FIGHTING WITH FIRES: THE FUTURE
OF MARINE CORPS ARTILLERY
tendency towards under-rating firepower.has marked every peace interval in
modern military history.
B. H. Liddell Hart: Thoughts on War, 1944
During the late 1980's and
early 1990's, the Marine Corps began the difficult task of redesigning force
structure in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting
change in focus for United States defensive policy. The replacement of aging fire support systems with equipment
purchased during the Reagan/Bush years required new approaches to the
organization of artillery support units. Plans to downsize the Corps by about twenty percent, from 197,000 to
approximately 159,100, reduced the Corps' ability to successfully execute its
wide ranging missions. Eventually the
Department of Defense settled on an authorized end strength of 174,000
Marines. This represented an actual
reduction of approximately 10 percent of the active forces of the Corps. In comparison, the cut of 152 of the
artillery tubes available for support for the active forces, with an additional
18 more tubes cut from the reserve structure, amounted to approximately a
forty-five percent reduction of the artillery force and leaves only 180 active and
90 reserve artillery tubes remaining as shown in Figure 1. While initial plans
called for the reduction of up to eight infantry
battalions from the active force of twenty-seven battalions, the finalized
structure retained twenty-four battalions. The resulting imbalance in artillery support for maneuver units
was further challenged by the cancellation of the planned acquisition of a
battalion of multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The end result places indirect fire support levels well below that
originally planned for the much smaller 159,100 Marine sized force. This paper examines the effects this reduced structure has on
fire support for the Marine Division and the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)
in its warfighting role. Additionally,
the changing nature of future war's fire support requirements will be analyzed
to determine if the Marine Corps should invest in a rocket system at this time
to balance today's deficiencies with tomorrow's emerging demands for combat
effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Figure 1. Howitzer Tubes Available in the
Active/Reserve Force Structure
CURRENT ARTILLERY STRUCTURE
By 1994, Marine artillery
had reconfigured to the current structure of 10 active duty battalions and five
reserve battalions. Each of the active
duty battalions are mirror-imaged as direct support battalions and all are
equipped with the M198, 155 mm towed howitzer. The artillery battalion structure consists of 47 officers and 576
enlisted Marines organized into a Headquarters battery and three firing
batteries. Each battalion contains a
full complement of forward observer (FO) and liaison (LN) teams to integrate
fires for the maneuver element they may be assigned to support. This new structure provides FO and LN
support for up to four maneuver elements and remedies many problems encountered
as the Marine Corps embraced maneuver warfare.
The addition of three light
armored infantry battalions (LAI), now called light armored reconnaissance
(LAR), and the more aggressive use of the organic tank battalion as a maneuver
element, or as the base unit for task organized forces, severely strained the
artillery regiment's ability to provide timely, well-coordinated, direct
support fires for a more mobile and maneuverable force with even more maneuver
units. Mirror imaging each artillery
battalion provided the capability for a fourth direct support battalion, but
the creation of this additional capability masked the costs associated with its
development. The Marine Air-Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) study of 1989 recommended a 4x6 artillery battalion structure. This indicates four firing batteries consisting of six guns each
that would provide 24 howitzers per battalion for support. However, due to the limited force structure
available, a battery was taken from each of the existing battalions to create
the additional direct support battalion-resulting in a 3x6 structure for each
of the 10 active artillery battalions. This organization has created two critical challenges: providing artillery support for mechanized
forces and providing reinforcing and general support fires.
Tempo Versus Continuous Support
As the Marine Corps becomes more mechanized, fire support elements
face a more difficult challenge to support rapidly moving maneuver forces. In order to provide responsive covering
fires, an artillery battalion leapfrogs firing batteries from position to
position to maintain range fans capable of ensuring fires are available when
and where they may be needed for the advancing maneuver units. Normally, in today's faster paced
operations, self-propelled artillery provides this capability. However, since self-propelled artillery is
more difficult to deploy due to its size and weight, and is more costly, the
Marine Corps has decided to use only towed artillery.
Although this simplifies
logistics for the inventory and maintenance of parts, it places a greater
challenge on the artillery battalion to guarantee continuous coverage. Better intelligence about the enemy and more
detailed integration of artillery displacements with the supported unit's
scheme of maneuver can partially compensate for the challenges of increased
tempo; but the most significant factor affecting tempo was the reassignment of
the fourth firing battery from each of the three direct support (DS) battalions
to create a fourth 3x6 DS battalion.
The restructuring plan
developed at the 1989 Artillery Conference called for 4x6 battalions that would
provide the additional maneuverable battery to maintain the battalion's
firepower with 24 howitzers as in the old 3x8 organization and have the
flexibility to support mechanized units. This point was reinforced in the lessons from Desert Storm that
validated the capability of towed artillery battalions, 4x6, to support highly
maneuverable forces in a theater characterized by poor roads and soft, sandy
soil that hampered cross-country movement by vehicles. Colonel R. A. Gangle provided a dissenting opinion in a Desert
Shield/Storm after action report from Regimental Landing Team 5 (RLT)-there is
still considerable debate about the suitability of towed artillery to support
General Support Artillery
far the most critical aspect of the changes in force structure, is the
significant reduction of reinforcing and general support artillery
capability. The practice of referring
to types of artillery pieces or units as general support (GS), general
support-reinforcing (GS-R), reinforcing (R), or direct support (DS) artillery
is a misnomer. Used correctly, these
refer to the four standard tactical missions and their associated inherent
responsibilities (see Appendix A) that may be assigned to artillery battalion
and higher level units. However, this
error is widely practiced due to the association of system and structure
characteristics that make a howitzer or organization more suited to one type of
mission over another. Units equipped
with light artillery pieces with high rates of fire are better suited for DS;
but the capabilities desired for GS missions are heavy caliber weapons with
longer ranges. Artillery units that are
not structured with organic FO and LN teams are usually assigned GS, GS-R, or R
missions and not DS missions. While
each of the Marine Corps' artillery battalions can be assigned and execute any
one of the four standard tactical fire support missions, allocating the
battalions that habitually provide DS to other missions could leave a committed
maneuver unit without responsive artillery support. At times, in the complexity of battle, this may be necessary to
weight the main attack; but this should not become the norm or doctrinal
approach as a result of a force structure that severely limits the availability
In addition to weighting the
main attack, artillery should be available for the higher commander as
established in Marine FMFM 2-7 Fire
Support in Air-Ground Task Force Operations. "The force or division commander must retain immediately
available artillery with which he can influence the action. GS and GS-R missions facilitate this
fundamental." Global sourcing has become the accepted procedure for commanders
concerned about the lack of artillery to acquire the units necessary to weight
the main effort and provide GS fires for the overall force or for the commander
to shape the battlefield for future operations.
The concept of global
sourcing attempts to fulfill requirements for forces by shifting organic
structure from an uncommitted organization to provide needed capabilities. This is acceptable in very limited operations
and can apply in larger conflicts that allow for the mobilization of the
reserves. While this task organization
approach may meet the critical needs of the supported force, the organizations
providing the units become less combat ready. Essentially, global sourcing has the potential to recreate the "hollow"
force of the 70's by accepting improperly balanced forces while deferring
difficult structural decisions. The
process to determine artillery structure begins with the concept of minimum
adequate artillery support.
ADEQUATE ARTILLERY SUPPORT
Organizing artillery for
combat is one of the first steps in planning fire support. This process is a combination of allocating
artillery forces to subordinate organizations and the assignment of tactical
missions to artillery units retained at a given force level. The resulting plan should fulfill the
artillery mission established in FMFM 6-9
Marine Artillery Support:
Furnish close and continuous
fire support by neutralizing, destroying, or suppressing targets which threaten
the success of the supported unit. To
accomplish its mission, artillery conducts three tasks:
timely, close, accurate, and continuous fire support.
Provides depth to combat by
attacking hostile reserves, restricting movement, providing long-range support
for reconnaissance forces, and disrupting enemy command and control systems and
Delivers counterfire within
the range of the weapons systems to ensure the freedom of action of the ground
Since the battalion is the smallest artillery unit
assigned a tactical mission, it has generally become accepted that an artillery
battalion will be assigned the mission for direct support of a maneuver
regiment. This is now specifically
spelled out as doctrine in FMFM 6-9
as, "The minimum adequate fire support for a committed unit (e.g., infantry
regiment or separate maneuver battalion) is normally considered to be one
artillery battalion in DS. Some
situations may require more artillery support; e.g., reinforcing or GS-R
artillery. This may result in less
support or no DS to one unit to increase the combat power of another." To make such a critical decision, the commander must also rely
on an analysis of the mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support
available, and time available (METT-T) to determine adequate artillery support
in a given situation. A brief
historical review of various applications of this principle of artillery
support may help clarify this point and establish a baseline for further
World War II: Division and
Force Level Artillery
During the battle for
Okinawa in April 1945, III Marine Amphibious Corps (MAC) landed two divisions,
each supported by an organic artillery regiment consisting of two 75 mm towed
howitzer battalions and two 105 mm towed howitzer battalions. Figure 2 depicts the divisional artillery and III MAC's corps
artillery organized into two groups of three battalions each. These groups gave the III MAC Commander, Major General Roy S.
Geiger, the capability to rapidly weight the main effort, fight the deep
battle, or shape the battlefield for future operations without stripping away
the organic artillery of the division commanders. Thus, the divisions retained adequate artillery to provide direct
support and reinforcing fires for the close battle.
2. WWII Marine Corps Artillery
As the battlefield
conditions changed (METT-T), Marine corps artillery was transferred to the Army
forces fighting in the southern part of the island to provide additional combat
power to the battle there. Still later,
the divisional artillery of the 1st Marine Division, the 11th Marines, was also
reassigned to support the beleaguered Army units facing the formidable Shuri
Line in the south. After additional
requests for the piecemeal reassignment of III MAC's units to the
southern front, General Geiger argued against
breaking up an effective team. In
response to his concerns, the 1st Marine Division was moved to the south and
reformed with all of its elements. After the northern part of the island was secured, the entire III MAC
was relocated to the line of battle in the south.
