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Low Intensity Conflict, Special Operations, And The Employment Of Reconnaissance

Low Intensity Conflict, Special Operations, And The Employment Of Reconnaissance

 

CSC 1988

 

SUBJECT AREA Warfighting

 

 

 

LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT, SPECIAL OPERATIONS,

 

AND THE EMPLOYMENT OF RECONNAISSANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan J. Flores

Major, U.S. Marine Corps

Command and Staff College

March 1988

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

Page

 

Acknowledgements ii

 

Chapter 1 - Introduction 1

 

Chapter 2 - Reconnaissance Doctrine 7

 

Figure 2-1 Reconnaissance Organizations 15

 

Chapter 3 - Evolution 16

 

Figure 3-1 Special Operations 25

Capabilities Matrix

 

Chapter 4 - New MEU (SOC) Doctrine 26

 

Figure 4-1 Sample Chain of Command 38

 

Figure 4-2 Immediate Response 39

Capabilities

 

Chapter 5 - Maritime Special Purpose 42

Force (MSPF)

 

Figure 5-1 Notional MSPF Task 47

Organization

 

Chapter 6 - Impact 48

 

Figure 6-1 Support for Insurgencies 58

 

Chapter 7 - Short Term Solutions 60

 

Chapter 8 - Long Term Solutions 67

 

Figure 8-1 Spectrum of Conflict 76

 

Chapter 9 - Final Thoughts 77

 

Bibliography 81

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

 

 

Since MEU (SOC) is so new to the Marine Corps, most of

the material gathered for this paper came from interviews

with people who are intrinsically involved in the

evolutionary process. To those fine people who consented

to interviews - Bob Aldrich, LtCol Denny Blankenship, Col

Patty Collins, Major "Gator" Duncan, Major Gordy Jackson,

BGen Keys, LtCol Ray McCormick, LtCol Bill Tehan, Capt Tom

Western, and Major G.I. Wilson - I wish to give you all my

special thanks. Without your candor and patience I could

not have completed this project.

 

Special thanks also goes to Major Jack Farmer and

Major Tom O'Leary for your encouragement and moral support.

The background information you provided was really helpful

in getting me started.

 

Finally, special, special thanks to Major Joe Flores,

Jr. who not only provided me with background information

and a list of recommended people to interview (interviewees

can blame him), but also for the days that you spent as a

single parent so I could complete this project. You're the

GREATEST!

 

CHAPTER 1

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

Today's Marine Corps is infused with a new sense of

 

meaning and determination. It is marching boldly forward,

 

preparing for, and participating in the low intensity

 

conflict and special operations arena. In 1985, General P.

 

X. Kelley, 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced

 

that the Corps would prepare to conduct a new mission; that

 

is, the Marine Amphibious Unit (Special Operations Capable)

 

or MAU (SOC) mission. (This name has now been changed to

 

Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), or

 

MEU (SOC).)1

 

Ever since then, arguments have ensued concerning the

 

appropriateness of this mission; whether it fits in with

 

the other Marine Corps missions, or whether it

 

substantially changes our role in national defense.

 

Professional publications like the Marine Corps Gazette are

 

inundated with such articles, and the range of opinions is

 

as diverse as the range of people writing them.

 

This phenomenon is very curious when one considers

 

that the Marine Corps has traditionally, throughout its

 

history, participated in low intensity conflicts and

 

special operations. The Marine Corps' first amphibious

 

_______________________

1 On 3 February 1988, General A. M. Gray, the current

Commandant of the Marine Corps, published ALMAR 023/88,

which stated that effectuive 5 February 1988, the Marine Air

Ground Task Force designation would change to Marine

Expeditionary Unit (MEU) viceMarine Amphibious Unit (MAU).

 

 

operation, conducted in Nassau, Bahamas in March 1776, was

 

a classic raid. Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon's activities

 

in Tripoli certainly fall under the category of special

 

operations. And Marine Corps operations, personified by

 

Chesty Puller's exploits in both Haiti and Nicaragua while

 

conducting counterinsurgency operations, can hardly be

 

considered mid intensity or high intensity conflict.

 

As a matter of fact, while the major wars are what

 

stand out the most in our national mind, they are but only

 

a part of the Marine Corps' history. Nobody forgets World

 

War I and World War II, but the Corps also participated in

 

many other campaigns in recent history. For example, from

 

1800 to 1934, Marines landed 180 times in 37 countries.2

 

Each landing was in support of some strategic goal in

 

behalf of the United States. .. .So it is ironic that there

 

would be so much ado concerning our new MEU (SOC) role.

 

How did this come about?

 

Two influences have created the environment in which

 

we operate today. First, since the advent of the nuclear

 

age, the conflict of choice has been low intensity. World

 

powers have carefully avoided conflict escalation that

 

would infringe upon the nuclear threshhold and embark them

 

in a war that Clausewitz calls, "pointless and devoid of

 

sense. They have been careful to weigh political goals

 

against the cost of the conflict, and so far, nuclear war

______________________

2R. Lynn Rylander, "The Future of the Marines in Small

Wars", a paper presented at the Center of Naval Analyses

1986 Sea Power Forum on the Marine Corps.

 

 

has not proven to be worth the cost

 

The second inf luence was the Vietnam War, and its

 

impact on the United States. Its prosecution without a

 

well defined strategic goal, and its subsequent

 

unpopularity with the people, have taken a toll in terms of

 

the health of the military in the years following the war.

 

American frustration over Vietnam created a national desire

 

to avoid conflict of any kind. This desire was translated

 

into fewer defense dollars for readiness during the

 

mid-to-late 1970's. It was even manifested within the

 

military itself. Following the Vietnam War, most special

 

forces outfits were dismantled or severely cut back. By

 

the end of that decade, the United States was left with

 

very little low intensity conflict capability.

 

The Marine Corps' capabilities suffered through these

 

years, along with the other branches of the armed forces.

 

Lack of qualified Marines, ancient equipment, and few

 

prospects for better resources sapped the Corps' ability to

 

accomplish even its most basic missions. Our

 

reconnaissance organizations suffered along with the rest

 

of the fighting force, victims of our own internal

 

ostracism. Just as we pride ourselves in being an elite

 

force; so do we resent any of our members who claim to be

 

even more elitist than we are.

 

Following Vietnam, there was a lot of internal

 

animosity against reconnaissance Marines for what the

 

infantry organizations felt were failures in reconnaissance

 

operations during the war.3 Many infantry commanders

 

felt that they were constantly putting their Marines at

 

risk to save some reconnaissance team that had gotten into

 

trouble (the inference being that the they were in trouble

 

unnecessarily). These inferences often showed a lack of

 

understanding about the roles the reconnaissance assets

 

were playing in the overall prosecution of the war. The

 

animosity carried over into the post-Vietnam era, and so

 

Marine Corps reconnaissance organizations were allowed to

 

deteriorate from benign neglect during a time when there

 

were too few resources to go around anyway. For example,

 

while serving with the 2d Marine Division from 1976 to

 

1978, the author witnessed assignment policies to 2d

 

Reconnaissance Battalion which were primarily "fair share"

 

with no consideration of requirements and capabilities.

 

Many problem Marines were assigned to 2d Reconnaissance

 

Battalion because it was away from the main part of the

 

base, and they were then "out of the way.

 

The nation's low intensity conflict capabilities and

 

assets were largely underemphasized for over a decade after

 

the Vietnam War, including force allocations, doctrine,

 

training, and equipment. By the early 1980's, we were

 

unprepared to fight in the one conflict most likely to

 

arise - the low intensity conflict. And along with this

 

erosion in our capabilities was the loss of our ability to

 

____________________

3LtCol Ray M. McCormick, USMC, interview conducted with

the author at Command and Staff College on 13 November 1987.

 

 

handle unconventional or special operations.

 

Since the warfighting environment of the `80s is full

 

of discussions about low intensity conflict and special

 

operations, we need to establish their meaning in relation

 

to this essay. As of this writing, there is no universally

 

accepted definition of low intensity conflict. Its meaning

 

is still being discussed at the Department of Defense

 

level. However, for the purpose of this paper, the reader

 

need only use the definition in JCS Publication 1:

 

"A limited politico-military struggle to

 

achieve political, social, economic, or

 

psychological objectives. It is of ten protracted

 

and ranges from diplomatic, economic, and

 

psychosocial pressures through terrorism and

 

insurgency. Low intensity conflict is generally

 

confined to a geographic area and is often

 

characterized by constraints on the weaponry,

 

tactics, and the level of violence."

 

... And the JCS Publication 1 definition for special

 

operations will also be used:

 

"Operations conducted by specially trained, equipped,

 

and organized DoD forces against strategic or

 

tactical targets in pursuit of national military,

 

political, economic, or psychological objectives.

 

These operations may be conducted during periods of

 

peace or hostilities. They may support conventional

 

forces or they may be prosecuted independently when

 

the use of conventional forces is either

 

inappropriate or infeasible.

 

The reader can tell, from reading these definitions,

 

that these two terms, low intensity conflict and special

 

operations," are not mutually inclusive. Low intensity

 

conflicts are a type of conflict, while special operations

 

are a capability to be used in conflict. While special

 

operations are a frequent part of low intensity conflicts,

 

they are also a part of mid and high intensity conflicts.

 

Low intensity conflict and special operations are not

 

new ideas; they are an inherent element of conflict. It is

 

their renaissance during this decade to which the Corps

 

owes a "thank you" for bringing it back to those basic

 

missions it is designed to perform. With the

 

reconsideration of its capabilities to ensure it can

 

accomplish these missions, it has reaffirmed that it is an

 

expeditionary strike force for our nation, and not another

 

NATO army designed to fight armored battles over the plains

 

of Europe.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

RECONNAISSANCE DOCTRINE

 

 

 

In order to understand the implications the new MEU

 

(SOC) mission has on the Marine Corps in general, and on

 

its reconnaissance organizations specifically, one must

 

first understand what it is that doctrine requires of

 

reconnaissance. This doctrine is stated in FMFM 2-2.

 

Amphibious Reconnaissance.

 

In the Marine Corps, there are two types of

 

reconnaissance organizations. These are the force

 

reconnaissance company, which is a Fleet Marine Force

 

Headquarters asset; and the reconnaissance battalion, which

 

belongs to the Marine division. Both operate in stealth to

 

collect intelligence information about the enemy. But

 

there is a difference in the level of their operations.

 

The force reconnaissance company conducts preassault

 

and deep postassault reconnaissance operations in support

 

of a landing force and its subordinate elements. The

 

company is made up of a headquarters section, a supply and

 

service platoon, and six reconnaissance platoons. (See

 

figure 2-1.) Each reconnaissance platoon contains three

 

four-man reconnaissance teams. All members of the

 

reconnaissance platoons are trained as surface and

 

underwater (SCUBA) swimmers, and as parachutists.

 

Employment capabilities specifically discussed in FMFM 2-2

 

are:

 

-Observe, identify, and report enemy activity and

 

collect other information of military significance.

 

-Engage the enemy in supporting arms, when so directed

 

or authorized by higher headquaarters.

 

-Implant sensors.

 

-Capture selected prisoners.

 

-Conduct specialized terrain reconnaissance including

 

beach, route, and helicopter landing zones/drop zones

 

reconnaissance missions.

 

-Conduct initial terminal guidance operations.

 

-Conduct special missions requiring the use of entry

 

capabilities unique to a force reconnaissance company.

 

The FMFM 2-2 specifically mentions a special mission

 

that can be assigned:

 

"A special mission requiring underwater or parachute

 

entry is occasionally assigned to a force reconnaissance

 

company. Missions of this type are not normally

 

reconnaissance oriented, and any commander who orders the

 

execution of such a mission must consider the impact of

 

diverting his reconnaissance capability to accomplish the

 

task. Additional preparation time will have to be allotted

 

before the task can be initiated. "1

 

Reconnaissance battalion conducts ground

 

reconnaissance and surveillance in support of a Marine

 

 

_______________

1Department of the Navy, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps,

Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 2-2. Amphibious

Reconnaissance (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing

Office, 19 March 1976), Para. 204.c(5), p. 8.

 

 

division or its subordinate elements. The battalion is

 

made up of a headquarters and service company and four

 

reconnaissance companies. (One of these companies has been

 

cadred for over a decade.) (See figure 2-1.) Each of

 

these companies is broken down into a company headquarters

 

and three reconnaissance platoons. Each platoon is then

 

further broken down into a headquarters and two

 

reconnaissance squads. And these are finally broken down

 

into two four-man scout teams. One platoon in each company

 

has a four-man team qualified in underwater swimming,

 

providing a limited underwater swimming entry capability to

 

the battalion.

 

The capabilities which the FMFM 2-2 identifies for

 

reconnaissance battalion include the following:

 

-Collect information on the enemy.

 

-Engage the enemy by supporting arms, when so directed

 

or authorized by the division commander.

 

-Implant sensors.

 

-Capture selected prisoners.

 

-Conduct specialized terrain reconnaissance including

 

beach, road, route, and helicopter landing zone/drop zone

 

reconnaissance missions.

 

-Conduct initial terminal guidance operations.

 

An analysis of both the force reconnaissance company

 

and the reconnaissance battalion missions reveals few

 

differences. The overall divergence is in scope. The use

 

of force reconnaissance company is more strategic in nature

 

than the use of reconnaissance battalion.

 

Force reconnaissance company is designed, trained, and

 

equipped to handle both pre- and postassault deep

 

reconnaissance for the entire Marine Air Ground Task Force

 

(MAGTF). Its personnel are intended to be inserted beyond

 

the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) in the commander

 

landing force's (CLF) area of interest, and are parachute

 

trained as one means of insertion. They are also

 

designated as the organization to handle the previously

 

defined "special missions" within the MAGTF.

