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...From The Sea Future Challenges For Naval Aviation
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Operations
                          EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title: ...From the Sea - Future Challenges for Naval Aviation
Author: Major Daniel G. Peters, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: The integration of Marine and Navy fixed wing aviation
into an effective warfighting arm of the future Naval
Expeditionary Force will require more than simply the assignment
of Marine squadrons to carrier air groups: the Navy and Marine
Corps must implement changes in structure, organization, doctrine
and training as they pursue a New strategy...From the Sea.
Background: Changes in National Military Strategy as a result of
the Cold War and reductions in the defense budget have resulted
in a new vision for America's Naval Forces...From the Sea.  This
concept tasked Navy and Marine fixed wing aviation to integrate
to a degree unequal led in their seventy-seven year history.
Toward this end, Marine squadrons have begun workups for carrier
deployments and Adaptive Force Packages have resulted in the
controversial placement of Marine ground units and helicopters on
aircraft carriers.  These efforts, while significant, fall short
of the mark; changes in structure, organization, doctrine and
training must follow. Naval Aviation structure must change to
reduce cost while taking optimum advantage of existing platforms.
The task organization of Marine and Navy units into Naval
Expeditionary Forces should continue to be explored. Doctrine
must keep up with and codify successful innovations for fleet-
wide implementation.  Training should improve integration while
avoiding the pitfalls of multi-mission tasking--mediocrity.
Additionally, a review of ship and aircraft procurement must
support the combined vision of naval strategy.
Recommendations:   Success in future operations may rely on the
commanders ability to make maximum use of our combined remaining
fixed-wing assets.  Changes in doctrine, organization, structure
and training will enable an integrated Navy-Marine Corps team to
better support our Naval Expeditionary Forces
     ...FROM THE SEA - FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR NAVAL AVIATION
Thesis:  The integration of Marine and Navy fixed-wing aviation
         into an effective warfighting arm of the future Naval
         Expeditionary Force will require more than simply the
         assignment of Marine squadrons to carrier air groups:
         the Navy and Marine Corps must implement changes in
         structure, doctrine, organization, and training as they
         pursue a new strategy...From the Sea.
     I.  Navy and Marine Aviation
         A. Historical roles and missions
         B. Current division of labor
         C. Shift in strategic and fiscal direction
    II.  Future structure options
         A. Retain all Marine Air functions
         B. Selected fixed wing functions supported by Navy Air
         C. Complete synthesis into Navy Air
   III.  Doctrinal changes
         A. Establishment of the Naval Doctrine Command
         B. Mission
   IV.   Organizational changes
         A. Adaptive Force Packaging
         B. Task organizing Naval Task Forces
         C. Command structure
     V.  Equipping Naval Aviation
         A. Carrier reductions
               1. Fewer carriers
               2. Smaller carrier
         B. Amphibious and multi-role ships
         C. Aircraft development
               1. VSTOL missions
               2. Future procurement
     VI. Training
         A. Mission challenges
         B. Navy-Marine integrated training
            ...FROM THE SEA - FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR NAVAL AVIATION
     The Navy and Marine Corps recently announced plans to begin
the integration of Marine fixed-wing squadrons into Navy carrier
air wings.  This integration, scheduled to begin with the work up
of F/A-18 squadrons for deployment on the USS Lincoln and
Roosevelt in 1993, serves two purposes: it allows Marine fixed-
wing squadrons to substitute for Navy squadrons scheduled to
stand down as a result of recent budget reductions and it is the
first step in the Department of the Navy's latest strategic
posture...From the Sea.  This strategy stresses the projection of
Naval air power ashore in support of Marine ground forces in the
littoral regions of the world. (9)
     Although the practice of temporarily assigning Marine
squadrons to carriers is an inherent capability of Marine
aviation, the concept of permanently assigning Marine aviation to
aircraft carriers as part of a Naval task force is significant
departure from recent historical functions of Marine and carrier
aviation.  The integration of Marine and Navy fixed-wing aviation
into an effective warfighting arm of the future Naval
Expeditionary Force will require more than simply the assignment
of Marine squadrons to carrier air groups:  the Navy and Marine
Corps must implement chances in structure, organization, doctrine
and training as they pursue a new strategy...From the Sea.
Historical Roles and Missions.