Throughout the campaign for
Okinawa massive fire support was also available from over 200 fire support
ships, some 41 aircraft carriers, and land based planes that included an Army
Air Force fighter wing and three Marine air groups. Despite the availability of this remarkable firepower, there was
an obvious need for both divisional and corps artillery. In all, over 27 battalions of artillery
supported four committed divisions. Each infantry regiment generally had a battalion of DS artillery
and could call for reinforcing and general support fires as needed. Artillery battalion missions were changed as
necessary to support the scheme of maneuver and METT-T. The 6th Marine Division had 22 battalions of
artillery supporting its attack on the town of Makabe. This campaign provides a prime example of the complementary
nature of various means of fire support: air, sea, ground. It also shows
the value of a flexible artillery organization that meets the needs of the
commander at every level. While the fog
of war may dictate a nonstandard approach, such as the shifting of organic
divisional artillery to another force, this is not the optimum or preferred
approach over the long run.
Forty Years of Conflicts
After World War II the
general organizational framework of Marine artillery continued to be based on
separate divisional and force artillery structures. Despite the organizational structure, the force artillery was
usually parceled out as attachments to the divisions' artillery regiment until
1978 when the Field Artillery Groups (FAG) that provided the general fire
support for the Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) were disbanded. This reorganization placed all artillery units under the
artillery regiment organic to the division.
Korea. By 1950 the
entire Fleet Marine Force totaled only 23, 952 Marines as a result of the
massive downsizing of the Armed Forces after WWII, with only six infantry
battalions remaining in the active forces. The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was formed with 6,534 Marines for the
initial Marine deployment to Korea. Forming and embarking this force severely taxed every unit in the
Marine Corps-some almost to the point of nonexistence.
This Marine Air-Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) fought in defense of the Pusan Perimeter for 67 days until
disbanded, when it returned to the control of the division and wing for the
Inchon landing. As the only Marine
division committed to action in Korea, the 1st Marine Division fought as part
of an Army Corps. Therefore, the
Marines did not establish a MAC (MEF) higher headquarters, as at Okinawa, so
forces were allocated to the division as the senior Marine warfighting
headquarters. But lack of a higher
Marine headquarters to integrate air and ground forces and defend MAGTF
organization eventually led to the assignment of the 1st Marine Air Wing under
Air Force control. This began a trend to refocus the role of the MEF from warfighter
to force provider that continued through the next two wars as well. The dismal personnel readiness of the remaining
Marine Corps forces precluded the employment of Force Troop's field artillery
groups. The four organic artillery
battalions of the 11th Marines were occasionally augmented by fires from Army
Corps artillery battalions, and for one operation an Army artillery battalion
was attached to the 11th Marines.
Vietnam. Although Marine Corps force structure during Vietnam
provided force artillery, those assets were usually allocated to the divisions
for control by the artillery regiments. The widely dispersed infantry units required a decentralized structural
approach and direct support artillery units were often attached to infantry
regiments or even battalions. The
artillery regiments were task organized differently based on the mission and
assetts available, but contained significant firepower that included 4.2 inch
mortars; 105 mm, 155 mm towed howitzers; 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, 175
mm self-propelled guns, and 8 inch self-propelled howitzers. By 1970, the 11th Marines commanded 156 tubes of artillery. This
mix of weapons provided a diverse set of capabilities that included,
"long-range, heavy artillery support throughout the division TAOR [tactical
area of responsibility]."
Desert Storm. The I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) also fought in Desert Storm
by allocating all additional artillery assets to the divisions. The single exception was a battalion of 22
M198 towed howitzers attached to the 5th MEB. Although the MEB remained afloat in the Persian Gulf during Desert
Shield; it landed as the MEF reserve as the ground war commenced. Despite the emerging doctrine and reduced artillery structure,
the 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division commanded five artillery battalions that
totaled 120 howitzers. The 10th Marines, 2d Marine Division also commanded five
battalions (including the attached Army battalion) that totaled 120 howitzers
and an Army battery of nine MLRS launchers. The artillery regiments' organizational structure, depicted in Figure 3,
encompassed a variety of battalion options: 18 or 24 gun battalions with
batteries of six or eight guns. In order to fight as a highly mechanized force, the 2d Marine
Division's artillery included 48 self-propelled howitzers.
M198-155 mm towed howitzer.
M109-155 mm self-propelled howitzer.
M110-8 inch self-propelled howitzer.
Figure 3. Marine Artillery Structure in Desert Storm
Future Conflicts. The reemergence of the MEF as a warfighter, rather
questions the role and necessary capabilities required by the MEF. This shift in warfighting philosophy, combined with the greatly
reduced artillery available as a result of the force drawdown, puts the MEF and
division commander in a quandary over the use of the same limited assets. While an analysis of the specifics of METT-T
may provide short term solutions, the design of force structure for the full spectrum
of combat should be based on a more enduring doctrine for fire support.
Marine Corps doctrinal
publications focus on the tactics, techniques, and procedures for providing
fire support and do not fully address the development of adequate support. As noted previously, the Marine Corps has
only developed an understanding of this concept at the lowest levels of direct
support. Historical precedent, gut feel,
and reaction to change has been the predominant guide for artillery force structure
development. This key requirement for
designing a capable and balanced force structure was noted as a deficiency in
the 1993 Mission Area Analysis (MAA) for Fire Support, "There is a lack of
doctrine that identifies how many howitzers and aircraft are needed to support
various size MAGTFs [Marine Air Ground Task Force]." This statement, while highlighting the problem, leaves out the
vital role of naval gunfire in balancing the fire support equation. By 1995, the next MAA study flatly stated
the number one fire support deficiency as, "Marine Corps ground fire support
assets do not adequately support Marine Corps operational concepts." However, the study identifies an opportunity to, "Enhance MAGTF
fire support capabilities through a top-down modeling analysis leading to the
optimum mix of weapons systems." Despite the revelations of fire support structure concerns noted
in several after action reports from Desert Storm in 1991, five years have
passed without a comprehensive study to balance the fire support capabilities
necessary for MAGTFs to fight and win across the complete spectrum of war. To accomplish this challenging task, the focus of effort should
be to develop the structure for the MEF to fight and win in a major regional
conflict (MRC) scenario. That requires
sufficient assets to conduct the "single battle" throughout the close, deep,
and rear battle areas and simultaneously provide for overall force protection. After that requirement is met, smaller
organizations or lesser operations must use tailored forces from the existing
structure to execute their responsibilities. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili
stated, "Other operations . have proved to be possible using forces optimized
for wartime effectiveness." In an era of dwindling resources combined with an ongoing
revolution in military affairs, the Marine Corps cannot afford to base
structural decisions on gut feel or historical precedence to structure a force
that can fight and win on the modern battlefield. While the Corps has procrastinated, the U.S. Army has forged ahead in developing doctrine
for the 21st century.
Responding to concerns about
fire support in Desert Storm and future war scenarios, the Army conducted a study
to validate their fire support doctrine at the division and corps. The study, conducted by the Army Science
Board, concluded in an October 1995 report that the organic divisional
artillery lacked sufficient reinforcing and general support capability. The Science Board concurred with Desert
Storm Army commanders that even when an artillery brigade was attached, organic
fire support available to the division was inadequate. The final recommendations, approved by the
Army Chief of Staff for implementation calls for a heavy division's divisional
artillery to consist of three howitzer battalions (3x6) plus a MLRS battalion
configured with two batteries of nine launchers each (2x9) as depicted in
Figure 4. Army Organic
Divisional Artillery for Heavy Division
In addition to this potent
force, two separate brigades of artillery will be attached to each committed
division. An artillery brigade for a heavy division contains a howitzer
battalion (3x6) and two MLRS battalions (3x9) as depicted in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Army Separate
The resulting artillery
force totals 90 howitzers and an incredible 126 MLRS launchers per division as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Army Artillery
Allocation for Heavy Division
Compare this to the 72
artillery tubes available to a Marine division and the difference in doctrine
becomes readily apparent; moreover, a Marine division must share this artillery
with higher headquarters (MEF), whereas an Army heavy division's higher
headquarters (corps) will possess a brigade or more of cannon and rocket
artillery to influence the battle. But
is this a useful comparison? While a
Marine division is not intended to replicate an Army heavy division's
capabilities, a Marine division is more mechanized than initial thoughts
reveal. A direct comparison is
difficult but, considering the mechanized capabilities provided by the assault
amphibian vehicle battalion that can lift four infantry battalions, tank
battalion, and LAR battalion, the Marine division possesses at least half and
possibly two-thirds of the mechanized combat power of an Army heavy
division. Extending these factors to
artillery allocation provides a rough basis for comparison of artillery fire
support assets that would indicate a Marine division equipped with 45 to 60
howitzers and 63 to 84 rocket launchers. Perhaps a look at Army light forces may provide a useful comparison as
Figure 7. XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
ORGANIC ARTILLERY SUPPORT
Artillery support for Army
light forces is configured quite differently as shown in the XVIII Airborne
Corps organic fire support organizational chart depicted by Figure 7. Each "light" division will also receive two
separate brigades of artillery (from Army assets external from the XVIII
Airborne Corps' organic units) to augment its fires. These separate artillery brigades are currently composed of three
battalions of M198 towed howitzers (3x8): an additional 144 howitzers
augmenting the organic division artillery. However, future revisions may create 3x6 battalions that would add a
total 108 artillery tubes for support.
After refining its heavy
division fire support doctrine, the Army initiated the Legal Mix VIII Study to
review the fire support requirements for light forces. Initial reports indicate that in order to
keep the light forces light, the
primary structural revision will be made in the Corps' Artillery Brigade. The current brigade configuration of three
battalions of 155 mm towed M198s and one battalion of MLRS will be
reversed. The recommended structure
will include three battalions of rockets (MLRS or HIMARS) and one battalion of
tube artillery. This provides 81 rocket launchers for general support or about a
battalion, 27 launchers, per light division
in addition to organic support. Therefore, considering the overall force structure, a Marine division
would reasonably require more fire support assets than an Army light division,
but less fire support assets than an Army heavy division.
So why should Marines care
what the Army is doing? First, the
Army's approach to the twenty-first century serves as a potential model for
action to revitalize the Corps' efforts to solve the long standing fire support
Secondly, the Marine Corps
has requested dual designation of all Army doctrinal artillery publications. Whether the two services agree on common doctrine remains to be
However, such a move would help fill the gap in
formal Marine doctrine and provide a solid base for future joint
operations. Two additional aspects of
joint doctrine are relevant.
