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Advanced Naval Bases - Necessary And Dependable?
CSC 1984
SUBJECT AREA National Security
                   ADVANCED NAVAL BASES -
                        Submitted to:
                   Rudblph V. Wiggins, PhD
            In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements
                   for Written Communications
         The Marine Corps Command and Staff College
                      Quantico, Virginia
                       Major J. Bruntlett
                  United States Marine Corps
                          April 6, 1984
                      ADVANCED NAVAL BASES -
                    NECESSARY AND DEFENDABLE?
Thesis sentence:  Today's sophisticated naval fleet still has valid requirements
                  for advanced bases, but the Marine Corps must take a hard
                  look at its capability to defend them.
I.    Background
      A.  Requirement for advanced naval bases in World War II
      B.  USMC defense battalions of World War II
II.   U. S. Navy Forward Strategy
      A.  Commodore Carson's explanation of forward strategy
      B.  Self sufficient fleets and advanced bases
III.  Prepositioned USMC equipment and its impact on advanced bases
IV.   Advanced Base Defense
      A.  Requirement for defense in depth
      B.  MAGTF as the ground defense force
      C.  Absence of coastal artillery and a limited antiaircraft capability
V.    Conclusion
      A.  Advanced base requirements are valid
      B.  Marine Corps deficiencies
Figure								Page
1.  Organization of USMC Defense Battalions  			 2
                       Advanced Naval Bases -
                     Necessary and Defendable?
      In 1916, Colonel John A. Lejeune endorsed the concept of defending advance
naval bases.  His endorsement was in support of the lectures made by Captain
Earl Ellis in May 1916, to the Advance Base School, Philadelphia.   Colonel
Lejeune said, "It is my belief that the Marine Corps may be called upon to defend
an undefended or partially defended naval base, or other important point on the
coast irrespective of whether or not it be, strictly speaking, an advance base".1
This concept brought about the eventual formation of the defense battalions
which saw service in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.  The predictions
of men like Lejeune and Ellis enabled the Marine Corps to prepare for future
conflict.  Their foresight was amazingly accurate.
      Between wars, nations improve their abilities to engage in future wars by
technological advancement of weapons and by reviewing their strategies for those
wars. The Marine Corps' mission of seizing and defending advanced naval bases
is still written into law in the form of the National Security Act of 1947.2
Today's sophisticated naval fleet still has valid requirements for advanced bases
but the Marine Corps must take a hard look at its capability to defend them.
      In the years prior to World War II, it was fully recognized that advanced
naval bases were essential to the projection of sea power. The primary purpose
of the bases was to extend the limits of naval operations.3  There many specific
types of advanced naval bases ranging from ship repair facilities, to air bases,
to  staging  areas  for  troops  and  supplies.    As  the  United  States  and
Japan grew closer to war in the Pacific, plans were drawn up for establishment of
a line of outposts, advanced naval bases, located along a line that connected
the Islands of Johnston, Samoa, Midway, and Wake.4
      To support this plan, the Marine Corps established special battalions which
were task organized and equipped for the sole purpose of defending advanced
naval bases - defense battalions.  Defense battalions were generally organized
as shown in figure 1. The major shortfall of the organization was the absence of
a dedicated infantry element.5  As figure 1 shows, the battalion had both anti-
aircraft and coastal artillery available for engaging attackers from the air or sea.
                  Organization of USMC Defense Battalions
           43 officers
          939 enlisted
          3 - 3 inch antiaircraft batteries
          3 - 5 inch (Navy weapons) seacoast artillery batteries
          1 - Searchlight and sound locator battery
          1 - Antiaircraft machinegun battery (.50 cal.)
          1 - Ground machinegun battery (.30 cal.)
                                   Figure 1
After World War II, defense battalions were dropped from the Marine Corps.
Because of the insular nature of many advanced naval bases and because of the
wide divergence of size and mission assigned them, no one master defense plan
could be devised to fit all situations, nor could any one type task organization
be expected to take care of all type bases. It was further determined that the
combined action of these bases and that each force would have to be task
organized to suit the base to be defended.8
U. S. Navy Forward Strategy
      The need for advanced naval bases today is linked to the forward strategy
of the U. S. Navy. Commodore Dudley L. Carson, US Deputy Director for Strategic
Plans and Policy in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, spelled out in
testimony before the House Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on 24 February
1983, the reasons why the United States has, and needs, a forward strategy. He
cited the following, specifically:
          "(1) Defense treaty commitments link the United States to 41
      countries, nearly all of them overseas.