 

Reconnaissance battalion, on the other hand, is

 

designed, trained, and equipped to handle reconnaissance

 

missions which are "closer in." They are the eyes and ears

 

of the ground combat element, and so their training is

 

primarily for surface and SCUBA insertion. Doctrinally,

 

they are not the parachutist; force reconnaissance company

 

reconnaissance platoon members are. Finally, their

 

missions do not include "special missions," as the force

 

reconnaissance missions do. They are intended for

 

reconnaissance tasks only.

 

Assignment to both force reconnaissance company and

 

reconnaissance battalion is not driven by any stringent,

 

centralized standards. There is a reconnaissance sponsor

 

in the Ground Combat Requirements Branch, Operations

 

Division at Headquarters, US Marine Corps who keeps track

 

of end strength, training quotas, and related issues. This

 

sponsor has only limited control over the assignment of

 

Marines to these units. He gives the assignment branch at

 

Headquarters information regarding the number of Marines

 

that need to be assigned, and then orders are issued to

 

send Marines to the major supporting command.

 

Marines do not normally receive reconnaissance

 

training until after they have joined a reconnaissance

 

organization, so the parent command receives basic Marines

 

with the appropriate infantry, communications, logistics,

 

etc., military occupational specialty (MOS). These Marines

 

are then further assigned within the large command based on

 

its needs. The number of qualified, trainable candidates

 

that actually join the reconnaissance organization is

 

dependent upon the priorities of the major command from

 

whom it derives its support. For example, the infantry

 

assignment monitor may assign orders to five additional

 

infantry Marines in a given month, and those Marines will

 

arrive at 2d Marine Division. The division will further

 

assign them based on its priorities. If it is building up

 

an infantry battalion for deployment and has had some

 

difficulty doing so, those additional five infantry Marines

 

could be assigned to that battalion in lieu of

 

Reconnaissance Battalion. The reconnaissance sponsor at

 

Headquarters does not have the authority to direct Marines

 

through that parent command into the reconnaissance

 

organization. He does, however, have the ability to

 

influence the action by close liaison with command manpower

 

staffs and personnel officers.

 

Command qualifications for assignment into the

 

reconnaissance organizations can also vary considerably,

 

depending once again on the supporting commanders'

 

priorities. One commander may feel that his reconnaissance

 

organization requires Marines with special qualifications,

 

in healthy numbers; while another may feel that

 

reconnaissance Marines are infantry Marines with some extra

 

training, and therefore do not need any special assignment

 

considerations, either in individual Marine qualifications

 

or in the reconnaissance organization's unit strengths.

 

Reconnaissance organizations generally have some kind

 

of screening process to determine whether the Marines they

 

receive can be successful reconnaissance Marines. The

 

screening process differs from one organization to another,

 

but usually includes a medical check to ensure the Marine

 

is physically qualified; some kind of physical fitness test

 

to determine how the Marine handles physical stress (it is

 

also important to ensure the Marine can swim); and finally,

 

some kind of interview process to determine whether the

 

Marine has the aptitude, attitude, and maturity to operate

 

self-sufficiently in the sometimes isolated circumstances

 

in which a reconnaissance Marine can find himself.

 

The reconnaissance organization's ability to fully

 

implement these standards is once again dependent on the

 

parent commander. The reassignment of a Marine who becomes

 

a disciplinary problem or who cannot master the training

 

is also dependent on the policy set by the parent

 

Command qualifications for assignment into the

 

reconnaissance organizations can also vary considerably,

 

depending once again on the supporting commanders'

 

priorities. One commander may feel that his reconnaissance

 

organization requires Marines with special qualifications,

 

in healthy numbers; while another may feel that

 

reconnaissance Marines are infantry Marines with some extra

 

training, and therefore do not need any special assignment

 

considerations, either in individual Marine qualifications

 

or in the reconnaissance organization's unit strengths.

 

Reconnaissance organizations generally have some kind

 

of screening process to determine whether the Marines they

 

receive can be successful reconnaissance Marines. The

 

screening process differs from one organization to another,

 

but usually includes a medical check to ensure the Marine

 

is physically qualified; some kind of physical fitness test

 

to determine how the Marine handles physical stress (it is

 

also important to ensure the Marine can swim); and finally,

 

some kind of interview process to determine whether the

 

Marine has the aptitude, attitude, and maturity to operate

 

self-sufficiently in the sometimes isolated circumstances

 

in which a reconnaissance Marine can find himself.

 

The reconnaissance organization's ability to fully

 

implement these standards is once again dependent on the

 

parent commander. The reassignment of a Marine who becomes

 

a disciplinary problem or who cannot master the training

 

is also dependent on the policy set by the parent

 

commander. Some parent commanders allow such reassignments

 

based solely on the request of the reconnaissance

 

organization's commander; others require the reconnaissance

 

organization to keep its ineffectives as the rest of the

 

command does.

 

Another way reconnaissance organizations get fresh

 

talent is from volunteers. Once again, the volunteer

 

program is dependent upon the priorities of the parent

 

commander. Some commanders, however, authorize the

 

transfer of Marines in their command to the reconnaissance

 

organization. The transfer can be a reward to a hard

 

charging young Marine for consistently outstanding

 

performance. Or it can be at the request of a young Marine

 

who is interested in reconnaissance skills, and who can

 

pass the screening test. This is a double edged sword.

 

While the reconnaissance organization commander is getting

 

a motivated young Marine with some infantry experience, he

 

is also acquiring a Marine who will receive orders sooner

 

than a new join would. ... And parent commanders have been

 

known to saddle their reconnaissance organizations in the

 

past with an occasional "hard core" recalcitrant, thinking

 

that the tough training would help straighten him out, or

 

would at least keep him so busy that he would stay out of

 

trouble.

 

Once the Marine has been accepted by the

 

reconnaissance organization, his training commences. For

 

Marines in the reconnaissance battalion, training usually

 

includes Amphibious Reconnaissance School, and in some

 

cases, SCUBA School. For force reconnaissance company

 

Marines, basic reconnaissance training usually includes the

 

two above schools, plus Airborne School. Additional

 

schools are also available to both organizations for their

 

more mature, experienced Marines to gain additional skills.

 

Once the Marine has had the "basic" reconnaisaance

 

training outlined above, he is ready to be assigned to a

 

reconnaissance team and begin training with them as an

 

effective member.

 

Click here to view image

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

EVOLUTION

 

 

 

The first time the term "special operations forces"

 

was used in an official U.S. Government document was in the

 

Defense Guidance of 1981. This document directed all the

 

armed forces to develop a special operations forces (SOF)

 

capability.1 However, it wasn't until the Deputy

 

Secretary of Defense memorandum of 3 October 1983 that the

 

Marine Corps began to seriously review its special

 

operations capabilities. This memorandum tasked the

 

services to revitalize their special operations

 

capabilities "as a matter of national urgency."2 A

 

preliminary report was due back to the Secretary of Defense

 

by March 1984, after each service reviewed its existing SOF

 

capabilities. These reports would outline what steps

 

needed to be taken to create an effective level of special

 

operations capability to combat the current and future low

 

intensity conflict threat. They had a deadline to complete

 

any force structure expansion, enhancements in command and

 

control, and changes in personnel policies, training

 

programs, and equipment by the end of fiscal year 1990.

 

______________________

1John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary of the Army, "Keynote

Address to Symposium on The Role of Special Operations in US

Strategy for the 1980s," and published in Barnett, Frank R.;

Tovar, B. Hugh; and Schultz, Richard H. Special Operations

in US Strategy, (Washington, D.C., National Defense

University Press, 1984), pp. 18.

2General Paul X. Kelley, USMC; "The Marine Corps and

Special Operations", Marine Corps Gazette, Vol. 69, No. 10,

October 1985, pp. 22.

 

 

As a result of this memorandum, the Commandant of the

 

Marine Corps, General P. X. Kelley, directed the Commanding

 

General, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic (FMFLant) to conduct

 

a study and determine what would be required to bring the

 

Marine Corps in line with the special operations

 

requirements. The results of the study clearly indicated

 

that the framework for many special operations already

 

exists within the current MAGTF structure. Specifically,

 

the Marine Corps' forward deployed posture, its ability to

 

task organize and tailor its forces to fit special

 

missions, and its historical emphasis on such missions as

 

amphibious raids all lend credence to the solidity of that

 

framework.

 

Building on these areas, the Commandant announced the

 

new Marine Amphibious Unit (Special Operations Capable) or

 

MAU (SOC) (now Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special

 

Operations Capable) or MEU (SOC)). This unit is basically

 

the same as the former MAU, but with several enhancements

 

and some additional training that complement its unique

 

MAGTF structure and ability to task organize in order to

 

conduct a broad spectrum of specialized operations in the

 

low intensity conflict arena.3 It is now specifically

 

ready to tackle missions in the following low intensity

 

conflict areas: peacekeeping, contingency response, and

 

counterterrorism (depending on which definition of

 

 

_________________

3For further details on what these enhancements are, see

Major Harry M. Murdock, USMC, "MAU(SOC) A Powerful Maritime

Force", Marine Corps Gazette, August 1987, pp. 66-71.

 

counterterrorism is used). Figure 3-1 shows the

 

capabilities that the MEU (SOC) has in the low intensity

 

conflict arena.

 

Our current Commandant, General A. M. Gray, was the

 

Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic when the

 

study was undertaken, and he is a firm believer in the MEU

 

(SOC) concept. In fact, he has been heard to call himself

 

the "AO" (Action Officer) on MEU (SOC)/special operations

 

issues. He strongly believes that we are the nation's

 

maritime direct action force - a traditional role which we

 

should continue to carry out. In his mind, every rifle

 

company in the Marine Corps should be trained in amphibious

 

raids,4 since that is our "bread and butter." Since

 

assuming the office of Commandant, General Gray has been

 

extremely active as the "AO", ensuring that this new

 

priority is understood and implemented.

 

...And what is the plan for implementing our MEU (SOC)

 

capability? The East Coast now has its Mediterranean

 

deployments designated as MEU (SOC). The West Coast is in

 

the process of following suit with its Western Pacific

 

deployments. First Force Reconnaissance Company was

 

activated on the West Coast last year, and is due to be

 

manned at full table of organization (T/O) strength

 

sometime this spring. In the meantime, elements of First

 

Reconnaissance Battalion are assuming its MEU (SOC) mission

 

 

_____________________

4LtCol Dennis R. Blankenship, USMC, Special Assistant to

the Commandant, interview conducted with the author at

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 16 December 1987.

 

 

in the Pacific Ocean. This will give the National Command

 

Authority (NCA) certain additional capabilities in both the

 

Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. While this has been

 

determined to be a good start, it leaves both the Caribbean

 

Sea and the Indian Ocean areas without coverage, The Navy

 

lacks sufficient shipping to routinely transport two

 

additional MEUs (SOC) to these areas. So how will the

 

coverage be effected?

 

There is a plan. The next step in enhancing our SOF

 

capabilities is the maritime special purpose force (MSPF).

 

This term applies both to the enhancement of our MEUs (SOC)

 

already operating, and to specially tailored contingency

 

forces which could cover the Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean

 

areas. Liaison has been made with the Navy with regard to

 

the contingency force, and they have assured the Marine

 

Corps that they have the capability to support such a

 

force.5 The MSPF will be discussed further in a later

 

chapter.

 

To date, our MEU (SOC) capability has remained

 

uniquely Marine. That is, it has not become a national

 

asset for use by the Special Operations Command, as many

 

other special operations forces are. It remains a Marine

 

Corps asset, to be used through the normal operational

 

chain of command, by the commanders-in-chief of the various

 

theaters. A MEU is not even declared MEU (SOC) until it

 

passes a stringent special operations capable exercise, or

___________

5Ibid.

 

 

SOCEX, in the third and final phase of its training.

 

This is an important distinction from other special

 

operations capable units within the Department of Defense.

 

Other units are specialists, who spend all their time

 

preparing for intricately planned operations requiring

 

highly specialized skills and talents. MEU (SOC) has made

 

the distinction, however, that its special operations

 

capabilities are integral to its mission and role in

 

maritime strategy, and that its MEU (SOC) units are only

 

effective if they can react as an integral MAGTF team. To

 

pull out some portion of the MAGTF and turn its operational

 

control over to the Special Operations Command would be to

 

take from the operational commander some vital function

 

that he needs to perform all his missions. Thus far, the

 

Marine Corps has been successful in fostering this point of

 

view, and it appears that it will continue to keep its MEU

 

(SOC) amphibious units as an integral part of its

 

operational chain of command.

 

This has an important impact on the Marine Corps'

 

reconnaissance organizations. There is good news, and

 

there is bad news. The good news is that the

 

reconnaissance organizations remain with the MAGTF to

 

conduct reconnaissance missions in its behalf. Remember,

 

if they were pulled away to the Special Operations Command

 

control, the Marine Corps would lose this capability. The

 

bad news is that they have to improve on some rarely used

 

skills, and develop some new ones, to meet the requirements

 

of the MEU (SOC) missions. These are required in addition

 

to their routine reconnaissance skills, which they must

 

also maintain at a high proficiency level. What is the

 

impact, and how is the Marine Corps handling it? These

 

issues will be discussed in a later chapter. First, the

 

impact of the evolving MEU (SOC) role on national strategy

 

must be reviewed, as well as the Marine Corps' plan for

 

operations.