Doctrine evolves from
experience and studies, someone willing to write it all down, and leaders who
will follow it. Accepting Army doctrine
would be tacitly accepting the studies that helped formulate it.
Force structure evolves from
studies and doctrine. If the Marine
artillery structure is greatly different from the Army's, the doctrine may be
invalid. But, if accepted and modified
only as necessary, the Corps could move on with designing a fire support system
of overlapping capabilities that complement joint doctrine without conducting
another round of costly studies that erode the time advantages that the U.S.
currently enjoys over its adversaries.
Third and by far the most
critical reason Marines should care what the Army does is that the Marine Corps
currently relies on the Army for MLRS support to provide reinforcing and
general support heavy fires for both division and MEF operations.
Structure versus Doctrine Void
Why does the Marine Corps
have to depend on the Army for artillery support? If the Marines deploy two divisions, as they did in Desert Storm,
there will be a requirement for several additional battalions of artillery. Reinforcing and general support battalions
for just the two divisions would require virtually all of the reserve
battalions in 14th Marines. These
battalions are all equipped with the M198, 155 mm, towed howitzer that may not
provide sufficient fires to dominate the modern battlefield. The capabilities that rockets provide cannot
be easily matched by tube artillery. Rockets deliver significantly more firepower and add greater depth to
the battlefield through greater range. These capabilities enhance the MEF's ability to shape and fight the
single battle and make MEF level reinforcing and general support fires
The Marine Corps recognized
the benefits of rocket artillery as early as 1980 and recommended the
acquisition of MLRS. Rockets would provide the punch to offset the loss of heavy artillery due to the retirement of
the 8 inch howitzer. The Marines aging
self-propelled 8 inch and 155 mm howitzers were becoming too expensive to
maintain so the three battalions of tracked artillery were reduced beginning in
1989 in anticipation of the planned upgrade to MLRS.
This was funded in the 94
Program Objective Memorandum (POM) with an additional plus-up of funds
authorized by Congress. The 1993
Mission Area Analysis-24 failed to specifically mention general support
artillery as a deficiency since the acquisition of MLRS was proceeding well at
the time of the conference. But with
the drawdown overshadowing military spending, the Secretary of Defense
questioned the validity of the purchase and opted for a long term study instead
of providing MLRS for the Marines. Politics, poor cost comparisons, and a virtual war on service
redundancies robbed the Corps of a much needed capability. The launchers purchased with the
congressional plus-up were transferred to the U.S. Army.
With the loss
of MLRS, the lack of reinforcing and general support capabilities for the
division and MEF created an immediate gap between doctrine and the force
structure that had been modified too early in anticipation of MLRS. The most obvious recognition of the growing
between doctrinal support requirements and the
capabilities of the diminished artillery force
surfaced with the Commandant's request for Army support.
Memorandum of Agreement
After the decision to forgo the Marine Corps'
long planned acquisition of MLRS, Commandant of the Marine Corps, General
Mundy, formally requested by letter, on 8 December 1993, "Accordingly, request
the Army augment Marine Corps general support artillery with MLRS support when
required." The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), finally approved by the Army
on 27 April 1995 and accepted by the Marine Corps on 26 May 1995 (enclosed as
Appendix B), represents service cooperation and willingness to work together in
a joint environment.
However, despite numerous
joint field exercises and working groups' efforts to transform the document's
intent into a functional reality, several weaknesses remain in the concept of
support and the validity of the agreement.
Permanence. The most obvious concern with the
agreement relates to the signatories of the document. The initial momentum for the agreement stemmed from the service
chiefs' personal correspondence, yet the document's approval is at the deputy
level. Whether or not this reflects
uncertainty about the concept is mere speculation, but it does leave room for
doubt. Perhaps the approval level is
more closely related to the enduring term of the agreement.
In April 1993, as part of
the armed services roles, missions, and functions review, Secretary of Defense
Les Aspin directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the
Secretary of the Navy (SecNav) to conduct a study on the long-term Marine Corps
requirement for general support artillery with a focus on rocket launched
artillery. Additionally, Army rocket
support for the Marine Corps was to be considered. This led to the Commandant's decision not to purchase MLRS but to
request support from the Army. The
Commandant's letter implies a permanent support relationship in the statement,
"I concur that MLRS support for the Marine Corps is more appropriately provided
by the Army." If this was considered a temporary measure, a phrase such as, at this time, would most likely have
been added. A question also arises from
the Commandant's phrase, "augment Marine Corps general support artillery,"
implying Marine intentions to field an organic general support capability. While the MOA helps fill the Marines'
immediate requirements for general support artillery, the document requires
renewal every two years. Such a short
term agreement indicates the real intent of the services was to provide a
temporary measure to allow more detailed study. How permanent the agreement is may be answered when it comes due
for renewal in May 1997. Basing Marine
fire support acquisition and structure decisions on such a short term agreement
fails to recognize the complexity of the modern procurement process and is very
risky for the forces that may be counting on that support. Prior to executing an updated agreement, the
Marine Corps must clearly establish what their long-term position really is and
craft a document that provides either permanent support or one that will
adequately cover the time necessary to acquire the desired capability.
Availability. The agreement provides either a MLRS battery (nine
launchers) or a MLRS battalion (27 launchers) from an active or reserve
component echelon above division. In
either case, the "general support" firepower available to a Marine division or
MEF falls far short of the Army's doctrinal allocation of 126 rocket launchers
per heavy division. Nor does the Marine
division's fire support compare with the adjusted representative division with
63 to 84 rocket launchers, a light division's slice of 27 rocket launchers of
the corps' artillery brigade, or the historical Marine employment of artillery
from WW II to Desert Storm. While one
would hope the size of the unit assigned is based on a detailed study of
METT-T, it will more likely be based on the availability of those vital
units. The Army continues to
restructure internally and stress their reliance on Reserve and Guard units to
provide up to 66 percent of their fire support units. Combined with their recent decision to double the artillery
allocated to a heavy division, MLRS assets may simply not be available to honor
the MOA without jeopardizing Army units. Currently the Army has seven separate Field Artillery (FA) Brigades in
the active forces. That allows support
of two FA brigades each for three divisions and one FA brigade for each
corps. The remaining FA brigades are
resident in the National Guard. Those
17 FA brigades give the Army a total of 24 FA brigades to support 10 divisions
and four corps. The Army is a strong advocate of affiliating reserve units with a specific active duty unit for
training and future mobilization. But with just enough artillery structure to support their
doctrinal allocation, the Army has resisted designating a specific unit for
habitual assignment to the Marines. This policy can negate unit cohesion and potentially slow
responsiveness and effectiveness in employing critical fire support. After a joint exercise at Twentynine Palms,
the attached Army MLRS battalion commander noted, "Because 6-27 FA had trained
and rehearsed for the connections at home station, the learning curve was
significantly shorter." If the assigned unit comes from the Guard, the mobilization and
deployment timeliness may severely limit the speed and tempo of the operation. Once the unit size and availability are
determined the command relationship must be determined.
Command Relationship. The MOA does not address
whether the MLRS unit will be assigned or attached as operational control (OPCON) or tactical control (TACON). Instead, the MOA leaves this important decision up to the Joint
Force Commander (JFC). The difference
between the levels of authority is significant. For example, the 2d Marine Division exercised OPCON over the attached Tiger Brigade
and could therefore reorganize the Brigade's DS artillery battalion and MLRS
battery. This allowed the division commander to place the MLRS battery
under the artillery regiment in GS instead of supporting only Tiger
Brigade. In addition, the artillery
regiment assigned a MLRS platoon (three launchers) to the 5th Battalion, 10th
Marines (GS) to conduct artillery raids against Iraqi positions in late
January. TACON would not allow such organizational authority. Without flexible command and control,
for creative exploitation of weapon systems and unit
capabilities may be lost. While the MOA
provides a short term fix, it leaves too many important issues unanswered to
serve as a viable long term plan. The
MOA affects the way the Marine Corps organizes, trains, and equips for
combat. Waiting for a crisis to develop
before determining the availability and command relationship for fire support
is courting disaster. But if the MOA is
not a viable answer for providing Marine Corps fire support-what is?
Throughout most of the Cold
War the structure of the American military was based on the threat posed by the
Soviet Union. With its demise as a
superpower, the public demand for the long awaited peace dividend drove a
massive restructuring of American military power. To focus the restructuring dilemma, a new concept evolved that
based structure on the capabilities necessary for specific tasks vice specific
In the absence of a single
peer competitor, the force structuring strategy settled on building the
capability to fight, and of course win, two nearly simultaneous major regional
conflicts (MRC). The current national
security strategy seeks to stabilize the global political scene through
selective engagement while using the
advantage of the existing power vacuum to spread democracy (enlargement). Actual historical results in the early 90's indicate a
significant increase in military involvement at the lower end of the conflict
spectrum. However, the proliferation of
terrorism and the availability of modern weapons calls for a modern,
well-equipped Marine Corps to project American power to provide that
stabilizing influence in an increasingly complex world. By the turn of the century, over 40
countries will field artillery systems that outrange the Marine Corps M198. Many of these countries are potential adversaries. Failure to modernize the current fire
support system could seriously jeopardize the Marines' ability to accomplish
their mission, and fail the CINCs who are depending on that capability. For the Marine Corps, the capability must
exist to fight at the top end of the spectrum of conflict and, as the nation's
forward deployed forces, rapidly apply such overwhelming combat power to stifle
any overzealous foe.
Several aspects of the
domestic environment play critical roles in the shaping of future Marine Corps
capabilities and structure. Most
notable among them are widely varying political philosophies that impact upon funding
Money. The threat at home takes many forms that, for the
most part, all revolve around money. After years of deficit spending to create and maintain a military force
capable of deterring the Soviet threat of global domination, the American public's
demand for reduced spending pits the services' procurement programs against one
another for a shrinking pool of funds. Procurement programs are heavily scrutinized and require detailed
studies to justify and validate their requirement. Often as part of this process, the roles and missions of the
services provide a fertile battlefield for discussion.