           (2)    More than 500,000 American military personnel are
      deployed in Europe, the Pacific and Southwest Asia.
           (3)   Five of every six countries on Earth border the sea, and
      95% of the world's population lives within 600 miles of the 20-
      fathom curve.
           (4)    The United States depends on imports in whole or in
      large part for 46 strategic minerals essential to national defense
      and the industrialized U. S. economy. In contrast, the Soviet Union
      must rely on imports for only six of the raw materials it needs.
           (5)   Overseas trade links, using sea lines of communication
      (SLOCs), are increasingly important to the United States and its
      allies, with sea-delivered petroleum products essential to Western
      Europe and Japan and, to a lesser extent, to the United States as
      well. More than 17 million American jobs are directly tied to the
      import/export business."7
      It is quite clear that the U. S. Navy is committed to a forward strategy
in every ocean.   Does this forward strategy impact on the requirement for
advanced naval bases?  Over the past quarter century, the United States has
lost over 65 expensive overseas air bases.8  If those bases are needed to fight
a global war, will the Navy/Marine Corps team be required to seize and defend
them?  There is a good likelihood that seizure and defense would in fact be
required. In order to mass men, equipment, and supplies for a major war effort,
the United States will rely heavily on basing rights in foreign countries.  It is
foolish to plan to fly war-fighting assets directly into a hostile environment
aboard strategic airlift assets.  The strategic aircraft will have to land at a
defended air base, possibly an advanced naval base, and transfer its cargo to
tactical aircraft capable of flying into the combat zone.
      The Navy's reliance on carrier battle groups as highly mobile bases at sea
has solidified the forward strategy of the United States.  The modern carrier is
nuclear powered, fast, and much more capable of operating away from a shore
base than its World War II predecessors. Even with its arsenal of modern aircraft,
even with its ability to remain on station for long periods, even with its superior
replenishment at sea capability, the fleet of today's Navy still requires shore
based support.
      There is one shore based activity that has not yet been relegated to chasing
the fleet around the world to provide its services, the ship repair/rework facility.
Granted, many repairs are conducted afloat, but major repairs and rework must
still be done at shore based activities - advanced naval bases.
      Some of the Navy's ship repair facilities are at Subic Bay, Phillipines;
Yokosuka, Japan; Guam; Sasebo, Japan; Diego Garcia; Rota, Spain; and Naples,
Italy.9 Navy officials feel that the forward strategy requires ship repair facilities,
supply depots, ordnance facilities, and air stations in several additional countries,
particularly in Asia. These officials do not believe that the base structure can
be assessed simply in terms of the most demanding scenario.  Rather, the entire
geopolitical structure has to be considered.  The Navy's efforts for a self-
sustaining fleet hampers its position with congress on the need for all these
advanced bases. The General Accounting Office sees the dual effort as duplication
of effort, increasing costs, and as not giving enough consideration of alternatives
such as increased use of commercial ship repair.10  Regardless of cost effectiveness
during peacetime, the requirement for these facilities in time of war can not
seriously be questioned.  There are few naval strategists who will concede that
modern naval forces can operate at great distances from their homeland without
bases.  Professor Anthony E. Sokol, whose book specifically addresses problems
of sea power for the nuclear age, concludes that bases are still essential elements
of sea power.  He sums up his contention as follows:
          "...bases continue to serve essential purposes not only as centers
      of support and maintenance, but also as nuclei of power spheres by
      which a nation's control can be extended and projected toward a
      congested area.  Airplanes, missiles, and nuclear weapons make the
      protections of such bases a more difficult task, but one that
      nevertheless must and will eventually be solved, because bases of all
      kinds remain indispensable....General use of atomic energy for ship
      propulsion will reduce the dependence of fleets on bases, but will not
      abolish it completely, just as little as the development of mobile
      logistic support will do that...In addition to their traditional uses as
      staging areas for amphibious operations, as centers of anti-submarine
      warfare, or for the control of shipping....bases nowadays will also have
      to serve as parts of early distant warning systems and points of
      interruptions of air-borne attacks."11
Prepositioned USMC Equipment
      In December 1966, the United States and Britain signed an agreement that
made base sites in the Indian Ocean available to the United States.12  Since
that time, the concept of prepositioning supplies and equipment for Marine Air
Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) at strategic bases has come into being.  Presently,
Maritime Prepositioned Ships (MPS) at the island of Diego Garcia hold the supplies
and equipment for a Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB).   Also at present,
negotiations are near completion for prepositioning a similar amount of supplies
and equipment in Norway. The concept for linking up the MAB's with their assets
is based on a secure environment, the secure environment possibly being provided
U.S. Marines. Although the concept calls for the early commitment of the pre-
positioned MAB forces, it is entirely feasible that they not be employed
immediately upon commencement of hostilities.  Should there be any delay in
moving the prepositioned equipment, the requirement for their defense as a vital
area becomes apparent. This requirement, therefore, expands the possibilities of
advanced bases which will require a defense from attack from the air, land, or sea.