 

6The Marine Corps' former doctrine on special

 

operations is published in FMFM 8-1. Special Operations.

 

Founded on an old definition of special operations, the

 

Marine Corps historically interpretted such operations to

 

be environmentally oriented. Hence, FMFM 8-1 is full of

 

doctrinal information on how to operate in a jungle

 

environment or an arctic environment. It also includes

 

some information on variations of amphibious operations,

 

like noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO), or

 

amphibious raids. But it does not cover the spectrum and

 

embodiment of special operations as they are now perceived

 

and defined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

The new definition, previously quoted in Chapter 1,

 

includes some specific changes in thought. First, the new

 

definition identifies "specially trained, equipped, and

 

organized DoD forces, emphasizing the requirement for

 

______________________

6The information provided in the rest of this chapter is

derived from the Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S.

Marine Corps, "Operational Concept for Marine Amphibious

Units being Special Operations Capable", unpublished draft

at the date of this writing.

 

 

interoperability between services. It also changes the

 

emphasis on employment of special operations missions.

 

Instead of being secondary or supporting operations to a

 

conventional operation, it is recognized that they can now

 

be conducted independently in support of national

 

strategy. And although they can be prosecuted in any level

 

of conflict, they are now oriented toward the lower

 

spectrum of conflict intensity. Finally, special

 

operations may now be used against strategic targets to

 

meet national objectives.

 

The Marine Corps has evaluated these new guidelines,

 

and determined that it needs to be prepared to accomplish

 

the following special operations missions:7

 

-A clandestine raid into an objective area in all

 

types of weather and terrain, particularly during periods

 

of poor visibility or at night over difficult routes under

 

EMCON.

 

-Strike operations such as interdiction of key areas,

 

and acts of sabotage.

 

-Pre-emptive seizure operations in support of a MAGTF

 

operation (e.g., seizing and securing an airfield,

 

communications centers, command and control facilities, and

 

key bridges, etc.).

 

-Selected operations in support of conventional

 

_________________________

7The following missions are copied verbatim from the

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps,

"Operational Concept for Marine Amphibious Units being

Special Operations Capable", unpublished draft at the date

of this writing.

 

 

counterinsurgency/counter-guerrilla operations to interdict

 

elusive guerrilla forces or to neutralize their

 

sanctuaries.

 

-Diversionary action to disrupt enemy activities.

 

-Operations in support of or to complement national

 

special operations forces (SOF).

 

And, as stated earlier, the Marine Corps determined

 

that these special capabilities are complementary to its

 

current maritime role in support of national strategy

 

without the addition of "special" or "unique" units to its

 

organization. In fact, they fit rather neatly into

 

current missions if some specialized training is included

 

for the deploying units.

 

The MEU (SOC) missions were broken down into two

 

categories: direct action missions and intelligence

 

gathering missions. The direct action missions which MEUs

 

(SOC) can perform according to the evolving doctrine are as

 

follows:

 

-Offensive operations. These can include, but are not

 

limited to, amphibious raids, special assault tasks (such

 

as demolition of beach obstacles or securing some key

 

terrain), and harrassing operations.

 

-Strike operations to provide rapid penetration

 

against selected "deep" targets to inflict casualties,

 

destroy an objective, or interdict the enemy.

 

-Recovery operations. These include freeing prisoners

 

of war, rescuing hostages in an in-extremis situation, and

 

recovering or extracting personnel or sensitive items from

 

enemy controlled areas.

 

-Special warfare tasks. Generally speaking, this

 

means providing support and assistance to other services or

 

to allies. One example would be to provide military

 

training teams to allies for limited periods of time.

 

The intelligence gathering missions fall into two

 

categories:

 

-Surveillance over a period of time. This is used to

 

determine patterns in enemy movement, and to develop long

 

term information collection.

 

-Reconnaissance to obtain specific information. This

 

differs from surveillance in that the time element is

 

usually severely reduced and the patrols are likely to be

 

more mobile. The information collected in this mode is

 

usually specific in nature.

 

In summary, figure 3-1 graphically displays the

 

special operations capabilities that the MEU (SOC) is

 

designed to handle, as well as those that are currently

 

beyond its scope. It also identifies generally which units

 

will accomplish these tasks. .. .And don't discount the

 

capabilities beyond the MEU (SOC) scope, because some of

 

them will be revisited later in this paper.

 

Click here to view image

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

NEW MEU (SOC) DOCTRINE

 

 

 

The development of MEU (SOC) doctrine is a dynamic

 

process that is still underway, and will continue for

 

several years to come. What began as an experiment with

 

the 26th MAU in the summer of 1985 is now spreading to both

 

coasts, and will eventually be available for any worldwide

 

contingency which requires our unique maritime skills.

 

How is the Marine Corps developing this doctrine? It

 

is not operating in a vaccuum. The Commandant has

 

assembled a bevy of experts both from within and outside

 

the Corps. Members of various Army special forces units

 

have shared their doctrine, and so has the Federal Bureau

 

of Investigation (FBI). In fact, the FBI has provided the

 

Marine Corps with certain "consultant" services, where

 

their agents assist with various types of training such as

 

operating in an urban environment and various types of

 

hostage rescue scenarios. Within the Marine Corps, the

 

major Fleet Marine Force (FMF) commands are now including

 

Special Operations Training Groups (SOTG) within their

 

tables of organization (T/O) to coordinate special

 

operations training and disseminate the newest in

 

information and techniques. Their job is to keep each

 

special operations capable unit within the Marine Corps at

 

a high level of readiness and expertise. They do this

 


by ensuring that training is as realistic and as thorough

 

as possible, and that each new development is provided to

 

those units quickly.

 

Nor is the Marine Corps operating in a vaccuum when it

 

comes to actually working with other services and

 

agencies. Some of the Corps' special operations billets

 

are located at commands like the Special Operations

 

Command, Europe and the Netherlands Counterterrorism Unit.

 

The intent is to bring the Marine Corps back into the

 

mainstream of military special operations. In the past,

 

there has been a tendency to operate in isolation. The

 

Marine Corps was either not aware that other service,

 

agency, and country assets were available, or did not know

 

how to ask for them. And occasionally, the isolation is

 

fostered because Marines are determined that the mission

 

can be accomplished without help from "outsiders," as

 

though it were some admission of weakness to request

 

outside assistance. In this new special operations arena,

 

it is imperative to work better with others, and the key

 

word is now "interoperability." These billets are a key

 

step in starting such dialogues.

 

All these billets will receive guidance from a new

 

directorate under formation at Headquarters, U.S. Marine

 

Corps - the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict

 

(SO/LIC) Directorate. This directorate will plan, develop,

 

and coordinate all aspects of Marine Corps activities in

 

the SO/LIC arena - both within the Corps, and with external

 

services, agencies, and nationalities.1

 

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps2 is also preparing

 

the operational concept for the employment of MEU (SOC),

 

which will describe the mission, concept of operation, and

 

command and control. This concept, once approved, will be

 

used to develop training, organization, doctrine, and

 

material programs. It is the cornerstone upon which the

 

future of MEU (SOC) and its employment rest.

 

Since the MEU (SOC) concept is still in its infancy,

 

the future holds many changes and adjustments in its

 

evolutionary growth. From the first experimental MEU (SOC)

 

to leave Camp Lejeune in 1985, through the future

 

development of the MSPF contingency forces, there will be

 

significant impact in all areas of Marine Corps

 

organization and management. The MEU's (SOC) growth and

 

development will depend largely on the inventiveness and

 

ingenuity of those Headquarters sponsors in charge of the

 

affected areas.

 

For example, the manpower sponsors work within

 

limitations with regard to how many billets they can

 

 

_____________________

1 Information derived from the Special Operations/Low

Intensity Conflict Directorate brief and recommended table

of organization currently under staffing at Headquarters,

U.S. Marine Corps. Copy maintained by author.

2Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps,

"Operational Concept for Marine Amphibious Units being

Special Operations Capable", unpublished draft at the date

of this writing.

 

create. They cannot create more billets than Congress has

 

allowed them to maintain. The compilation of all these

 

billets is known as "structure," and it is a finite

 

resource. These sponsors must find the structure to adjust

 

tables of organization (T/O), create additional billets,

 

and possibly change the whole base from which some of our

 

organizations have traditionally operated. They have to be

 

able to do this in the face of more structure cuts mandated

 

by Congress in the next several years, and without

 

negatively impacting on the health of other important

 

functions within the Marine Corps. After all, growth in

 

the operational units must signal compensatory reductions

 

elsewhere in the Marine Corps' structure. As the reader

 

will see later in this paper, this area alone could have

 

significant impact on the way reconnaissance organizations

 

have traditionally operated in the past.

 

Another example of the impact this concept will have

 

is in the training area. The addition of several new

 

missions to the MEU's repertoire signals the requirement

 

for new training. In fact, the emphasis on the maritime

 

direct action role changes the Corps' whole way of thinking

 

about how it prepares to operate. Instead of spending

 

time training in mechanized operations or combined arms

 

operations, it will now have to prioritize its time to

 

ensure it can conduct its maritime direct action missions -

 

those missions which have always been its area of

 

expertise, but which have suffered during the past decade.

 

The MEU (SOC) units commence training six months prior to

 

deployment, and build to the level of expertise required to

 

be declared MEU (SOC) following their SOCEX. The

 

Commandant has also signaled the desire to see more raid

 

training within each Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and

 

in courses like The Basic School, the Infantry Officers'

 

Course, Amphibious Warfare School, and Command and Staff

 

College.3 The ripple effect of the MEU (SOC) concept

 

will thus create many new requirements that the training

 

sponsors will need to find the dollars and the training

 

time to support. Once again, support for these initiatives

 

will probably mean that the time and money will have to be

 

pulled from some other areas, both resources being finite

 

in nature.

 

And finally, the changes in equipment and logistical

 

support will also be impacted by the new concept. As the

 

doctrine continues to develop, new equipment and logistical

 

needs will continue to be identified, and once again, the

 

logistic sponsors will search for creative ways to fill

 

those needs within our fiscal and shipping space

 

constraints.

 

__________________________

3LtCol Dennis R. Blankenship, USMC, Special Assistant to

the Commandant, interview conducted with the author at

Headquarters, U.S. Marihne Corps on 16 December 1987.

 

What does the operational concept say?4 It breaks

 

MEU (SOC) operations down into two classes: conventional

 

operations and special operations. Conventional operations

 

include the traditional Marine Corps direct action or

 

intelligence gathering missions. They can be conducted

 

during any level of conflict, whether it is low, mid, or

 

high intensity. An example of a conventional operation

 

would be an amphibious assault of a limited duration.

 

Special operations are also direct action or

 

intelligence gathering, but they are prosecuted against

 

tactical or strategic targets in pursuit of national

 

military, political, economic, or psychological

 

objectives. They can be conducted either during wartime or

 

peacetime, either in conjunction with other operations or

 

independently. They will often use specially trained and

 

equipped MAGTF forces, and when the operations are

 

sensitive, they will be authorized by the NCA.

 

In either type of operation, the MAGTF will have two

 

methods of carrying out the mission. The first method is

 

the deliberate operation. This one has been assigned in

 

advance, and allows time for detailed staff planning and

 

rehearsal prior to implementation. This method of

 

operation is more likely to succeed against targets that

 

 

4Remainder of chapter derived from the Department of the

Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, "Operational Concept

for Marine Amphibious Units being Special Operations

Capable", unpublished draft at the date of this writing.

 

are either highly protected or have strong natural defenses

 

surrounding them; or which require a lengthy process to

 

accomplish.

 

The second method is the rapid response operation. In

 

this operation, the goal of the MEU (SOC) doctrine is for

 

the prosecuting MAGTF to carry out the mission within six

 

hours of receipt. The idea is for the MAGTF to carry out

 

the mission before the enemy has a chance to react. It

 

requires a high level of training and proficiency, both at

 

the individual level and at the unit level, and the

 

operational concept calls it the "STRONGEST trait of the

 

entire MEU (SOC) Concept."

 

It is this rapid response operation that also has the

 

greatest effect on the changing doctrine's impact on

 

deploying units. Not only are the MEU (SOC) units training

 

to meet new variations of missions, but they must also be

 

able to accomplish them quickly. There will be no time to

 

rehearse and reacquire forgotten skills. The units and the

 

individuals in them must be ready to carry out any mission

 

at any time. And not only must they be competent in all

 

their skills, but they must be able to work together as a

 

team. There will be no time for coordination of the finer

 

details. It will be incumbent on each member of a mission

 

to know his part and be able to carry it out in consonance

 

with the others, knowing instinctively what they will do,

 

in turn.

 

MEU (SOC) units are designed by doctrine to be

 

employed in a variety of rapidly changing, complex

 

situations. They are to be trained to operate in any

 

environment or weather condition, and actually prefer to

 

carry out special operations in periods of reduced

 

visibility. Training is to be geared toward realistic

 

scenarios, and units should include operating in urban

 

terrain, specializing in entry and clearing techniques, and

 

using quick-fire methods, especially during periods of

 

limited visibility.

 

MEU (SOC) units are designed to be light infantry by

 

nature, in keeping with the Marine Corps' expeditionary

 

role. This limits them with regard to logistical

 

capabilities, indirect fire support, and heavy weapons

 

systems. For these reasons, the battalion landing teams'

 

(BLT) infantry companies are capable of conducting only

 

limited independent strike operations. They are intended

 

primarily for use in conducting amphibious operations, with

 

emphasis on variations of the amphibious raid. For heavier

 

operations, the MEU (SOC) may require, and should be able

 

to request, external support.