     Marine and Navy aviation have, from their inception in 1916,
maintained a high degree of functional compatibility and
supportive infrastructure.  Shared procurement, maintenance and
supply systems have contributed to a close working relationship;
however, the roles and missions of the services and their
perceived functions have historically resulted in different
employment philosophies.
     World War II saw both Marine and Navy squadrons working from
carriers in the Pacific.  Navy aviation's primary focus of effort
can be considered the birth of the traditional role of aviation
in the "War at Sea" scenario:  carrier based air superiority,
defense of the amphibious task forces, and anti-surface action.
Marine aviation adopted the primary missions of close air
support, offensive counter air, and air defense in support of
Marine ground operations.
     Since the end of World War II, the roles and missions of
Navy and Marine Corps aviation have taken more defined and
divergent paths.  Despite Navy carrier aviation's significant
impact on successful operation during the Korean Conflict, Navy
aviation began to evolve away from the direct use of air power to
influence the outcome of combat operations ashore.  Capabilities
and training centered on the strategic concept of carrier
aviation in a nuclear delivery and deterrent role while
countering the Soviet threat at sea: this was a more traditional
war at sea scenario.
     The mission of providing both deep and close air support to
Marine operation ashore continued to be refined and perfected as
Marine air became identified as the Air Combat Element (ACE) for
a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).  Marine fixed wing
aviation continued to maintain the capability to support carrier
aviation; however, during the period 1964-1975 Navy carriers made
64 deployments in support of the vietnam War but only one carried
a Marine attack squadron.  During the vietnam War the division of
labor between Marine and Navy fixed-wing aviation became more
evident as Navy carrier aviation engaged in a campaign of
strategic bombing of the North; 52 percent of the air strikes
against North vietnam were conducted by Navy aviation. (2:279-
283)  The lion's share of support to Marine ground combat forces
was provided by Marine aviation.
     This pattern of division of labor continued during the
defense expansion of the Reagan Era when Navy fixed-wing carrier
aviation continued its emphasis on "open ocean warfighting on the
sea." (12:93)  Carrier air wings during this time frame utilized
Marine fixed-wing squadrons as temporary fillers to augment the
wing while new squadrons went through stand up or existing
squadrons transitioned to new aircraft.  Carrier projection of
power ashore centered on singular event air strikes, such as
those conducted against Beirut and Libya rather than sustained
support of ground combat operations.  This lack of emphasis on
power projection from the sea in support of operations ashore was
evident in carrier aviation's difficulty in being able to
completely and efficiently integrate with the Joint Force Air
Component Command (JFACC) during Operation Desert Storm.
Future structure and capabilities of Naval fixed-wing
aviation will be shaped by the National Security Strategy shift
from a focus on a global threat to a focus on regional challenges
and opportunity.(12:1)  Although shaped by strategy, it will be
driven by the Department of Defense budget reductions.  The
Defense budget experienced a 21.4 percent reduction between 1990-
1993.  For carrier aviation, this resulted in a force structure
change of two carriers and two active duty carrier air wings.
(1:27)  Marine aviation was reduced by four fixed-wing squadrons.
Most likely the Clinton administration and Congress will continue
to enact deep cuts in defense spending.  A recent Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) study has identified a wide range of cost-
cutting options which would total 46 billion dollars over the
next five years.  Included in this budget reduction proposal is
the early retirement of three carriers and carrier air wings as
well as the cancellation of funding for the next Nimitz-class
carrier.  This option would leave the Navy with nine active
carriers. (13)  The CBO study suggest amphibious assault ships
such as the Wasp-class LHD or the Tarawa-class LHA would be
suited to support battle groups. (13)
Structure Options for Marine fixed-wing aviation
     Senator Nunn's call for a comprehensive review of the
services roles and missions was answered by the Joint Staff with
a reaffirmation of the necessity of maintaining each service's
aviation structure; however, the impact of defense budget
reductions will effect the basic structure of Navy and Marine
fixed-wing aviation.  Both the Navy and Marine Corps have already
realized reduction in the number of squadrons.  The Marine Corps
has retired the OV-10 aircraft, an extremely capable airborne
command and control platform, and the Navy has sought the early
retirement of the A-6 all-weather attack aircraft.  Future
structure options could include:
     - Retaining all Marine fixed-wing functions as a smaller
       force.
     - Selected functions relegated to either Navy or Marine
       fixed-wing aviation.
     - Increased integration of Marine and Navy fixed-wing
       aviation.
     Retaining all the functions of Marine fixed-wing aviation,
although optimum for support of the MAGTF, may not be possible
under future defense budget cutbacks.  Reduction in the total
numbers of type aircraft will result in an increase in per unit
cost to maintain and support.  The cost for the Marine Corps to
maintain multiple aircraft types may become restricted.  This
cost was anticipated in the Marine Corps' plan to "neck down" its
fighter (F/A-18) and attack (AV-8B) aircraft to a single
platform: the STOVL Strike Fighter (SSF).  Current economic
restraints may force the assimilation of aircraft communities
such as the EA-6B electronic warfare platform into Navy squadrons
for increased economy.  As demonstrated during Desert Storm,
these limited highly specialized aircraft would be used to
support joint air operations or the future Naval Expeditionary
Task Force as required.
     Relegating selected missions such as offensive counter air
or offensive air support to either Navy or Marine Corps aviation
could be considered a waste of assets in light of the multi-
mission capability of modern Naval aircraft.  The current
inventory of Navy and Marine aircraft are capable of operating
across a broad spectrum of missions and contingencies.  Recent
improvements in existing airframes such as the F-14's air-to-
ground capability and the AV-8B night and radar capability
increase both aircrafts' capability to perform multiple missions.
The limit to which the different Naval aircraft exploit their
multi-mission abilities in the future integration of Marine and
Navy aviation will not be limited by aircraft type but by
training, deployment platforms, and operations tempos.
     Although From the Sea calls for expanded integration of Navy
and Marine fixed-wing aviation, the intent is apparently not for
the complete absorption of Marine into Navy fixed-wing aviation.
The integration of air capabilities has the potential, if applied
properly, to use the combined Naval aviation capabilities as a
force multiplier when compared to the more traditional roles and
missions of Marine and Navy fixed-wing aviation, as From the Sea
indicates:
          When Marines go ashore, Naval aviation on board
     aircraft carriers and , if required, land based
     expeditionary aircraft will provide them sustained high
     volume tactical air support ashore to extend the landward
     reaches of our littoral operations. (12:95)
Reduction in the numbers of carriers and carrier air wings can be
offset by greater integration of remaining aviation assets.
Increases in command and control technologies and equipment will
enable land-based forward deployed fixed-wing aircraft to play a
greater role in sea control and power projection.  An example of
this concept could be an integrated Naval Expeditionary Force
employing a land-based Aviation Combat Element (ACE) composed of
Marine F/A-18, Navy F-14 and S-3 aircraft in support of a Marine
Expeditionary Unit, (MEU) in the absence of a carrier.
Doctrinal Changes
     Doctrine is a statement of how a military organization views
itself with respect to the execution of its mission.  Doctrine
spells out the methodology and also the raison d'etre for the
service.  From the Sea identifies the renewal of navy and Marine
Corps doctrine as an essential element in defining direction for
the New Navy and Marine Corps and directed the establishment of a
Naval Doctrine Command. (12:96)
     The Naval Doctrine Command's mission includes reviewing
existing doctrine, modifying it to meet new and existing
realities, and creating new doctrine as the concepts of air land
battle and amphibious warfare are adapted into operational
maneuver from the  sea. (10)  This mission is made difficult by
the rapidly developing changes in Naval expedltionary force
employment.  For Marine fixed-wing aviation, the doctrinal
changes will reflect the additional functions relating to the
permanent assignment of Marine fixed-wing squadrons as part of a
carrier air group and the use of VSTOL aircraft conducting a sea-
control mission while embarked on a large deck amphibious ship.
Organizational Changes
     Recent examples of Adaptive Force Packaging include the
embarkation of a MAGTF on board the carrier USS Roosevelt.  The
concept of employing an Air Combat Element of the MAGTF from a
large deck carrier represents a shift in the paradigm of Navy
carrier aviation; there is at present little doctrinal guidance
concerning the physical integration as well as command and
control problems which will accompany this placement of a large
number of Marines and helicopters on a carrier.  Combining Navy
and Marine fixed-wing squadrons into integrated carrier groups
which form the Air Combat Element of a Naval Expeditionary Force
is another example of possible adaptation of force structure to
support a strategy which includes forward presence and power
projection from the sea.
     Adaptive Force Packaging represents a shift away from the
traditional employment of Carrier Battle Groups or Amphibious
ready groups toward task-organized Naval Expeditionary Forces
whose composition and mix of Marine and Navy fixed-wing
capabilities will be governed by the assigned or anticipated
mission.  For example, a carrier air group comprised heavily of
strike/fighter aircraft may be task organized to support a
mission which includes a preponderance of air interdiction and
close air support; electronic warfare aircraft would augment the
group as the threat dictates.  Integrating the carrier air group
with Marine aircraft, together with the reductions in numbers of
squadrons, may dictate that Marine or possibly Navy squadrons
phase ashore for more rapid cyclic operations in support of the
Ground Combat Element.  The command organization and staff could
be a hybrid of the Marine Air Combat Element (ACE) and the Navy
Carrier Air Group (CAG).  Another option for the organizational
and command structure of the future Naval Air Combat Element
could be based in part on the Joint Force Air Component Command
(JFACC) concept, whereby one commander coordinates the aviation
effort of Navy, Marine and Air Force elements.
Equipping Naval Aviation
     Admiral Crowe, former Chief of Naval Operations, explored
changes in seaborne forces for a 1977 conference in Problems of
Sea Power As We Approach the Twenty-First Century:
          Long range sensor weapons systems and helicopters will
     increase the effectiveness of individual ships, small
     carriers and V/STOL aircraft may revolutionize the air
     picture, single units will be capable of operation
     independent of task forces and their mission will increase
     accordingly.  At the same time more sophisticated command
     and control systems will weld these efforts into an
     integrated whole. (4:33)
This 1977 view reflects some of the advances of the past fifteen
years: satellites as long range sensors, surface and air launched
cruise missiles as long range weapons, and it questions our
preconceived ideas on future naval aviation platforms.  What
combination of large deck carriers and amphibious assault ships
will be required to support the our future naval strategy?  What
mix of aircraft will best support this strategic concept while
meeting restrictive fiscal budget constraints?
     Present reductions in the number of carriers is making it
increasingly difficult for planners to support the Unified
Commanders' requirements for carrier battle groups.  Adaptive
Force Packaging is one method whereby a combination of platforms
can be tasked organized to meet the CINC's requirements.
Procurement of both ships and aircraft should reflect future
strategic requirements balanced with fiscal realities.  Naval
planners must reconsider the traditional concepts of carrier
design and capabilities.  Current American super-carrier designs
displace almost 100,000 tons fully loaded; American naval
planners tend to consider 40,000 tons as the minimum size for an
aircraft carrier although other countries disagree.  Eric Grove
studies current and future carrier design in his book The Future
of Sea Power:
          France plans to build new ships that are reported to
     have full displacement somewhat below this figure...The new
     design tries to achieve maximum utilizable deck with limited
     displacement...they will carry between 35 and 40 aircraft
     with a mix of Rafale based ACM fighter bombers and
     Helicopters. (5:125)
Developing a smaller class of aircraft carriers to work in
concert with existing and future multipurpose amphibious ships is
an option which would give the Naval Expeditionary Force an
additional air, surface, and subsurface capability to complement
the amphibious ship's ground attack VSTOL aircraft at a relative
cost savings compared to a super-carrier.
     Although the near future needs of Naval fixed-wing aviation
will more than likely be met with conventional carriers utilizing
catapults and arresting gear, future shipbuilding which includes
more multipurpose platforms such as the LHD will take advantage
of VSTOL fixed-wing aircraft.  These ships are assigned the
secondary or convertible mission of sea control and power
projection. (3:5) Improvements in the AV-8B have resulted in a
true night attack capability while the addition of a radar system
gives the AV-8B a substantial increase in the performance on air-
to-air, air-to-ground, and sea-control missions.  Congress
recently included funding for the building of a sixth LHD
amphibious assault ship in the 1993 budget. (8)  Will the
increased number of VSTOL platforms be met with a corresponding
increase in the number of AV-8B squadrons?  Currently, the seven
AV-8B squadrons would be hard pressed to support deployments on
the eleven projected large deck amphibious ships.
     The present mix of Navy and Marine aircraft is capable of
integrating both on the decks of carriers and between the decks
of carriers and amphibious ships to meet the needs of the Naval
Expeditionary Force.  Future procurement will place a high
premium on joint aircraft development to reduce research and
development cost and increase interoperabllity between the
services.  While the F/A-18 E/F procurement and the AV-8B re-
manufacture appear to have the congressional support needed to
extend these programs into the twenty-first century, future Naval
aircraft programs such as the AX multimission strike fighter and
the STOVL Strike fighter (SSF) are on less solid ground.
Currently the Marine Corps is committed to the SSF as a
replacement for both the AV-8B and the F/A-18. (11:36) Congress
may force Naval aviation's choice between the AX and SSF; this
choice will determine the future of conventional carrier and
VSTOL aviation.
Integrated Training.
     Training the future Naval Expeditionary Force must focus on
increasing Naval aviation's capability to support Marine, Joint,
and Coalition forces ashore while maintaining proficiency in
anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare.  For both
Marine and Navy squadrons this means a considerable change in
traditional training programs.  Although the Marine Corps
recently deployed a squadron of AV-8B on the USS Wasp, LHD-1,
with a "convertible" mission of sea control, without the long
term experience of conventional Navy carrier squadrons the
attempts at prosecuting anti-surface warfare would have resulted
in steep learning curves at the least.  Marine AV-8B as well as
F/A-18 squadrons have not had the extensive training required for
that highly specialized type of warfare.  A recent article in
Proceedings emphasizes the difficulties of integrating roles and
mission from a Navy squadron perspective:
          Navy attack squadrons presently spend a very small
     proportion of their training time practicing battlefield
     interdiction, close air support, laser spot tracking and
     strafing.  The bulk of Navy attack squadron training is
     divided between war at sea, suppression of enemy air
     defenses, long range multi plane attacks and strategic
     heavy bombing. (6:67)
     The degree of training and experience required to
successfully accomplish these missions may make any proposal to
completely integrate Navy and Marine Corps fixed-wing missions--
and not just squadrons--the equivalent of training our squadrons
toward mediocre performance at highly specialized task.  The high
degree of training for pilots in the specialized field of close
air support can be cited as a direct cause of the relative lack
of friendly fire casualties experienced by Marines supported by
Marine fixed-wing aviation.  Naval Expeditionary Force training
must highlight increased integration of Navy and Marine fixed-
wing aviation's inherent capabilities and not change the
individual squadron's mission.
     Cuts in defense spending are often accompanied with
increased operation tempo, longer and more frequent deployments,
and reduction in funding for training exercises.  As our armed
forces are reduced under the current budget cuts, the necessity
for increase training must be funded if we are to do more with a
leaner force.  Combined exercises which highlight the interface
between carrier battle groups, amphibious ready groups and the
MAGTF are required.  Training can be enhanced by including
carrier air groups participation in Marine combined arms
exercises and by placing greater emphasis on Naval air
integration during joint and combined air exercises.  On a
tactical level, increased integration of Marine Air Weapons and
Tactics squadron and Naval Strike Warfare school is required.
Conclusions
     Defense reduction rumors of the 1980's have become the
realities of the 1990's.  Admiral Crowe's comments on the
problems of security policy and defense structure hold true
today:
          No matter how farsighted and skillful the Navy's
     leaders are in making the necessary security calculations
     and in advising their civilian masters, the United States
     political climate will, in the final analysis, be the
     critical element in formulating security policy. (4:37)
In shaping Naval Expeditionary Forces we must make maximum use of
our limited resources to meet national strategic objectives.  The
integration of Navy and Marine aviation is not a casual disregard
of almost seventy years of lessons learned which resulted in two
of the world's premier air arms.  Integrating capabilities while
maintaining specific areas of expertise will produce a more
unified force to accept the challenges of the future: shifts in
national military strategy and reductions in defense spending.
Naval Expeditionary Force Commanders must be able to exploit the
capabilities of our remaining fixed-wing assets to the fullest.
Changes in doctrine, organization, structure, and training will
enable an integrated team of Navy and Marine aviation to better
function in support of our Naval Expeditionary Forces.
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6.   Hamblet, Lt. William. "All Strike Fighters for the Air
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8.   Holzer, Robert. "Assault Ships Take On Broader Roles."
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9.   "Navy-Marine Aviation Units - Together Again." Marine Corps
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10.  "Navy Establishes Doctrine Command." Marine Corps Gazette
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11.  O,Brien, F. Michael. "An Interview With Lt.Gen. Duane A
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12.  O'Keefe, Sean, Adm. Frank B. Kelso,II, and Gen. Carl E.
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