Advanced Naval Bases - Necessary And Dependable? CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA National Security ADVANCED NAVAL BASES - NECESSARY AND DEFENDABLE? 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? Outline 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 LIST OF FIGURES 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. Background 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 Personnel: 43 officers 939 enlisted Units: 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 by 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. Conclusion 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. FOOTNOTES 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, 1947. 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. BIBLIOGRAPHY 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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