 

MEU (SOC) units are also capable of carrying out

 

conventional offensive operations, when required. Close

 

combat for prolonged periods of time against

 

armor/motorized forces is limited by the MEU's limitations

 

in antitank and indirect fire support. However, the

 

conventional offensive capability increases significantly

 

in terrain and/or weather that favors the defender.

 

During normal peacetime deployments, the MEU (SOC)

 

will serve as a U.S. military presence, to display a

 

readiness to immediately commit forces in the national

 

interest, if so directed. Typical activities the MEU (SOC)

 

would undertake include staging operations, rehearsing

 

combat operations, securing base areas for use and

 

deployment of other forces, and any other significant

 

activity that would send a signal of U.S. resolve in that

 

part of the world where it is operating. Although not

 

trained for such missions, the MEU (SOC) could provide

 

limited mobile training team (MTT) support for a finite

 

period of time. Such training would be characterized by

 

distinct training for a short duration, vice long range

 

advisory type training.

 

The new doctrine cautions that MEU (SOC) units are not

 

normally to be used as a rear area protection force.

 

The MEU (SOC) is also capable of conducting strike and

 

recovery operations. In the concept, these operations are

 

described as "characterized by surprise to gain proximity

 

to the target, rapid violent assault to seize the

 

objective, short defensive/security actions to protect the

 

force, and quick extraction before reaction by the threat

 

forces."

 

Finally, MEU (SOC) units may be deployed to

 

participate in combined training exercises, to accomplish

 

some important training, while at the same time conveying

 

our national resolve and capabilities to foreign nations.

 

The newly written concept also discusses command and

 

control issues. It gives responsibility for commanding all

 

USMC special operations capabilities; i.e., the MEU (SOC),

 

to the appropriate FMF commander. All deployed MEU (SOC)

 

units will then fall under the operational control of the

 

Naval fleet under the Navy component of the appropriate

 

unified command. The MEU (SOC) units are intended to be

 

used by the NCA to successfully conclude a contingency

 

operation without having to resort to a higher level of

 

conflict.

 

This is how the responsibilities break down. U.S. or

 

allied commands may request the MEU (SOC) units by going

 

through the normal command channels to the appropriate

 

unified command. That unified command is responsible for

 

the employment of all forces within its theater, including

 

the MEU (SOC) unit. By using the normal contingency chain

 

of command, the MEU (SOC) unit's proper employment can be

 

most reasonably assured.

 

The unified commander, through the Navy component

 

commander, gives the needed support to the MEU (SOC) force

 

in a contingency operation. The Fleet commander is

 

responsible for transporting the MEU (SOC) force to the

 

theater area. It is then up to the MEU (SOC) commander to

 

provide the intelligence, communications, long range

 

insertion and extraction assets, and a staff that can carry

 

out rapid response operations. (See figure 4-1 for a

 

sample chain of command.5)

 

How far does the MEU (SOC) commander's authority and

 

control go? According to the concept, he controls all

 

components of the MEU, to include any assigned special

 

operations forces. Whether the entire MEU (SOC) is

 

committed to an operation, or only an element is required

 

for a smaller operation, the MEU (SOC) commander retains

 

operational control. While the MEU (SOC) commander will

 

normally operate within the chain of command of an

 

amphibious task force (ATF), he must also remain flexible

 

enough to orient his command and control procedures to work

 

with, or in support of, other special operations forces; or

 

under other joint or Naval task forces, if required.

 

Communications requirements are more stringent than in

 

the past. The MEU (SOC) must now always have sufficient

 

communications support to ensure the availability of

 

all-source intelligence. The ATF should normally provide

 

the MEU (SOC) with entry into the Defense Communications

 

System; but the unit should also have its own FMF mobile

 

command circuits. The MEU (SOC) is provided with

 

 

________________

5Line diagram shown in figure 4-1 taken from Class Student

Outline, "Planning Considerations for Noncombatant

Operations," MEU (SOC) Staff Planning Workshop, Landing

Force Training Command, Atlantic LFTCLant), Norfolk, VA.

 

 

specialized and dedicated equipment that is organized

 

within the force and deploys with the MEU (SOC).

 

MEU (SOC) communications assets are to be capable of

 

providing secure links to the unified commander, as well as

 

to the Special Operations Command Element (SOCSE) and Joint

 

Command Support Element (JCSE) nets. These nets provide a

 

direct link with the NCA. And the concept states that

 

secure satellite communications (SATCOM) and radios with

 

AM/FM capability are to be the primary means of

 

communications within the MEU (SOC).

 

Now that some of the doctrinal concepts under

 

development at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps have been

 

discussed, specifically with regard to the employment

 

considerations, it is time to revisit those missions that

 

the MEU (SOC) should be able to accomplish. Figure 4-2

 

provides a concise description of the missions that a MEU

 

(SOC) should be qualified to carry out. MEUs (SOC) that

 

are deployed should be capable of conducting all these

 

operations, either by themselves, or with other special

 

purpose forces, when the needs of the mission so dictate.

 

 

click here to view image

 

IMMEDIATE RESPONSE CAPABILITIES1

 

Amphibious Raids. The ability to conduct an amphibious

raid, on short notice, at night under EMCON conditions via

helicopter and/or surface means from extended ranges in

order to inflict loss or damage upon opposing forces;

create diversions; and to capture or evacuate individuals

and material by swift incursion into an objective followed

by a planned withdrawal.

 

Limited Objective Attacks for a spoiling or delaying

operation.

 

Protection or Evacuation of Noncombatants or Installations

in a non-permissive or permissive environment. The units

involved should be able to provide riot control, a

screening force, a security force, a rescue force, and

evacuation control center, medical support, and

transportation of evacuees.

 

Show-of -Force Operations to demonstrate the capability of

the US military to rapidly support the political resolve of

the United States.

 

Reinforcement Operations, particularly at night by

helicopter and/or surface means to reinforce both

international and national military forces, that are

normally external to the MAU (SOC). This is to include the

capability to conduct a doctrinal relief-in-place or a

passage of lines.

 

Security Operations. The units involved must be able to

conduct a security operation in a hostile or non-hostile

foreign environment in order to protect U.S. property and

non-combatants, develop an integrated local security

perimeter, screen for explosive devices, and provide

personal protection to designated individuals.

 

Mobile Training Teams that are able to provide instruction

to non-U.S. units using approved programs of instruction

concerning weapons, equipment, basic skills, limited

maintenance training and other organic capabilities

including appropriate operational training in concert with

the U.S. Navy regarding the use of amphibious platforms or

other related capabilities.

 

Civic Action Operations, to include limited medical and

dental care, minor construction repair of civilian

facilities, briefings to local government authorities,

Figure 4-2

 

1Copied verbatim from the Department of the Navy;

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, "Operational Concept for

Marine Amphibious Units being Special Operations Capable"

unpublished draft at the date of this writing.

 

support to local charitable and religious organizations,

and prompt adjudication of foreign national legal claims.

 

Military Tactical Deception Operations. The MAU (SOC) must

be able to design and conduct missions which mislead

opposing forces by feints, ruses, demonstrations, or

portrayals which cause the adversary to react or fail to

react in a manner that assists in accomplishment of the

mission.

 

Fire Support Control. The MAU (SOC) must be able to

conduct and coordinate close positive control of all

available fire support assets and provide and coordinate

fire support under MAU/Amphibious Task Force (ATF) control

for other services, including those of allied nations.

 

Counter-intelligence Operations. The MAU (SOC) must have

the ability to work with allied and national networks,

while also providing continuing educational instruction and

training to the MAU.

 

Initial Terminal Guidance (ITG). By providing ITG to

support the various missions conducted by helicopter,

surface, or fixed wing assets, or a combination thereof.

 

Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)/Electronic Warfare (EW)

Operations. The MAU (SOC) must be prepared to tactically

rescue or extract downed aircraft, equipment and personnel

in a hostile environment.

 

Recovery Operations. The MAU (SOC) must be able to enter

an objective area by helicopter or surface means in a

clandestine manner to recover or extract personnel or

equipment while remaining undetected.

 

Specialized Demolition Operations. The MAU (SOC) must be

prepared to employ specialized demolitions, as required, in

support of other special operations. This includes an

explosive entry capability to support close quarters

combat, and dynamic assault tactics/techniques.

 

Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). Conduct

military operations in a built-up area by employing the

appropriate tactics, equipment, and supporting arms.

 

In-extremis Hostage Rescue. The MAU (SOC) must be able in

an in-extremis situation to conduct an emergency hostage

rescue mission from extended ranges, at night, under EMCON

conditions to rescue hostages and expeditiously withdraw

and transport them to amphibious shipping or another safe

haven. The emergency nature of this capability must be

emphasized. The intent is expressly not to assume hostage

rescue missions/tasks that are appropriately assigned to

other special purpose forces.

Figure 4-2 (cont'd)

 

Other Missions which include:

 

-Amphibious operations in support of U.S. and allied

forces in support of various contingency plans.

 

-Operations ashore in support of various contingency

plans.

 

-Contingency requirements in support of a unified

command.

Figure 4-2 (cont'd)

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

MARITIME SPECIAL PURPOSE FORCE (MSPF)

 

 

 

From the first mention of SOF, the Marine Corps has

 

emphatically stated that it does not have, nor does it

 

intend to develop, any unique special operations forces.

 

Instead, it has steadfastly maintained that the Marine

 

Corps mission requires it to perform certain special

 

operations as a part of its general role in national

 

strategy. Amphibious doctrine, in itself, holds certain

 

"special" operations which the Marine Corps has

 

traditionally carried out. The amphibious raid is a

 

classic example.

 

When the Secretary of Defense required the services to

 

review their special operations capabilities and improve

 

them to be effective in the low intensity conflict

 

environment in which the world now finds itself, the Marine

 

Corps started with the traditional MAGTF as the basic

 

foundation.

 

First, planners determined what were realistic special

 

operations missions to assign the Marine Corps as the

 

nation's amphibious force. Then they took a pyramid

 

approach, starting with the basic MAGTF concept, and

 

gradually building on that foundation to a point whereby

 

all "maritime" special operations missions could be

 

covered.

 

Once they had analyzed what missions a MAGTF could

 

perform without any enhancements, they then proceeded to

 

the next step. With a few enhancements, they could perform

 

22 of those missions. (See figure 3-1.) That next

 

enhancement is the MEU (SOC) formula now being implemented

 

throughout the Marine Corps. Now the planners are working

 

on the next step up the pyramid - a more enhanced

 

capability. That capability is called the maritime special

 

purpose force (MSPF), and it is currently in the

 

development stages.

 

This MSPF force is designed around the Corps' unique

 

ability to task organize to perform a variety of missions.

 

It takes that concept, and builds on it for special

 

operations missions. The MSPF is designed to be an

 

enhanced special purpose raid force that can be employed in

 

situations requiring an extra amount of surgical skills

 

beyond the MEU (SOC) level. These additional special

 

operations are clandestine recovery, specialized

 

demolitions, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel

 

(TRAP), and in-extremis hostage rescue.

 

The MSPF operational concept also allows commanders to

 

tailor their force to meet other situational requirements,

 

like:

 

-Reinforcement for, or capture of diplomatic posts or

 

associated activities.

 

-Emergency actions to prevent loss of life.

 

-Reinforcement for, or support of recapture of US

 

flagged vessels (not underway).

 

-Recovery or destruction of sensitive US documents or

 

equipment to prevent exploitation by an adversary.

 

-Support of other special operations forces.

 

-Other special operations missions, as directed.

 

The MSPF, like the entire MEU (SOC), remains under the

 

control of the MEU (SOC) commander. Its nucleus is

 

comprised of a command section, a covering unit, and a

 

strike unit. The commander of the MSPF is an officer from

 

within the MEU (SOC), who makes recommendations to the MEU

 

(SOC) commander regarding the MSPF's task organization for

 

a specific mission, and is responsible for the planning and

 

execution of the mission. The covering unit is composed of

 

one reinforced rifle company that has been trained with

 

emphasis on amphibious raid techniques, small boat

 

infiltration/exfiltration, helicopter assault, and

 

clandestine entry techniques. And the strike unit performs

 

assault, support, security, and reconnaissance functions.

 

The concept tasks the force reconnaissance detachment

 

with carrying out the assault function. Additional

 

capability may be drawn from the division reconnaissance

 

platoon attached to the battalion landing team (BLT). Any

 

further mission specific requirements are then covered by

 

drawing from the other assets within the MEU (SOC), or

 

other embarked special operations forces.

 

The air combat element (ACE) is not forgotten in this

 

force. The ACE maintains a task organized element that

 

provides assault support, close in fire support, and close

 

air support. They are required to do tasks like deliver

 

elements of the MSPF from extended ranges, at low level,

 

and at night. They need to be proficient in night vision

 

flying, various insertion/extraction techniques, and

 

forward area rearming and refueling techniques. Figure 5-1

 

shows what a notional MSPF would look like.

 

The MSPF is intended to have complete interoperability

 

with other special operations forces embarked aboard

 

amphibious shipping and who may be committed with the MSPF,

 

like the Naval Special Warfare Forces (SEALs). That

 

includes other services, as well. The MSPF can operate as

 

the supporting force, or the supported force, in such

 

instances.1

 

The MSPF can operate in two ways. First, it can

 

operate as the nucleus special operations element of a

 

deployed MEU (SOC). In this case, the forces that would be

 

tasked with the more surgical missions form the basic

 

organization from which these missions are planned and

 

executed. To some degree, this type of planning and

 

operation is already occuring within the MEU (SOC). And as

 

the doctrine is developed, it will become more finely tuned

 

and capable.