Roles and Mission = Structure. The
roles and missions of the services drive the requirements for certain enabling
capabilities that in turn focus the development of force structure, doctrine,
and equipment procurement. Maintaining
a balanced force in this complicated process is further challenged by the
current evolution/revolution in military affairs. Minor changes in one area can send ripples cascading throughout
the force. This asymmetrical reaction
demands caution and near precision timing in implementing changes. The Marine Corps appeared somewhat buffered
from the wide variances in force structure experienced by the other services
during the Bottom-Up Review of 1993 since its structure is guaranteed by
law. However, funding is not guaranteed
so structure and manning levels become vulnerable to cuts to provide funding
for readiness and modernization. Elliot
Cohen, Professor of Strategic Studies, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, predicted in 1995 that,
"Further force structure and end-strength reductions (perhaps as great as 30
percent below the Bottom-Up Review), will be necessary if the United States is
to maintain the edge in fielded military technology that will enable it to
dominate potential opponents."
The Quadrennial Defense Review is currently in session and Cohen's
dire predictions will be tested. Overreliance on capabilities provided by another service may greatly
increase the risk that those assets may not be available as each service tries
to maintain that critical balance between forces, equipment, and the money
available. As the services become more
fiscally constrained, any excesses not specifically mandated by the roles and
missions assigned will certainly be reduced to balance other shortfalls. From the Army's perspective the mission is
what matters-not the MOA. To be assured
of Army MLRS support for the Marine Corps, a tasking should come from the
Secretary of Defense in the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) that
directs the service chief as the commander responsible per Chapter 6, title 10,
United States Code and DOD Directive 5100.1 to train and equip his force for specific
tasks. While CINCs have the authority
to organize assigned forces, limited assets may preclude additional support for
Marines. Based on the tasking the Army
would fund, organize, and equip a specific unit identified for service with the
Marines and many of the questions concerning the MOA would be answered. This approach closely parallels the British
Army provision of a dedicated artillery
regiment (consists of three batteries, each with six, 105 mm towed howitzers
that equates to a U.S. battalion) to provide primarily direct support for the
Royal Marines. However, these Army
artillerymen must qualify as Commandos by completing the Royal Marines training
program. This type of interservice support may have been what Senator Sam
Nunn had in mind when he raised the issue of service redundancies.
Duplication, Redundancy, or Necessary
Capability. The Goldwater-Nichols Defense
Reorganization Act of 1986 required periodic reviews of the services' roles and
missions and was to specifically focus on unnecessary duplication of
effort. What was deemed unnecessary was largely ignored until
Senator Nunn brought attention to it in a 1992 floor speech to the U.S. Senate. The Senator focused his concerns in 10 areas of duplication that were so broad as to encompass virtually the entire
military establishment. As the Senator's proposal gained momentum, the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Powell, supported the status quo and asserted
expeditionary forces are organized and equipped for a full range of crises that
require operations from the sea..The capabilities of the contingency and
expeditionary forces in the Army and Marine Corps provide decision makers with
valuable alternatives and should be retained.
The Chairman also stated that the way the Marine
Corps integrates artillery into its maneuver forces inextricably links it with the Marine infantryman. However, his position changed somewhat
concerning MLRS. He conceded possible
advantages if MLRS was provided by the Army, but that decision warranted an
in-depth cost and effectiveness study of the Corps requirement for general
support artillery and the impact it would have on the Army. Although in other fire support areas he found that the unique
capabilities of the four separate air forces served the nation well. Possibly as a concession to the political tides of change, the
Marines' MLRS purchase was offered as the sacrificial lamb instead of waiting
for the various studies to be completed. Overall little else changed. But
to resolve this issue and many others, the Roles and Mission Commission was
created by Congress in May 1994. The
White Commission, as it is also known, was absolutely adamant in its view of
service roles and missions and the relationship with service redundancies:
Perhaps our most surprising conclusion is this: fundamentally, it is a mistake to take
traditional "who gets to do what" view of roles and missions that concentrates
on the Military Services. Rather, the
emphasis should be "who needs what" in terms of joint military
capabilities..Each Service is fully engaged in trying to deliver to the CINCs
the best possible set of its specific
air, land, and sea capabilities. A
conventional criticism of the Services-unrestrained parochialism and
duplication of programs-is overstated.
This represents a paradigm shift from the views of the
Nunn attack on redundancy. The report
further stated that the perceived roles and mission problem between the Army
and Marine Corps, "are not problems at all." To implement this change in ideology, the study focused on core
competencies that lead to warfighting capabilities. The commission identified some core
competencies with specific services and made recommendations to
eliminate Marine Corps ground-based medium-altitude air defense and
non-expeditionary engineering capabilities. But there was no mention of artillery or fire support
capabilities as core capabilities of any one service other than the need to
improve interoperability and operational flexibility of munitions. In a continuing evaluation of close air
support (CAS) the Commission found, "Today, CAS is performed by all
Services. In our view, this is
appropriate. CAS is a vital capability
that complements other fire support options." CAS, like artillery and rockets, provides the same capability to
attack close targets. The study drives
the point home again, "In areas of apparent overlap, such as forced entry, the
two Services [Army and Marine Corps] provide complementary rather than duplicative
The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS),
General John Shalikashvili, also makes it clear in his concept paper, Joint Vision 2010: Force of the Future, that,
"Any efficiencies garnered by our offensive systems must be underwritten by
appropriate redundancies [emphasis mine] to safeguard against
unanticipated technological, strategic or operational surprise." So some types of redundancy are complementary and actually
sought. It appears the intent of
reducing costs by eliminating redundancy has lost much of its momentum since,
taken to the extreme, eliminating redundancy could lead to a single purple force. This may be the approach America chooses in the future, but such
a change should be deliberate and not done piecemeal or as a function of
mission creep. When essentially like
equipment is utilized by two services there are cost savings, and with common
training in one school the services gain
joint understanding-not increased costs. The bottom line is MLRS is only cheaper when provided by the Army
if there are fewer systems and
servicemen overall, and this jeopardizes the balance and availability of fire
support for both services-which is a pretty high price to pay.
Technology. In the hands of enemies, technology is certainly a
threat to mission success and has already been discussed. But our own technological advances can
present a threat to our capabilities because the rapid pace of innovations and
advancements in weapons technology has the potential to create gridlock in our
procurement process. What is cutting
edge technology today may be completely outdated and irrelevant with tomorrow's
invention. Or, the weapon may be
obsolete by the time it emerges from the long procurement process and is finally
fielded. Combine these concerns with
the diminishing budget problems and rapid advancements may actually create a
reluctance to modernize.
Not only are leaders subject to this phenomenon, but industry may
become cautious investors in the research and development (R&D) process for
weapons unless there is a potential civilian application or the profit
potential is irresistible. As profits
rise to encourage industry, the weapons' costs climb even higher and fuel the
buyers' concerns about investing.
As a starting point to break
this cycle several processes must be improved. The development-to-fielding time must be shorter. Simplifying the procurement process could
take years off the cycle. Smaller buys
can lessen the risk for the buyer, but R&D costs will increase for the
developer and must be funded. But most
importantly, engineers must design modular systems that can more easily be
upgraded to maintain ready, relevant, and capable weapons. The unique nature of rocket systems imbeds
most of the technology in the rocket vice the launcher.
The launcher is a relatively simple device (tracked or wheeled)
)with a modular fire direction/control system attached. Therefore, rockets, like the versatile F4
Phantom, can provide cutting edge technology throughout the life cycle of the
Time. The element of time has many facets that
impact upon the application of fire support and the systems development
process. Responsiveness is absolutely
critical for effective fire support in the tactical sense and must receive
greater emphasis in the strategic realm of deployment. Forward deployed and expeditionary forces
fulfill the national security strategy's goals of engagement and enlargement by
utilizing combat power to deter, prevent, or overwhelm any adversary. Presence, speed, and firepower are essential
ingredients to accomplish any or all of these objectives of national
power. Anything that deters or lessens
tempo may threaten the mission; therefore, fire support systems must be
available when and where needed and not degrade momentum due to unresponsive
MARINE CORPS FIRE SUPPORT CHALLENGES
The Marine Corps Master Plan
(MCMP) 1994-2004 establishes the requirement for the "capability to provide and
sustain air and surface fire support with sufficient responsiveness, accuracy,
mobility, and range to support troops in close contact, to counter enemy fire
support, and add depth to the battlefield." Also, the top priority equipment issue for mission area 24, Fire Support
is to, "Field a multiple launch rocket system." This capability should receive the same high priority focus in
the draft MCMP for 1997 and rank as one of the overall top priorities for
combat development. Concurrently meeting
the operational mission, fire support providers must adapt to the near-term and
long-term changes ushered in by the ongoing RMA in the fiscally austere years
The changing tactics at
division level that emphasize maneuver and a nonlinear battlefield create more
requirements for direct support fires. The older tactics of two-up and one-back, or maintaining a large
tactical reserve, are giving way to newer approaches that maximize committed
forces to rapidly overwhelm the enemy. As maneuver forces grow smaller in size this approach may be a necessity
instead of an option. Doctrine states
that artillery is never in reserve; therefore, the artillery battalion that would
provide the habitual direct support for a maneuver regiment held in reserve
could be assigned other missions: GS, GS-R, or R. That
artillery battalion would
normally have an on-order mission to return to DS when the maneuver regiment in
reserve is committed. This flexibility
allowed maximum fire support at all times, but with no maneuver units in
reserve, and fewer artillery battalions, all artillery may be committed to DS
missions and none allocated for the other three tactical missions. The lack of adequate fire support for the
defined missions assigned to LAR is examined in detail in a monograph by Major
John Priddy who states neither procedural nor structural changes have occurred
to provide the necessary fire support critical for LAR battalions' mission
As the concept of single
battle with the MEF as the warfighter matures, the role of deep attack
artillery must be resolved to properly structure the force. Although the Roles and Missions Commission
grappled with the deep fires controversy, it was not resolved and additional
Force Fires. The Commanding General I MEF, Lieutenant General C.
