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CSC 1988









Major Forrest R. Lindsey, USMC


War in the Modern Era Seminar

Marine Corps Command and Staff College

Quantico, Virginia 22134-5050


9 May, 1988




Subject Page

Abstract 1


Introduction 2

The Navy and SLOC Control 3


Types of SLOC Choke Points 7


Historic Examples 9


Lessons Learned 17


The SLOC Control Base 18


The Use of the MAGTF 19

The Notional SLOC Control Model 22


Actions to Implement SLOC Control 25


The Covert Base 28


Fleet Defense in Choke Points 29


Conclusion 31


Notes 32


Bibliography 34


Abbreviations/Acronyms Used 39








Author: LINDSEY, Forrest R.,USMC


Title: Sea Lines of Communication, a Marine Mission


Short Title: SLOCs; a Marine Mission





"The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of

such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval



And if there ever was a modern mission tailor made to fit our

traditional role, it's the seizure and control of Sea Lines Of

Communication choke points! Thanks to the technological advances in "over

the horizon" detection and attack means, an amphibious ground-gaining

force is more capable than ever of denying large areas of the Earth for

use by an enemy.


This seminar will examine the evolution of naval strategy with respect

to global choke points and, in particular, the more renowned campaigns to

gain control of those key locations. With this background, new weapons and

techniques will be examined that can be used to augment our capacity to

interdict vital straits


Modes of application - from peaceful entry to amplify a friendly

country's capabilities, to forcible entry to secure a channel bordered by

a hostile country - will be examined. Tactics of surveillance and

interdiction will also be proposed, from a limited objective raid, to a

fixed base for interdiction held in the face of attack.


This seminar will conclude that the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF)

is particularly and uniquely suited to conduct these operations. The

employment of Marines in this mission is an effective force multiplier

that can decisively affect the outcome of future wars.





In battle, there are always certain advantages that weigh in


one side's favor against the other. In aerial coMbat, altitude


over an opponent can give a fighter a decisive edge. On land,


the high ground, well used, can give a defender victory. On the


sea, the forces that hold the land areas framing the Sea Lines of


Communication (SLOCs) control movement between oceans and the


lifeblood of modern war. The strategic importance of SLOCs and


sea control itself has been appreciated since war first moved to


deep water: the control of straits has been a feature of


significant sea actions since the Punic War. Despite changes in


weapons and the ships that carry them, the fundamental of naval


war remain the same: the force that holds the SLOCS controls the


seas and the force that controls the seas will control the


outcome of the war.


In its traditional role as the "landward claws" of naval


power and with its unique balance of capabilities, the Marine


Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is best suited for the mission of


seizing and holding the land edges of the SLOCS. As part of a


Joint Task Force that controls the air, surface, and subsurface


fight and augmented with new weapons and target acquisition


means, the MAGTF can be a stategic force to win a future war.


This isn't a new idea; several authors have discussed the


use of Marines for this mission, in particular Major Gary W.


Anderson USMC1 and Commander Bruce VanhHeertum USN2.


This study is intended to expand some of these concepts and


to refine tactics in the light of some new developments. The


single most powerful change in technology that makes the use of


land forces for SLOC control inevitable, was a small event in the

1983 Falkland./ Malavinas War3. In the last few days of that


fight, the Argentine Army fired an Exocet antiship missile at the


HMS Glamorgan from a crudely converted trailer. The missile tore


a huge hole in the superstructure and killed 13 men; however, the


effects were much further reaching: a new form of coastal


artillery had extended from land to influence the battle on the


sea. It was the first shot in an inevitable metamorphosis of


modern war.


The Navy and SLOC Control.


The Navy has a number of critical missions at the outset of


any major war as part of power projection and offensive and


defensive sea control. But no fleet, not even a 600 ship navy,


is capable of accomplishing all of these missions at once on a


worldwide scale. The Navy will need to stay mobile, flexible and


available to sortie against Soviet/Warsaw Pact units at sea,


particularly submarines, and to escort the crucial convoys across


the Atlantic to Europe. A Joint Task Force with multiple methods


of attack, deployed early against the jugular of Soviet seapower


could strangle it in its own back yard. In a tactical study4,


Vice Admiral Mustin states that


"the best means of protecting SLOCs and bolstering the full


alliance is by the conduct of sea control operations far




This is in consonance with the stated objectives of the


Navy's Maritime Strategy of attacking the enemy's naval bastions


at the outset of the transition to war. It is also a tacit


recognition of the unique weakness of the Warsaw Pact navies: all


of their bases, with their refit, rearm, and resupply potential,


can be sealed off by a few SLOC choke points.