 

But an MSPF can also be activated stateside as a

 

contingency force to be sent to a crisis area requiring the

 

 

___________________________

1Information in this chapter to this point provided from

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps,

"Operational Concept for Marine Amphibious Units being

Special Operations Capable", unpublished draft at the date

of this writing.

 

Marine Corps' maritime capabilities. The MSPF was touched

 

on in Chapter 3 as an option to cover the two geographic

 

areas to which we do not routinely and continuously

 

deploy. Those areas are the Caribbean Sea and the Indian

 

Ocean, and the contingency MSPF is the solution. Policy

 

makers are now looking at the impact of implementing one of

 

these MSPFs on each coast in the near future. With the

 

requisite Naval shipping and transportation assured by the

 

Navy, the contingency MSPF can expect quick movement to the

 

theater in which it must participate.2

 

___________________________

2LtCol Dennis R. Blankenship, USMC, Special Assistant to

the Commandant, interview conducted with the author at

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 16 December 1987.

 

Click here to view image

 

_____________________

1Information taken from Department of the Navy;

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, "Operational Concept for

Marine Amphibious Units being Special Operations Capable",

unpublished draft at the date of this writing.

 

CHAPTER 6

 

IMPACT

 

 

The traditional roles of both the force reconnaissance

 

company and the reconnaissance battalion have now been

 

examined. The evolution of the new MEU (SOC) role in the

 

Marine Corps, as well as the more surgical MSPF role, has

 

also been discussed. But what do these new roles mean to

 

the reconnaissance field - what is their impact?

 

One aspect of the MEU (SOC) role is readily apparent -

 

the special operations missions, particularly the direct

 

action missions, require extensive skills in some

 

nontraditional areas of reconnaissance. And the

 

implementation of these new special operations direct

 

action missions is changing the face of reconnaissance as

 

it is now known.

 

Not only is reconnaissance responsible for clandestine

 

information gathering missions, but it must also be

 

eminently capable at missions like tactical recovery of

 

aircraft and personnel (TRAP), tactical recovery in an

 

urban environment (TRUE), hostile ship takeovers, and

 

in-extremis hostage rescues. Such missions require skills

 

that are training intensive and that need constant use to

 

prevent atrophy. They are high risk operations that could

 

have a significant impact on national interests and on

 

American public opinion.

 

One thing must be candidly acknowledged: it is the

 

will of the American people that drives many of our

 

government's foreign policies. Just as the aftermath of

 

Vietnam created a decade of benign neglect of the military

 

and a penchant for noninvolvement in international issues

 

that required American show-of-force; so will the failure

 

of many highly publicized hostage recovery missions,

 

particularly with an unfortunate loss of both hostage and

 

rescuer lives, create similar outcries and result in

 

further isolation and lack of involvement by the U.S.

 

government.

 

In the meantime, unemcumbered by such considerations,

 

Soviet and Soviet surrogate support for insurgencies,

 

terrorism, etc. continues to be highly successful. Since

 

World War II, the U.S. and U.S. "surrogate" support for

 

insurgencies totals 8, while Soviet and Soviet surrogate

 

support for insurgencies totals 32.1 See figure 6-1 for

 

a listing.

 

This is not to say that national will rests solely on

 

the shoulders of the MEU (SOC); in fact, special operations

 

missions are carried out by a variety of agencies, from the

 

Central Intelligence Agency to the U.S. Army's Delta

 

Force. However, the aggregate success or failure of the

 

publicized missions of any of these agencies will have an

 

impact on future employment of any specialized forces in

 

_________________________

1John M. Collins, Green Berets, SEALs & Spetznaz: U.S. &

Soviet Special Military Operations. (Washington, D.C.,

Pergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publishers, Inc.,

1987), pp. 44-49.

 

 

the national interest, so it behooves all of them to be as

 

professional and well trained as possible. In this sense,

 

it is important that the training and employment of Marine

 

Corps reconnaissance assets in direct action special

 

operations be accomplished with all the finesse of true

 

professionals.

 

The biggest burden rests on the shoulders of the force

 

reconnaissance company. As the unit with the already

 

enhanced insertion/extraction capabilities and the

 

expertise in deep reconnaissance, it is the closest to the

 

level of accelerated training required to handle the new

 

missions. Its doctrine also acknowledges that it may

 

occasionally be used for special missions which are not

 

reconnaissance oriented. This imposes a heavy

 

responsibility on it. Not only must it be prepared to

 

perform its reconnaissnce role, but is must also be

 

prepared to perform highly technical and delicate

 

operations requiring skill, intelligence, maturity,

 

judgement, and audacity.

 

Nor is the impact isolated to the force reconnaissance

 

company. The MSPF concept written at Headquarters, U.S.

 

Marine Corps acknowledges that the division reconnaissance

 

platoon will act as an additional capability for the force

 

reconnaissance detachment in carrying out the assault

 

portion of the mission. So reconnaissance battalion must

 

spend some time training new skills, as well.

 

Most experts within the Marine Corps agree that there

 

will be an inevitable degradation of the deep

 

reconnaissance skills within the force reconnaissance

 

company while it trains for the special missions. In the

 

interim, some of the deep reconnaissance missions may, of

 

necessity, go to the division reconnaissance platoon to

 

carry out while the force reconnaissance detachment

 

concentrates on its new skills.

 

Until now, the new skills to support special

 

operations have been discussed in general terms, but with

 

no specific examples. Here is what one authority, John M.

 

Collins, has to say about the hostage rescue skills a unit

 

needs:

 

Hostage rescue units that expect the unexpected

 

must maintain a mind-boggling array of special skills

 

on standby, because they cannot predict the nature of

 

any future emergency. Samples include electronic

 

eavesdropping, secure communications, and negotiating

 

techniques, ... along with abilities to break into

 

buildings or board public conveyances of all kinds--

 

cellars, skyscrapers, aircraft, trains, buses, cars,

 

subways, and boats are among them. Procedures to

 

scale walls, rappel, pick locks, handle delicate

 

demolitions, and bypass booby traps are essential.

 

Rescuers also must excel at sharpshooting in crowds

 

and hand-to-hand combat, be proficient at first aid,

 

handle hysterical hostages, jump start and drive

 

strange vehicles,... and work well at night. The

 

list is almost endless.2

 

Force reconnaissance company Marines are undergoing

 

additional training to cover some of these skills In

 

addition to Sniper School, they are participating in Combat

 

in Close Quarters training, which teaches them how to

 

operate in various "tight" environments and to rapidly

 

identify and shoot the enemy - not the hostage. They are

 

also taking courses in offensive/defensive driving, and in

 

technical services, such as picking locks, etc. They are

 

conducting training in an urban environment, facilitated by

 

the FBI, to learn the differences of operating in an inner

 

city environment when performing tactical recovery and

 

in-extremis hostage rescue missions. They are learning

 

special parachute skills from High-Altitude-Low-Opening

 

(HALO) School. And finally, they are undergoing training

 

to learn how to use a variety of new equipment, from fast

 

ropes, to the potentially dangerous Draeger self-contained

 

SCUBA equipment.3

 

This training is not provided solely to the force

 

reconnaissance company. The reconnaissance battalion is

 

also sending Marines to some of this training, schedules

 

permitting, to provide some depth and backup capability.

 

 

__________________

2Ibid, pp. 87.

3Training information derived from several sources:

Major W. G. Duncan, Jr., USMC, interview conducted on 17

December 1987;

Major Gordon R. Jackson, USMC, interview conducted on 3

December 1987; and

Captain Thomas F. Western, USMC, interview conducted on 30

December 1987.

 

In fact, the impact is probably worse on the reconnaissance

 

battalion, because in addition to their primary tasks, they

 

are assuming more of the force reconnaissance company's

 

deep reconnaissance missions as well as preparing for the

 

backup role for special operations missions.

 

The MEU (SOC) mission is here to stay. So is the

 

MSPF. The impact on our reconnaissance organizations is

 

significant. It affects their manpower requirements,

 

training needs, equipment needs - even the foundation of

 

how they are organized. Does the Marine Corps intend to

 

leave them in largely the same form from which they now

 

operate, or are there some changes planned?

 

The Marine Corps is a dynamic organization, always

 

changing. But complex changes occur in increments, and it

 

takes time for all the related parts to develop and be

 

implemented. The MEU (SOC) mission has created some

 

elemental shifts in the way the Marine Corps has looked at

 

its capabilities over the past decade. In the late `70s

 

and early `80s it was interested in the M-198 and the M-1

 

tank as weapon systems of choice, and tactical thinking

 

centered around mechanized/anti-mechanized operations.

 

Priorities were not with light infantry/quick reaction type

 

roles. Now Headquarters is orienting in a new direction,

 

and that takes time and a willingness by the various staff

 

agencies to change.

 

..And some change is definitely needed. For the

 

short term, while MEU (SOC) skills are still under

 

development, the Marine Corps can afford some

 

inconsistencies in its doctrine. It is a very adaptable

 

organization, and can be flexible. But in the long range,

 

these inconsistencies are bound to eventually catch up with

 

the Corps and degrade its ability to accomplish an

 

important mission. They must be addressed.

 

The changes fall into two categories, based on ease of

 

implementation: short and long term.

 

Some of the short term solutions that can be addressed

 

include:

 

-Tighter controls on the quality of Marines entering

 

the reconnaissance field.

 

-Stability and retention of expertise within the

 

reconnaissance organization and field.

 

-Temporary reassignment of some missions to

 

reconnaissance battalion. (This will assist force

 

reconnaissance company, but will compound the problem for

 

reconnaissance battalion.)

 

-Streamlined training pipeline.

 

-Continued equipment enhancements to facilitate

 

accomplishment of missions.

 

The long term solutions, which are more in-depth, lie

 

with a realignment of reconnaissance organizational

 

structure and doctrine to meet new roles and requirements,

 

and a complete reevaluation and revamping of the training

 

requirements and procedures. The structural realignment

 

would be a major undertaking that would impact upon the

 

entire Marine Corps, because it requires extensive

 

realignment of a finite structure base. Such a change

 

would have to be accomplished using the existing number of

 

billets within the reconnaissance organizations, or by

 

using billets "found" or "taken" from another

 

organization's manpower assets. It could also mean a basic

 

change in the way reconnaissance does business, including

 

ownership of the particular reconnaissance asset, in some

 

cases.

 

In April 1987, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps hosted

 

an Amphibious Reconnaissance Conference at Landing Force

 

Training Command, Atlantic (LFTCLANT) to discuss some of

 

these problems and issues.4 Commanding officers and

 

operations officers from active duty reconnaissance

 

organizations attended. So did Inspector-Instructors from

 

Reserve reconnaissance units, and action officers from

 

various reconnaissance schools and support billets. A

 

number of issues were discussed, and a consensus of opinion

 

was sought on them. Among the issues discussed were:

 

-The development of a light armored reconnaissance

 

battalion, incorporating the assets of reconnaissance

 

battalion and light armored vehicle battalion (LAVB).

 

-Creation of a third force reconnaissance company; and

 

a growth from six operational platoons to eight in each

 

company.

 

___________________

4Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

after action report, "Amphibious Reconnaissance Conference;

Report of", CMC ltr POG-13 1655C of 19 June 1987.

 

-Eventual development of a reconnaissance organization

 

containing all the MAGTF's ground reconnaissance assets and

 

intelligence gathering capabilities; i.e., remote piloted

 

vehicle (RPV) company, sensor control and management

 

platoon (SCAMP), and radio battalion.

 

-Evaluation and subsequent adjustment of

 

reconnaissance roles and missions: first, with regard to

 

the light armored reconnaissance battalion; and second,

 

with regard to force reconnaissance company's expanded MEU

 

(SOC) role.

 

-The development of military occupational specialty

 

(MOS) 0321 for privates first class (PFC) through staff

 

sergeants (SSGT). This MOS would be a "feeder" into MOS

 

0369 commencing in the staff noncommissioned officer (SNCO)

 

ranks, giving the reconnaissance MOS some progressive

 

structure for a career pattern.

 

-The selection of some universal evaluation standards

 

for use in screening reconnaissance Marines. There is a

 

wide divergence throughout the Marine Corps on what

 

standards are being used. Conferees agreed to the

 

following standards:

 

.Prior FMF experience

 

.First class physical fitness test (PFT)

 

.First class swimmer

 

.Pass essential subjects test (EST)

 

.Pass land navigation examination

 

.Commanding officer's evaluation

 

-Finally, the conferees discussed the establishment of

 

a reconnaissance officer's billet at the Doctrine Center

 

(now renamed the Warfighting Center) to act as a single

 

point of contact for doctrine formulation and revision.

 

Operations Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

 

took these recommendations for action, and in most cases,

 

agreed to staff proposals through Headquarters for

 

concurrence and implementation. As will be seen in later

 

chapters, all of these recommendations (or variations

 

thereof) are still under active consideration.

 

 

Click here to view image

 

______________________

1Information on this page and the next taken from John M.

 

Collins, Green Berets. SEALs and Spetsnaz: U.S. & Soviet

 

Special Military Operations, (Washington, D.C.,

 

Fergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publishers, Inc.,

 

1987), pp.45 and 48.