W. Fulford, stated in a letter to the Combat Development Command his desire for
the capability to establish a force artillery headquarters with both deep and
close attack indirect fire systems to enhance shaping operations in a wider
range of operational and weather conditions. This scenario calls for employment of the Marine reserve
artillery regiment as the MEF Force Artillery Headquarters with the battalions
of the 14th Marines and Army augmentation units from implementation of the MOA
as the firing elements. This may prove
the most viable method to provide force artillery and employ Marine reserves in
a complementary instead of duplicative role. The concept of employment was fully developed in a point paper by
Colonel L. A. Stuart, Commanding Officer, 14th Marines. While the Marine units are in the Time-Phased Force and
Deployment Data (TPFDD) for I MEF's major contingencies, the additional Army
MLRS unit is not identified or listed in the TPFDD. This continues to be a major flaw of the current MOA with the
Combined and Coalition Warfare. Another area that should be considered
involves the provision of fire support in combined and coalition warfare. Many of our nations' friends around the
world maintain armed forces that are infantry heavy, but they are very limited
in combat support forces or possess outdated equipment. As forward deployed forces composite with
these forces, a serious critical vulnerability could develop. Whether as a military necessity or as
political support, the senior level U.S. commander should have sufficient fire
support assets to provide an umbrella of protection for the overall force. As a responsible military partner, the U.S.
should not allow a friendly force to "falter in its assigned mission" for lack
of adequate fire support while under U.S. command.
Maritime Prepositioned Force (MPF). The growing focus on maritime prepositioned force (MPF)
operations offer a viable complementary capability to forcible entry. The speed of deployment and firepower
available can play a vital role in buying the time and space necessary for the
buildup of follow-on forces. The
current MPF configuration will provide five artillery batteries of M198, towed
howitzers for a total of 30 tubes per MPF squadron. The overriding factor affecting MPF is not just the size and
quantity of equipment as is the case in most deployments. For MPF operations, the number of personnel
required to provide a needed capability becomes a major factor as forces are
flown into the theater. In this respect
the massive firepower available from rocket systems combined with significantly
fewer personnel requirements yields a significant force multiplier. To enhance the Marine expeditionary
capability for force projection, the artillery complement of the MPF load
should be increased to include rocket artillery to significantly increase
firepower and reduce the personnel footprint that is critical in the early
stages of combat power buildup.
Answers or decisions on these important aspects of fire support will
allow the development of a more balanced capability to support and enable
maneuver forces in the joint, combined, and coalition warfare of the future.
Balancing Fire Support: Air,
Sea, Ground Based
The 1993 Mission Area
Analysis (MAA) 24 - Fire Support claimed that the process of reducing fire
support units would be in the correct proportion to the maneuver units
supported. As discussed, the subsequent
loss of MLRS precludes this. The review
further stated that the reduction of fire support units would be "generally
proportional." This implied that the
reductions would be distributed to maintain a proper balance of
capabilities. However, some areas were
identified for special consideration and study. These areas included general support artillery, naval surface
fire support, air reconnaissance, automated assistance for fire support
coordination, fire support coordination training and doctrine, and an overall
review of the Marine
Corps concept of fire
support. The last entry from a
prioritized list of 84 deficiencies identifies a lack of doctrine that
determines how many howitzers and aircraft are required to support the
different MAGTFs. By the time the 1995 MAA-24 met, this shortcoming was reflected
in the number one deficiency, "Marine Corps ground fire support assets do not
adequately support Marine Corps operational concepts." Finally, the problem of making major structure changes without a
solid base of supporting doctrine was realized-although too late. The 1995 review closed with a stated
opportunity to, "Enhance MAGTF fire support capabilities through a top-down
modeling analysis leading to the optimum mix of weapons systems." This would certainly be a complicated study to produce and have
an immense impact on the future force structure. It probably could not provide all of the answers needed, but it
could create a foundation to evaluate a proper balance of forces and
capabilities. Some specific areas of
concern relating to the provision of fire support follow.
situations may significantly affect the historical support the Marine Corps has
enjoyed from its organic aviation assets. First, and perhaps the most significant, was the 1986 Omnibus Air
Agreement that has now been incorporated into joint doctrine. The policy is often interpreted as assuring
the Marines first call on organic air, but that is not what it states. The policy merely cautions that Marine air
is vital to the landing force, but it gives the Joint Task Force Commander the
full authority to not only task excess sorties, he can take all air and place
it under a Joint Force Air Component Commander. To Marines, this may seem unfair and irresponsible. However, as maneuver warfare teaches, the
preponderance of support must be
focused on the main effort
and not part of a piecemeal approach. The current lack of a general support artillery capability exacerbates
the impact of any loss of tactical air assets. Whether Marines, like it or not, that is the joint doctrine.
Secondly, the significant
reductions in the overall numbers of aircraft in every service limit the
availability for all functions of aviation. The move to a single, multirole fighter will further strain the apportionment
process even as it increases the flexibility of the force overall. Instead of a dedicated attack platform,
aircraft can be siphoned off for a multitude of other missions. The fielding of the Advanced Tactical Air
Reconnaissance System (ATARS) for the F/A-18 will provide a much needed
reconnaissance capability, but that can mean fewer close air support (CAS)
sorties. An artillery capability for
deep interdiction would help to maintain flexibility and balance.
The third issue involves the
ongoing debates and studies concerning the deep versus close battle. There are a growing number of theorists who
view the focus on CAS as reactionary and an outdated concept in future
war. The Marines FMFM 5-42 Deep Air Support,
states, "The MAGTF commander uses DAS [deep air support] to attack enemy forces
before they become a threat to MAGTF units. Attacking enemy forces with DAS can prevent them from becoming CAS or
CIFS [close in fire support] targets..Ideally, all targets attacked by the
aviation combat element (ACE) would be DAS targets." It is difficult to evaluate the validity of the arguments without
the context of METT-T, and ultimately the commander's concept of shaping and
protection will be transmitted in the apportionment decision. But whoever that commander is, JTF, JFACC,
MAGTF, or ACE, his personal concerns and biases will shape his vision of the
preeminence and priority of the close or deep battle, making balanced
capabilities even more important for flexibility without sacrificing
Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS). In his 1993 study on naval surface fire
support (NSFS), LCDR Morgan, USN, determined that the surface Navy could not
effectively provide fires in support of forces ashore. With the explosion of technology and a major shift to refocus on
naval warfare in the littorals, the Navy has started to develop an impressive
array of ships and systems to address the shortfall in support. The impact of technology, such as missiles
and rockets, is notable in the name revision to naval surface fire support from
what was called naval gunfire. Naval
programs such as, the arsenal ship, extended range guided munitions (ERGMs) for
the 5 inch gun, a 155 mm projectile for interoperability of ammunition, and a
naval land attack missile (basically the Army tactical missile system, ATACMS)
indicate a strong commitment by the Navy to the Operational Maneuver from the
Sea concept. The primary concern
remains in integrating these systems into the overall force based on the
projected timeline of initial operations capability by 2010 and full capability
Ground Based Systems. Certainly ground systems
include more than artillery. Infantry
mortars play a vital role for close fire support. Since the 4.2 inch mortar was phased out of service by the Marine
Corps during 1970-1971, there have been proponents of a heavier caliber
infantry weapon. A viable option would be a battalion of 120 mm mortars organic to
the infantry regiment. The Army is fielding a towed and carrier-mounted 120 mm mortar
to replace the 4.2 inch system. The
current range is 7,240 meters for a 30 pound round, but range will increase
with a new family of ammunition that includes DPICM and a precision guided
round that can kill armor. Organized as a mortar battalion organic to the infantry regiment
would provide the capability to mass
fires in support of the regiment's main effort. A towed mortar variant, with a HMMWV (or vehicle that can fit
internally in the MV22) as prime mover, could best serve Marine infantry. Mechanized versions of the 120 mm mortar
(internally mounted or towed by the AAV or LAV) would significantly improve the
organic fire support capability of the LAR and tank battalions. The towed system has great expeditionary
applications and is easily air mobile. A battery of 120 mortars could be attached to the BLT/MEU for smaller
operations and deployments. But mortars
cannot compare with the capabilities of medium artillery and should not be
considered a substitute for the direct support artillery battalions. As an organic infantry weapon, the structure
to staff it would most likely require a tradeoff of either the 60 mm or 81mm
mortars from the company or battalion mortar assets.
As the primary focus of this paper is artillery, the
issues of balance have largely been explored. Technology continues to provide enhancements for tube artillery. Lighter guns enhance mobility, and the
Lightweight 155 mm Howitzer Program has completed the firing
competition and named
Textron/Vickers as the winning contractor. But despite its improved mobility, this new gun is not a panacea for
air-mobile artillery operations.
Air-mobile artillery was first used in Vietnam to expand
fire support coverage by overcoming obstacles to maneuver and positioning
presented by the terrain, jungle vegetation, weather, and poor or nonexistent
roads. This tactic worked well in
support of a static environment dominated by heavily defended fire bases. Once emplaced, artillery units would remain
in fixed positions for extended periods. In a more mobile, fluid battlefield, separating artillery from its prime
movers increases vulnerabilities, strains logistical support, and entails
immense risk. Despite this, there are
circumstances that may require the advantages of speed, mobility, and
flexibility offered by an air-mobile artillery capability.
The Marines can
only lift the M198 with the CH 53E heavy-lift helicopter. The LW 155 artillery piece matches the
firing characteristics of the M198, but it weighs less than 9,000 pounds. This reduction of almost 7,000 pounds will
allow the medium lift MV 22 Osprey to transport the LW 155 as an external load
under most conditions. This offers the
advantage of significantly more assets available that could be scheduled for an
artillery airlift and subsequent resupply or repositioning. However, the complexities of air-mobile
artillery operations are only slightly reduced by the acquisition of the LW 155
and the MV 22.
The added flexibility offered does not decrease the
multiple trips necessary to move such an equipment intensive combat arm such as
artillery. The external load will also
half the top-end speed of the MV 22. This may slow operational tempo and create additional taskings for
escort packages to protect the slower formation. Finally, without dedicated
air transportation, the artillery may be stranded without organic prime movers
or become subject to weather or other conditions that affect flight
But the truly technological
boom for ground based fire support systems lies in the future of rockets and
missiles. There are two areas of
concern here that are relevant to the balancing problem. First, tactical ballistic missiles can be
subject to the provisions of the various arms reduction and limitation treaties
based upon their range capability.