Soviet Fleet Homeport SLOC Chokepoint


1. Northern Fleet Severomorsk/Murmansk Norwegian coast


2. Baltic Fleet Leningrad Danish Straits


3. Black Sea Fleet Sevastopol Bosporus Straits


4. Pacific Fleet Vladivostok Korea/Tsushima Straits




The potential exists to contain the Warsaw Pact forces in


their own restrictive waters and annihilate them in place.


Vice Admiral Must in also addressed the defensive nature of

SLOC control:5


"the Free World's imperative to keep the Sea Lines of


Communication open to satisfy its vital requirements becomes the


Free World's greatest weakness."


For the defense of our own vulnerable choke points, it is


essential that we take early and physical control of them. Some


of these choke points can be termed "war stoppers" for good


reason. Enemy control of any portion of the Bab El Mendab strait


would deny our use of the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and


communication between forces in the Mediterranean and the Indian


Ocean. In the same fashion, loss of control of the Drake


Strait/Straits of Magellan and the blocking of the Panama Canal


would isolate the Eastern and Western halves of the United


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States, leaving heavy resupply and reinforcnment to whatever the


railroads could handle. The list goes on and on, and as the


strategist Norman Freidman has put it,6


"the more global the strategy, the more important is the


positive use of the sea. The world ocean becomes the highway


tying the elements of the maritime coalition."


To most of the Navy, this is preaching to the choir; they've


been working on SLOC control since Mahan7. But the use of


Marines in these plans has not been a popular theme. The


question among CINCs has been how to use the MAGTFs and who gets


them first, not necessarily what their naval mission should be.


Recently, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Gray8


outlined a mission of protecting the SLOCs with amphibious


operations at choke points. This is the best use of a unique


national asset: the prepackaged, modular combination of air


power, amphibious/airmobile ground combat power and the tailored


logistic support system of the MAGTF. As a naval force, used as


designed, a MAGTF with naval operating force augmentation can


take on the offensive and defensive missions needed to seize the


initiative early in a crisis.


This sounds like a natural extension of the experience and


doctrine the Navy and Marine Corps have put to work since World


War II on advanced naval bases, however this area has been


neglected in recent times for more visible contingencies. The


increasing power of the Warsaw Pact navies and the threat they


pose to our maritime capabilities makes fixed location sea


control an area for serious consideration and planning. The


potential targets for a SLOC interdiction base are the Surface


Action Groups built around the guided missile cruisers, the


Antisubmarine Warfare groups built around ASW carriers, and the


attack and fleet ballistic missile submarines. In the air,


long-range reconnaissance and antiship bombers such as the


Backfire, Bison and Bear threaten the fleet within the SLOCs from


bases around the world. The MAGTF has most of the tools needed


in its structure to take and hold an advanced naval base and


assume a surface attack/air interdiction mission. However, a


Joint Task Force including mine warfare units, attack subs,


Patrol Hydrofoil Missile craft (PHNs), antisubmarine/antisurface


/antiair warfare surface ships and antiship cruise missile


batteries would provide the depth of combat power needed to


conclusively influence the battle.


Further discussion requires that certain definitions be made


to outline the scope of the task of SLOC control.


Types of SLOC Choke points.


The maritime "key terrain" of the SLOC choke point, in a


two-dimensional sense, is the encroachment of land or ice on


areas between two seas. For the purposes of this study, I have


classified them as the Narrow Passage, the Wide Passage, and the


Edge Interdiction.


Narrow Passage.