 

Click here to view image

 

CHAPTER 7

 

SHORT TERM SOLUTIONS

 

 

 

Any commander of a reconnaissance organization today

 

will state that it is a challenge to ensure his deploying

 

units are ready to go. In a force reconnaissance company,

 

there is usually one platoon where the Marines are still

 

attending schools, one platoon that is finally conducting

 

preliminary training of its reconnaissance teams, one

 

platoon with additional Marines (since a MEU (SOC)

 

detachment is usually slightly larger than a platoon) that

 

is stabilized and in the six month predeployment training

 

cycle, and one detachment (a platoon plus) that is actually

 

deployed. This prevents the commander from having a lot of

 

flexibility to absorb additional missions from his parent

 

command; nor does it leave him with much depth in the event

 

he has a large turnover of personnel and/or some training

 

shortfalls, He is constantly struggling to ensure that the

 

detachment being deployed is trained, seasoned, and ready.

 

One of the greatest causes of turmoil within

 

reconnaissance organizations is the receipt of young

 

Marines to become reconnaissance men, none of whom are yet

 

reconnaissance trained. It takes several schools and

 

months of on-the-job training to become proficient in

 

reconnaissance skills, and the commander has to be creative

 

in determining ways to get them all trained without

 

degrading his other missions and tasks.

 

The greatest difficulty is the retention of seasoned

 

team leaders from the noncommissioned officer (NCO) ranks.

 

With two years on station, these Marines become eligible

 

for special duty assignments like recruiting duty and drill

 

instructor duty, and when their name is identified, they

 

usually receive orders and are gone within several months.

 

These young Marines are difficult to replace, because

 

replacements have to be "built" from the ranks.

 

It takes time and training to season a young

 

reconnaissance Marine, and a young reconnaissance officer,

 

as well. Just because a reconnaissance organization's end

 

strength looks healthy is no indication that its

 

capabilities have matured. Manpower instability further

 

degrades the reconnaissance organization's ability to

 

produce special operations capable reconnaissance Marines.

 

The Commandant has already taken several first steps

 

toward easing the personnel turmoil and training crunch.

 

First, he has mandated that the force reconnaissance

 

company will become an "excepted" command; that is, that

 

the manpower pool will not drive its end strength. It will

 

be manned at 100%. Second, at the General Officers'

 

Symposium, he discussed with his commanders the importance

 

of supporting the reconnaissance organizations' personnel

 

needs, including keeping them at 100% strength, ensuring

 

they are being assigned quality personnel, and weeding out

 

the nonperformers.

 

The parent commanders have the ability to set some

 

beneficial local policies with regard to their

 

reconnaissance organizations By strengthening their

 

support for the screening process, and by prioritizing the

 

other missions they give their reconnaissance

 

organizations, they can have an impact on their health.

 

One of the common reconnaissance complaints has been that

 

they are not utilized properly by the organizations they

 

support. The parent commander has the capability to either

 

make the reconnaissance organization a general support

 

asset, and allow his G-2 Intelligence staff to control its

 

missions and employment; or at the very least, he can set

 

some policies that would preclude misuse of reconnaissance

 

assets and lessen the propensity for overcommitment that

 

seems to always occur.

 

Manpower sponsors at Headquarters, Marine Corps are

 

also looking at the identification/stabilization issue,

 

with an eye toward lessening some of the turmoil. But

 

here, once again, the "elitist versus generalist" argument

 

arises. While there is genuine interest in fixing some of

 

the problems that hamper mission capabilities, many of the

 

sponsors are hesitant to create an "elite" force that is

 

specially identified and trained. A common view would thus

 

be stated: "These guys are just infantry Marines with a

 

few extra skills. Any infantry rifleman can do this

 

mission with the extra training..."

 

The same goes for designation of a separate

 

occupational field for reconnaissance. The fear of

 

creating an "elite" force, along with some inherent

 

problems in establishing fair career patterns for

 

reconnaissance Marines, has created a predisposition not to

 

separate them from the infantry MOS.

 

At any rate, as a result of the Amphibious

 

Reconnaissance Conference recommendations, and after some

 

prodding by reconnaissance and MEU (SOC) experts,

 

Headquarters is looking at better identifiers of

 

reconnaissance skills than the current MOS structure. They

 

are also studying the MOS Manual and are considering

 

publication of tighter requirements for attainment of the

 

reconnaissance MOS.

 

Since the Commandant has a real interest in developing

 

the most professional MEU (SOC) capability consistent with

 

Marine Corps missions and goals, there is the possibility

 

that some priority will be placed on the stability of

 

Marines within the operating forces, especially those with

 

highly developed, perishable skills. To continue to be

 

effective with these skills, Marines need some assurance of

 

continued employment in the reconnaissance field, either in

 

their own organization, or at least within reconnaissance

 

organizations, in general.

 

By spring 1988, the manpower officials will have some

 

courses of action identified, along with their impact

 

(advantages and disadvantages). Some definite decisions

 

will be made concerning the best ways to stabilize the

 

reconnaissance field and keep it healthy.1

 

For the short term, there are no moves afoot to

 

streamline the training pipeline. All training has been

 

locally driven in the past, and will continue in that mode

 

for the near future. Short term fixes have been foregone

 

in favor of a more extensive, all-encompassing long term

 

solution. From time to time, reconnaissance organizations

 

have been able to make trips to the Infantry Training

 

Schools to screen possible candidates for reconnaissance

 

duties, and have been able to identify young candidates

 

with excellent potential for success in the field.

 

However, there is a tradeoff which comes from taking

 

Marines so inexperienced, in that they have not served any

 

time learning basic rifleman skills outside of their

 

schooling, and so they join the reconnaissance outfit

 

behind from the start. It takes longer to develop these

 

young Marines.

 

With Department of Defense emphasis on the development

 

of special operations skills has come funding to modernize

 

the affected organizations. Within the Marine Corps, there

 

has already been a spate of new, state-of-the-art equipment

 

included in the MEU (SOC) Table of Equipment (T/E), and

 

__________________

1BGen William M. Keys, USMC, Director, Personnel

Management Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps,

interview held with the author on 21 December 1987.

 

 

there is continued development of still more.

 

Communications were a significant problem, with the

 

requirement to have an all-source intelligence capability,

 

and the need for interoperability among the various

 

deployed elements. For example, force reconnaissance

 

detachment radios were not compatible with the CH-46s that

 

inserted/extracted them. Limited satellite communications

 

equipment was purchased for those helicopters working with

 

the reconnaissance teams, and the reconnaissance teams

 

changed to radios that were compatible with the

 

helicopters.2 Moreover, during the past several years,

 

the Navy has spent 38 million dollars upgrading their

 

intelligence/communications systems.3

 

Other items to facilitate mission accomplishment, such

 

as fast ropes, HNK MP5 SD German made 9mm "suppressed"

 

submachine guns, and Draeger self-contained SCUBA equipment

 

have been obtained. Also, the Marine Corps is now looking

 

at a new small unit navigation system that can tell a

 

Marine where he is, within 6 meters.4

 

Continued development and use of such equipment

 

benefits mission accomplishment, but it also has a price in

 

____________________

2Major W. G. Duncan, Jr., USMC, former Operations Officer

for 22d MAU Composite Squadron, interview conducted with the

author at Command and Staff College on 17 December 1987.

3LtCol Dennis R. Blankenship, USMC, Special Assistant to

the Commandant, interview conducted with the author at

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 16 December 1987.

4Western, T. F., Capt, USMC, Reconnaissance Officer,

Marine Corps Research, Development, and Acquisition Command

(MCRDAC), interview conducted with the author at the

Development Center on 30 December 1987.

 

terms of the increased need for Marines to be trained in

 

its use. And training time is one of the big problems in

 

the readiness equation.

 

These are the short term "tweaks" that are being

 

applied to the reconnaissance organization problems. They

 

are creating relief, but they will not create permanent

 

solutions. The solutions required are more long range and

 

complex in nature. But even the hard, long range solutions

 

are being worked, as the next chapter will delineate.

 

 

CHAPTER 8

 

LONG TERM SOLUTIONS

 

 

 

The possible changes discussed in this chapter are

 

called long term because they are the "big ticket items."

 

They could cost the Marine Corps significantly in terms of

 

manpower structure, training time, making a permanent

 

change to the way reconnaissance operates, and the cost

 

that some other facet of the Marine Corps may pay in

 

sacrifice to support these changes.

 

Marine Corps specialists in the area of amphibious and

 

special operations are looking at the reconnaissance

 

function to determine how it can best be employed to

 

accomplish the goals that have been set for it. Other

 

staff officers are looking at ways to identify structure

 

(manpower spaces that could be converted to reconnaissance

 

billets) to support any possible changes. Some structure

 

has been identified, and its identification appears

 

consistent with a rational plan.

 

Before discussing this plan, it is necessary to become

 

familiar with the spectrum of conflict chart shown at

 

Figure 8-1. Note that while the greatest potential damage

 

can be done at the higher levels of conflict, it is the

 

lower levels of conflict that are most likely to occur.

 

Until the early to mid 1980s, the United States has spent a

 

large preponderance of its military resources preparing for

 

and/or deterring mid and high intensity conflicts. With

 

the Secretary of Defense's memorandum in 1983, the military

 

began reviewing its capabilities to deal with low intensity

 

conflict and found itself sadly deficient.

 

As a part of the defense establishment for our

 

country, the Marine Corps spent the `70s looking at mid to

 

high intensity conflicts. It spent a lot of time working

 

on mechanized/anti-mechanized battles and heavier fighting

 

equipment. With the birth of MEU (SOC), its priorities are

 

beginning to change.

 

Now the Marine Corps finds itself in need of some

 

structural and manpower changes to put its priorities back

 

where the amphibious rubber meets the road. The Commandant

 

has made the Fleet Marine Forces (FMF) a staffing priority

 

to ensure their health. He has directed that rifle

 

companies, reconnaissance organizations, radio battalions,

 

communications battalions, and air and naval gunfire

 

companies (ANGLICO) be manned at 100% of their tables of

 

organization (T/O).

 

If the Marine Corps reviews the most likely conflicts

 

in which it will find itself in the next decade, they will

 

probably be low intensity. Yet, it has acquired a healthy

 

capability to deal in mid intensity conflicts with its

 

M-198s and emphasis on mechanized operations.

 

Planners are looking at those units that have

 

developed a largely mid intensity conflict capability with

 

an eye toward taking those manpower spaces for the more

 

immediate low intensity needs1. For example, they are

 

looking at reverting the 4th artillery battalion in each

 

division to the Reserves. That battalion is a general

 

support battalion, whose function would be put to best use

 

in a conflict in which a larger MAGTF is committed. It has

 

little applicability in the low intensity conflict arena

 

If it were placed in the Reserves, the capability would

 

still be available during a conflict that would be serious

 

enough to call up the Reserves - exactly the type of

 

conflict for which it is best suited. In the meantime,

 

those billets could be reallocated to ensure enough

 

manpower is "purchased" in the budget each year to cover

 

the additional billets to be filled in the infantry,

 

reconnaissance, communications, etc., outfits, with some

 

billets left over.

 

The large majority of those billets will be used to

 

fill out the table of organization of the light armored

 

vehicle battalion (LAVB). A concept has been approved that

 

will make the LAVB a "scout infantry" outfit, with light

 

infantry Marines assigned to the LAVs. They will handle

 

the "mobile/mechanized reconnaissance" role within the

 

ground combat element, freeing reconnaissance assets from

 

___________________

1The following plans were conveyed to the author by Major

Gordon R. Jackson, USMC, Ground Combat Requirements Branch,

Operations Division, HQMC, interview held at HQMC on 3

December 1987.

 

 

having to accomplish this mission.

 

The extra few billets are being looked at to augment

 

the structure of the force reconnaissance company.

 

Planners are looking at increasing the officer strength of

 

the company by 5 officers, and the enlisted strength by

 

about 30 to 36 Marines. There are two plans. The first is

 

to create 6 headquarters elements for the detachments with

 

these additional Marines. The second plan, espoused by the

 

West Coast reconnaissance community, is to turn the

 

reconnaissance teams into 6 man teams vice 4 man teams.

 

There aren't enough manpower resources to accomplish both

 

plans, so only one could be chosen for implementation. In

 

either case, it is hoped that the additional manpower will

 

help alleviate some of the pressure the company is now

 

feeling in keeping abreast of all its missions.

 

But there are even bigger plans afoot; more

 

all-encompassing plans that address some of the larger

 

issues facing our reconnaissance organizations today.

 

Reconnaissance has traditionally been a function of the

 

cavalry's role in an army. Some experts feel that this

 

cavalry role should also be cultivated within the Marine

 

Corps; that without a well rounded cavalry capability, the

 

Marine Corps has a deficiency in the way it operates. A

 

healthy cavalry role is characterized by not only a

 

reconnaissance capability, but also economy of force and

 

screening. Cavalry is designed to be highly mobile,

 

allowing it to seek out the enemy,2

 

One of the shortcomings of our reconnaissance

 

organizations is their lack of mobility. Although they can

 

move well strategically, they are reduced mainly to foot

 

movement at the tactical level, once they have been

 

inserted. This is particularly true of the reconnaissance

 

battalion with its mission in support of the ground combat

 

element (GCE).

 

In addition to reviewing reconnaissance organizational

 

structure to determine the best configuration to handle

 

both reconnaissance and special operations functions, the

 

experts are also looking at the issue of our deficient

 

cavalry capability and lack of mobility. The

 

configurations they are discussing address all these

 

issues.