Advanced Base Defense
      Once the decision is made to establish and defend an advanced naval base,
the Navy and the Marine Corps must devote many assets to that mission. Analysis
of the fall of Wake Island to the Japanese in December 1941, reveals a major flaw
in strategy, the total absence of the U. S. Navy throughout the siege.  This
provided the Japanese Navy unopposed conditions at sea to mass the forces
necessary to land and defeat the Marines ashore.  A repeat of that mistake in
future wars must be avoided. The defense must be in depth and include surface
and subsurface combatants, carrier based and/or land based fighter aircraft, and
a sizeable, well-equipped ground defense force. Attrition of an attacking force
must begin as far away from the base as possible, at least as far as the range
of land based aircraft, and preferably farther out by carrier based aircraft.
      Technological advances since World War II and Wake Island have greatly
increased weapons range, accuracy, and lethality.  These advances make the
defense in depth an even more pressing requirement.  They also provide the
attacker with the luxury of attacking advanced bases from exceptionally long
ranges and have made the physical seizure of advanced bases unnecessary unless
the attacker intends to convert the base to his own use.  If the enemy intends
only to deny our use of the base, he may employ his weapons far from the shores
of the base using surface to surface missiles, submarines launching torpedoes and
missiles, ships and aircraft laying sophisticated mines, and long range, low altitude
bombers delivering effective, powerful ordnance in either conventional, nuclear,
chemical, or biological forms. The concentric rings of the defense must rely on
early warning and a well-forward defense in depth.
      The MAGTF is a formidable fighting unit. It is doctrine that MAGTF's be
deployed in two possible ways, one to meet the forward deployed requirement,
the second is based on a specific mission.13  To defend an advanced naval base,
the MAGTF should be activated for that specific mission.  This enables the
MAGTF to concentrate its planning on the single mission of defense of the
assigned naval base. The size of the MAGTF will obviously depend on the size
of the area to defend, the number of vital areas within the base, terrain, and
as always, upon the enemy threat.  Even though the Marine Corps is small and
can field only a small number of Marine Amphibious Brigades (MAB's), I have
difficulty envisioning anything less than a MAB defending an advanced naval base
where the intent is to hold indefinitely and successfully.
      The mission of the Marine defense force requires it to:
          (1) Repulse or disorganize all forms of ground attack.
          (2) Contain enemy forces which have established a lodgement in the
base area.
          (3) Eject or destroy the enemy by counterattack.14
FMFM 8-3 goes on to state that the specified or area commander having cognizance
over the advanced naval base will normally determine the general area the
advanced naval base commander will be responsible for in the conduct of base
defense. It also states that responsibility for the seaward approaches should also
be addressed.
      If the specified commander assigns the base commander the responsibility
for the seaward approaches, the base commander will in turn pass the responsibility
to his subordinate, the ground defense force commander.  Unfortunately for the
MAGTF commander, there is no other discussion in FMFM 8-3 on defending the
seaward approaches other than to suggest employing tanks and artillery against
targets on landing beaches. Coastal defense is a mute issue within the Navy and
the Marine Corps.
