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Notional Mindset vs Flexible Response: Selective Rapid 
Reinforcement For The Committed MAGTF
CSC 1986
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
                       EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
     Although the Marine Corps espouses a doctrine of mission
dependent task organization, more often than not composition of
committed forces is primarily determined by standardization
devices designed to improve efficiency in ship space
utilization, logistical support, planning, etc.  These notional
models have solved many valid problems, but model dependence
has also led to a notional mindset among many Marines which
potentially impedes effective organization for combat and
stifles innovative thinking.
     The most likely scenarios for Marine Corps commitment
involve limited contingencies which will probably be
unanticipated and will require swift, decisive action.  The
nature of the limited contingency will necessitate particularly
effective action in order to prevent escalation to general
warfare.  Forward deployed MAGTFs (primarily MAUs) are the
immediate action force most likely to initially deal with
limited contingencies.  Restricted by the structure limitations
of a national MAU and by the time restraints of amphibious
reinforcement, the MAU commander has few, if any, task
organization options with which to influence the action.
     The Selective Rapid Reinforcement concept advocates use of
chosen MPS assets to quickly reinforce committed MAGTFs.  Two
hypothetical examples are presented.  In the first, a MAU is
reinforced by an MPS tank company and TOW section prior to a
short notice forced entry landing on the Mediterranean coast.
In the second, after a week of acting as a security force, an
Indian Ocean MAU is reinforced by an MPS AAV platoon.  In both
cases the MAU commander requests the assets he requires to
better handle his mission.  The MPS squadron steams toward the
action area and offloads selected equipment at either an
appropriate shore location or in-stream; airlifted troops are
married with equipment.  Amphibious shipping then shuttles
units into the objective area to participate as the MAU
commander directs.  The author addresses anticipated concept
criticism in the following areas:  difficulty in sorting gear,
degradation to primary MPS mission, possible use of larger
reinforcing units, MPS vulnerabilities, unit integrity, and
joint planning considerations.
     The Selective Rapid Reinforcement concept is a workable
method of adding a deployment option which currently does not
exist.  It effectively overcomes the notional mindset problem
and, more importantly, provides a valuable enhancement to the
Marine Corps' flexible response capability.
Thesis Statement.  Although the Marine Corps espouses a
doctrine of mission dependent task organization, more often
than not composition of committed forces is primarily
determined by notional models designed to improve efficiency
in ship space utilization, logistical support, planning,
etc.  The result has been a "notional mindset" among many
Marines which may potentially stifle effective organization
for combat and innovative thinking.  Notional thinking
trends are particularly hazardous in today's strategic
environment which demands an extremely flexibly responsive
Marine Corps.  The proposed Selective Rapid Reinforcement
concept advocates creative use of MPS assets to offer both
an enhancement option for the Marine flexible response
capability and a possible remedy for notional mindset.
I.  Notional mindset
     A.  Task organization as the foundation of USMC
     B.  Strategic mobility as a limiting factor
          1.  Airlift
          2.  Sealift
     C.  Deployment as a precursor to employment
     D.  Standardization to facilitate deployment and
     E.  Standardization dominates task organization
          1.  Notional mindset reality
          2.  Necessity to reverse trend
II.  Flexible Response Requirement
     A.  USMC as primary force for limited contingencies
     B.  Ideal strategic force-to-mission allocation
     c.  USMC role in realistic strategic plans
III. Selective Rapid Reinforcement Option
     A.  Flexible response as a required USMC capability
     B.  Effect of notional mindset on foward deployed MAGTF
     C.  Selective Rapid Reinforcement proposal
          1.  Scenario A--MAU with forced entry mission
          2.  Scenario B--MAU with security mission
     D.  Address anticipated criticism
          1.  Difficulty in sorting equipment
               a.  MPS Decision Support System (MDSS)
               b.  Reconfigure loading
          2.   Degradation of MPS brigade
                a.  Insignificant degradation
                b.  A way, not the way
                c   CINC's call
          3.   Why not larger reinforcement units?
                a.  Possible, but not necessarily desirable
                b.  Limited by amphibious ship availability
                c.  Large units preclude in-stream offload
          4.   Port requirement and vulnerability to enemy
                a.   MPS limitations regardless of form
                b.   In-stream transfer negates need for port
                c.   Easier equipment transfer than full MPS
brigade offload
          5.   Unit integrity disruption; a trade off
          6.   Joint considerations
               a.   JOPS will support
               b.   TUCHA refinement
     E.  Testing of the Selective Rapid Reinforcement
               a.   Difficult but not impossible
               b.   Combine with equipment tests
     F.  Further possibilities
          1.   Creative innovation
          2.   New hardware
     How many tanks are there in a Marine Amphibious Unit?
A survey of over 100 Marine officers during the past 12
months yielded the following results to that seemingly
innocuous question:  92 percent replied with a specific
figure (usually five); one percent would not, or could not,
answer; seven percent responded more or less with what FMFM
0-1 (Marine Air-Ground Task Force Doctrine) indicates is the
correct answer, i.e., a Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) is a
task organized force and will contain the number of tanks
determined necessary to accomplish the mission at hand.
Several of the seven percent suffixed their answers with
valid qualifiers such as "consistent with forces available"
and "within the constraints of amphibious lift assigned."1
     What do the results indicate?  To begin with, it will
be argued by some that the survey was invalid because it did
not adequately present the question.  According to FMFM 0-1,
Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) can be generally
     1F.G. Sanford, Jr.  Informal survey conducted between
16 April 1985 and 4 March 1986 concerning Marine officer
perceptions of MAGTF task organization.  The sample included
117 officers ranging in grade from Warrant Officer to
Colonel.  Questioning was integrated into related
conversation in such a manner as to avoid announcing intent
or alerting the queried subject.
classified as belonging to one of two categories.  Forward
deployed MAGTFs are contingency forces usually deployed with
the fleet.  A forward deployed MAGTF
     is not task organized in the classic sense, since its
     structure is not oriented for the accomplishment of
     any given mision.  Rather, it is configured based upon
     available forces and shipping, with consideration given
     to a variety of potential mission requirements.2
The other category of MAGTF, which is built from the ground
up to accomplish a specific mission,3  I will refer to as
the prescribed mission MAGTF.
     Survey critics will point out that most of the 92
percent were probably oriented on forward deployed MAGTFs,
which more often than not satisfy the notional MAU formula.
They will charge that during questioning, if I had carefully
explained the two categories of MAGTFs and that I was
talking about the classically task organized, prescribed
mission variety, then many more than seven percent would
have correctly answered the question.  No doubt, but the
objective of the survey was to gather unprepared, snap
     The point is that the immediate image that popped into
the great majority of Marine minds when confronted with the
     2MCDEC, USMC, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Doctrine,
FMFM 0-1(Quantico, 1979), p. 1-5.
     3Ibid., pp. 1-5 and 4-5.
word "MAU" was a neat one-ninth slice of a Division-Wing-
FSSG team--the notional 2000 man MAU with one tank platoon
of five tanks.  Surveyed officers demonstrated knowledge of
notional planning figures, but are the results indicative of
a possibly pernicious trend?  I believe so.  The trend is
"notional mindset."  What is the danger?  Notional mindset
presents a potential inhibitor, if not a barrier, to
flexible response, the Marine Corps' bread and butter
     The following argument will address the phenomenon of
notional mindset in more detail, explore the Marine Corps'
most likely flexible response requirements, and then propose
a new look at the Maritime Prepositioned Ships (MPS) as an
enhancement for MAGTF flexibility and a possible remedy for
at least part of the notional mindset malady.
                      Notional Mindset
     Today's MAGTF doctrine, as articulated in FMFM 0-1
reinforces repeatedly the absolute requirement for maximum
flexibility in the projection and application of combat
power.  Although FMFM 0-1 points out that "existing
similarities among types of MAGTFs allow a standard approach
to activation, organization, planning, and operations,"4
the MAGTF bible is replete with pronouncements of
     4Ibid., p. 1-1.
flexibility in order to "perform missions which range across                              
the spectrum of conflict and crisis situations."5 
Flexibility, in turn, is irrevocably dependent on the
ability to tailor force composition commensurate with the
mission assigned.6  Measured application of the many facets
of power through task organization of available assets
becomes then, it would seem, the very foundation of Marine
Corps flexible response.  To a great extent, reality
dictates otherwise.
     Innovative task organization notwithstanding, unless
the mission capable force can be projected in a timely
manner from initial location to the objective area, the
conceptually flexible response is completely negated in
practical application.7  For global response there are
essentially two forms of projection transportation, or
strategic lift:  strategic airlift and surface shipping.8
Strategic airlift, because of its speed, fits very much into
Marine Corps projection concepts, but it lacks ability to
rapidly mass and sustain anything save relatively light
     5Ibid., p. 1-1.
     6Ibid., pp. 1-1, 1-2, 1-5, 2-4, and 4-6.
     7Robert W. Komer, "Strategy and Military Reform," in
The Defense Reform Debate, eds Asa A. Clark, Peter W.
Chiarelli, Jeffery S. McKitrick, and James W. Reed
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), p. 9.
     8U.S.  DOD, Annual Report to Congress: Fiscal Year 1987,
p. 52.
units or troops from heavy units when unaccompanied by
principal end items.9
     Since a sustainable, forced entry capability requires
units normally heavier than those which can feasibly be
transported solely by airlift and because forced entry
normally means for Marines an ampnibious operation,
amphibious shipping has long been correctly viewed as the
mainstay strategic mobility option for at least the assault
echelon (AE) of MAGTFs contemplating potentially hostile
intrusion actions.10  From the Marine Corps' perspective,
amphibious shipping is anything but overly plentiful, and
even though great strides have been made in "gator" ship
design,11 the lift capacity is finite and forever confining
     9"William Lind, "Mission and Force Structure," Marine
Corps Gazette, 59 (December 1975), p. 16; Ross Heib, "MPS--A
Concept of Deployment, Not Employment," Marine Corps
Gazette, 67 (August 1983), p  53; and, Stuart L. Perkins,
Global Demands: Limited Forces (Washington, 1984), pp. 45-
     10Lind, pp. 12-13 and 16; M.K. Sheridan, "Global
Flexibility," Marine Corps Gazette, 66 (September 1982), pp.
53-54; G.D. Batcheller, "Analyzing the RDF," Marine Corps
Gazette," 64 (June 1980), p. 17; and, Perkins, p. 50.
     11P.X. Kelley and Hugh O'Donnell, "The Amphibious
Warfare Strategy," The Maritime Strategy, (January 1986), p.
27; DOD, "annual Report," pp. 179, and 182-184; At present
62 amphibious ships are distributed between the Atlantic and
Pacific Fleets.  Current plans envision 76 amphibious ships
by 1996; however, fiscal pressures have already accounted
for delays.  Even with 76 ships, lift capacity is limited to
the assault echelon (AE) of one MAF and one MAB.
with respect to the MAGF commander's desires for an
extensive kit of weapons and CSS assets.
     The reality then is that deployment, more often than
not, drives employment in the arena of non-prepositioned
rapid response capability.12  Deployment limitations impede
flexibility and, in turn, have led to an understandable
dependency on systematic predictability of ship loads in
order to effect optimum utilization of transportation
means.13  When the aforementioned is considered in tandem
with steaming time limitations, an appreciation develops for
the efficacy of positioning standardized, forward deployed
MAGTFs with the fleet in strategically critical geographical
     It becomes apparent that MAGTF standardization efforts
have not been the result of a blindly fanatical crusade.  In
actuality, the movement has been fueled by four solid, real
     12Although many military theorists and practitioners
have advocated or attacked the concept of deployment driving
employment, the most succinct and lucid exposition of the
subject from a practical level is contained in the second
half of S.L.A. Marshall's classic work The Soldier's Load
and the Mobility of a Nation, reprinted ed. (Quantico:
Marine Corps Association, 1980), pp. 79-120; a related and
War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), a short
summary is provided on pp. 231-237.
     13Jim Schindler, Major, USMC, Instructor for logistics
and the Joint Operations Planning System (JOPS), MCDEC,
personal interview concerning logistic and JOPS flexibility
with respect to MAGTF task organization .  Quantico, Va.,
March 14, 1986.
world requirements:  optimum use must be made of premium
ship space; fleet operational planning is facilitated by the
rotation of forward deployed MAGTFs which are structurally
interchangeable; component units of deployed MAGTFs are
integrated into the systematic training schedules of parent
commands; and, there is a certifiable need for a variety of
standardized empirical planning factors to address both near
and long term logistical ramifications of MAGTF deployment
and sustainability.14
     Because MAGTF standardization was never meant to imply
organizational rigidity, the word "notional" has gained
favor as a term embodying the concept of prototype utility
while also connoting structural malleability.  Exemplified
in its simplest form within quick reference publications
such as NAVMC 2710 (Marine Air-Ground Task Forces)15 and in
its most complex form in the voluminous readout of a
definitive MAGTF lift model, the notional concept provides
     14Ibid.; John E. Greenwood, Colonel USMC (ret), Editor
Marine Corps Gazette, personal interview concerning MAGTF
task organization, Quantico, Va., January 29,1986; J.J.
O'Brien, Colonel USMC (ret), telephone interview concerning
MAGTF task organization, Santa Barbara, Ca., March 3, 1986;
R.W. Hodory, Lieutenant Colonel USMC, personal interview
concerning MAGTF task organization, Quantico, Va., February
25, 1986; and, Paul Pugh, Major USMC, personal interview
concerning MAGTF task organization, Quantico, Va., March 19,
1986; the material in this paragraph is essentially a
synthesis of the five personal interviews.
     15HQMC, USMC, Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs),
NAVMC 2710 (Washington, 1985), pp. 6-15.
mountains of valuable data, ostensibly for use as a point of
departure in MAGTF design and planning.16
     Intended from inception to simply support, rather than
to propel, MAGTF task organization, the notional concept has
at any rate taken on a life of its own and now constitutes
the established nerve center of the formidable
standardization movement.17 Momentum has carried the
notional concept far past the confines of merely support of
forward deployed MAGTFs.  For many of the very valid reasons
stated above, the notional phenomenon has consumed every
conceivable item on the amphibious warfare menu--both
forward deployed and mission prescribed flavors.  And, even
though the incredibly complex nature of amphibious
operations, training, supportability, and sustainability
demands standardization devices such as the lift model,
there is a limit to the amount of notional efficiency a
MAGTF can withstand before flexibility is strangled.
     Is it any wonder that for the last 15 years or so
notional paradigms have permeated our amphibious vocabulary
and philosophical perspective?  No.  Is it any wonder that
we have begun to think a little too unconsciously in
notional terms?  No.  Is the unavoidable conclusion then
     16Schindler, interview; and, MCDEC, FMFM 0-1, p. 4-6.
     17Schindler, interview.
that notional inertia is an irresistible force?  Let us hope
     Even though the notional concept has served us well in
the development of new and better methods of mechanizing
loading operations, capitalizing on ship lift, and
automating planning systems, it is time to retard the
notional impetus inasmuch as it affects decisions concerning
the best mix of combat, combat support, and combat service
support assets which are designated to float with a forward
deployment or to accomplish a prescribed mission.  When the
MAGTF commander is sorting through his bag of possibilities,
constraints must be kept to a restrictive minimum.  Well and
good the skeptic says, but how do we propose to overcome
irritating limitations like paucity of amphibious lift?
     The truth of the matter is that we will never have
enough amphibious lift.18  Similarly, a revolutionary new
method of rapid strategic transport of men and heavy
materiel is not likely to proffer a simple solution to
deployment problems in the foreseeable future.  Overcoming
the manifold limitations to free play projection of combat
power will for the most part require circumnavigation,
     18Enough, of course, is a relative term.  When we
consider that one MAF plus one MAB (AE only) capability is
our optimistic 1996 goal, I believe the obvious conclusion
is that for the next 20 years a 1 1/3 MAF lift is the very
best we will see.  I contend "enough" ships to float the AE
of all active FMF forces would number about 170--an
extremely expensive and unlikely acquisition. (see note 11)
rather than breaching, of problem obstacles.  Innovation
with the assets at hand is the only feasible answer.
Ironically, an asset that is ripe for the twisting, turning,
and manipulation of further creative development thinking is
MPS.  This is especially so in light of the most likely
circumstances for commitment of the Marine Corps combat
             The Flexible Response Requirement
     During the past 20 years national strategic planning
has incorporated numerous catchy phrases and "buzz words" to
colorfully describe the method of allocation of forces
against possible threats.  Not too many years ago we talked
in terms of the half wars, i.e., the 1 1/2 or 2 1/2
scenarios which forecast one or two major wars against
sophisticated adversaries (the 1 and 2 respectively) plus
simultaneous engagement with a more primitive, but
undefined, foe in a less predictable location (the 1/2).
Lately, the terms in vogue for the unexpected altercations
are limited contingency or low-intensity conflict.19
     Because of the ubiquitous Soviet geographical presence
and political influence, the strategic assumption is that
limited and sophisticated warfare may occur separately or
     19Robert P. Haffa, Jr., The Half War (Boulder: Westview
Press, 1984), pp. 3-7.
simultaneously but more likely will develop sequentially
from lowest to highest intensity, if there is any
progression at all.20  The Navy-Marine Corps team, because
of its well advertised and demonstrated flexibility, has
established itself as the primary national asset to deal
with limited contingencies even though it remains prepared
for simultaneous commitment against the more sophisticated
     It is well recognized that the manner in which the
limited contingency is militarily addressed may well have a
critical impact on whether or not it boils over and becomes
a precipitant for more general, unlimited, global action.22
Many planners and theorists also believe that the forces
dedicated to the limited contingency mission will not
necessarily be able to redeploy to other developing
     Ideally, from a strategic planning perspective, forces
would be specifically tagged for the more sophisticated
     20Ibid., 4-7; and, Perkins, pp. 5 and 26.
     21Kelley and O'Donnell, p. 29; Casper Weinberger, "The
Defense Policy of the Reagan Administration," Officer
Review, 21 (September, 1981), p. 4; and, Perkins, pp. 26 and
     22Haffa, pp. 2-6; M.K. Sheridan, "Global Flexibility,"
Marine Corps Gazette, 66 (September 1982), p. 53; and,
Perkins, p. 26.
     23Haffa, p. 5.
threats (e.g., Soviet European invasion) and never diverted
for anything else.  Since, by their very nature, the limited
contingencies cannot be fingered precisely, the best method
of force allocation is to dedicate general purpose units to
well defined regions (the smaller the better).  These forces
also would be fenced, never to stray outside their regional
pasture and left alone to devote themselves to studying all
possible commitment permutations in the quest for total
     Unfortunately for the national  security, but
fortunately from an American taxpayer perspective, the force
structure necessary to support the best of all possible
national strategic plans has little, if any, chance of
squeezing through the congressional fiscal filter.25  As is
always the case, all bases will have to be covered with the
few players at hand.  The Marine Corps will be expected to
exert its inherent flexibility and versatility to be
prepared to deal with all of the almost infinite
possibilities on the limited contingency program.
Additionally, swift and effective action will not only be
expected, it will be demanded.  Only through expert
application of power will we minimize the possibility of
allowing the limited contingency to ignite an unlimited
     24Haffa, pp. 4-5 and 228-251.
     25Komer, p. 11.
conflagration.26  This is admittedly a tall order and
especially so in the face of almost certain broad budget
challenges stimulated by Gramm-Rudman parsimony fever; the
bottom line is broader mission requirements and less money
with which to do it all.
     The Secretary of Defense in both his fiscal year 1986
and 1987 reports to congress hammered away at the reality of
unpredictability and the corresponding requirement for
     Few illusions are more resilient, alluring, and
     dangerous than the idea that we can forecast with
     confidence all the threats we will face.  Technicians
     seek certainty.  But if the past is any guide to the
     future, it will be the unanticipated conflict in an
     unexpected place or form that poses the most difficult
     challenge.  In structuring an adequate deterrent, we
     must prepare to cope with threats across the entire
     spectrum of conflict.27
In the final analysis, even though a toe-to-toe slugfest
with the Soviets is the most potentially devastating
possibility, the most likely conflict is one of the limited
contingency variety.28 It will be neither expected nor
convenient.  The chances are that no specific contingency
plan will exist.  And, can there be much doubt who the
     26Kelley and O'Donnell, pp. 23-25 and 29; and, R.C.
Shreckengost, "Readiness--Ready for What?", Marine Corps
Gazette, 57 (July 1973), p. 47.
     27DOD, "Annual Report," p. 36.
     28Kelly and O'Donnell, p. 24.
Secretary has in mind as the primary force to handle this
challenge?  It is not by pure chance that the last sentence
of Mr. Weinberger's words quoted above is almost a verbatim
facsimile from page 1-2 of FMFM 0-1.
         The Selective Rapid Reinforcement Option
     The Marine Corps' position in national strategy is
quite prominent as well as quite precarious.  The global
balance of power is exquisitely delicate.  If a tilt in the
mechanism occurs, it will most likely be instigated by an
unannounced, unexpected, limited contingency which might
spring up anywhere, at anytime; the chances are good that
the Navy-Marine Corps team will be called to deal with it.29
Rapid deployment of the proper combat power mix will have to
be followed by precise and decisive application of the
perfect amount of requisite force coupled with acute
understanding of political factors.  Marines will
necessarily be required to be extremely sensitive to myriad
non-military factors while maintaining the wherewithal and
spirit to violently apply fire and maneuver to accomplish
stipulated goals.
     Saddled with this formidable challenge the forward
deployed MAGTF commander deserves every option possible.
Thus, it is on that commander's back that the notional
     29Ibid., p. 29; and, Weinberger, p. 4.
mindset monkey ultimately lands.  After being summoned to
the CATF's cabin and presented unceremoniously with the
imminent mission, does the forward deployed MAGTF commander
have any flexible task organization options with which to
influence the action?  His neat, one-ninth vertical slice
MAGTF might very well lack a critical component, e.g.,
several more FAAD teams or a few more tanks or another
section of TOWs or vital sustainability stores.  "Can do"
may do; but, then again, it may not.
     Obviously there is no panacea for what ails this
hypothetical MAGTF commander.  However  I can suggest an
asset flexibility initiative which will give him more viable
options than he currently has.  Although it may sound
heretical, the initiative advocated is commitment of
selective MPS components to reinforce/support MAGTFs of
either the forward deployed or prescribed mission variety.
For lack of a thematic revelation, I have arbitrarily
assigned the concept the unimaginative label "Selective
Rapid Reinforcement."
     Consider scenario A.  A forward deployed MAU in the
Mediterranean is hastily handed a mission to be prepared to
conduct a landing to seize specified objectives in the
vicinity of city W, which is located on the Mediterranean
littoral.  The MAU commander is told that he has
approximately four days before D-day.  After mission
analysis the MAU commander determines that, although his
present troop list gives him a reasonable capability, with
12 more tanks (bringing him to tank company strength) and
another section of TOWs his chances of success are enhanced
substantially.  There is not enough time to float
reinforcements to the objective area prior to the tentative
     Why not have the the local MPS squadron move to port X,
which is also on the Mediterranean and less than 24 hours
amphibious ship steaming time from W?  Port X is both
practically and politically benign.  A tank company (-) and
a TOW section of Marines are flown from CONUS to marry with
equipment which MPS experts from FSSG begin working
feverishly to sort out.
     The Amphibious Task Force (ATF) gray bottoms arrive and
discharge cargo that the MAU commander determines he will
not need close at hand during the initial assault and
subsequent 36 hours.  The tanks, Tows, and Marines are
loaded, transported, and landed with the MAU the next day
across the beach near W.  Immediately after they land
embarked units on D-day, two gray bottoms are shuttled back
to X to reembark the remaining MAU assets and possibly pick
up another piece or two of the MPS suite--in this case part
of the sustainability package, a D-7 bulldozer, and
corresponding troops--and ferry the assets back to W.  The
chosen gray bottoms continue the back and forth movement as
necessary until either the operation terminates or senior
forces/reinforcements from other sources arrive in the
objective area.
     Consider scenario B.  A forward deployed MAU is
suddenly given an active security mission to land forces to
protect American citizens and the legally constituted
government at Y which is an Indian Ocean littoral city.  The
MAU commander is not yet certain what he needs, but just to
be safe he requests that MPS hover over the horizon in close
proximity.  The political and geographical situation will
not allow full-scale MPS brigade operations in the vicinity.
     After a week of patrolling in Y, the MAU commander
determines that his capability to carry out his mission will
be considerably enhanced with the addition of another
platoon of Assault Amphibian Vehicles (AAVs).  Just off
nearby small island Z the FSSG experts (flown in a week ago)
begin to sort out the AAVs.  Gray bottoms and landing craft
aid in the "in-steam" offload and ferrying operation.  The
AAV troops are flown to the island from Hawaii utilizing a
combination of strategic airlift, carrier onboard delivery,
and local helicopters.
     In scenarios A and B the MAU commander was given
additional flexibility through the availability of the
considerable array of MPS assets.  The MAU commanders above
routinely floated with the one-ninth notional slice packed
tightly aboard Phibron shipping, but when mission execution
time arrived, both commanders were not restrained by the
limited quantities and capabilities of embarked resources.
Deployment options were exercised which brought additional
combat power to bear at the decisive place and time.  Of
course nothing is ever as simple as it may seem or entirely
free of cost; the Selective Rapid Reinforcement concept is
no exception.  I will attempt to anticipate obvious
     Attention will focus initially on the difficulty in
sorting out any particular module of end items (e.g., 12
tanks and associated equipment) from the tightly embarked
MPS suite.  Critics will say that the suite was designed and
loaded to be employed en masse, and that the complications
involved in locating and physically extracting the equipment
of one or two small units is not worth the effort.
Difficult?  Undoubtedly.  Impossible?  Certainly not.
     As concerns the equipment location identification
problem, I have personally witnessed the impressive ability
of the portable MPS Decision Support System (MDSS) to
electronically sort through the extensive files of MPS suite
equipment and cull out any desired unit (e.g., a tank
company) complete with a list of shipboard locations.30  If
after experimenting with the selective offloading of
specified units it is still evaluated as "too hard," I
suggest reconfiguring the ship loads to position the most
likely called equipment closest to the hatch.
     Another possible criticism of the selective Rapid
Reinforcement concept which comes readily to mind is the
fact that the scenarios above advocate moving around and
chipping away at an asset which has a potentially terrific
punch.  Are we possibly wasting a full-blown MPS capability
to simply provide a MAU with a few nice to have tanks, AAVs,
etc.?  Are we in effect jeopardizing a MAB capability by
unwisely adopting an "only game in town"31 mentality with
respect to the MAU mission?
     My answer is that if the assets taken from MPS are so
insignificant, it is also very possible that the remainder
of the suite would still support a substantially potent MAB
capability.  The remainder of the contributing MPS brigade
might be employed elsewhere, it might follow the committed
     30R.H. Blummel, Captain USMC. Instructor Computer
Science Schools, personal interview concerning the MPS
Decision Support System (MDSS), Quantico, Va., March 17,
1986; The MDSS appears to be an extremely flexible system.
I do believe, however, that the addition of a field
containing the equipment identification number from the ID
Standards File will further facilitate precise matching of
men and materiel by enabling the MDSS to determine the exact
model of end items located.
     31Perkins, p. 26.
MAU once the beachhead has been secured, or it may not be
employed at all.  The point is that the Selective Rapid
Reinforcement proposal is not intended to displace the
established MPS brigade concept--only to increase the number
of responsive deployment options.
     Admittedly, the MPS suite may be considered as unusable
for other purposes while the squadron is moving around,
on/off loading, and loitering in support of the Selective
Rapid Reinforcement mission.  A conscious decision by the
applicable unified commander will have to be made relative
to the wisdom of selective MPS suite degradation.   As
explained above, it may just be the case that success of the
forward deployed MAGTF's mission is critical enough from a
national strategic perspective to be the over riding
factor--a matter of priorities.
     Along those same lines the question may be asked why
send only platoons or companies?  The airlift exists and the
equipment is there; why not fly in a battalion?  Selective
Rapid Reinforcement is not conceptually relegated to
supplying only small units to the bolstered MAGTF.
Theoretically a battalion or more could be flown in to
linkup with equipment.   In most cases, however, two
practical considerations will usually guide planning towards
more conservative asset commitment.
     First, once men and equipment linkup, the unit must get
to the objective area.  In the Rapid Reinforcement concept
this movement will normally be accomplished by some form of
creative use of gray bottoms and their landing craft.  The
most likely reinforcement mission is in support of a MAU.
With only four or five ships, ATF gray bottom flexibility is
limited.  Two companies are probably all that could be
handled (depending on time-distance factors);  certainly a
battalion would be over taxing shipping assets.
     Second, the larger the unit, the more complex and time
consuming the selective offload.  If MPS loads are
reconfigured to position the most likely to be called
equipment in a ready to go posture,  then the door is open
for attempting in-stream transfer of equipment directly from
MPS to gray bottoms--an extremely promising technique.
Relatively extensive equipment transfers will severely tax
the in-stream to gray bottom capability.
     A  particularly conspicuous soft spot in the Selective
Rapid Reinforcement proposal is dependability on a nearby
port or staging area to marry men and materiel.  That,
together with vulnerability to enemy interdiction, is a
major problem which renders MPS less than universally
applicable regardless of form.32  However, in-stream offload
capability and the relatively small amount of gear that has
     32Batcheller, p. 19; and, Heib, pp. 56-57.
to be extracted (depending, of course, on the peculiar
offload profile complexity) make the concept feasible in
certain circumstances.  Time-distance factors may allow
shuttling of amphibious ships and landing of the reinforcing
MPS assets during the initial assault (scenario A).  More
likely is the shuttling of reinforcing MPS units sometime
after the initial assault in support  of post H-hour
operations or in support of a remote security mission
(scenario B).
     Unit integrity disruption is one more possible
criticism.  How well is the BLT commander in scenario A
going to be able to work with a tank company commander who
very likely was a total stranger less than 24 hours prior to
H-hour?  It is a trade off.  Is having the additional 12
tanks worth the possible friction resulting from lack of
familiarity?  That is a commander's decision.  My belief is
that the commander deserves the decision; let's not
institutionally deprive him of the opportunity to make it.
     As long as the unified commander blesses the plan,
there should be no problems with the U.S. Air Force or the
joint community in general.  The Joint Operations Planning
System (JOPS) is extremely flexible in the hands of a
knowledgeable operator.  If the Marine Corps keeps the Type
Unit Data File (TUCHA) loaded with codes and associated data
which allow units to be broken down to the lowest possible
level of deployment, Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data
(TPFDD) computer files can be rapidly modified or
constructed from scratch as appropriate.  Accordingly, data
can be updated for both the MPS brigade (-) after Selective
Rapid Reinforcement operations as well  as the forces sent to
fall in on the selectively offloaded MPS equipment.  From
the valid TPFDDs, Time Phased Transportation Requirements
Lists (TPTRLs) and Time Phased Force and Deployment Lists
(TPFDLs) can be extracted to support strategic deployment.33
     Since money will always be scarce and time will always
be at a premium, testing of the Selective Rapid
Reinforcement concept's many facets will, like everything
else, be difficult, but not impossible.  There will be three
MPS suites, several continuously floating forward deployed
MAGTFs, and countless prescribed mission MAGTF exercises
conducted each year.  One way to ease the pain is to
integrate exercises with the periodic unloading of selective
equipment for routine tests and maintenance.  If we want to
make it work, we can, regardless of obstacles.
     The two scenarios described above are only very
rudimentary examples which barely scratch the surface with
respect to Selective Rapid Reinforcement potential.
Wholesale brainstorming and creative innovation cannot help
     33AFSC, NDU, Joint Officer's Planning Guide, AFSC Pub 1
(Norfolk, 1984), pp. 6-4 through 6-38; and, Schindler,
but stimulate countless other possibilities and refinements.
Consider the depth and redundancy which can be added to the
deployment-employment flexibility equation when we dial in
factors such as use of the Air Alert BLT, rapid
reinforcement by Marine tactical air (using the TAVB), the
considerable range and lift of the MV-22 (Osprey),
utilization of MPS vessels for shuttling, etc., etc.
     A notional mindset has developed within the Marine
Corps.  The notion concept has evolved for very valid
reasons and has served Marines well, but it is now time to
shake off notional restraints.  The most likely strategic
scenarios place the onus on the Marine Corps to maintain a
vigilant, ready, resilient, and infinitely flexible posture.
Notional mindset is the bane of flexible response.  Use of
chosen MPS units in concert with amphibious forces in the
Selective Rapid Reinforcement concept adds an element of
flexibility to the Marine Corps' deployment arsenal which
does not currently exist.  It simply provides  "a" way, not
"the" way, to take advantage of deployment options.
     Deployment has always driven employment.  The
successful commander and the successful nation are not
intimidated by deployment realities.  Decisive employment of
force, or threat of force, demands an appreciation of the
deployment axiom that says it does absolutely no good to
have a superiority in power unless that power can be applied
to the proper place at the proper time.34  If we are not
ready to exploit every conceivable deployment option, we
open ourselves to the possibility of watching our
antagonists stand on foreign shores and safely thumb their
noses at our considerable, albeit immobile, capability.
However, with multiple, redundant methods for massing combat
power quickly in the objective areas we present our
potential antagonist with more than the simple problem of
determining if we will come--he now has to contend with when
we will come, how will we come, and with what will we come.
Friction has been reduced for us and increased for the
     All indications point to the imminent advent of "a
renaissance period in the evolution of amphibious warfare"35
from the perspectives of strategic requirement, technical
enhancements, and doctrinal innovation.  The Selective Rapid
Reinforcement concept is one method for obtaining mastery
over the crucial deployment challenge.  Can we afford not to
give it a chance?
     34Komer, p. 9.
     35Kelley and O'Donnell, p.29.
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