This is a strait, channel, or canal that can be decisively


blocked or interdicted by artillery fire, mines, blockships,


cables, or other means. This type of SLOC control is centuries


old and the narrower the channel, the easier it is to block. For


this study, a Narronw Passage is defined as one where the


narrowest point is no more than five kilometers. The main method


of interdiction for this type of choke point would center aronund


area denial methods to force all traffic into an easily monitored


channel. The main advantages of this form of SLOC denial are the


proximity of a supporting far shore to allow covering obstacles


by observation and fire and the relatively small requirements for


naval operating elements to maintain control. Some of the many


examples are the Danish straits to the Baltic Sea, the Panama and


Suez Canals, and the narrows of the Bosporus Straits to the Black




Wide Passage.


This is a larger strait where the borders are between five


and one hundred kilometers. This definition is based on the


assused capability of existing weapons and sensors to range


targets from land bases or aircraft within this area and


effectively control it. Because of this larger volume of air and


water to control, a Wide Passage will require a shore


installation combined with powerful surface and subsurface units


and aircraft to succeed. This larger three-dimensional


battlefield will require overlapping detection and attack means


to successfully stop the enemy. The primary shore-based weapons


would be medium and long-range antiship cruise missiles and


aircraft. Mines and other area denial weapons would have to


limited to preplanned belts emplaced at important portions of the


strait. Some examples of the Wide Passage are the Straits of


Hormuz, the Drake Strait/Straits of Magellan, and the English




Edge Interdiction.


This type of SLOC control takes in all other cases: in


effect all shores (or islands) with another shore more distant


than one hundred kilometers is an "edge". The SLOCs or "Highways


of the Sea" as Mahan has called them, lay alongside coasts in


most of their paths. A coordonated assault from an edge could


deny an enemy's movement along that area and that section of


ocean as effectively as a much more restrictive choke point. The


key weakmess in this form of SLOC control is the lack of a


supporting far shore: the control base can be avoided if it is


discovered. Its effectiveness is limited to the range of its


weapons and detection ability, however in the age of aircraft


this is a very large range. The main planning considerations for


an Edge Interdiction then are whether surprise is possible and


exactly how much interdiction is needed. This type of base has


additional use as a defense against an enemy amphibious assault.


Some examples are the Cape of Good Hope, the Greenland-


Iceland-United kingdom (G-I-UK) Gap, and the Norwegian coast.


Historic Examples.


Narrow Strait Defense.


One of the most graphic examples of this type of defense is


the Turkish denial of the Bosporus straits to the British and


French forces in World War I. In 1915 the Turks, with help from


the Germans, had fortified the Mediterranean end of the straits


from Helles Point to the Narrows, with strong static and mobile


forces on both sides of the strait. There were fortresses at



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several locations, some with guns as large as 14 inch add there


were field artillery batteries that could and did move to


wherever they were most effective. There were extensive


minefields at several locations and the Turkish fleet covered the


Black Sea approaches.


These defenses cut communication between the western European


allies, Britain and France, and their eastern ally, Russia. They


also bridged the Ottoman Empire - most of the Middle East - add


Europe. If the Allies could have successfully forced the strait,


they would have severed the enemy forces in the eastern


Mediterranean area and given vital support to the floundering


forces of the Czar9. Churchill's and Kitchener's campaign was


designed to seize the high ground in the center of the Gallipoli


Peninsula on the Northern side of the straits, then envelop the


Turkish defenses. The campaign failed at enormous cost because


of the abilities of the Turkish and the German commanders, the


strong Turkish positions, and the superiority in numbers and


determination of the Turkish troops. There are a number of other


factors, including the primitive stage of evolution of amphibious


warfare, but in the end only one thing mattered: the straits


remained closed, the Ottoman Empire remained connected to Europe,


and the Czar's forces remained unaided.


For this study, the main attention should be on the defenses


within the strait. The Turks were able to deny the movement of


any naval forces with strong interlocking weapons. All obstacles


were covered by fire, particularly by the mobile field


artillery. The minefields were both fixed and drifting types and



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were illuminated by searchlight batteries at night to help the


guns acquire targets within them. The British and French


attempts to force the straits, first by naval force alone, then


by amphibious attack, were doomed by the mutually supporting


aspects the defenses and the very restrictive nature of the


terrain within the waterway and on the Gallipoli Peninsula.


Wide Passage Defence.


The British control of the English Channel in World War II


is a good example of this type of defence10. At its narrowest


point, the channel is only 34 kilometers wide, close enough that


the Germans were able to fire at the English coast with long


range guns from their positions near Calais. Despite this


proximity, the British retained control of the channel throughout


the war because of their successful struggle for the control for


the air in the Battle of Britain, their employment of Radar, and


their strong surface fleet. With the exception of the occasional


U-boat attack, E-boat raids and the startling run through the


channel by the battlecruisers Scharnhonrst and Gneisenau11, the


Axis stayed out of the English Channel throughout the war. This


effort denied the Germans the shortest Sea Line of Communication


between their naval forces in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea


aid their bases in southern France. This division of their


forces eliminated any thoughts the Germans say have given to


unifying elements of their surface fleet and allowed the British


to defeat individual German ships at their bases, rather than


face them as a fleet at sea. The allies were also denied freedom


of action within the channel by the German air and shore forces


on the coast of France and the channel islands, however the


British maintained offensive momentum to protect most of their


movements. The Germans used mines throughout the war to try to


limit British use of the Thames, but the British became quite


good at disposing of them. In the end, the British control of


the channel kept the Germans from mounting an invasion of Britain


and later, supported the allied efforts to build up and launch


the invasion of Europe.


Edge Interdiction.


This type of sea control is not new, but in the past its


effect was limited to the range of coastal artillery. Land based


aviation considerably extended the range of action from a coast


and when it was linked with naval surface and subsurface forces,


considerably changed the influence of land on the maritime war.


An illustration of this form of sea power is the German


interdiction of the Norwegian Sea from 1940 to 1945. To control


the vital SLOC from Great Britain to the Soviet Union, the


Germans built coordinated defenses using reconnnaisance and


surface attack aircraft, linked with U-boat wolfpacks and suface


attack groups built around the last capital ships of the German


Navy. Despite the threat of these dangers, the allies had no


choice but to send aid along the Norwegian coast to the


increasingly desperate Soviets. At first, the convoys got


through reasonably unscathed - the convoys were well escorted and


stayed as far north as possible to stay out of land-based


aircraft range. As the polar ice began to move south, forcing


the convoys closer to the coast of Norway, and as the Germans got



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better at detecting and "shadowing" the convoys with long range


aircraft, the losses began to approach 25%. Convoy after convoy


were savaged by a gauntlet of German attacks aud dangerous


weather add the situation was getting worse as the Arctic days


grew longer. The worst was to come that summer fob the sailors

of convoy PQ-1712. On 27 June 1942, PQ-17 set sail for


Murmansk with a cargo of 297 aircraft, 594 tanks, 4,246 trucks,


add 156,000 tons of general cargo. Of the 37 merchant vessels


that started out, 24 were sunk in a relentless series of


scattered attacks by U-boat wolfpacks and bombers. The convoy


was detected almonst immediately by long range reconnaisance


aircraft add radio intercept intelliagence and forces were


vectored into their path. On the 4th of July, the threat of a


surface attack by the battleship Tirpitz scattered the escorts


add forced the convoy to break up to defeid itself. The result


was a "duck shoot" where the survival of a ship depended on the


bravery of the crew aid a large measure of luck. As a result of


this disaster, the lifeline to the Soviets was interrupted until


the end of winter and Soviet confidence in the competence of its


Anglo-American allies was shaken.


The allies employed edge interdiction of their own with the


patrol bases on Iceland, connecting the Greenland-Iceland-Faeroes


Line, and successfully restricted German naval activity between


the North Sea and the North Atlantic. Though there were no


spectacular single victories to highlight the long and tedious of


antisubmarine patrols, the British, Canadian, and American


sevicemen on Iceland severely hampered U-boat and surface

movement through that SLOC for the duration of the war.13


Lessons Learned.


When the preceding examples are analyzed, several key facts



1. A strait or an edge can provide interdiction for the


force holding any portion of it with some method to detect


shipping and attact it.


2. Conversely, if a SLOC is to be cleared of enemy


interdiction, the full lengh if the coast or coasts must be


cleared of enemy forces.


3. A combination of multiple target acquisition and attack


means greatly increases the value of the interdiction.


