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Forcible Entry Operations

The arrowhead is a bronze replica of an Indian arrowhead 1/4 inch (.64cm) high. It denotes participation in a combat parachute jump, helicopter assault landing, combat glider landing, or amphibious assault landing, while assigned or attached as a member of an organized force carrying out an assigned tactical mission. A soldier must actually exit the aircraft or watercraft to receive assault credit. Individual assault credit is tied directly to the combat assault credit decision for the unit to which the soldier is attached or assigned at the time of the assault. Should a unit be denied assault, no assault credit will accrue to the individual soldiers of the unit.

A forcible entry is an offensive operation for seizing and holding a military lodgment in the face of armed opposition. Supported by joint firepower, forcible entry operations capitalize on strategic and operational mobility to surprise the enemy, seize a lodgment, and gain the initiative. Once the assault force seizes the lodgment, it normally defends to retain it while the JFC rapidly deploys additional combat power and sustainment by air and sea. When conditions are favorable, the JFC may combine a forcible entry with other offensive operations in a coup de main, achieving the strategic objectives in a simultaneous major operation.

For the foreseeable future, effective American power projection will continue to require multi-dimensional, multi-axis (i.e., multi-component) U.S. attacks action against hostile governments, their armed forces, and their territory. In addition, Americas armed forces must be capable of gaining access to these critical overseas areas should anti-access strategies be employed against the US. There are three types of forcible entry operations: air assault, parachute assault, and amphibious assault. The Army maintains formidable forcible entry capabilities. The Army specializes in parachute assault and air assault. The Marine Corps specializes in amphibious assault; Marines usually conduct air assaults as part of an amphibious operation. Air assaults and parachute assaults permit JFCs to introduce combat power very quickly. They accomplish this without the normal hindrances imposed by port, airfield, or beach restrictions. For example, an airborne force can be delivered in a matter of minutes. The entry force either resolves the situation or secures a lodgment for the rapid delivery of larger forces by aircraft or ships. Usually, forcible entry operations secure an initial lodgment that includes an airfield. Once secure, this airfield becomes the focal point for rapid reinforcement of the entry force by air-delivered combat, CS, and CSS units.

The Marine Corps maintains distinctive expeditionary capabilities support a wide range of U.S. power projection options. These options run the gamut of contingencies, from disaster relief to high-intensity combat. Marine forces are deployed globally and are ready for immediate employment. Other Marine units can rapidly reinforce other joint forces from their home bases. The Navy and Marine Corps provide joint force commanders with a "kick-in-the-door" capability comprised of both air and amphibious assault from the sea. The combination of these sea-launched strikes, combined with the complementary capabilities of the Army and Air Force, create a portal through which follow-on joint forces may flow, generating a complex operational dilemma that will overwhelm America's rivals.

A December 2002 Program Decision Memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in collaboration with appropriate Undersecretaries of Defense and the services " ... to conduct a thorough review of joint forcible entry operations, including examinations of airborne and air assaults, amphibious assaults, the role of maritime prepositioning and other sea-basing concepts. for naval forces, the review shall include Marine Corps organization and equipment, amphibious ships, maritime prepositioning and other Navy and Marine Corps sea-basing concepts, and development of air-capable ships. For the Army, the review shall include airborne and air assault forces organization and equipment, as well as emerging stryker brigade combat team and objective force concepts for forcible entry. In addition, the study should include a review of alternative concepts for the logistic support of these forces." A consolidated joint assessment of forcible entry capabilities was due to the Secretary of Defense by 15 August 2003.




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