Secondly, the ongoing
Department of Defense's (DOD's) Deep Attack Weapons Mix Study (DAWMS) will
explore total numbers of deep attack systems required and the C4I relationships
necessary to integrate the fires. The
greater ranges of these systems require airspace management that may involve a
complicated JFACC process that could slow, delay, or deny target attack. This involves another aspect of the
controversial positioning of a Fire Support Coordination Line (FSCL), and the
supporting-supported concept of command relationships.
The FSCL requires a shift in
coordination of battlespace responsibilities between the close and deep
battle. Positioning the FSCL to favor
the close battle may restrict the flexibility for the deep battlespace commander,
but if the FSCL is positioned to favor the deep battle the close battlespace
commander's ability to maneuver and engage targets may be constrained.
The DAWMS spawned another
continuing study to look at the close battle termed the Close Support End-to-End
Analysis (CSEEA) for ranges less than 40 kilometers. The connectivity of these two studies should highlight the
flexibility of rockets and missiles. Both studies will provide recommendations to determine the optimal
numbers of attack platforms to the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and
National Defense Panel (NDP) for their report to the Secretary of Defense and
Congress on the proposed structure of the armed forces through 2004.
Combined Arms. The essence of balance is summed up by Colonel Wyly in his
article, Hunters From the Sea, "We do
not simply push the enemy around the battlefield, as when we use only a surface
or air arm. Instead, we quickly
surround him and overwhelm him-physically as well as psychologically." With a well-balanced asymmetrical attack, we can rupture the
enemy's cohesion, and maintain our freedom of action. There is immense potential in the synergism developed by a
balanced force of mutually supporting, integrated, and well-coordinated variety
of fire support assets. Just as fires
enable maneuver (and vice-a-versa), supporting arms enable and enhance the
capabilities of each separate system by covering the inherent limitations each
has. As the services embrace the joint
environment of the 21st century, the benefits of cohesively working together
should be obvious. Sufficient ground
based fire support assets can free-up the unique maneuverability of air power,
or the massive lift and sustainment ability of sea power. Overreliance on any one arm may present a
critical, high value and high payoff target for the enemy to exploit. Reconstructing a properly balanced and
modern fire support team must be the
primary focus now while maintaining a vision of the future challenges,
capabilities, and opportunities.
The centerpiece document
that provides the future vision for the Marine Corps is, Forward From the Sea. It
introduces the concept of Operational
Maneuver From the Sea currently tested as Sea Dragon at the Commandant's Warfighting Lab in Quantico, Virginia. The focus is on capitalizing on the
technological revolution to produce future war concepts and doctrine that will
actually usher in the revolution in military affairs. The new concepts for over-the-horizon, unopposed landings; sea
based logistics; force protection policies, and power projection in the
information age present formidable challenges to the fire support
community. But the rapid advances in
technology may be just as challenging to integrate and coordinate space based
and loiter weapons, suites of sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, fused
see-and-shoot systems, and other equally fascinating potential systems.
One futuristic study conducted by the 1996 Defense Science Board
developed a bold new expeditionary concept based on the capability to, "mass
fires rather than forces." This was in
response to their view that, "The U.S. may increasingly face situations where
our military leverage is perceived to be either too vulnerable or too slow. Thus, unless we can increase the effectiveness and robustness of rapidly deployable fire,
the U.S. will lose considerable freedom of action to support its global
interests [emphasis mine]."
In the near term, there have
been significant improvements in weapons' ranges, accuracy, and variety that
impact upon current capabilities and also have the potential for upgrades to
make a cost effective transition to the future military requirements and
capabilities. The OMFTS Assessment
Conference identified the mobility and range of current ground-based indirect
fire systems (including the light weight (LW) 155 howitzer), and the resulting
effect on responsiveness, as the number two deficiency of 21 prioritized
capabilities required to execute the operational concept.
Fire Support Studies
One of the greater
challenges fire support must overcome is to develop appropriate doctrine,
create a balanced force structure, and properly equip those forces for modern
warfare. Along with revisions to the
procurement process, a new process to assign and conduct studies should be
considered. The current study process
is a self-perpetuating industry. The
main recommendation of most of these studies is to conduct another study. These studies are too shallow, too slow, and
are not integrated well with other studies. The Cost and Effectiveness Analysis for the Marine Corps General Support
Artillery Study (MCGSAS) make two recommendations-conduct two additional
The overemphasis on numerical analysis is akin to trying to win
the Vietnam War by focusing on the body count-it does not work! There are so many factors that do not lend
themselves to a quantitative study that are not even mentioned as a
consideration: breaking the enemy's will,
weighting the main effort, or the psychological impact of an artillery barrage
(on both sides).
The Marine Corps General
Support Artillery Study was directed by the Secretary of Defense in April 1993
to analyze the long-term general support artillery requirements for the Marine
Corps. Research began in January 1994
and was completed in November 1995. The
study was renamed to Analysis of
Amphibious Assault Fire Support Requirements and was conducted utilizing a
war game by the TRADOC Analysis Center-White Sands Missile Range. The study analyzed the fire support
structure of the 1980s, the present period of 1994-99, and the future from
2001-15. Various cannon, rocket, and
missile alternatives were applied to the scenario.
Weaknesses. The single scenario used is programmed for a brigade instead of a
MEF campaign. To attempt to correct
this shortcoming, linear optimization techniques extended the results to
represent three sequential brigade actions. This modeling fails to represent the nonlinear nature of war and
the significant increase in multiple, simultaneous targets that may saturate or
overload the fire support system in a true MEF campaign. Preparing for this aspect of fire support is
critical in developing a balanced combat force.
The model did not vary
weather conditions that may affect the availability of air support missions. Instead, every alternative applied a high level of fixed-wing
attack aircraft. The only measure of effectiveness for target attacks was enemy
kills. This ignores the importance of suppressive and neutralization
fires that may force displacement or at least disengagement to allow friendly
maneuver. The psychological impact of
indirect fires on the enemy's morale was ignored as well.
The artillery force
consisted of battalions with 24 howitzers, but the study did not specify if the
battalions were organized with a 4x6 or 3x8 structure although the current
Marine artillery battalion structure is 3x6. The timeline for the war game inserted the artillery one and
one-half hours into an amphibious landing and ended three hours later as the
close battle began to
develop. This tended to ignore the significant contribution artillery
makes to the close fight and focuses on the contribution of both air and naval
surface fire support in the early stages of an amphibious operation. Despite the cost of computer time
(procurement and personnel cost more), the scenario should run for a realistic
period to include pursuit and exploitation phases. A more accurate study would analyze several scenarios to create a
composite structure recommendation.
results indicated that aircraft experienced difficulty acquiring the enemy's
prepared artillery positions in rugged, mountainous terrain. The entire force suffered more casualties when the counterfire
threat was not serviced. Therefore, friendly artillery dominated the counterfire
battle. But towed artillery assigned
the GS counterfire mission performed poorly due to a decrease in accuracy at
greater ranges and poor survivability under fire. The slow displacement times for towed artillery required a
tradeoff between survivability moves or maintaining counterfire capability to
protect the force. Self-propelled GS artillery experienced a much higher
survivability rate due to its armor and mobility and therefore produced better
counterfire results that decreased casualties for the entire force. MLRS proved to be a capable killer that was also highly
survivable. The increased range capabilities of rockets help dominate terrain
by expanding area coverage by 78% for a range increase of only 33%.
HIMARS provided increased
flexibility that outperformed towed artillery for kills and survivability and
closely approximated the results of MLRS. The study's most significant finding was, "In all cases [basic
alternatives] there was insufficient GS artillery firepower to service the
mission load," but by increasing the MLRS slice from one to two batteries,
overall lethality improved by 26%.
study found the historical 1980s force provided the best results, but this
included fire from the 16 inch guns of a battleship and the self-propelled
howitzers. The study concludes that
the "preferred slice of divisional general support assets required to support
the brigade in this campaign is two batteries of MLRS," but if towed artillery
is used for GS approximately two battalions would be required. These are recommended numbers for a brigade battle-not a
MEF. The study also highlights the
significant contribution that anti-armor munitions like SADARM and BAT offer
for future artillery and rocket systems to influence the battle.
This study may have several
flaws, but despite the imperfections, the findings and conclusions offer
significant insight about future fire support challenges. The combination of this study and the "gut feel" of field or combat experienced
Marines should provide a superior decision making process for the tough
structure decisions ahead.
In virtually every article or discussion of future war
the enormous potential of rockets and missiles receive laudatory remarks. Daniel Greenberg writes in a Washington Post article, "Into the Wild,
Blue Yonder-and Out," that, "For the realists, the weapon of choice is the
cruise missile-cheap, fast, accurate and unmanned." Colonel Wyly comments, "Technology's relentless march has made
deep strike a much less attractive option. Why send manned aircraft when we can produce the same effect with
increasingly sophisticated and powerful missiles?"
For longer range systems the arguments revolve around
tradeoffs between missiles and various aircraft platforms. But for the close battle the tradeoffs
involve air and artillery systems. The
growing versatility of rockets or missiles that are launched from the same
platform blurs the distinction between the close and deep battle as they
provide immense flexibility to the commander to rapidly shift the focus of
effort to weight and shape the battle in time and space.
Rockets provide a cheap, unguided carrier that delivers a
powerful payload to attack general targets that are dispersed over a large
area. Missiles are considerably more
expensive due to the onboard guidance and flight systems, but they carry larger
payloads with great accuracy to attack high value and high payoff targets with
precision that limits collateral damage.