 

Taking a different approach to such a study, on 5

 

January 1988, the Commandant convened a "think tank" at

 

Marine CorpsCombat Development Center (MCCDC) to discuss

 

reconnaissance and other fleet structure issues, and create

 

a new Fleet Marine Force (FMF) structure to more closely

 

match the Marine Corps' missions. This Force Structure

 

Study Group was composed of 29 officers from throughout the

 

Marine Corps. Their ranks ranged from captain to colonel,

 

and they represented all facets of the Fleet Marine Force

 

____________________

2Col Patrick G. Collins, USMC, Special Assistant to the

Commandant, interview conducted with the author at the

Education Center on 2 November 1987.

 

(FMF), including air, ground, combat service support, and

 

Marine Corps Base personnel.

 

When the Commandant convened this group, he gave them

 

some guidelines.3 He wanted an active force with

 

greater capabilities while reducing the number of Marines.

 

The active force should focus on constant readiness for low

 

to mid intensity conflict capabilities, and should not

 

exceed 134,000 Marines. All elements of the active force

 

should be capable of deploying anyhere worldwide within 90

 

days. It should not depend on the mobilization of the

 

Reserves to be effective.

 

The group was to also review the Reserve forces, and

 

tailor their structure to around 43,600. This would bring

 

the total Marine Corps structure to around 177,000 - a very

 

cost effective end strength. The total force should then

 

be capable of general war against fully modern enemies.

 

The group was to cut the air and combat service

 

support elements by 2 percent each, and increase the ground

 

element by about 4 percent. They could do away with mirror

 

imaging between major commands. But the Commandant

 

specifically wanted surveillance, reconnaissance, and

 

intelligence capabilities maximized. ...And they had about

 

45 days to do all this so the results could be included in

 

the fiscal year `90 POM process.

 

___________

3Information concerning the Force Structure Study Group

guidelines provided by G. I. Wilson, Major, USMC, Special

Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Unit, Warfighting Center,

MCCDC, and member of the Study Group.

 

The group concluded its work in late February,

 

providing the Commandant with options to meet his

 

requirements. Although the results of the study are still

 

under review and have not yet been widely published, the

 

Commandant has made a decision to pursue the

 

recommendations concerning the reconnaissance

 

structure.4 Some of those recommendations include the

 

following:

 

First, the fourth company within the division

 

reconnaissance battalion is to be reactivated. This will

 

give the division a stronger, more flexible reconnaissance

 

capability, with plenty of depth in expertise,

 

Second, a surveillance, reconnaissance, and

 

intelligence group is to be formed within each of the three

 

Marine Expeditionary Forces, to work for the force

 

commander. This group will contain a headquarters and

 

service company which will include structure for a special

 

operations training group (SOTG), radio battalion with

 

enhanced structure to include two radio reconnaissance

 

platoons and an aerial reconnaissance platoon,

 

communications battalion, force reconnaissance company

 

expanded to include direct action platoons, remote piloted

 

vehicle (RPV) company, air and naval gunfire company

 

(ANGLICO) with enhanced structure, and an intelligence

 

_________________

4Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

Chief of Staff Memorandum 5000 SPD/PAT of 9 March 1988.

 

 

company. The intelligence company will bring under one

 

colander a force imagery interpretation unit, topographic

 

platoon, a counterintelligence team, an

 

interrogator-translator team, a sensor control and

 

management platoon (SCAMP), a tactical deception platoon,

 

and the personnel and equipment of the intelligence

 

analysis center. "5

 

These units will be coordinated to provide a combined,

 

well integrated intelligence gathering capability for the

 

force. They will be utilized through the use of

 

taskorganized detachments provided to deploying Marine

 

Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs).

 

Several structural options for the force

 

reconnaissance company were provided to the Commandant.

 

The configuration that has been subsequently briefed and

 

that is most likely to be implemented in some form is shown

 

in figure 8-2. It shows a total of 11 platoons, broken

 

down into 6 traditional long range reconnaissance platoons

 

that will carry out the traditional reconnaissance

 

missions, and 5 direct action platoons that will be

 

specially configured and trained to carry out special

 

operations missions in support of the MEU (SOC) concept.

 

In the final configuration, these numbers may vary.

 

But whatever the breakdown ultimately decided, it is

 

___________________

5Quote comes from Creation of a Surveillance/Reconnais-

sance/Intelligence Group, a working paper prepared during

the conference.

 

 

important to note that the overlap in missions at the force

 

reconnaissance company level is solved by the creation of

 

these new platoons. Now the reconnaissance platoons can

 

maintain their long range reconnaissance skills, and the

 

direct action platoons can focus on those special skills

 

required to carry out direct action missions. Highly

 

perishable skills on both sides can get the time and

 

attention they deserve to be viable.

 

As with the structure issues, the Commandant has a

 

small pocket of duty experts working on a reconnaissance

 

training program.6 The approach here is to completely

 

restructure the training, using a building block approach.

 

The training for the reconnaissance Marine is closely tied

 

to the new Basic Warrior Training. The potential

 

reconnaissance Marine, like all Marines, will begin with a

 

12 week recruit training course which will dwell primarily

 

on individual Marine Corps skills and knowledge. Recruit

 

training will be followed by a 4 week School of Infantry,

 

which will emphasize more collective skills, such as basic

 

fire team tactics, where the Marine learns to operate as an

 

integrated member of a unit. From the School of Infantry,

 

the Marines assigned combat service support military

 

occupational specialties (MOS) will go to their MOS

 

________________

6Training information provided by Col Patrick G. Collins,

USMC, Special Assistant to the Commandant, interview

conducted with the author at Command and Staff College on 19

February 1988.

 

 

schools. The combat and combat support Marines then go

 

through several more weeks learning MOS 0311 skills in more

 

depth. Finally, the combat support Marines are sent to

 

their respective MOS schools, and the infantry Marines

 

reach the final basic building block, a short course

 

designed to polish the 0311 skills and teach crew served

 

weapons skills. After this course, they will be assigned

 

to their fleet infantry unit.

 

Note that none of these Marines are assigned to

 

reconnaissance organizations. There is a strong conviction

 

that to be good at reconnaissance, a Marine must first be

 

skilled and seasoned in basic infantry skills. There is

 

also a quality that has thus far eluded identification and

 

measurement. Because of the reconnaissance Marine's

 

mission to conduct deep, long range reconnaissance, often

 

behind enemy lines, but always in isolation from friendly

 

forces, it takes a strong degree of maturity and a special

 

independence of character to withstand the unique stress

 

that isolation and "present danger" create. The additional

 

requirements of the MEU (SOC) direct action type missions

 

especially require this quality, And the Commandant's

 

planners are trying to find a way to screen for this

 

quality in the reconnaissance training process.

 

While they are brainstorming ways to identify and

 

measure such special qualities, the planners are moving

 

forward with the next step in evaluating the more basic

 

reconnaissance skills. Armed with a completed task

 

analysis, they are now starting from the beginning in

 

analyzing exactly what a reconnaissance Marine should be

 

able to do, and what is the best way to train him. When

 

they have completed this analysis, they will begin to build

 

an all new training program tailored to meet those needs.

 

In their search for more streamlined, tailored

 

training, these planners intend to coordinate with the Navy

 

Special Warfare Training Center to explore interfaces in

 

their training requirements. They plan to also review what

 

training is to be shared from Army resources. Then they

 

will build a program that the reconnaissance Marine will go

 

through before he becomes qualified in MOS 0321,

 

reconnaissance man. This training will result in his

 

qualification in MOS 0321 as a primary MOS, vice its

 

current secondary MOS status. The primary status will

 

require some changes in the enlisted infantry occupational

 

field structure, but they, too, have been mapped out for

 

consideration.

 

The planners anticipate that the major portion of this

 

work can be completed within the next 6 months. By that

 

time, they will have a definite idea where they intend to

 

take the reconnaissance training. Implementation times

 

will then be dependent upon how long the intra-Marine Corps

 

and interservice coordinations will take.

 

One thing is certain: the approach to solving the

 

training problems is an all-encompassing one, starting from

 

the ground up. It will not be a piecemeal efforts The end

 

result will be that the potential reconnaissance Marine

 

will undergo comprehensive screening and training prior to

 

his utilization within the reconnaissance organization.

 

The reconnaissance commander will be able to delete the

 

scheduling problems created by the current decentralized

 

training methods from his list of challenges, and can deal

 

more completely with the missions he must accomplish.

 

Click here to view image

 

CHAPTER 9

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

 

 

The MEU (SOC) mission is a solid, integral part of

 

contemporary Marine Corps operations. Although still in

 

its infancy, with special attention and nurturing, it is

 

maturing in relatively good health.

 

In researching this paper, the author expected to find

 

disparities between-the theoretical concept of MEU (SOC)

 

and its practical application in real life; particularly

 

with regard to its impact on reconnaissance. As the

 

previous chapters attest, there are numerous "mismatches"

 

between what is expected of reconnaissance organizations,

 

and for what they can realistically train and prepare to

 

carry out. The additional direct action missions carry a

 

heavy burden in specialized skills and equipment that can

 

only impact adversely on the maintenance of their

 

traditional reconnaissance and surveillance skills. This

 

conclusion was no surprise.

 

What is surprising, is that not only does an intimate

 

knowledge of those disparities exist within the command

 

structure; but that there are definite ideas - and plans -

 

to correct many of them at the higher levels within

 

Headquarters. Specifically, those individuals who are

 

developing the final changes in the MEU (SOC) doctrine are

 

in positions of influence that will help them overcome the

 

bureaucracy that normally resists change in any form.

 

Under General Grays these planners have been given

 

full rein to move as quickly as possible to complete the

 

planning and implementation process to bring the MEU (SOC)

 

mission to its full fruition. These planners are often

 

working independently of the staffs that would normally

 

handle various aspects of these changes. Although the

 

routine use of this tactic would eventually cause chaos

 

within a large organization, in this case it is cutting

 

through a lot of red tape.

 

As a result, all the issues identified in previous

 

chapters are under discussion, and moving toward

 

solutions. The issue of personnel turbulence within the

 

reconnaissance organizations has been addressed to all

 

commanding generals at the General Officers' Symposium. It

 

was also a topic in General Gray's first report to

 

Congress, where he emphasized the need to "create cohesive,

 

stable units by eliminating-personnel turbulence." And his

 

Manpower Division has been tasked to provide a plan of

 

action to lessen the turbulence, with a milestone schedule

 

for completion.1

 

The problems created by the locally driven training

 

programs, where young Marines often report to

 

reconnaissance organizations with no prior experience, are

 

__________________

1Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

Chief of Staff Memorandum 5000 SPD/PAT of 9 March 1988.

 

 

moving toward resolution. The inception of the basic

 

warrior training, and the planned follow-on training

 

tailored for reconnaissance Marines, will develop a young

 

Marine who has been screened, trained in reconnaissance

 

skills, and is ready to perform his mission when he joins

 

the organization.

 

And the biggest problem - the mismatch between the

 

size and capabilities of the reconnaissance organizations

 

and the numbers of specialized missions they are required

 

to perform - that, too, is now being resolved. The Force

 

Structure Study Group developed a reconnaissance structure

 

that can capably handle all the missions it is tasked to

 

perform. The direct action platoons developed within the

 

surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence groups'

 

force reconnaissance companies will handle those special

 

missions created as part of the MEU (SOC) concept.

 

Meanwhile, the long range reconnaissance mission remains in

 

tact with the traditional force reconnaissance platoons

 

once again available to undertake it. And the division's

 

reconnaissance capability is increased by the reactivation

 

of the fourth reconnaissance company.

 

Through the interviews held to obtain information for

 

this paper, the author learned that there are as many

 

opinions concerning what constitutes the health of the MEU

 

(SOC) mission and reconnaissance organizations as there are

 

staffers working the issues. Not everyone shares the

 

Commandant's perceptions, views, and sense of urgency

 

concerning the MEU (SOC) mission.

 

For example, there is still considerable discussion

 

about the "elitism issue." Many staffers hesitate to

 

manipulate the structure, training process, or assignment

 

policies. Some are in fear of creating an "elite force"

 

within the Marine Corps. Others don't believe that there

 

is anything innately special or different in the direct

 

action missions that a well trained infantry rifleman

 

couldn't perform.

 

From the beginning of the planning process for the MEU

 

(SOC) doctrine, planners have been careful to choose only

 

those special operations missions that fit into the Marine

 

Corps role in supporting national security. The whole

 

development of the MEU (SOC) concept has been based on

 

increasing levels of expertise within the Fleet Marine

 

Force structure - a building block approach.

 

The Commandant is adamant in his belief that the

 

Marine Corps is responsible for carrying out national

 

security policies within the amphibious environment,

 

especially where they relate to any island nations.2 If

 

the Corps is to carry out special operations missions like

 

the in-extremis hostage rescue in such locales, it must be

 

well trained, tested, and able to carry them out at a

 

_______________

2Source who provided this information identified in

author's personal notes.

 

 

moment's notice. Mistakes would mean failure by the Marine

 

Corps to carry out advertised capabilities, And as

 

discussed earlier, many of these capabilities and skills

 

are highly perishable.

 

Motor transport mechanics go to school to learn

 

mechanic skills. Marines in aviation supply administration

 

attend schools to learn these special skills. However,

 

there is no connotation of "elitism" simply because they

 

have skills that the infantry rifleman lacks. It seems

 

only logical that the Marine Corps should also cultivate

 

those special skills the reconnaissance Marines need to

 

successfully complete the MEU (SOC) missions. That is not

 

encouraging elitism; it is training an identified group of

 

Marines to accomplish a specific mission, and it makes

 

sense.

 

It is only with well trained, qualified Marines that

 

the Marine Corps can creditably carry out MEU (SOC)

 

capabilities. To accept - intentionally develop - a

 

structure and training program that offers inferior skills

 

is to also ensure inferior results.