      The abolishment of the defense battalions late in World War II saw the end
of coastal artillery within the Marine Corps. Nowhere in the inventory of weapons
available to the MAGTF is there a coastal artillery piece, a gun designed to
engage ships and landing craft from shore installations.  The Marine Corps has
ignored this aspect of its mission.  We have assumed that the Navy combatants
and aircraft will fend off any approaching enemy task force to the point where
we need only engage the remaining enemy with small arms.  This is a deadly
mistake that must be rectified now.  LtCol R. M. Hanna, USMC, one of the
defenders of Wake Island, said in 1949, "The ideal task organization for the
ground defense of an advanced naval base should include infantry, seacoast
artillery, field artillery, tanks, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, and such other
service units as are necessary to support the combatant forces involved".15 This
remains true today.
      Does the MAGTF have the weapons systems to defeat enemy aircraft in
the numbers anticipated to attack U. S. forces?  The MAGTF's of MAB size or
larger will have organic fixed wing aircraft.  The smaller Marine Amphibious
Unit (MAU) will not. Planners optimistically assume the presence of carrier based
aircraft to help defend the advanced naval base.  Those of us who will be on
the ground must remember that carrier based aircraft must first defend the
carrier battle group before it can defend the advanced naval base.  Therefore,
we should anticipate their preoccupation in the vicinity of the carrier battle
group. The aviation assets of the MAGTF will be hard pressed to annihilate the
enemy air threat alone.
      The MAGTF will have a very limited anti-air missile capability in the form
of a detachment from the Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion (LAAM Bn), armed
with Hawk missiles as well as a detachment from the Forward Area Air Defense
Battery (FAAD Btry) armed with the shoulder fired Stinger missile.16  This
capability is limited in several aspects.  First, the Hawk missile is obsolete
technology; it is immobile; and it is capable of being defeated.  Second, the
Stinger requires visual target identification by the gunner which will nullify its
frontal shot capability.  Third, neither the Hawk or Stinger are available in
sufficient numbers to provide the MAGTF an adequate air defense umbrella.
Finally, the air defense umbrella is missing the essential ingredient of antiaircraft
artillery.  Just as aircraft could not totally defeat enemy air, the Hawk and
Stinger are not cure-alls. Antiaircraft artillery in the form of large caliber guns
and gatlin guns are necessary to complete the air defense umbrella for the
advanced naval base.
      Is the MAGTF capable of defending an advanced naval base? The answer is
a situational yes.  Yes, only if the Navy can intercept and destroy much of the
enemy force as it approaches the advanced base.   The MAGTF, as presently
organized and equipped, can not prevent the enemy from landing nor can it repel
a large scale air attack.  It simply does not have the weapons to do so.
      Can the Marine Corps defend all of the present naval bases throughout the
world?  Probably not.  The Marine Corps at its present strength would not be
capable of fulfilling the defense of all advanced naval bases, providing two or
more MAB's for use with prepositioned equipment, and meeting all the other
contingencies bestowed upon her. One alternative is to underman each advanced
base and hope for the best, as was done in World War II.
      The early concepts of amphibious doctrine and the defense of advanced
naval bases remain as valid requirements today.   The nuclear age and its
technologically advanced weapons systems with all their sustainability have not
lessened the requirement for advanced bases and their defense.  The Marine
Corps stands ready to commit its MAGTF's to that defense even though all the
necessary weaponry is not available.  The absence of coastal artillery and a
severely limited antiaircraft capability precludes the MAGTF from preventing an
enemy force from landing when and where he chooses.  It is essential for the
Marine Corps to re-examine its capability of fulfilling this vital part of its
mission.  Even in the days before World War II, Marine Corps planners and
tacticians realized that a defense of an advanced naval base must be one of depth.
      To gain that depth of defense, the Marine Corps must increase dramatically
its antiaircraft capability in the form of both missiles and antiaircraft guns.
Equally as critical, the Marine Corps must develop and field coastal artillery
designed to prevent an enemy force from landing and to destroy the ships that
carried the landing force.  Until these improvements in capability are realized,
the Marine Corps can not fully comply with its basic mission, the seizure and
defense of advanced naval bases.
      1John A Lejeune, Col., "The Mobile Defense of Advance Bases by the
Marine Corps", Marine Corps Gazette, Mar 16, p. 2.