The increases in range and lethality of rocket delivered
munitions provides for operational flexibility to rapidly attack targets with
overwhelming firepower. The
psychological impact of a high volume of
massed fires can shock and deter even the most committed enemy. For example, a MLRS rocket battery (nine
launchers) can deliver in only 30 seconds the equivalent firepower of a
battalion of artillery firing 27 volleys that would take 12 minutes to
complete. But to achieve the same
surprise and the significantly increased effects of the first volley of fire
would require a time-on-target mission comprising 27 separate battalions of
artillery (almost double the number of ALL
Marine Corps artillery battalions in both the active and reserve
components) and the time to orchestrate such a mission. In other words, this system does not just
replace existing capabilities; it brings a new dimension to the battlefield
that provides the flexibility to attack deep and close while simultaneously
attacking the mind and spirit of the enemy to decisively break his
willpower. Although rockets possess
immense capabilities and are touted as the future of fire support, they are not
a panacea that will make air or artillery obsolete-at least not in the
The current technological state of rocketry poses
problems that may limit the flexibility of employment for some fire support
missions. The minimum range for the
current weapons is 8,000 meters. Additionally, the circular error probable (CEP) is currently 2,000
meters. These limitations combine to
prevent employment for close fires normally required for direct support
roles. However, all weapons systems
have inherent limitations that must be reduced by appropriate doctrine and
other mutually supporting systems that in the aggregate yield synergistic
Another argument in opposition to rockets is the assumed
logistics tail necessary to resupply the unit. The Army's White Paper Report reviewed MLRS support for the Marine
Corps. The study approximated a
requirement for 2,916 rockets per day for a MLRS battalion to support a MEF on
the modern battlefield based on common Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
teaching scenarios for a heavy threat
force. The study, in retrospect, stated
that probably half that number may be a more realistic number due to softer target sets [or more capable
munitions] and more accurate fire systems.
With improved weapons for
specific target sets and greater accuracy, expenditure rates should drop
dramatically from the average of six rockets per mission for this study. This could reduce the ammunition transportation need by more than
half and greatly reduce the logistical drawbacks.
But, if that many targets do
exist, what will be used to attack them if rockets are not available? These type studies do not appear to apply a
combined arms approach nor apply fire support coordination principles to
consider the capabilities, limitations, or threat in selecting the means to
attack a given target. The same
balanced complete system approach should be used in evaluating rockets versus
tube artillery or other fire support means. While these limitations do currently exist for rockets, the overall capabilities
of fire support are enhanced by the inclusion of
rocket artillery to provide
an alternative to help diminish the limitations and vulnerabilities of the more
traditional systems of air, artillery, and naval surface fire support.
Some studies imply that rocket costs are
prohibitive. Figure 8 depicts a cost
comparison for the equivalent number of comparable artillery rounds to achieve
the same number of submunitions (grenades) on target, and shows the MLRS rocket
is considerably less expensive.
Figure 8. Cost Comparison (in FY 97 Dollars)
Note 1. The M26 MLRS rocket contains 644 antipersonnel and anti-material
grenades. The 155 mm Base Burn DPICM
projectile contains 72 submunitions. Therefore, one rocket equates to 8.94 BB DPICM projectiles, and six
rockets equate to 53.67 (or 54) BB DPICM projectiles.
Note 2. The DPICM cost is for the base burn (BB) round that can achieve a
range of 28.4 kilometers (km), just short of the rocket range of 30,000 km, but
far short of the extended range rocket's threshold of 45,000 km.
But even this may not be a realistic comparison
since there is a significant difference in the effect on the target unless all
rounds arrive at the same time as expressed in Joint Munitions Effectiveness
Manuals (JMEMS). This presents a very
challenging mission for tube artillery, but is much more simple for rockets to
While many of the costs
associated with rocket systems have already been addressed, manpower levels
associated with rocket artillery require further discussion. The major challenge facing U.S. Forces in the 21st century is maintaining
the balance between the budget and the competing requirements for force
structure, readiness, modernization, and engagement operations. The fixed costs associated with maintaining
a large force structure preclude proper funding for readiness and modernization
programs. Technology is touted as a
potential answer for maintaining capability with fewer people, and the current
and emerging rocket technology significantly reduces manpower
requirements. A MLRS or HIMARS
battalion would call for a Table of Organization (TO) of about 436 Marines, but
can deliver more firepower than an artillery battalion of over 700
The most significant impact
of reduced manpower may be realized when deploying in limited shipping or
conducting Maritime Prepositioned Force (MPF) operations. With fewer personnel in theater, the
logistics support for consumable supplies decreases significantly as a factor
of time. Also, skill requirements are
reduced, and training can be conducted with computer simulations and inert
devices to maintain proficiency. This
feature makes rockets particularly well-suited for employment by reserve units
or embarked forces who have limited training opportunities. Although Marine artillery has been reduced
by 152 tubes since 1988, the loss of capability could be bought back by the
acquisition of organic rocket artillery.
Paul Kaminski, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition
and Technology, is driving the search for improved munitions that are accurate,
all-weather, and day-or-night capable, provide increased range, deliver
overwhelming firepower, and are affordable. His approach is to mate high technology with conventional dumb
explosives to selectively revolutionize the modernization of munitions. This approach was seconded by Michael Vickers, Director of
Strategic Studies at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment, as the
"wave of the future."
significant range improvement of the ATACMs from 165 to 300 kilometers and the
MLRS extended range rocket improvement from 30 to 45 kilometers reflect this
approach. The improvements show both
defense and industry commitment to upgrade current systems to remain at the
cutting edge of technology.
approaches to attack selected targets are nearing completion with the
introduction of brilliant anti-armor submunitions (BAT) and sense and destroy
armor (SADARM) that may revolutionize armored warfare. BAT provides a top-attack munition capable
of deploying acoustic and infrared sensing submunitions. Future versions will allow attack of
stationery "cold" targets as well. These enhanced systems will provide the commander the capability
to attack highly mobile systems without the time delays imposed by the Air
Tasking Order (ATO) or the risk associated with hasty manned missions.
Precision. The range
and ammunition varieties for rockets continue to improve with advances in
accuracy not far behind. The MLRS smart
tactical rocket (MSTAR) couples the MLRS with a smart warhead to enhance
precision attack capability at shorter ranges. Precision attack can also significantly enhance the psychological
dimension of war previously discussed. Accurate, surprise fires that virtually always find their target should
create an immense demoralizing force. In addition, precision rocket fires will destroy more targets with fewer
rounds that will effectively reduce requirements for bulk ammunition support
thereby easing the logistic burden associated with ground based systems.
Rocket and missile systems' popularity promise to
simplify the logistic hurdles of interoperability between the services. Common rockets for sea and land based systems
allow greater production runs that help reduce cost of munitions. Commonality may also reduce the overall size
of war reserve stockpiles by minimizing the safety stocks necessary to hedge
against a stockout due to the uncertainties of supply and demand. This flexibility may allow theater
ammunition stocks to be reduced. Lower
stocks also decrease the cost of obsolescence or technological upgrades to
The short time necessary to deliver devastating firepower allows rocket
units to apply "shoot-and-scoot" tactics required for survivability. Shorter emplacement and displacement times
support these tactics by providing more time for movement to stay closed up
with the leading maneuver units. This
artillery "hip shoot" technique becomes the predominant method of fire support
in a highly fluid environment to ensure forces remain well protected under the
rocket umbrella. In addition, rockets
can be mounted on tracked platforms like MLRS or wheeled variants like the
experimental High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
The Army is looking to
upgrade their light divisions' fire support systems with a lighter, more mobile
platform than the tracked MLRS. To meet
that need, the Army is developing the wheeled rocket system HIMARS. The system mirrors the capabilities of MLRS
except that it has six instead of 12 rockets per load. Both are capable of firing the same rockets
and the ATACM deep strike missile. HIMARS can be delivered by a C130 and can be lifted by a CH53E. HIMARS can provide expeditionary, all-weather, long range, maneuverable, and decisive
Captain William R. Hittinger, USMC, provides an overview of the
system capabilities in the March 1997 Marine
Corps Gazette article, "High Mobility Artillery Rocket System: General Support Artillery for the Corps." This appears to be a very promising system and may well be the
answer to the Marine Corps requirement for a general support fires capability.
Figure 9 presents a notional
structure to provide an example of a vision for fire support for the Marine
Division in the 21st century. This
vision should be indelibly linked with emerging doctrine, equipment procurement
plans, and overall force restructuring to ensure effective and timely fire
support. This organization will provide
the versatility to fight across the full spectrum of conflict by reinforcing
and maximizing the mutual support capabilities of the supported and supporting forces. To create this vision, procurement
priorities must be linked with other force enhancement programs to ensure
operational feasibility, equipment compatibility, and simultaneous fielding
timelines as follows:
Figure 9. NOTIONAL Marine Division Active Duty Fire Support Structure
1. The most critical fire support priority for the Marine Corps is
the development and fielding of an expeditionary rocket system that will
provide general support capabilities to fill the existing void as this paper
has attempted to describe.
2. The LW155
howitzer program should continue to develop and field a more mobile, towed and
air-deliverable, howitzer to replace the aging M198 weapons. However, the projected quantities required
should be reviewed and revised consistent with a modified fire support
structure of a diverse mix of systems.
3. A heavy mortar
battalion equipped with a 120 mm towed mortar system should be organized to
provide readily available fire support for OMFTS and urban warfare
operations. A battalion structure
provides the capability to "mass" fires consistent with maneuver warfare
tenants and the principles of war. This
modernization plan should be linked with the fielding of the MV22 to support
and enhance the flexibility, speed, and range of air-assault operations. Tank and LAR battalions should also receive
the 120 mm mortar to upgrade their organic fire capability.
artillery is necessary to support highly maneuverable mechanized forces if the
Marine Corps continues to pursue advanced assault amphibian vehicles (AAAV) and
maintain tank and LAR forces. The
Crusader howitzer, currently under development, could provide this "system
after next" capability. The dispersed
tactics employed by advanced self-propelled weapons may yield a secondary opportunity
for employment as an "assault gun" to support maneuver warfare or urban
operations with direct fires.
Most importantly, a long term fire support vision is
needed to develop a synergistic blend of weapons that: enhances adaptability,
increases force combat power, and minimizes limitations through overlapping
mutually supporting system capabilities.
Marine Corps fire support should be founded on a balanced
force of air, sea, and ground based systems. The current reactionary structuring process, based on weak doctrine and
shallow studies also fails to provide a unified and balanced approach to
support procurement decisions. The
current threat is both internal and external and its vagueness requires a
capability approach to force development that has the flexibility to operate
across the full spectrum of conflict. The Marine division commander currently does not, but should possess the organic capability to rapidly weight the
battle with all-weather, heavy fires. The current MLRS MOA with the Army is not an acceptable long term fire
support solution; it only serves as a stopgap measure that can provide the
Marine Corps the time necessary to implement the results of the QDR and design
a balanced fire support structure that will blend with the future vision of
warfare. Rockets provide an
overwhelming increase in firepower with reduced manpower requirements in a cost
efficient, rapidly deployable framework. Rocket technology can provide this capability and extend the bridge from
current requirements to the futuristic battlefield with the flexibility to
remain ready, relevant, and capable.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Rockets and missiles are
undoubtedly the future of fire support and should be an organic asset of the Marine
division. Additional support for the
MEF should first come from Marine reserve units also equipped with
rockets. While the procurement process
should continue to evaluate and develop HIMARS, an immediate purchase decision
for any system is not appropriate at
the present time.