 

Nonetheless, the elitism issue continues to impact on

 

the speed and completeness with which the reconnaissance

 

issues are being dealt. And so, in this case, it is

 

probably just as well that the Commandant has some special

 

staff officers assigned to continue the implementation of

 

the MEU (SOC) program within the Marine Corps. He has been

 

very vocal in remonstrating the Headquarters for its

 

bureaucratic red tape, and he will certainly continue to

 

press to keep this new mission from bogging down.

 

The next three years promise to be full of change and

 

growth; not only for the reconnaissance organizations, but

 

for the Marine Corps as a whole. The creative thinkers

 

within the ranks now have an opportunity to impact on the

 

relative health of the Corps as they never have before. It

 

is in this environment that MEU (SOC) will grow to

 

fruition, as will the more specialized maritime special

 

purpose force (MSPF). And it is in this environment that

 

reconnaissance organizations will finally reemerge as

 

professionally trained forces with mature skills whose

 

employment is vital to the prosecution of the Marine Corps'

 

missions.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Primary Sources

 

Interviews

 

Aldrich, Robert, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Inter-

view conducted with the author at Headquarters, U.S.

Marine Corps on 9 December 1987.

Provided information concerning assistance generally

provided by the FBI as training "consultants,"

especially in the area of urban reconnaissance and

operations. The FBI has access to urban training

facilities which the Marine Corps would otherwise

have to do without.

 

Blankenship, Dennis R., LtCol, USMC, Special Assistant

to the Commandant. Interview conducted with the

author at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 16

December 1987.

Provided a wealth of information regarding the

background and development of MEU (SOC), its

current status, and future plans. Discussed

philosophy behind pursuit of greater special

operations capabilities within the Marine Corps,

and where that philosophy is leading us.

 

Collins, Patrick G., Col, USMC, Special Assistant to the

Commandant. Interviews conducted with the author at

Command and Staff College, Marine Corps Combat

Development Command on 2 November 1987, and 19 and 22

February 1988.

Gave specific background information on the philosophy

behind the development of MEU (SOC), along with infor-

mation and ideas concerning what the future holds for

reconnaissance in the MEU (SOC)/MSPF environment.

Special emphasis was placed on the future training

requirements under development for reconnaissance

Marines

 

Duncan, Jr., W. G., Major, USMC, former Squadron Operations

Officer, 22d MEU (SOC). Interview conducted with the

author at Command and Staff College, Marine Corps

Combat Development Command, on 17 December 1987.

Gave insight into into operational training aspects

of standing up a MEU (SOC). Discussed comparisons

of theory versus practice. Major Duncan helped

develop tactics for carrying out the new MEU (SOC)

missions.

 

Jackson, Gordon R., Major, USMC, Ground Combat Requirements

Branch, Operations Division, Headquarters, U.S.

Marine Corps. Interview conducted with the author

at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 3 December 1987.

Discussed impact of MEU (SOC) on reconnaissance,

especially force reconnaissance company, with regard

to training and operations. Explained plans for

adjusting force structure within the Marine Corps to

accomodate the needs of reconnaissance. Discussed

new equipment, and possibly, new structure.

 

Keys, William M., BGEN, USMC, Director, Personnel

Management Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine

Corps. Interview conducted with the author at

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps on 21 December

1987.

BGen Keys acknowledged that there were some

changes under discussion with regard to

reconnaissance; but was reluctant to discuss them

before research and review were completed and a

course of action decided. He indicated that

Congressionally mandated strength cuts may have

further adverse impact on any plans/proposals, and

that by Spring, all these factors should be molded

into a course of action.

 

McCormick, Ray M., LtCol, USMC, Low Intensity Conflict

Instructor, Command and Staff College and former

Commanding Officer, 2d Reconnaissance Battalion.

Interview conducted with the author at Command

and Staff College, Marine Corps Combat Development

Command on 13 November 1987.

Good start on background of LIC and Special Opera-

tions. Also provided some personal insights from a

reconnaissance battalion commander' s perspective.

Finally, gave some thoughts on the "ideal' recon-

naissance organization - what would work, and what

would not work.

 

Tehan, William J., LtCol, USMC, former Commanding

Officer of 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, and member of

other reconnaissance units. Interview conducted

with the author at Marine Corps Combat Development

Command on 27 January 1988.

Discussed background and changes within the recon-

naissance community. He was especially helpful in

helping me solidify thoughts concerning training

requirements and streamlining of the "pipeline."

 

Western, T. F., Capt, USMC, Reconnaissance Officer, Marine

Corps Research, Development, and Acquisition Command

(MCRDAC), and former Executive Officer, 2d Force

Reconnaissance Company. Interview conducted with the

author at Marine Corps Research, Development, and

Acquisition Command (MCRDAC) on 30 December 1987.

Provided a wealth of information, both as Reconnais-

sance Officer at MCRDAC, and as a force reconnais-

sance company executive officer. Showed author

samples of many new equipment items being tested

and/or fielded. Discussed training/readiness

problems, schools, etc.

 

Wilson, G. I., Major, USMC, Special Operations/Low

Intensity Conflict Unit, Warfighting Center, Marine

Corps Combat Development Center. Interview conducted

with the author at the Warfighting Center on 18 March

1988.

Provided valuable information and insight into the

results of the Force Structure Study Group's recom-

mendations concerning the surveillance, reconnais-

sance, and intelligence group development.

 

Doctrinal Publications. etc.

 

Commandant of the Marine Corps. "ALMAR 023/88 Change of

Marine Corps Task Unit Designations." Washington,

D.C., msg 031956Z Feb 88.

Changed Marine Amphibious Unit (Special Operations

Capable) to Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special

Operations Capable).

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

Chief of Staff Memorandum 5000 SPD/PAT of 9 March

1988.

Document that assigned responsibility to various staff

agencies within the headquarters to create plans of

action and milestones (POAM) to implement those

portions of the Force Structure Study Group recom-

mendations that have been approved by the Commandant.

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 2-2. Amphibious

Reconnaissance. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government

Printing Office, 1981.

Provided the doctrinal base for reconnaissance

organizational structures, missions, and capabilities.

Used as the basis for comparison with the new opera-

tional concept which provides the MEU (SOC) missions.

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMI'M) 8-1. Special

Operations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government

Printing Office, 1984.

Provided USMC doctrine on special operations.

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 8-2. Counterinsur-

gency Operations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government

Printing Office, 1980.

 

Provided USMC doctrine on counterinsurgency opera

tions.

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

"Operational Concept for Marine Amphibious Units

Being Special Operations Capable." Unpublished draft

as of this writing.

Used as the basis for determining changes in the role

of reconnaissance as a result of the new MEU (SOC)

mission. Contained in-depth information on the expec-

tations for MEU (SOC) capabilities.

 

Department of the Navy; Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Directorate

brief and recommended table of organization currently

under staffing at Headquarters, U.S Marine Corps.

Provided information on the structural foundation that

will support new MEU (SOC) and other special opera-

tions efforts within the Corps.

 

Force Structure Study Group. Creation of a Surveillance/

Reconnaissance/Intelligence Group. Working paper

prepared during the study.

Provided background concerning the development of the

surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence group.

 

Headquarters, Department of the Army. Field Manual (FM

100-20) Low Intensity Conflict. Washington, D.C.:

U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982.

Provided background information on low intensity

conflict in general.

 

Joint Chiefs of Staff. Department of Defense Dictionary

of Military and Associated Terms (JCS Pub 1).

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Governemnt Printing Office,

1987.

Provided several key definitions on low intensity

conflict and special operations.

 

 

 

 

 

Secondary Sources

 

Books

 

Barnett, Frank R.; B. Hugh Tovar; and Richard H. Shultz.

Special Operations in U.S. Strategy. Washington,

D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1984.

This was the book which aroused my curiosity on how

the Marine Corps is dealing with its reconnaissance

assets in conducting special operations and handling

low intensity conflict. It is a summary of the

discussions held at the symposium sponsored in March

1983 sponsored by the National Strategy Information

Center, the National Securities Study Program at

Georgetown University, and the National Defense

University. The symposium was entitled, "The Role

of Special Operations in U.S. Strategy for the

1980's."

 

Beckwith, Charlie A., Col., USA(Ret). Delta Force.

New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

Book provided information on the development of the

Army's counterterrorism unit. Of particular interest

were the descriptions of the selection process they

developed, and the types of training they conducted.

 

Collins, John M. Green Berets. SEALs & Spetsnaz: U.S.

& Soviet Military Operations. Washington, D.C.:

Pergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publishers,

1987.

Outstanding reference for comparison of low intensity

conflict participation/sponsorship, and special

operations capabilities, both U.S. and Soviet.

 

Davis, Burke. Marine! The Life of LtGen Lewis B. (Chesty)

Puller. USMC (Ret). Boston: Little, Brown and

Company, 1962.

Gave examples of campaigns in which Chesty Puller

participated, in both Nicaragua and Haiti, which were

counterinsurgency operations in nature.

 

U.S. Air Force, Air University. Low-Intensity Conflict.

The Hidden Challenge. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air

Command and Staff College, 1986.

Contained articles of interest concerning many

aspects of low intensity conflict. Also had

spectrum of conflict chart, which tied in to my

discussion in Chapter 8.

 

Smith, Charles R. Marines in the Revolution: A History of

the Continental Marines in the American Revolution

1775-1783. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing

Office, 1975.

Had history of first amphibious raid, which I used as

background in my paper.

 

Magazine Articles, Papers

 

Anderson, Jr., A. E., LtCol, USMC(Ret). "The Corps and

Special Operations." Marine Corps Gazette, Vol.

69, Iss. 12, December 1985, pp. 16-17.

Author argued that conventional MAGTF is designed

to handle special operations missions. Showed

examples from Vietnam, Iran, Beirut, etc.

 

Coates, Robert J., Capt., USMC. "Does Reconnaissance

Need Fixing?" Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 72, Iss. 1,

January 1988, pp. 47-48.

Discussed requirement for reconnaissance Marines to

1) get entry level training, 2) better screening, and

3) a special MOS. Good logic.

 

Fox, Wesley J., Col.1 USMC. "Fixing the Reconnaissance

Problem." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 72, Iss. 1,

January 1988, pp. 44-47.

Good article. Followed thinking to reconf igure

reconnaissance organizations to better handle MEU

(SOC) roles.

 

Hensman, Jonathan R., LtCol, Royal Marines. "Taking

Terrorism, Low-Intensity Conflict, and Special

Operations in Context." Marine Corps Gazette.

Vol. 71, Iss. 2, February 1987, pp. 44-50.

Good analysis of low intensity conflict and its

relevance for the Marine Corps. It contained

discussion on the need for more training at all

levels within the Marine Corps.

 

Kelley, F. X., General, USMC. "The Marine Corps and

Special Operations." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol.

69, Iss. 10, October 1985, pp. 22-23.

Excellent article for developing a foundation in my

paper. Expressed the Commandant's logic for why and

how he intends to expand the MEU's role to MEU (SOC).

 

Leeper, Arthur J., Capt, USMC. "Armored Reconnaissance

Battalion." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 72, Iss. 1,

January 1988, pp. 49-52.

Interesting discussion of marriage between light

armored vehicle battalion and reconnaissance. Fits

into the idea of "expanded cavalry" capability -

better tactical mobility, etc.

 

Melshen, Paul, Major, USMCR. "Taking on Low-Intensity

Conflicts." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 71, Iss, 1,

January 1987, pp. 44-50.

Good philosophical discussion of the Marine Corps'

place in carrying out low intensity conflict in

behalf of the U.S., however, it had no specific

thoughts or recommendations regarding the employment

of reconnaissance.

 

Murdock, Harry M., Major, USMC. "MAU (SOC) - A Powerful

Maritime Force." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 71,

Iss. 8, August 1987, pp. 66-71.

Good discussion of "MAGTF" aspect of MEU (SOC),

especially each element's part in the functioning

of the whole.

 

Rylander, R. Lynn. "The Future of Marines in Small Wars.

Paper presented at the Center for Naval Analyses 1986

Sea Power Forum on the Marine Corps.

Provided good information about the MEU (SOC) capabil-

ities. Discussed the threat, U.S. strategy, and then

fit the Marines' role into that picture.

 

Tomka, Thomas G., WO, USMC. "The Future MAU (SOC)."

Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 70, Iss. 3, March 1986,

pp. 41-42.

Made some recommendations on how to make MEU (SOC)

more effective in its counterterrorism role. Gave

many historic examples of special operations missions

the Corps has performed.

 

Trainor, B. E., LtGen, USMC(Ret). "Recon Operations

in Southeast Asia 1970-1971." Marine Corps Gazette.

Vol. 70, Iss. 5, May 1988, pp. 54-59.

Good historical perspective on how reconnaissance

teams were employed in Vietnam.

 

Walker, Anthony, Col., USMC(Ret). "Reconnaissance and

Light Armor." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 72, Iss. 1,

January 1988, pp. 52-54.

Discussed "marriage" between reconnaissance and light

armored vehicle organizations in terms of increased

mobility, cavalry functions, etc.

 

Western, T. F., Capt, USMC. "Countering Terrorism

with the MAU." Marine Corps Gazette. Vol. 70, Iss.

3, March 1986, pp. 40-41.

Advised caution in deploying MEUs in some special

operations. They are not highly trained enough to

handle some missions. Discussed weaknesses in in-

serting reconnaissance assets with current aviation

capabilities. Concluded that doctrine must be dev-

eloped to cover MEU roles in countering terrorism.

-END-



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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias