness."

 

For the defense of our own vulnerable choke points, it is

 

essential that we take early and physical control of them. Some

 

of these choke points can be termed "war stoppers" for good

 

reason. Enemy control of any portion of the Bab El Mendab strait

 

would deny our use of the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and

 

communication between forces in the Mediterranean and the Indian

 

Ocean. In the same fashion, loss of control of the Drake

 

Strait/Straits of Magellan and the blocking of the Panama Canal

 

would isolate the Eastern and Western halves of the United

 

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States, leaving heavy resupply and reinforcnment to whatever the

 

railroads could handle. The list goes on and on, and as the

 

strategist Norman Freidman has put it,6

 

"the more global the strategy, the more important is the

 

positive use of the sea. The world ocean becomes the highway

 

tying the elements of the maritime coalition."

 

To most of the Navy, this is preaching to the choir; they've

 

been working on SLOC control since Mahan7. But the use of

 

Marines in these plans has not been a popular theme. The

 

question among CINCs has been how to use the MAGTFs and who gets

 

them first, not necessarily what their naval mission should be.

 

Recently, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Gray8

 

outlined a mission of protecting the SLOCs with amphibious

 

operations at choke points. This is the best use of a unique

 

national asset: the prepackaged, modular combination of air

 

power, amphibious/airmobile ground combat power and the tailored

 

logistic support system of the MAGTF. As a naval force, used as

 

designed, a MAGTF with naval operating force augmentation can

 

take on the offensive and defensive missions needed to seize the

 

initiative early in a crisis.

 

This sounds like a natural extension of the experience and

 

doctrine the Navy and Marine Corps have put to work since World

 

War II on advanced naval bases, however this area has been

 

neglected in recent times for more visible contingencies. The

 

increasing power of the Warsaw Pact navies and the threat they

 

pose to our maritime capabilities makes fixed location sea

 

control an area for serious consideration and planning. The

 

potential targets for a SLOC interdiction base are the Surface

 

Action Groups built around the guided missile cruisers, the

 

Antisubmarine Warfare groups built around ASW carriers, and the

 

attack and fleet ballistic missile submarines. In the air,

 

long-range reconnaissance and antiship bombers such as the

 

Backfire, Bison and Bear threaten the fleet within the SLOCs from

 

bases around the world. The MAGTF has most of the tools needed

 

in its structure to take and hold an advanced naval base and

 

assume a surface attack/air interdiction mission. However, a

 

Joint Task Force including mine warfare units, attack subs,

 

Patrol Hydrofoil Missile craft (PHNs), antisubmarine/antisurface

 

/antiair warfare surface ships and antiship cruise missile

 

batteries would provide the depth of combat power needed to

 

conclusively influence the battle.

 

Further discussion requires that certain definitions be made

 

to outline the scope of the task of SLOC control.

 

Types of SLOC Choke points.

 

The maritime "key terrain" of the SLOC choke point, in a

 

two-dimensional sense, is the encroachment of land or ice on

 

areas between two seas. For the purposes of this study, I have

 

classified them as the Narrow Passage, the Wide Passage, and the

 

Edge Interdiction.

 

Narrow Passage.

 

This is a strait, channel, or canal that can be decisively

 

blocked or interdicted by artillery fire, mines, blockships,

 

cables, or other means. This type of SLOC control is centuries

 

old and the narrower the channel, the easier it is to block. For

 

this study, a Narronw Passage is defined as one where the

 

narrowest point is no more than five kilometers. The main method

 

of interdiction for this type of choke point would center aronund

 

area denial methods to force all traffic into an easily monitored

 

channel. The main advantages of this form of SLOC denial are the

 

proximity of a supporting far shore to allow covering obstacles

 

by observation and fire and the relatively small requirements for

 

naval operating elements to maintain control. Some of the many

 

examples are the Danish straits to the Baltic Sea, the Panama and

 

Suez Canals, and the narrows of the Bosporus Straits to the Black

 

Sea.

 

Wide Passage.

 

This is a larger strait where the borders are between five

 

and one hundred kilometers. This definition is based on the

 

assused capability of existing weapons and sensors to range

 

targets from land bases or aircraft within this area and

 

effectively control it. Because of this larger volume of air and

 

water to control, a Wide Passage will require a shore

 

installation combined with powerful surface and subsurface units

 

and aircraft to succeed. This larger three-dimensional

 

battlefield will require overlapping detection and attack means

 

to successfully stop the enemy. The primary shore-based weapons

 

would be medium and long-range antiship cruise missiles and

 

aircraft. Mines and other area denial weapons would have to

 

limited to preplanned belts emplaced at important portions of the

 

strait. Some examples of the Wide Passage are the Straits of

 

Hormuz, the Drake Strait/Straits of Magellan, and the English

 

Channel.

 

Edge Interdiction.

 

This type of SLOC control takes in all other cases: in

 

effect all shores (or islands) with another shore more distant

 

than one hundred kilometers is an "edge". The SLOCs or "Highways

 

of the Sea" as Mahan has called them, lay alongside coasts in

 

most of their paths. A coordonated assault from an edge could

 

deny an enemy's movement along that area and that section of

 

ocean as effectively as a much more restrictive choke point. The

 

key weakmess in this form of SLOC control is the lack of a

 

supporting far shore: the control base can be avoided if it is

 

discovered. Its effectiveness is limited to the range of its

 

weapons and detection ability, however in the age of aircraft

 

this is a very large range. The main planning considerations for

 

an Edge Interdiction then are whether surprise is possible and

 

exactly how much interdiction is needed. This type of base has

 

additional use as a defense against an enemy amphibious assault.

 

Some examples are the Cape of Good Hope, the Greenland-

 

Iceland-United kingdom (G-I-UK) Gap, and the Norwegian coast.

 

Historic Examples.

 

Narrow Strait Defense.

 

One of the most graphic examples of this type of defense is

 

the Turkish denial of the Bosporus straits to the British and

 

French forces in World War I. In 1915 the Turks, with help from

 

the Germans, had fortified the Mediterranean end of the straits

 

from Helles Point to the Narrows, with strong static and mobile

 

forces on both sides of the strait. There were fortresses at

 

 

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several locations, some with guns as large as 14 inch add there

 

were field artillery batteries that could and did move to

 

wherever they were most effective. There were extensive

 

minefields at several locations and the Turkish fleet covered the

 

Black Sea approaches.

 

These defenses cut communication between the western European

 

allies, Britain and France, and their eastern ally, Russia. They

 

also bridged the Ottoman Empire - most of the Middle East - add

 

Europe. If the Allies could have successfully forced the strait,

 

they would have severed the enemy forces in the eastern

 

Mediterranean area and given vital support to the floundering

 

forces of the Czar9. Churchill's and Kitchener's campaign was

 

designed to seize the high ground in the center of the Gallipoli

 

Peninsula on the Northern side of the straits, then envelop the

 

Turkish defenses. The campaign failed at enormous cost because

 

of the abilities of the Turkish and the German commanders, the

 

strong Turkish positions, and the superiority in numbers and

 

determination of the Turkish troops. There are a number of other

 

factors, including the primitive stage of evolution of amphibious

 

warfare, but in the end only one thing mattered: the straits

 

remained closed, the Ottoman Empire remained connected to Europe,

 

and the Czar's forces remained unaided.

 

For this study, the main attention should be on the defenses

 

within the strait. The Turks were able to deny the movement of

 

any naval forces with strong interlocking weapons. All obstacles

 

were covered by fire, particularly by the mobile field

 

artillery. The minefields were both fixed and drifting types and

 

 

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were illuminated by searchlight batteries at night to help the

 

guns acquire targets within them. The British and French

 

attempts to force the straits, first by naval force alone, then

 

by amphibious attack, were doomed by the mutually supporting

 

aspects the defenses and the very restrictive nature of the

 

terrain within the waterway and on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

 

Wide Passage Defence.

 

The British control of the English Channel in World War II

 

is a good example of this type of defence10. At its narrowest

 

point, the channel is only 34 kilometers wide, close enough that

 

the Germans were able to fire at the English coast with long

 

range guns from their positions near Calais. Despite this

 

proximity, the British retained control of the channel throughout

 

the war because of their successful struggle for the control for

 

the air in the Battle of Britain, their employment of Radar, and

 

their strong surface fleet. With the exception of the occasional

 

U-boat attack, E-boat raids and the startling run through the

 

channel by the battlecruisers Scharnhonrst and Gneisenau11, the

 

Axis stayed out of the English Channel throughout the war. This

 

effort denied the Germans the shortest Sea Line of Communication

 

between their naval forces in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea

 

aid their bases in southern France. This division of their

 

forces eliminated any thoughts the Germans say have given to

 

unifying elements of their surface fleet and allowed the British

 

to defeat individual German ships at their bases, rather than

 

face them as a fleet at sea. The allies were also denied freedom

 

of action within the channel by the German air and shore forces

 

on the coast of France and the channel islands, however the

 

British maintained offensive momentum to protect most of their

 

movements. The Germans used mines throughout the war to try to

 

limit British use of the Thames, but the British became quite

 

good at disposing of them. In the end, the British control of

 

the channel kept the Germans from mounting an invasion of Britain

 

and later, supported the allied efforts to build up and launch

 

the invasion of Europe.

 

Edge Interdiction.

 

This type of sea control is not new, but in the past its

 

effect was limited to the range of coastal artillery. Land based

 

aviation considerably extended the range of action from a coast

 

and when it was linked with naval surface and subsurface forces,

 

considerably changed the influence of land on the maritime war.

 

An illustration of this form of sea power is the German

 

interdiction of the Norwegian Sea from 1940 to 1945. To control

 

the vital SLOC from Great Britain to the Soviet Union, the

 

Germans built coordinated defenses using reconnnaisance and

 

surface attack aircraft, linked with U-boat wolfpacks and suface

 

attack groups built around the last capital ships of the German

 

Navy. Despite the threat of these dangers, the allies had no

 

choice but to send aid along the Norwegian coast to the

 

increasingly desperate Soviets. At first, the convoys got

 

through reasonably unscathed - the convoys were well escorted and

 

stayed as far north as possible to stay out of land-based

 

aircraft range. As the polar ice began to move south, forcing

 

the convoys closer to the coast of Norway, and as the Germans got

 

 

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better at detecting and "shadowing" the convoys with long range

 

aircraft, the losses began to approach 25%. Convoy after convoy

 

were savaged by a gauntlet of German attacks aud dangerous

 

weather add the situation was getting worse as the Arctic days

 

grew longer. The worst was to come that summer fob the sailors

of convoy PQ-1712. On 27 June 1942, PQ-17 set sail for

 

Murmansk with a cargo of 297 aircraft, 594 tanks, 4,246 trucks,

 

add 156,000 tons of general cargo. Of the 37 merchant vessels

 

that started out, 24 were sunk in a relentless series of

 

scattered attacks by U-boat wolfpacks and bombers. The convoy

 

was detected almonst immediately by long range reconnaisance

 

aircraft add radio intercept intelliagence and forces were

 

vectored into their path. On the 4th of July, the threat of a

 

surface attack by the battleship Tirpitz scattered the escorts

 

add forced the convoy to break up to defeid itself. The result

 

was a "duck shoot" where the survival of a ship depended on the

 

bravery of the crew aid a large measure of luck. As a result of

 

this disaster, the lifeline to the Soviets was interrupted until

 

the end of winter and Soviet confidence in the competence of its

 

Anglo-American allies was shaken.

 

The allies employed edge interdiction of their own with the

 

patrol bases on Iceland, connecting the Greenland-Iceland-Faeroes

 

Line, and successfully restricted German naval activity between

 

the North Sea and the North Atlantic. Though there were no

 

spectacular single victories to highlight the long and tedious of

 

antisubmarine patrols, the British, Canadian, and American

 

sevicemen on Iceland severely hampered U-boat and surface

movement through that SLOC for the duration of the war.13

 

Lessons Learned.

 

When the preceding examples are analyzed, several key facts

emerge:

 

1. A strait or an edge can provide interdiction for the

 

force holding any portion of it with some method to detect

 

shipping and attact it.

 

2. Conversely, if a SLOC is to be cleared of enemy

 

interdiction, the full lengh if the coast or coasts must be

 

cleared of enemy forces.

 

3. A combination of multiple target acquisition and attack

 

means greatly increases the value of the interdiction.

 

4. To conclusively control a SLOC, physical possession of

 

the land edges in the form of an advanced naval base is

 

essential.

 

These missions are part of the dual nature of SLOC control:

 

the force that intends to control a strait must have the ability

 

to attack any intruder and defend itself and friendly forces

 

within the SLOC Control Area. The greater the area to be

 

controlled, the wider the span of capabilities required for

 

offensive and defensive combat:

 

1. To detect and attack any intruder within the SLOC control

 

area.

 

2. To be able to defend its own position against possible

 

threats.

 

3. To clear passage for friendly and neutral vessels through

 

the choke point.

 

The SLOC Control Base.

 

In view of these requirements, a land base to support SLOC

 

control is the best option. A land base provides a hardenable,

 

central location on control the operations of all of the elements

 

of the Joint Task Force. It also provides the continuity of

 

Command, communication, and control needed to link all elements,

 

even when some units are added or deleted during the course of

 

the operation.

 

At the risk of coining yet another acronym, this concept

 

leads to defining the limits/responsibilities for the commander

 

of the SLOC control Joint Task Force. This area of

 

responsibility could be called a "SLOC Control Area" or an SCA

 

for short. This SCA would be that volume of air, land, and sea

 

that the task force must dominate to accomplish its mission.

 

This follows the pattern of the Amphib*ious Objective Area or

 

AOA, where all forces that enter that area fall under the

 

operational control of the Commander of the Amphibioua Task Force

 

(CATF) . For example, after a choke point has been successfully

 

seized and the commander of the Joint Task Force is ready to take

 

control, an SCA would be established. At that point, the Task

 

Force Commander would have no ambiguities about who has final

 

responsibility in the SCA and who controls the forces wihin it.

 

In this situation, once an SCA was established, all inbound

 

friendly forces would inchop to the Task Force Commander while

 

transiting the SCA and if the situation required it, would

 

contribute to the SLOC control mission until outchopped out of

 

the SCA.

 

The Use of the MAGTF.

 

The MAGTF's ability to land ashore at almost any point,

 

sustain itself, and strike deep with its own combined arms makes

 

it the right force at the right time for SLOC interdiction. As a

 

prepackaged versatile force, capable of attacking and defending

 

with its own ground, air, and combat service support, it is made

 

to onrder to establish a SLOC control base.

 

The mission of a MAGTF are twofold to secure a SLOC

 

chokepoint:

 

1. Seize sufficient geographic area to support the Advanced

 

Naval Base and its missions.

 

2. Clear the bordering areas of the SLOC choke point of all

 

enemy influence.

 

There are really only two cases in establishing a SLOC

 

control base: an opposed landing or an unopposed landing. In the

 

best case, the Joint Task Force would be reinforcing an ally, or

 

landing in an uncontested area. The more likely case, given the

 

inherent value of a Sloc control location, is an opposed landing

 

against a determined enemy. This is what the MAGTF is designed

 

to deal with and has long been the Marines' stock in trade,

 

however this course of action will require an increase in the

 

size of all elements and all other support in the required MAGTF.

 

The degree of control needed is another factor. The range

 

would be from complete closure to all possible forces - an option

 

that would require a very large and varied combination of attack

 

and detection capabilities and a large MAGTF to defend it - to a

 

small antiship attack site to create uncertainty in the mind of

 

the enemy commander. In the case of a full interdiction base,

 

the need for a larger defense force is commensurate with the

 

value this facility would have to us and the enemy. It would be

 

a focus of strategic power to both sides, one that would cause an

 

enemy to face severe losses if he chose to force it or he will

 

have to attempt to destroy it.

 

At the other end of the spectrum of options, is the use of a

 

smaller, specialized force, introduced secretly to "ambush"

 

selected naval targets. This would require a much smaller force

 

and less to support but could have a very large tactical value.

 

If the target was a specific asset, such as a carrier or an

 

amphibious task force or a formation of naval attack aircraft,

 

this site could have enormous strategic effect if it is

 

successful. Of nearly equal value, an enemy commander would have

 

to assume that his flanks were threatened in any of his

 

movements, creating uncertainty in his planniug and a requirement

 

to screen all possible threatening sites.

 

SLOC choke point control in every case is a balance of

 

enough detection and attack assets with enough support aud

 

protection to survive. For a Joint Task Force based on a MAGTF,

 

this amounts to something similar to a menu at a Chinese

 

restaurant; "with three you get eggroll." That is, the

 

foundation is the Marine Expeditiouary quit supplemented with

 

additional weapons and communicatious assets. As more capability

 

is needed, additional MEUs are composited to the origiual force

 

and more weapons teams are assigued. For a full-scale

 

interdiction base, this could consist of a Marine Expeditionary

 

 

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Force of approximately 55,000 men, augmented with additional

 

fixed-wing aircraft, cruise missile batteries, Radars, and an

 

advavced communication, command aid control capability

 

The National SLOC Control Model.

 

For a Narrow Strait defense, the requirements could include

 

mine warfare units ton emplace minefields to block or channelize,

 

artillery to cover obstacles by fire and a short range antiship

 

missile battery, such as land based Harpoon. V/STOL aircraft

 

would be ideal for surveillance and attack because of their

 

ability to operate without fixed airfields and their fast

 

response time. Navy surface units and subsurface units would

 

provide the teeth in the ASW portion of the defense, assisted by

 

the MV-22s with dipping sonar and torpedoes. In this example,

 

command and control for the JTF would be based on shore and would

 

be organized to collect targeting information from all available

 

sources, choose targets and control the attacks.

 

This model provides the basis for expansion to the more

 

complex variations of this method of sea control. For example,

 

when the requirement is to control a Wide Passage, this

 

organization would be increased to include more sea control

 

assets, such as greater numbers of antisubmarine and surface

 

warfare vessels and longer range aircraft to support these

 

missions. Even though the degree of difficulty/uncertainty

 

increases as the area to be interdicted increases, the very wide

 

suite of weapons available will make this form of sea power very

 

difficult to overcome. Longer range antiship missiles, such as

 

land and ship based Tomahawk, and long range Air Force, Navy, and

 

Marine aircraft would make an enemy's decision to run this

 

channel dangerous for him. Because of this base's greater area

 

and greater tactical value - to us and to the enemy - a larger

 

MAGTF will be needed ton sustain and defend it. It will also need

 

much greater attention to logistic support, such as a refined

 

beach and port offload capability and an uninterrupted stream of

 

sea and airborne resupply. As part of the overall defense of

 

this larger base and the potential mission of air uninterdiction of

 

enemy antishipping bombers, the air defense will require a Combat

 

Air Patrol on station and antiair missiles to be effective.

 

Given a large enough mission, this would dictate that several

 

airfields will be needed to support the wide variety of offensive

 

and defensive aircraft. A large portion of these missions fall

 

well within the capabilities of the Air Combat Element (ACE) of

 

the MAGTF, reducing the number of carrier aircraft dedicated to

 

this mission and this part of the war.

 

If this is beginning to sound too complex or expensive,

 

consider the alternative: controlling a SLOC with a carrier

 

battle group (CVBG) would be effective, however it would tie down

 

critical naval elements in restricted waters at a time in the war

 

when they are needed to ensure our convoys get through. As noted

 

by other planners, this tactic is a form of "unsinkable aircraft

 

carrier" that can expand upon and surpass the capabilities of the

 

floating version.

 

The value of this base will serve another, if negative,

 

purpose; it can attract the attention of significant portions of

 

the enemy's forces in his attempts to overcome it. This

 

diversion of forces away from attacking our shipping and into our

 

prepared defences puts the enemy where we want him; at our time,

 

at our place, and away from our far more vulnerable shipping.

 

Another threat that opposes the advanced base that must be

 

dealt with is a ground attack. This can range from the SPETSNAZ

 

commando raid to the attentions of a conventioual Motorized Rifle

 

Division or more. The enemy can come by parachute, helicopter,

 

vehicle or amphibious attack and pose the most dangerous threat

 

to our SLOC control base. The greater the danger, the larger the

 

MAGTF Ground Combat Element (GCE) needed to defend it. To many

 

this appears to anchor a large portion of our offensive power in

 

one place, however a base of this magnitude is of strategic, not

 

just tactical value. Any forces used to maintain this

 

interdiction base are well employed to provide an overbalancing

 

effect against the enemy's sea power. The additional benefit is

 

that this advanced base will, by virtue of its location, provide

 

a springboard for staging for future operations deep in the

 

enemy's heartland.

 

In the the larger options - the Wide Passage or the Edge

 

Defense - command and control can be conducted from a flagship or

 

from a hardened command center on land. The communication needs

 

are going to be greater in any case and control of the air battle

 

will need the equivalent E2C Hawkeyes or the AWACS early warning

 

aircraft. For the greater areas of ocean to be swept for surface

 

and subsurface targets, P3 Orions, C-130 Hercules modified for

 

ocean surveillance, S3A Vikings or Remotely Piloted Vehicles

 

(RPVs) would be needed. Once a target is identified, these

 

aircraft can provide terminal guidance for the long range

 

antishipping missiles or for their own missiles. RPVs could be

 

used for Over The Horizon (OTH) reconnaisance and targeting by

 

using floating or flying relay links to the JTF command center.

 

Actions to Implement SLOC Control.

 

A joint task force, designed and trained from the outset for

 

the SLOC control mission, will perform better and have more

 

extensive capabilities than the historic examples that were

 

mentioned earlier, particularly considering the enormous

 

technological advances that have been made since then. All of

 

this combat power takes organization, and to get it into position

 

and working will take a step by step process.

 

1. Compose the Task Force.

 

a. Based on the mission, enemy, size of the strait, and the

 

forces available, a balanced force to fulfill those needs will

 

need to be assembled. Other factors, such as terrain, weather,

 

time and support available, and potential follow-on missions will

 

further affect the size and composition of the task force. At

 

least, the task force will require:

 

1.) Command Element (JTF and MAGTF)

 

2.) Intelligence and Targeting Element

 

Depending on the size of the sea area of the choke point,

 

this could include sensor teams, surface search elements (Radars,

 

RPVs,etc.), electronic warfare teams, and other assets. This

 

element would be responsible for tying in all of the data

 

together to provide targeting information for the attack

 

elements.

 

3.) Ground Combat Element

 

This element has to be large enough to land and defeat any

 

opposition, clear the enemy from shores within effective range,

 

and to defend the SLOC control base from attack.

 

4.) Air Combat Element

 

The ACE has to have sufficient assets to support the

 

landing, defend the base, and conduct reconnaissance and

 

offensive operations. The ACE can be augmented with aircraft

 

from the other services, particularily the specialized radar

 

surveillance and long-range attack aircraft of the Air Force and

 

the Navy.

 

a.) Anti air warfare.

 

b.) Air Defense

 

c.) Air Interdiction

 

d.) Antisubmarine

 

e.) Surface attack

 

f.) Heavy lift

 

5.) Combat Service Support Element

 

The emphasis would be on large stocks of prepositioned

 

supplies, independent maintenance capability, and a heavy combat

 

engineer capability to conduct a long-term defense. Follow-on

 

CSS would require provision for an airfield and/or beach and port

 

facilities.

 

6.) Antisubmarine Warfare Element (USN)

 

7.) Surface Warfare Element (USN)

 

8.) Antiship batteries

 

This could be a Navy unit, manned and maintained by the

 

Navy, or an addition to the Marine Corps Table of Organization.

 

9.) Mine Warfare Element (USN)

 

The emphasis in structuring the SLOC control JTF is the

 

overlapping attack assets and mutual support they give to each

 

other. Too mauy troops, ships and too much unnecessary equipment

 

will give the operation away and add to the support burden. The

 

Joint Task Force command element itself is dependent on the

 

complexity of the mission and the size of the force required. It

 

could be the MAGTF commander and staff or an augmented version of

 

it, or a Joint Force commander with his own staff could be

 

assigned.

 

2. Seize Control of the Objective Area.

 

The Naval task force. organized around sufficient combat

 

power to protect the movement of the SLOC control joint Task

 

Force would escort it to the amphibious objective area (AOA).

 

For the MAGTF, this is a straightfoward exercise in the

 

amphibious assault skill: perfected over the last fifty years.

 

But, as anyone who has done one knows, they are anything but

 

simple. All parts of assembly, movement, and the assault are

 

critical and vulnerable. Once the Task Force reaches the

 

objective area, the real work begins; air supremacy must be

 

established and maintained, the waters cleared ot the enemy and

 

his influence, and the ground forces must don the same on land.

 

All portionns of the land onr ice area must be exhaustively

 

searched for enemy forces - all portions of the strait on both

 

sides where enemy weapons or detection systems can threaten

 

friendly forces.

 

3. Activate the Sea Control Base/Sea Control Area.

 

As the AOA is being consonlidated, the antiship batteries,

 

radars, airfields, and command and control facilities are

 

established ashore. Once these actions are completed to a point

 

where the Joint Task Force commander feels he is ready to begin

 

operations, an SCA will be established and any unrequired naval

 

forces can be released to their next mission. Now that the door

 

has been closed on the enemy, the Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) or

 

other attacking forces can go after the enemy in his own waters,

 

free from the danger of further enemy reinforcement or the

 

possibility of his escape.

 

The Convert Base.

 

A covert mission task force or "ambush" force has some

 

differences in its organization and emplacement. The size of the

 

force needed would be governed by the minimus means needed for

 

the mission. Complete air and sea control would not be a

 

prerequisite and in fact, could jeopardize the surprise needed.

 

Instead, a smaller task force would be assembled and infiltrated

 

to seize the advanced base. Once in place, camouflage, emission

 

control, and mobility would be used to preserve security. As in

 

the case of the Narrow Strait interdiction, V/STOL aircraft would

 

be the primary air asset for reconnaisance, attack, and defense.

 

With no visible airfields to give the base's position away, the

 

V/STOL aircraft and support activities could be revetted and

 

camouflaged in several alternate locations.

 

Once ready, a typical installation would be alerted by

 

higher headquarters or organic intelligence assets of the

 

approach of an enemy target - such as a high value ship or

 

formation of ships - and an increased passive watch would be

 

initiated. Sensors in place would be coordinated with Forward

 

Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) equipped search aircraft or RPVs,

 

leaving active measures such as surface search radar to be

 

activated only when the target is identified and firmly in

 

range. Once the target is located, antiship missiles would be

 

fired in salvo and would link for terminal guidance from the

 

command center or the aircraft on scene to attack the specific

 

enemy target from several directions. After the attacks are

 

completed, the JTF would love to alternate positions or rembark

 

to move to new missions. A small force like this, such as a

 

Marine Expeditonary Unit with a V/STOL air element, a cruise

 

missile battery, an RPV battery, and radar could threaten

 

hundreds of square miles of ocean. This would require an enemy

 

commander to have to search his flanks with painstaking effort or

 

risk catastrophic loss.

 

Fleet Defense in SLOC Choke Points.

 

The flip side of this coin is that we run the same risk when

 

we enter a SLOC choke point, since the enemy can employ similar

 

weapons and tactics against us. Once again, the power and

 

mobility onf the MAGTF will come into play to detect and eliminate

 

enemy sea control bases. As our task forces approach within

 

striking range of land or ice edges, the MAGTF could provide

 

"flank security" by leapfrogging with helicopter or V/STOL lift

 

to search out and destroy enemy ambush locations ahead of our

 

ships. The flexibility of the MAGTF combined arms team provides

 

the necessary means to find the enemy and then "pile on" to

 

quickly and effectively overwhelm him.

 

The primary difficulty will be the enormous areas to be

 

screened because of the range of the enemy's weapons and

sensors. Because of this, the emphasis has to be on the air

 

mobility of the Ground Combat Element and powerful close air

 

support. As the fleet approaches the choke point, MAGTF elements

 

would be flown well ahead to engage any suspected enemy

 

position. If the ground ahead is known to have enemy forces

 

hidden in the vicinity, then the around forces will be deployed

 

early enonugh to ensure detection and elimination of the threat

 

As one element is in place on the forward flank, the next is

 

flown to the next screening position and the last is recovered.

 

This pattern is repeated until the fleet is securely beyond the

 

influence of the SLOC choke point.

.

Conclusion.

 

Whether the MAGTFs are used to seal off or interdict enemy

 

maritime power in the SLOC choke points or to defend the Navy

 

from shore based attack, they will be functioning in the mission

 

they were intended for: land power projection for the fleet.

 

There have been a number of missions proposed for the MAGTFs,

 

including theater reserve, flank attacks to support the main

 

effort in the continental battle, or even using the Ground Combat

 

Element in one place and the Air Combat Element in Another.

 

These missions ignore the raison d 'etre of the Corps; to be an

 

integral part of the prosecution of the naval war. The MAGTF

 

concept has evolved to improve the synergy of combined arms with

 

mobility, a combination perfectly suited to modern war's

 

far-flung requirements and particularly for influencing the land

 

portion of the naval battle.

 

Quickly employed and augmented with the various specialists

 

in area denial, the MAGTFs in the SLOC control mission can at

 

least inflict casualties on the enemy and force the enemy to use

 

long, vulnerable lines of communication to support his naval

 

power. At best, we can seal the enemy in his own home waters to

 

destroy him in detail. The means are at hand now to develop the

 

weapons, tactics and doctrine for this vital mission and to train

 

for it.

 

 

NOTES

 

 

 

 

 

Major Gary Anderson,who laid out the foundation of

 

recent thought on advanced naval bases in his articles "Defense

 

of Advanced Bases: The Forgotten Mission", and "Refining the

 

Choke Point Proposal", Marine Corns Gazette, Feb 83, pp41-45, and

 

Oct 83, pp28-33, respectively

 

2 Commander Bruce VanHeertum,USN, "Power Projection as

 

Part of Sea Control", Marine Corps Gazette, Sep 79, pp28-33. A

 

Bevan G. Cass award winning article which outlines the use of

 

Marine forces in their traditional role as an extension of sea

 

power.

 

3 There are two items that bear on this incident: The

 

Battle of the Falklands by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, New

 

York, W.W. Norton, 1983, pp 296-297 and Lieutenant Colonel

 

Roger's article "Countering the Coastal Defense Cruise Missile",

 

Naval Institute Proceedinas, Sep 1987, pp49-55. Both have

 

descriptive accounts of the attack on the HMS Glamorgan.

4 This comes from an article by ViceAdmiral Mustin in "The

 

Role of the Navy and Marines in the Norwegian Seal" in the Naval

 

War Colleae Review, Mar/Apr 1986, pp2-6

 

5 Ibid.

 

6 I'm referring to Norman Friedman's article "The Battle

 

Group and US Strategy" in Defense Science 2002+, Oct 1984,

 

pp47-51. which strongly supports the idea of concentrating on the

 

SLOCs.

 

NOTES (continued)

7 For the purposes of this research, I've used Captain

 

Alfred Thayer Mahan's book Naval Strategy, Boston: Little, Brown

 

and Co., 1918. The most interesting and pertinent passage is on

 

pages 136-136 in which he describes the "Highways of the Sea",

 

and the critical value to sea warfare they hold.

 

8 General A.M. Gray is quoted on this and other subjects

 

by John Miller in his article "Power Projection: The Future of

 

the Corps", in the Seminar Report, Naval Institute Proceedings,

 

Dec 1987, pp2-7.

9 My primary sources of information on this subject were

 

Robert James' Gallipoli, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965 and

 

Jeffrey Wallin's By Ships Alone: Churchill and the Dardanelles,

 

Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1981.

 

10 For a more detailed view of the defenses of the English

 

Channel, see The Narrow Seas by Reginald Hargreaves,London:

 

Sedgwick and Jackson Ltd., 1959, Chapter XXII, "The Sea That Is

 

the Wall of England" pp 470-495,

 

11 The subject is well covered in Fiasco by John Deane

 

Potter,New Yorker: Stein and Day, 1970.

 

12 The most well known (and controversial) account of the

 

suffering of the sailors in Convoy PQ-17 is David Irving's book

 

The Destruction of PQ-17,New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.

 

13 The subject of occupation of Iceland as an Allied base

 

in WW II is covered in detail in Lieutenant Colonel Donald

 

Bittner's book The Lion and the White Falcon, Connencticut:

 

Archon Books, 1983.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

 

Anderson, Gary W., Major, USMC, "Defeuse of Advanced Naval

 

Bases: a Forgotten Mission", Marine Corps Gazette, Feb 1983. PPs

 

41-45. This and the following article are part of a series

 

written by the prolific Major Anderson on the use of Marines to

 

hold advanced Naval Bases. He also had to respond to detractors

 

in More choke Point Controversy, Marine Corps Gazette, Jul 1984,

 

pp 19-20.

 

Anderson, Gary W.,Major, USMC, "Refining the Choke Point

 

Proposal", Marine Corps Gazette, Oct 1983. PPs 28-29. This

 

article should be viewed as an excellent foundation for the

 

concept of choke point control. He also had to respond to his

 

detractors in "More Choke Point Controversy", Marine Corps

 

Gazette, July 1984, pp 19-20.

 

Bittner, Donald F.,Lieutenant Colonel, USMC, The Lion and

 

the White Falcon, Archon Books, Ramden Connecticut, 1983. The

 

role of Iceland as an Allied base in WW II is covered in

 

unflinching detail. A lot of popular myths go by the wayside,

 

particularily the "invitation" of Allied forces to begin with.

 

Freidman, Norman, "The Battle Group and US Naval

 

Strategy",Defense Science 2002, Oct 1984, PPs 47-51. Mr.

 

Freidman describes the use of Battle Groups to achieve sea

 

control and describes the pivotal role of the SLOCs to prosecute

 

a naval war.

 

Freidman, Norman, "The Maritime Strategy and the Central

 

Front", Hudson Institute Paper, May 1985. In this article, Mr.

 

Freidman describes the vulnerability of the Soviets to sea

 

interdiction and the possible scenarios of naval war wish the

 

Soviets. He is quite clear on the danger posed by Soviet

 

submarines and long range bombers.

 

Hanks, Robert J.,Rear Admiral, USN (Ret), The Unnoticed

 

Challenge: Soviet Maritime Strategy and Global Choke Points,

 

Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Inc., Cambridge MA,Aug

 

1980. This booklet was written during the Carter administration

 

to bring attentionn to the Soviet threat to the maritime routes of

 

the Western Allies.

 

Irving, David, The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17, Simon and

 

Schuster, NY 1968. This is the very detailed and as I understand

 

it, controversial book that details the fiascos and alleged

 

ineptitude that led to the loss of most of that convoy. Mr.

 

Irving spares no one - from the vacillation of the British

 

Admiralty, to the lack of coordinationn of the German forces - and

 

he gives a detailed and moving account of an event few would like

 

to remember.

 

James, Robert Rhodes, Gallipoli, The Macmillan Co.,NY.

 

1965. With very simple drawings, James gives a blow by blow

 

account of the naval attempts to force the strait, then the

 

individual landings by the British and French infantry.

Kampe, Helmut, Vice Admiral, Federal German Navy (Ret.),

 

"Amphibious Objective: Baltic Approaches", Naval Institute

 

Proceedings, March 1988, pp 113-117. Vice Admiral Kampe's

 

article describes the growing threat of Soviet amphibious power

 

and its ability to seize the Baltic Approaches and control this

 

vital SLOC choke point.

 

Mahan, Alfred Thayer, Captain, USN, Naval Strategy.Little,

 

Brown and Co., Boston MA, 1918. This book contains a wide

 

variety of Mahan's thoughts on the battles of Napoleon, sea

 

battles with Nelson, and the recent (for 1918) conflict between

 

the Japanese and the Russians.

 

Marino, Jose T. Admiral, Chilean Navy, "Trouble in the

 

Southern Pacific", Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec 1986, pps

 

77-82. An important article for anyone interested in the SLOCs

 

closer to home. Admiral Marino provides a new perspective in the

 

sea control activities of the Soviets in the Pacific.

 

Miller, John G., "Power Projection: the Future of the

 

Corps", Seminar Report, Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec 1987,

 

pps 12-14. A synopsis of General Gray's speech before the

 

Amphibious Warfare Board at Camp Pendleton in October, 1987.

 

Mustin, H.C., Vice Admiral, USN, "The Role of the Navy and

 

Marines in the Norwegian Sea", Naval War College Review, Mar/Apr

 

1986, pps 2-7. In this article, Admiral Mustin tells of the

 

importance of northen Norway to NATO defense and the prosecution

 

of a major war in Europe at sea, one can just as surely lose it

 

at sea".

 

Potter, John Deane, Fiasco, Stein and Day, New York, 1970.

 

An absorbing description of the WW II German effort to protect

 

the Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau from British attack by

 

running through the English Chanel!

 

Powers, Robert C.,Commander, USN, "Over the Horizon with the

 

Cruise Missile", Naval Institute Proceedings, Feb 1979, pps

 

108-110. Like the title says, Commander Powers wrote of the use

 

of aircraft, including RPVs, to control the targeting of cruise

 

missiles at long range.

 

Puleston, W.D.,Captain, USN, The Dardanelles Expedition, The

 

U.S. Naval Institute, Annaponlis MD, 1926. An interesting and

 

opinionated account of the Gallipoli episode in which Capt.

 

Puleston lays the blame for the loss of the battle directly on

 

the Sea Lord, Mr. Winston Churchill. The last line of the book

 

is particularly funny, considering the time period of this book:

 

"It is doubtful if even Great Britain could survive another World

 

War and another Churchill."

 

Rogers, Michael E., Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, "Countering

 

Coastal Defense Cruise Missiles", Naval Institute Proceedings,

 

Sep 1987, pps 49-55. This is the article that started me going.

 

Once I saw Lieutenant Colonnel Roger's depiction of the threat of

 

modern land based antiship cruise missiles, I could see its

 

application as a mission for the Marine Corps.

 

Stein, Benson M.,1st Lieutenant, USMC, "The Defensive Naval

 

Campaign: an Appropriate Mission", Marine Corps Gazette, Oct

 

1983, pps 26-27. Lieutenant Stein uses this article to relate

 

the past missions of the Marine Corps, such as advanced naval

 

base defence, to the MAGTF concept. He emphasises the naval

 

heritage of our missions and is not enthusiastic about "trendy"

 

new missions for the MAGTF

 

Underwood, G.L. Lieutenant Commander, USCG, "Soviet Threat

 

to the Atlantic Sea Lines of Communication: Lessons Learned from

 

the German Capture of Norway in 1940", Naval War College Review,

 

May 1981, pps 43-47. Lieutenant Commander Underwood outlines the

 

advantages the Germans gained from holding the Norwegian coast

 

and the Danish Straits. He applies these lessons to our present

 

situation vis a vis the Soviets, determining that the Soviet

 

Northern and Baltic Fleet would most likely be responsible for

 

countering NATO naval units in th North Atlantic. He recommends

 

that well coordinated operations using naval, ground, and air

 

componets be used to counter the threat.

.

Abbreviations/Acromyms Used.

 

 

 

AAW AntiAir Warfare

 

ACE Air Combat Element; the aircraft portion of the

 

MAGTF

 

ASW Antisubmarine Warfare

 

CINC Commander in Chief

 

CSS Combat Service Support; The logistic support part

 

of the MAGTF.

 

CVBG (Aircraft) Carrier Battle Group

 

E-Boat German torpedo boat (WW II)

 

FLIR Forward-Looking Infrared Radar; A night vision

 

sensor

 

GCE Ground Combat Element; The maneuver/artillery

 

portion of the MAGTF.

 

JTF Joint Task Force; A force made up more than one

 

service.

 

MAGTF Marine Air-Ground Task Force

 

PHM Patrol Hydrofoil Missile craft

 

RPV Remotely Piloted Vehicle; Also known as a drone.

 

SCA SLOC Control Area

 

SLOC Sea Line of CommunicaLion

 

SpetzNaz Soviet Special Forces (Commandos)

 

U-Boat German submarine (WW II)



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