      2NAVMC - 4610, National Security Act of 1947, Quantico: MCS, 64, p. 10.
      3R. M. Hanna, LtCol, Defense of an Advance Naval Base - Ground Forces,
Quantico:  MCS, 1950
      4Conference Group 1, "Defense of an Advanced Naval Base - Wake Island",
Campaign Analysis, Quantico:  C&SC, Feb 84, p. 52.
      5R. D. HEINL, Jr., LtCol, The Defense of Wake Island, Washington: HQMC,
      6R. M. Hanna, LtCol, Defense of an Advance Naval Base - Ground Forces,
Quantico:  MCS, 1950, p. 1.
      7Edgar L. Prina, "A Forward Strategy", Sea Power, Apr 83, p. 27.
      8Ibid, p. 29.
      9US General Accounting Office, Report to the Congress of the United
States, Washington:  U. S. Government Printing Office, Jan 79, p. 27.
      10Ibid p. 30
      11Anthony E. Sokol, Sea Power in the Nuclear Age, Washington:  Public
Affairs Press, 1961, p. 176-177.
      12D. E. Scharrt, Maj, The Role for U. S. Sea Power in the Indian Ocean,
Quantico:  MCDEC, 1968, p. 40.
      13U. S. Marine Corps, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Doctrines FMFM 0-1,
Washington, Aug 79, p. 4-5.
      14U. S. Marine Corps, Advanced Naval Base Defense, FMFM 8-3, Washington,
Dec 78, p. 5.
      15R. M. Hana, LtCol, Defense of an Advance Naval Base - Ground Forces
Quantico:  MCS, 1950.
      16U. S. Marine Corps, Employment of Forward Area Air Defenses FMFM 5-
5C, Washington, Jan 76, p. 11-12.
Conference Group 1, "Defense of an Advanced Naval Base - Wake Island",
      Campaign Analysis, Quantico:  C&SC, Feb 84.
D. E. Erway, Maj., Marine Corps Requirements for a Conventional Antiaircraft
      Gun System During the Mid Range Period, Quantico, MCS, Nov 62.
D. E. Schart, Maj., The Role of U. S. Sea Power in the Indian Ocean, Quantico:
      MCS, 1968.
Edwin W. Besch, Capt., "Air Base Defense:  New Solutions for the '80s",
      Armed Forces Journal International, May 83.
E. H. Ellis, Capt., Naval Bases, Quantico:  MCS, 1921.
Francis J. West, Jr., "Defense and Security Beyond Europe", Defense 83, May 83.
John A. Lejeune, Col., "The Mobile Defense of Advance Bases by the Marine
      Corps", Marine Corps Gazette, Mar 16.
John T. Correll, "Air Defense from the Ground Up", Air Force Magazine, Jul 83.
L. Edgar Prina, "A Forward Strategy", Sea Power, Apr 83.
L. Edgar Prina, "Deep Threat:  The Navy is Flunking Higher on Mine Warfare",
      Sea Power, May 83.
NAVMC - 4610, National Security Act of 1947, Quantico:   MCS, 64.
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Base Defense Manual, Washington:
      U. S. Government Printing Office, 1945.
Paul B. Ryan, First Line of Defense, Stanford, Ca: Hoover Institution Press, 1981
Ray L. Sechinger, Capt., "Does the Corps Lack Air Defense?", Marine Corps
      Gazette, May 83.
R. D. Heinl, Jr., LtCol., The Defense of Wake Island, Washington:  HQMC, 1947.
R. E. Andrews, Maj., Sea Base:  Concept for a Mobile Advanced Naval Base,
     Quantico:  MCS, Mar 68.
R. M. Hanna, LtCol., Defense of an Advance Naval Base - Ground Forces,
     Quantico:  MCS, 1950.
U. S. General Accounting Office, Report to the Congress of the United States,
      Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, Jan 79
U. S. Marine Corps, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Doctrine FMFM 0-1
      Washington:  Aug 79.
V. H. Broertjes, LtCol., The Advanced Base and the Amphibious Troops Commander,
     Quantico:  MCS, Apr 53.
W. B. Carneal, Jr., LtCol., The Employment of Jet Propelled Aircraft in the
      Defense of Advanced Bases Quantico:  MCS, 1949.

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