As highlighted earlier in
this paper, the Marine Corps lacks appropriate doctrine and a true
understanding of the proper mix of fire support systems required to support its
operational concepts in the future. However, the decisions emerging from the Quadrennial Defense Review
(QDR) combined with the results from the DAWMS and CSEEA studies should provide
the Marine Corps ample guidance and sufficient analytical rigor to restructure
forces to most effectively employ the doctrine developed in the Warfighting
Lab's Hunter Warrior Exercise. Only
after the establishment of sound doctrine based on necessary capabilities, and
the identification of force structure constraints, should the Marine Corps
proceed to procure new weapon systems.
This does not imply that a
delay is acceptable-a dangerous void exists now, but recognizes that the
limited funds available in the future will only allow one chance to procure the
right system. The potential armed forces
structural changes that may occur as part of the QDR process prevents the
decisions necessary to responsibly determine at this time what systems are
needed, where to place them, or how many may be needed. Once the QDR and NDP release their reports
on service roles and missions, and total force structure, the Marine Corps must
be prepared to immediately act to maintain a balanced force structure and to
take advantage of any equipment surpluses that may be available.
Therefore, these decisions
cannot be deferred for long. The Marine
Corps' position on doctrine, required capabilities, and force structure must
establish the basis for justifying change. As stated in a staff information paper on MEF Fire Support provided by
the Commanding General 1st Marine Division, Major General Admire, as part of a
fire support information package offered in response to a Fire Support Questionnaire:
The Marine Corps must seriously consider getting on board right
now [with rocket artillery], particularly if it is truly interested in weighing
in toward the procurement of a system with capabilities, platforms, and
munitions best suited to support amphibious operations and, more specifically,
Colonel L. D. Walters, Acting Head, Expeditionary
Policies Branch of Plans, Policies and Operations, takes issue with the entire
concept of a MOA. He sees the
requirement for external support as jeopardizing the Marine Corps' concept as
an enabling force. In his view, the issue
is much larger: "the future of amphibious forcible entry and the mission of the
entire Marine Corps may very well be in question. What other capability (for example air) could be traded away for
the promises in an MOA?" Only if METT-T warrants, or the two MRC scenario occurs, should
additional support be requested as an adjunct of the MOA with the Army. To buy time for the development of a
balanced fire support capability and weapons development and procurement, the
Marine Corps must renew and strengthen the MOA with the Army. The agreement must cover a minimum of five
years and attempt to solve as many of the identified weaknesses as
possible. To encourage Army support,
the Marine Corps should join in the joint development of HIMARS. This will help the Army gain the necessary
support for the project and allow the Marine Corps to influence the direction
the program takes to further reduce rocket limitations.
The Marine Corps must
address its lack of doctrine for structuring fire support. Accepting Army doctrine will save time and
resources and enhance joint interoperability in the future. However, that doctrine must be applicable
with the Marine Corps force structure and unique missions. The requirement and provision issue for a
MEF level artillery headquarters and fires capability should be resolved as
part of the doctrinal discussions. Most
importantly, the Marine Corps must immediately finalize the draft Mission Needs Statement for an
Expeditionary Indirect General Support Weapons System (EIGSWS) that emphasizes
capability approaches, in place of system approaches, that are required to
influence the battlefield throughout the spectrum of general support fires. Without a document that officially recognizes the Marine Corps'
concerns on the growing void in general fire support capability, the problem
may be ignored by the various QDR panels, and the Marine Corps may at best be
left with the status quo-or worse, lose even more fire support capability. Once the QDR and NDP findings are released
and approved by Congress the Marine Corps must make the difficult decisions to
craft a balanced fire support organization that will continue to protect
America's freedom in every clime and place.
APPENDIX A: ARTILLERY TACTICAL
MISSION INHERENT RESPONSIBILITIES
ANSWERS CALLS FOR FIRE IN
HAS AS ITS ZONE OF
FURNISHES FORWARD OBSERVERS
1. SUPPORTED UNIT.
3. HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
SUPPORTED UNIT (DOWN TO BATTALION LEVEL)
ZONE OF SUPPORTED UNIT
TO EACH COMPANY- SIZED MANEUVER ELEMENT OF
UNIT COMMANDER AS DEEMED NECESSARY OR
ORDERED BY HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
DEVELOPS OWN FIRE PLAN
1. REINFORCED UNIT
2. OWN OBSERVERS
3. HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
ZONE OF FIRE OF REINFORCED UNIT
UPON REQUEST OF REINFORCED UNIT
REINFORCED UNIT OR ORDERED BY HIGHER
1. HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
NO INHERENT REQUIREMENT
NO INHERENT REQUIREMENT
ZONE OF SUPPORTED UNIT
NO INHERENT REQUIREMENT
HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
1. HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
2. REINFORCED UNIT
3. OWN OBSERVERS
ZONE OF SUPPORTED UNIT TO INCLUDE ZONE OF
UPON REQUEST OF REINFORCED UNIT SUBJECT TO
PRIOR APPROVAL OF HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS OR REINFORCED
UNIT SUBJECT TO PRIOR APPROVAL BY HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
HIGHER ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS
B: THE MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT
THE UNITED STATES
UNITED STATES MARINE
of Agreement between the United States Army and the United States
Marine Corps; Army Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)
support to the Marine Corps.
1. PURPOSE. To
establish a joint agreement to provide Army MLRS augmentation to the Marine
Corps artillery when required.
a. Joint Publication 3-0, Doctrine for Joint
Operations, September, 1993.
b. FM 100-5, Operations, June 1993.
c. FM 6-60 w/chg 1, MLRS Operations.
d. FM 6-121, Field Artillery Target Acquisition,
11 May 1988.
e. US Army Field Artillery School White Paper,
Subject: Army MLRS Support to the Marine Corps, 23 September, 1994.
3. BACKGROUND. The Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief
of Staff of the Army have agreed that MLRS support for the Marine Corps can be
provided by the Army.
4. SCOPE. The Army will provide MLRS support based on
command guidance, contingency
requirements, and units available.
AGREEMENTS, AND SUPPORT
a. Doctrine. United States Army
doctrine is compatible with Joint doctrine and Marine Corps doctrine. There are no major doctrinal changes
required to permit effective integration of an Army MLRS unit in support of
Marine Corps Operations.
(1) MLRS units
supporting the Marine Corps will normally operate as part of a Joint
Force. The Joint Force Commander will
determine the command relationship between the Army unit and Marine forces
based on Mission, Enemy, Troops, Terrain and weather, and Time available
The tenants of chapter III (Command Relationships), Joint
Pub 0-2 (Unified Actions Armed Forces) and Joint Pub 3-0 (Doctrine for Joint
Operations) apply. The directive
establishing the command relationship will address unique logistical
requirements and responsibilities for the two services and any other special
requirements based on operational needs.
(2) To facilitate
planning and execution in the command, control, and logistics
processes, the Army and Marine Corps will exchange liaison
officers with lateral headquarters in
accordance with Joint Publication 3-0.
b. Training. Army MLRS support to the Marine Corps will be integrated into joint and
Marine Corps exercises whenever feasible. Commitment to these exercises will be balanced against available resources
and scheduled via the Training Employment and Exercise Plan (TEEP) process to
Army to identify supporting resources in the Program
Objective Memorandum and Five Year Exercise
Subject: Memorandum of Agreement between the United States
Army and the United States
Marine Corps; Army MLRS support to the Marine Corps
c. Organization. The Army MLRS unit provided to the Marine Corps may be an active
Echelon Above Division (EAD) battalion or battery from an EAD battalion. The battalion will be supported by its
habitual Corps Support Command (COSCOM) MLRS support team.
An MLRS battery will be supported by a proportional share of
the MLRS battalion's COSCOM
maintenance support. If available and required, Army TPQ-37 Weapons Locating Radars will be
provided which will significantly enhance the target
acquisition capability of the MAGTF. If
the TPQ-37 sections will come with organic maintenance
personnel and radar specific repair parts.
d. Logistics. The MLRS unit will normally deploy with its prescribed load list of all
classes of supply. Beyond that, the
Marine Corps will provide classes of supply I-IV, VI, VIII, and common class
V, VII and IX to Army MLRS units. This support also applies to Army MLRS units participating in
Marine Corps exercises.
(1). Class V. In the case of MLRS rockets, the Marine Corps responsibilities will be
limited to processing requisitions, receipt and positioning Class V to
replenish unit mission load that
arrives with MLRS unit in theater. The Army will provide MLRS rockets for training and operational
commitments within funding limitations. Funding responsibilities for training ammunition between the
two services will be reviewed during the biannual MOA
revalidation process. Common Class V
ammunition required to replenish unit basic load will be
provided by the Marine Corps. The MLRS
will conduct resupply operations forward of the Combat
Service Support Element (CSSE) with organic assets ( normally not more than 80
kilometers from the CSSE).
(2). Class IX. The Army will develop 30-day Battery and 60-day Battalion contingency
packages of Prescribed Load List (PLL)/ Authorized Stockage List (ASL). These packages will match the sustainment
requirements of the deploying Marine force. The USMC will provide support in processing requisitions for
replenishment and delivery of parts to the CSSE.
(3) USMC will assist
the MLRS unit with direct support maintenance common item overflow. The USMC is responsible for retrograde of
general support and depot level repairables as appropriate (including missile
e. Communications. Tactical telephone connectivity into the Marine Corps system will
be provided by the Marine Corps. The
Marine Corps will provide Signal Operating Instructions and
encryption devices as required for AM and FM radios.
6. This Memorandum
Of Agreement will be revalidated biennially.
date: Upon last signature.
A. C. BLADES
Lieutenant General, USMC Lieutenant
Deputy Chief of Staff for Deputy Chief of Staff for
Plans, Policy and
Operations and Plans
[signed and dated]
May 26 1995
27 APR 1995
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