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Stinger In The Emergency Defense Of The Amphibious Task Force:

Stinger In The Emergency Defense Of The Amphibious Task Force:

An Accident Waiting to Happen

 

CSC 1993

 

SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Title: Stinger in the Emergency Defense of the Amphibious Task Force: An Accident Waiting to

Happen

 

Author: Major Jeff S. Vogel, United States Marine Corps

 

Thesis: Although Marine Low Altitude Air Defense units practice Emergency Defense of the

Amphibious Task Force, they lack effective integration into the Navy's air defense system.

 

Background: In an emergency the Commander of the Amphibious Task Force may use

embarked Marine air defense units to provide air defense protection for the task force. However,

the ship's captain has taken away the authority of the Stinger gunner to engage aircraft. This may

deny the Stinger gunner enough time to complete an engagement because he has to request

permission to engage from higher authority. This violates the concept of decentralized control.

Additionally, there is a lack of Standard Operating Procedures for the Emergency Defense of the

Amphibious Task Force (EDATF) above the MEU level. In the event an EDATF occurs, ships

often lack the radio assets required for Stinger team integration into the Navy air defense system.

Ideally, the LAAD Commander should be in the ship's Combat Information Center using

organic Navy communication assets to control LAAD teams. In controlling the teams the most

desirable situation would be to adapt for seaborne use the procedures that guide LAAD gunners

ashore. During operations ashore the final authority to engage aircraft is normally delegated to

the LAAD firing team leader. This procedure agrees with the concept of maneuver warfare where

only a decentralized military can have a fast decision cycle. There are many actions that must

come together in an emergency to ensure success. These actions are preplanned by SOPs. This

gives the capability of the LAAD gunner to act on his own and to perceive the bigger picture.

SOPs delineate procedures that reduce the doubts in the LAAD gunners mind about what to do

during an engagement process.

 

 

Recommendations: The key requirement for command and control of Marine air defense units is

centralized command and decentralized control. The authority to fire or not to fire should reside

with the Stinger team leader. The Commander of the Amphibious Task Force and Commander of

the Landing Force should be responsible for general coordination and program responsibility for

EDATF SOPs. Joint coordination will ensure common use of communication equipment,

organization and training.

 

OUTLINE

 

Thesis: Although Marine Low Altitude Air Defense units practice Emergency Defense of the

Amphibious Task Force, they lack effective integration into the Navy's air defense system.

 

I. Evolution of the EDATF

A. Unprovoked attacks on U.S. warships

B. Kamikaze style tactics

C. Ship air defense assets unable to cope with air threat

D. Use of embarked Marine air defense units

 

II.Rules of engagement

A. Captain of the ship restrictions

B. Iraqi aircraft attacks U.S. Navy Frigate Stark

C. OODA loop

D. German World War II independent decision-making process

E. Concept of centralized command and decentralized control

 

III.EDATF Standard Operating Procedures

A. CATF/CLF relationships

B. Control afloat procedures

C. Standard operating procedures

 

IV.Navy and Marine communication assets aboard ship

A. Navy doctrinal communication nets

1. Shipboard communication assets

2. Landing force communication assets

B. Deck mounted Marine air defense communication assets aboard Navy ships

1. Deck mounted impact on real time reporting

2. Combat Information Center integration

 

STINGER IN THE EMERGENCY DEFENSE OF AMPHIBIOUS TASK FORCE:

 

AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN

 

Protection of the Amphibious Task Force from enemy air attacks continues to be a challenge

 

for air defenders. Unprovoked attacks on U.S. warships have occurred throughout our national

 

experience.

 

"In 1807, the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake was cannonaded and

boarded by His Britannic Majesty's Ship Leopard, and four U.S.

seaman were seized. In 1898, the battleship Maine exploded in the

Havana, Cuba harbor. Although the explosion was caused by a

magazine detonation, the immediate U.S. reaction was to blame

Spanish saboteurs. In 1937, the gunboat Panay was bombed and

strafed by Japanese aircraft while escorting U.S. tankers up China's

Yangtze River. Each of these assaults was (or believed to be)

deliberate and deadly. Each occurred outside of U.S. waters, and

each came "out of the blue" while U.S. ships and crew were

engaged in peaceable activity." (5:64)

 

Many U.S. citizens considered each assault a cause for war; in fact, the Japanese attack on U.S.

 

warships at Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought America into World War II.

 

Today, with the end of the Cold War and the United States emerging as the only military

 

superpower, kamikaze style tactics may increase. A surge effort by an enemy employing all

 

available aircraft and reinforced with suicidal zealots could tax the ships' air defense system. The

 

penetration of shipboard air defenses by several sorties of aircraft could result in moderate to heavy

 

losses. The sinking of a large surface combatant may have serious consequences in accomplishing

 

the immediate mission and deal a serious blow to national prestige.

 

When conditions suggest a surprise or surge attack, the Commander of the Amphibious Task

 

Force (CATF) will use all available means to protect his assets. The Emergency Defense of the

 

Amphibious Task Force (EDATF) uses embarked landing force assets. Embarked Marine air

 

defense units such as the Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) battalion could provide short-range air

 

defense with its shoulder launched stinger missile. During the movement phase afloat, LAAD

 

teams will man predetermined firing positions aboard ship. Each team will have binoculars,

 

Stinger missiles, and a communications link with either a LAAD Officer/Noncommissioned Officer

 

located in the Combat Information Center (CIC) of their respective ship. Each team will be given a

 

specific quadrant of airspace to search. Although Marine Low Altitude Air Defense units practice

 

Emergency Defense of the Amphibious Task Force, they lack effective integration into the Navy's

 

air defense system.

 

The ship's captain or his representative usually reserves the right to authorize LAAD teams to

 

engage a hostile threat Under normal conditions, the Tactical Air Control Center (TACC) afloat

 

will set air defense warning conditions and weapon control status. However, the concept of

 

centralized command and decentralized control is the most efficient use of Stinger air defense

 

assets. The Marine Stinger team has the final authority to engage aircraft. The responsibility to

 

fire or not to fire resides with the team leader.(10:5-3) In the EDATF, the ship's captain retains

 

full control and the command to fire is by his authorization only. This violates the concept of

 

decentralized control. If the enemy bases his attack on surprise, getting timely authorization to fire

 

may be a problem.

 

"On the evening of 17 May 1987, the U.S. Navy-guided

missile Frigate Stark (FFG-31) was attacked by an Iraqi aircraft

while on a radar picket station in the Persian Gulf. The ship was

struck by two Exocet missiles - 37 U.S. sailors were killed. The

Stark was stationed in international waters well outside the war

zones declared by Iraq and Iran. At 2000 local time, the Stark was

warned of the approach of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage by an E-3 Airborne

Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, via Navy Tactical

Data System (NTDS). The Stark's Commanding Officer was

informed of the Iraqi aircraft's presence by 2005, when the aircraft

was about 200 nautical miles away. At 2102, the radar signature of

the F-1's air intercept radar was detected, and for several seconds,

the radar locked onto the Stark. At 2103, the ship's air-search radar

operator requested permission from the Tactical Action Officer

(TAO) to transmit a standard warning to the F-1. The TAO said,

"No, wait." At 2105, the F-1 turned toward the Stark at 32.5

nautical miles out. This move was missed by the Stark's Combat

Information Center (CIC). The first missile from the Iraqi F-1 was

launched at 2107, 22.5 nautical miles from the Stark. The TAO

observed the F-1 course change at 2107. The Captain of the ship

was called, but could not be found. At 2108 the Stark contacted the

F-1 on the military air distress frequency, requesting identification

At that moment, however, the F-1 pilot was firing his second

Exocet. Another warning was radioed to the F-1 at about 2108, and

the Stark's Phalanx Gatling gun was placed in the "stand-by mode."

A Stark lookout reported an inbound missile to the CIC, but the

report was not relayed to the TAO. The first missile hit the Stark at

2109, and she went to general quarters. As the ship's captain

entered the CIC, the second incoming missile observed from the

bridge, struck 20 to 30 seconds after the first." (5:64)

 

The Stark was always a step behind the Iraqi aircraft. Its command, control, and

 

communication structure was too centralized to cope with the problem. Instead of focusing on the

 

threat, it focused on internal procedures. The F-1 was on an attack profile, but the TAO was

 

unable to recognize it. The TAO should have put a missile on the rail and armed the Stark's chaff

 

launchers. The crew was not ready to use her weapons even if a decision had been made to use

 

them.

 

In order to win an engagement, we should operate at a faster tempo than our adversaries or

 

get inside our adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action cycle (OODA loop). As

 

commanders, we need to decentralize decisions to encourage lower level commanders to shape,

 

direct, and take sudden actions necessary to quickly exploit opportunities as they present

 

themselves. If you give your commanders room for independence, how do you direct them to

 

make the right decision in your absence? You communicate to a schwerpunkt (point of main

 

effort). It is the center around which everything is focused. Schwerpunkt is applied at all levels

 

from platoon to theater. All supporting elements; air, logistics, and artillery have a schwerpunkt

 

This meshes together the initiative at the tactical level with the intent of the strategic.(3:30) In

 

other words, you don't tell a Marine what to do, you communicate to the schwerpunkt.

 

It is appropriate to recall that Field Marshal von Moltke was known for giving orders

 

sticking to a clear-cut direction only. Within that direction he left freedom of action to his junior

 

leaders. Five thousand miles away his contemporary, General Robert E. Lee, held the opinion that

 

the mission of the leader was only to put his troops into the right direction for the decisive battle,

 

the junior leaders should do the rest. Both Moltke and Lee wanted freedom of decision for their

 

junior leaders so as to enable them to make independent decisions without losing sight of the total

 

concept(5:6)

 

An example of making independent decisions can be seen in Rommel's North African

 

campaign during World War II. Rommel's G3 and G2 were at Tobruk while Rommel was away

 

at the front lines for five days. Rommel had great success at Sidi Rezegh, and consequently

 

Rommel gave the order to go over to the pursuit near the Egyptian border with only a few forces

 

left at Tobruk. However, the pursuit was too early and the developments near Tobruk became

 

very dangerous, and nearly untenable. Rommel was not at Tobruk and could not be located at the

 

front. There was no other decision but to call off the German offensive from the eastern frontier,

 

call back the German forces, and give them an order to attack the enemy in the rear near Tobruk.

 

That means the G3 cancelled Rommel's order and ordered all the troops back from the front line to

 

Tobruk to relieve the situation. When Rommel returned from the front, after an explanation about

 

the situation, he agreed with the decision. This is the type of decision-making that we should

 

foster in the military of today.(6:6) In a dangerous situation, even the most junior officer must

 

have the courage to make clear-cut independent decisions. The commander of the Army could not

 

be found, a decision had to be made, and if you wait until the Commander gets back-the battle is

 

lost, therefore, you have to make an independent decision.(6:6)

 

The full potential of Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) units cannot be realized without

 

effective command and control.(2:50) The key requirement for command and control of LAAD

 

units is centralized command and decentralized control. With the enemy employing high speed,

 

low-level tactics to penetrate our air defense coverage, LAAD teams may not have enough time to

 

request permission to engage from higher authority. Therefore, the most desirable situation would

 

be to adapt (for seaborne use) the normal weapons condition that guides LAAD gunners ashore.

 

The control of a land-based Stinger under normal air defense doctrine is through setting weapons

 

control conditions: Weapons Free ("FREE"-engage all aircraft not positively identified as

 

friendly), Weapons Tight ("TIGHT"-engage all aircraft positively identified as hostile), and

 

Weapons Hold ("HOLD"-engage aircraft only in self-defense).(8:C-11) The high degree of

 

visual aircraft recognition training afforded LAAD teams facilitates the rapid decision-making that

 

is a necessity in the effective engagement of enemy aircraft in an emergency. Visual recognition of

 

targets, accompanied by an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) check, is the primary method of

 

aircraft identification. This procedure agrees with the concept of maneuver warfare where only a

 

decentralized military can have a fast decision cycle. The Navy's integrated air defense system

 

must have positive control of all aircraft and LAAD teams as a baseline during operations. To

 

preclude fratricide, positive communication with all aircraft and LAAD units is a requirement. The

 

CIC passes hostile aircraft locations to LAAD teams positioned aboard the ship. LAAD teams do

 

not engage if they are ever in doubt as to the identification of the aircraft. However, the right to

 

self-defense is never denied if attacked.

 

EDATF plans lack Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) necessary in an emergency. The

 

LAAD commander's initiative and assertiveness frequently decides air coordination matters. A

 

joint understanding is lacking between the Commander of the Amphibious Task Force (CATF) and

 

the Commander of the Landing Force (CLF) concerning the roles, responsibilities, and training

 

requirements for embarked LAAD units. The normal CATF/CLF command relationship exists.

 

Under any circumstances, embarked assets remain operational under the control of the Marine Air

 

Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Commander. Assignment of all emergency defensive missions

 

involving MAGTF assets are through the MAGTF Commander. Control afloat procedures vary

 

dependent upon the size of the MAGTF supported, and the composition and operational

 

displacement of the Amphibious Task Force. EDATF roles and responsibilities for embarked

 

LAAD personnel and weapon systems are not formulated at any level above the Marine

 

Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Ready Group.(4:11)

 

Good emergency SOPs reduce mistakes by anticipating command decisions necessary in a

 

time-compressed situation. An emergency by definition is a sudden unexpected occurrence

 

demanding immediate action. Realistic emergency training for LAAD teams would be to find,

 

interrogate, track, and carry out an engagement sequence against an enemy aircraft under

 

emergency conditions. A successful engagement would require the Stinger gunner to know what

 

to do in a variety of situations. These situations could vary; from attack profiles by many hostile

 

MIG's or unmanned aerial weapons, to a political activist in a single engine plane. There are many

 

actions that must come together in an emergency to ensure success. These actions are preplanned

 

by SOPs. SOPs delineate procedures that reduce the doubts in the LAAD gunners mind about

 

what to do during the engagement process. SOPs allow the team leader to make decisions on his

 

own. That is, he understands the commander's "schwerpunkt". This gives the capability of the

 

LAAD gunner to act on his own and to perceive the bigger picture. Consequently, the team leader

 

is able to observe the target and control the fire, otherwise, the response may be too slow. The

 

CATF/CLF should be responsible for general coordination and program responsibility for EDATF

 

SOPs. Joint coordination will ensure common use of equipment, organization and training.

 

In the event an EDATF occurs, ships often lack the radio assets required for Stinger team

 

integration into the Navy air defense system.(1:5) Amphibious operations comprise the most

 

complex form of warfare. An amphibious assault is an attack launched from the sea against a

 

hostile shore. Initiated with zero combat power ashore, it requires the rapid build-up of forces and

 

equipment to enable further combat operations. By far the most difficult amphibious operation

 

which we must be prepared to execute is the Over the Horizon (OTH) assault. It will exert

 

extraordinary stress on our command and control. An OTH assault is only one option when

 

conducting an amphibious assault. In those instances where the threat is less capable or not

 

sophisticated, the CATF may launch a close shore assault. This greatly simplifies ship-to-shore

 

movement and, command and control.(9:9) The close-to-shore assaults were commonly initiated

 

with the line of departure from 2.5 to 5 nautical miles offshore. With the advent of the OTH

 

concept, this distance could be up to 150 nautical miles. Since this type of assault is scenario

 

dependent, the communications equipment aboard the ship must meet the needs of traditional and

 

OTH assaults. Table One depicts the radio circuits required by a MEF Forward:

 

TABLE ONE

 

RADIO CIRCUIT REQUIREMENTS

 

OTH Assault Close Assault

 

HF 37 26

 

VHF-FM Transceivers 6 17

 

UHF-LOS Transceivers 25 25

 

UHF SATCOM Transceivers 5 5

 

 

Source: Communications Handbook for Expeditionary Operations

 

The amphibious assault ship (LHA) Tarawa is capable of supporting Maine air defense

 

units. The LHA is the most common substitute for the amphibious command ship LCC. The

 

LCC's were designed to support the CATF and the CLF during amphibious operations, however,

 

they were designated as flagships for the U.S. Second and Seventh Fleets in 1978. The LHA has

 

a primary mission "to embark, deploy, and land elements of an attack force in an assault by

 

helicopters, amphibious vehicles, landing craft, or by a combination of these methods."(11:1150

 

(SRI)-15) If the LHA is used as a command ship, it must also perform its primary mission as a

 

helicopter platform. Table Two depicts the shortages of radio circuits for an LHA during a MEF

 

forward size operation:

 

TABLE TWO

 

LHA RADIO CIRCUITS

 

Shortage Shortage

On-Hand Over-the-horizon Close

 

HF 20 17 6

 

VHF-FM Transceivers 23 0 0

 

UHF-LOS Transceivers 18 7 7

 

UHF SATCOM Transceivers 4 1 1

 

Source: Communications Handbook for Expeditionary Operations

 

 

The Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) battalion usually supports a MEF forward with a

 

Battery-sized unit. The following communication requirements would be needed to sustain a

 

Battery operation: 4 HF nets and 9 VHF nets.(7:3-1) Comparing the previous tables, the main

 

problem is a lack of HF communication nets aboard amphibious shipping. Using VHF may be an

 

alternative, but it is a line of sight radio. In the Over-the-Horizon assault, the VHF radio will not

 

meet the communication needs of the situation due to a lack of range. In the close assault VHF can

 

work, but it is heavily terrain dependent. If the terrain blocks your line of sight, you can set up

 

relay stations, but this action consumes limited communication assets.

 

During an amphibious assault, if an emergency occurs, Stinger teams may be ashore and

 

aboard ship simultaneously. If the ship does not have the required radio assets, the LAAD teams

 

on shore cannot pass threat information to the ship. The ship's captain is hesitant to allow LAAD

 

units to piggyback on Navy doctrinal air defense nets. This forces the LAAD units to use its

 

organic communication assets aboard ship. Deck mounted Marine radios on the outside of the ship

 

usually require authorization by the ship's captain or his Communications Officer. The location of

 

the deck mounting is a compromise between communication effectiveness with the LAAD units

 

ashore, shipboard regulations, and deck space available. Deck mounting separates the LAAD unit

 

from the Combat Information Center (CIC). The CIC processes air defense information. This

 

separation requires another communication link between the LAAD unit at the deck-mounted radio

 

and the CIC. This additional communication link requires the use of more Marine communication

 

equipment, or if available at the deck-mounted location, the use of internal ship communications.

 

An additional communication link diminishes the near-real time report of threat aircraft. Without

 

adequate early warning, Stinger air defense systems become reactive. This degrades air defense

 

for the Amphibious Task Force. The ability of sea-based surface and air search radars is minimal

 

in detecting low altitude aircraft over-land. This sea-based detection shortfall coupled with the

 

diminished real-time passage of threat information may allow enemy aircraft to penetrate the

 

Amphibious Objective Area (AOA). The high speeds of today's military jet aircraft do not permit

 

untimely exchange of threat information. This adhoc situation degrades the air defense protection

 

of the ship.

 

Ideally, the LAAD Commander should be in the ship's CIC using organic Navy

 

communication assets to control LAAD teams. The CIC provides for 24-hour operations. Deck-

 

mounted radios are not practical in rough seas. Being located in the CIC ensures unification with

 

the Navy's integrated air defense system. Close coordination between LAAD and the CIC's

 

Tactical Action Officer ensures coordination of weapons engagement by naval gunfire, Stinger

 

weapons and the Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). The CIC provides target designation,

 

weapons condition, range, bearing, speed and altitude information to the LAAD gunners in firing

 

positions located on the ship. It also reduces near-real time reporting of hostile air tracking

 

information by eliminating an unnecessary communication link if the LAAD commander is located

 

outside the CIC. This provides for the prompt engagement of hostile aircraft. It also unites the

 

CATF/CLF air defense personnel into a cohesive system which provides for more efficient use of

 

command and control assets. In the future, the Navy and Marine Corps should ensure joint crew

 

positions aboard ships which are budgeted and planned with enough communication assets for

 

joint doctrinal communication requirements.

 

The ability to integrate Marine Corps Stinger teams into the EDATF will continue to be a

 

challenge. The biggest is that the ship's captain has removed the LAAD teams' authority to engage

 

aircraft. The execution of LAAD's air defense mission now becomes centralized. This leadership

 

philosophy is incongruent with the intent of maneuver warfare. Centralized thinking may be more

 

efficient, but is less effective. Centralized procedures connotes low trust. The right of self-

 

defense has been taken away when the ship's captain has centralized the engagement procedures.

 

The battlefield can be a confusing environment. Friendlies may get intermingled with hostile

 

aircraft Commanders and air defenders have only split seconds to decide whether to shoot or not

 

to shoot. With the unprecedented lethality of modern weapons, the commander that hesitates may

 

pay a steep price for indecision. Flexibility is the best posture when confronted with an

 

emergency. To maximize the freedom of action requires organization to meet an emergency. Clear

 

lines of responsibility focus on enemy actions, vice-service parochialism that may impair effective

 

combat performance. The use of Navy communication assets, rules of engagement that allow

 

decentralized control, and integrating doctrine with the Navy are keys to success. The Goldwater-

 

Nichols act has challenged the military to conduct operations in a joint environment. By planning

 

jointly and anticipating the problems of integrating LAAD units into the EDATF, these problems

 

can be overcome.

 

BIBLOGRAPHY

 

1. Conroy, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC. Marine Corps Lessons Learned System number:

71053-91656 (01516) and number 71053-34698 (01514), submitted by 28 MEU.

PHIBEX OCEAN VENTURE 90 conducted by USCINCLANT On 07/10/90.

 

2. Davis, Dale R., Captain, USMC. "Employing LAAD in the Offense." Marine Corps

Gazette, October 1992, 49-51.

 

3. Proceedings of Seminar on Air Antitank Warfare, May 26-26, 1978. Battelle Columbus

Laboratories, Tactical Technology Center, 505 King Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.

 

4. Storey, J., Lieutenant Colonel, USMC. Marine Corps Lessons Learned System Number:

40533-63384 (01161), submitted by MAG-90. PHIBEX TEAM SPIRIT 90

conducted by CG, 9TH MEB on 03/22/90.

 

5. Vlahos, Michael, "The Stark Report" Proceedings/Naval Review, March 1988, 64-67.

 

6. Von Mellenthin, F.W., General Major, German Army. Conference on Armored Warfare in

World War II, May 10, 1978, Battelle Columbus Laboratories, Tactical Technology

Center,505 King Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.

 

7. USMC, LAAD Platoon Commander's Handbook, OH 5-5C, August 1986.

 

8. USMC, Antiair Warfare, FMFM 5-50 (Coordinating Draft), 20 December 1991.

 

9. USMC, Over-The-Horizon (OTH) Amphibious Operations Operational Concept, FMFRP

14-7, 15 March 1991.

 

10. USMC, Employment of the Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, FMFM 5-52, October

1990.

 

11. USMC, Communications Handbook for Expeditionary Operations, Basic Communication

Officers Course, United States Marine Corps Communication Officers School.

 



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