4. To conclusively control a SLOC, physical possession of


the land edges in the form of an advanced naval base is




These missions are part of the dual nature of SLOC control:


the force that intends to control a strait must have the ability


to attack any intruder and defend itself and friendly forces


within the SLOC Control Area. The greater the area to be


controlled, the wider the span of capabilities required for


offensive and defensive combat:


1. To detect and attack any intruder within the SLOC control




2. To be able to defend its own position against possible




3. To clear passage for friendly and neutral vessels through


the choke point.


The SLOC Control Base.


In view of these requirements, a land base to support SLOC


control is the best option. A land base provides a hardenable,


central location on control the operations of all of the elements


of the Joint Task Force. It also provides the continuity of


Command, communication, and control needed to link all elements,


even when some units are added or deleted during the course of


the operation.


At the risk of coining yet another acronym, this concept


leads to defining the limits/responsibilities for the commander


of the SLOC control Joint Task Force. This area of


responsibility could be called a "SLOC Control Area" or an SCA


for short. This SCA would be that volume of air, land, and sea


that the task force must dominate to accomplish its mission.


This follows the pattern of the Amphib*ious Objective Area or


AOA, where all forces that enter that area fall under the


operational control of the Commander of the Amphibioua Task Force


(CATF) . For example, after a choke point has been successfully


seized and the commander of the Joint Task Force is ready to take


control, an SCA would be established. At that point, the Task


Force Commander would have no ambiguities about who has final


responsibility in the SCA and who controls the forces wihin it.


In this situation, once an SCA was established, all inbound


friendly forces would inchop to the Task Force Commander while


transiting the SCA and if the situation required it, would


contribute to the SLOC control mission until outchopped out of


the SCA.


The Use of the MAGTF.


The MAGTF's ability to land ashore at almost any point,


sustain itself, and strike deep with its own combined arms makes


it the right force at the right time for SLOC interdiction. As a


prepackaged versatile force, capable of attacking and defending


with its own ground, air, and combat service support, it is made


to onrder to establish a SLOC control base.


The mission of a MAGTF are twofold to secure a SLOC




1. Seize sufficient geographic area to support the Advanced


Naval Base and its missions.


2. Clear the bordering areas of the SLOC choke point of all


enemy influence.


There are really only two cases in establishing a SLOC


control base: an opposed landing or an unopposed landing. In the


best case, the Joint Task Force would be reinforcing an ally, or


landing in an uncontested area. The more likely case, given the


inherent value of a Sloc control location, is an opposed landing


against a determined enemy. This is what the MAGTF is designed


to deal with and has long been the Marines' stock in trade,


however this course of action will require an increase in the


size of all elements and all other support in the required MAGTF.


The degree of control needed is another factor. The range


would be from complete closure to all possible forces - an option


that would require a very large and varied combination of attack


and detection capabilities and a large MAGTF to defend it - to a


small antiship attack site to create uncertainty in the mind of


the enemy commander. In the case of a full interdiction base,


the need for a larger defense force is commensurate with the


value this facility would have to us and the enemy. It would be


a focus of strategic power to both sides, one that would cause an


enemy to face severe losses if he chose to force it or he will


have to attempt to destroy it.


At the other end of the spectrum of options, is the use of a


smaller, specialized force, introduced secretly to "ambush"


selected naval targets. This would require a much smaller force


and less to support but could have a very large tactical value.


If the target was a specific asset, such as a carrier or an


amphibious task force or a formation of naval attack aircraft,


this site could have enormous strategic effect if it is


successful. Of nearly equal value, an enemy commander would have


to assume that his flanks were threatened in any of his


movements, creating uncertainty in his planniug and a requirement


to screen all possible threatening sites.


SLOC choke point control in every case is a balance of


enough detection and attack assets with enough support aud


protection to survive. For a Joint Task Force based on a MAGTF,


this amounts to something similar to a menu at a Chinese


restaurant; "with three you get eggroll." That is, the


foundation is the Marine Expeditiouary quit supplemented with


additional weapons and communicatious assets. As more capability


is needed, additional MEUs are composited to the origiual force


and more weapons teams are assigued. For a full-scale


interdiction base, this could consist of a Marine Expeditionary



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Force of approximately 55,000 men, augmented with additional


fixed-wing aircraft, cruise missile batteries, Radars, and an


advavced communication, command aid control capability


The National SLOC Control Model.


For a Narrow Strait defense, the requirements could include


mine warfare units ton emplace minefields to block or channelize,


artillery to cover obstacles by fire and a short range antiship


missile battery, such as land based Harpoon. V/STOL aircraft


would be ideal for surveillance and attack because of their


ability to operate without fixed airfields and their fast


response time. Navy surface units and subsurface units would


provide the teeth in the ASW portion of the defense, assisted by


the MV-22s with dipping sonar and torpedoes. In this example,


command and control for the JTF would be based on shore and would


be organized to collect targeting information from all available


sources, choose targets and control the attacks.


This model provides the basis for expansion to the more


complex variations of this method of sea control. For example,


when the requirement is to control a Wide Passage, this


organization would be increased to include more sea control


assets, such as greater numbers of antisubmarine and surface


warfare vessels and longer range aircraft to support these


missions. Even though the degree of difficulty/uncertainty


increases as the area to be interdicted increases, the very wide


suite of weapons available will make this form of sea power very


difficult to overcome. Longer range antiship missiles, such as


land and ship based Tomahawk, and long range Air Force, Navy, and


Marine aircraft would make an enemy's decision to run this


channel dangerous for him. Because of this base's greater area


and greater tactical value - to us and to the enemy - a larger


MAGTF will be needed ton sustain and defend it. It will also need


much greater attention to logistic support, such as a refined


beach and port offload capability and an uninterrupted stream of


sea and airborne resupply. As part of the overall defense of


this larger base and the potential mission of air uninterdiction of


enemy antishipping bombers, the air defense will require a Combat


Air Patrol on station and antiair missiles to be effective.


Given a large enough mission, this would dictate that several


airfields will be needed to support the wide variety of offensive


and defensive aircraft. A large portion of these missions fall


well within the capabilities of the Air Combat Element (ACE) of


the MAGTF, reducing the number of carrier aircraft dedicated to


this mission and this part of the war.


If this is beginning to sound too complex or expensive,


consider the alternative: controlling a SLOC with a carrier


battle group (CVBG) would be effective, however it would tie down


critical naval elements in restricted waters at a time in the war


when they are needed to ensure our convoys get through. As noted


by other planners, this tactic is a form of "unsinkable aircraft


carrier" that can expand upon and surpass the capabilities of the


floating version.


The value of this base will serve another, if negative,


purpose; it can attract the attention of significant portions of


the enemy's forces in his attempts to overcome it. This


diversion of forces away from attacking our shipping and into our


prepared defences puts the enemy where we want him; at our time,


at our place, and away from our far more vulnerable shipping.


Another threat that opposes the advanced base that must be


dealt with is a ground attack. This can range from the SPETSNAZ


commando raid to the attentions of a conventioual Motorized Rifle


Division or more. The enemy can come by parachute, helicopter,


vehicle or amphibious attack and pose the most dangerous threat


to our SLOC control base. The greater the danger, the larger the


MAGTF Ground Combat Element (GCE) needed to defend it. To many


this appears to anchor a large portion of our offensive power in


one place, however a base of this magnitude is of strategic, not


just tactical value. Any forces used to maintain this


interdiction base are well employed to provide an overbalancing


effect against the enemy's sea power. The additional benefit is


that this advanced base will, by virtue of its location, provide


a springboard for staging for future operations deep in the


enemy's heartland.


In the the larger options - the Wide Passage or the Edge


Defense - command and control can be conducted from a flagship or


from a hardened command center on land. The communication needs


are going to be greater in any case and control of the air battle


will need the equivalent E2C Hawkeyes or the AWACS early warning


aircraft. For the greater areas of ocean to be swept for surface


and subsurface targets, P3 Orions, C-130 Hercules modified for


ocean surveillance, S3A Vikings or Remotely Piloted Vehicles


(RPVs) would be needed. Once a target is identified, these


aircraft can provide terminal guidance for the long range


antishipping missiles or for their own missiles. RPVs could be


used for Over The Horizon (OTH) reconnaisance and targeting by


using floating or flying relay links to the JTF command center.


Actions to Implement SLOC Control.


A joint task force, designed and trained from the outset for


the SLOC control mission, will perform better and have more


extensive capabilities than the historic examples that were


mentioned earlier, particularly considering the enormous


technological advances that have been made since then. All of


this combat power takes organization, and to get it into position


and working will take a step by step process.


1. Compose the Task Force.


a. Based on the mission, enemy, size of the strait, and the


forces available, a balanced force to fulfill those needs will


need to be assembled. Other factors, such as terrain, weather,


time and support available, and potential follow-on missions will


further affect the size and composition of the task force. At


least, the task force will require:


1.) Command Element (JTF and MAGTF)


2.) Intelligence and Targeting Element


Depending on the size of the sea area of the choke point,


this could include sensor teams, surface search elements (Radars,


RPVs,etc.), electronic warfare teams, and other assets. This


element would be responsible for tying in all of the data


together to provide targeting information for the attack




3.) Ground Combat Element


This element has to be large enough to land and defeat any


opposition, clear the enemy from shores within effective range,


and to defend the SLOC control base from attack.


4.) Air Combat Element


The ACE has to have sufficient assets to support the


landing, defend the base, and conduct reconnaissance and


offensive operations. The ACE can be augmented with aircraft


from the other services, particularily the specialized radar


surveillance and long-range attack aircraft of the Air Force and


the Navy.


a.) Anti air warfare.


b.) Air Defense


c.) Air Interdiction


d.) Antisubmarine


e.) Surface attack


f.) Heavy lift


5.) Combat Service Support Element


The emphasis would be on large stocks of prepositioned


supplies, independent maintenance capability, and a heavy combat


engineer capability to conduct a long-term defense. Follow-on


CSS would require provision for an airfield and/or beach and port




6.) Antisubmarine Warfare Element (USN)


7.) Surface Warfare Element (USN)


8.) Antiship batteries


This could be a Navy unit, manned and maintained by the


Navy, or an addition to the Marine Corps Table of Organization.


9.) Mine Warfare Element (USN)


The emphasis in structuring the SLOC control JTF is the


overlapping attack assets and mutual support they give to each


other. Too mauy troops, ships and too much unnecessary equipment


will give the operation away and add to the support burden. The


Joint Task Force command element itself is dependent on the


complexity of the mission and the size of the force required. It


could be the MAGTF commander and staff or an augmented version of


it, or a Joint Force commander with his own staff could be




2. Seize Control of the Objective Area.


The Naval task force. organized around sufficient combat


power to protect the movement of the SLOC control joint Task


Force would escort it to the amphibious objective area (AOA).


For the MAGTF, this is a straightfoward exercise in the


amphibious assault skill: perfected over the last fifty years.


But, as anyone who has done one knows, they are anything but


simple. All parts of assembly, movement, and the assault are


critical and vulnerable. Once the Task Force reaches the


objective area, the real work begins; air supremacy must be


established and maintained, the waters cleared ot the enemy and


his influence, and the ground forces must don the same on land.


All portionns of the land onr ice area must be exhaustively


searched for enemy forces - all portions of the strait on both


sides where enemy weapons or detection systems can threaten


friendly forces.


3. Activate the Sea Control Base/Sea Control Area.


As the AOA is being consonlidated, the antiship batteries,


radars, airfields, and command and control facilities are


established ashore. Once these actions are completed to a point


where the Joint Task Force commander feels he is ready to begin


operations, an SCA will be established and any unrequired naval


forces can be released to their next mission. Now that the door


has been closed on the enemy, the Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) or


other attacking forces can go after the enemy in his own waters,


free from the danger of further enemy reinforcement or the


possibility of his escape.


The Convert Base.


A covert mission task force or "ambush" force has some


differences in its organization and emplacement. The size of the


force needed would be governed by the minimus means needed for


the mission. Complete air and sea control would not be a


prerequisite and in fact, could jeopardize the surprise needed.


Instead, a smaller task force would be assembled and infiltrated


to seize the advanced base. Once in place, camouflage, emission


control, and mobility would be used to preserve security. As in


the case of the Narrow Strait interdiction, V/STOL aircraft would


be the primary air asset for reconnaisance, attack, and defense.


With no visible airfields to give the base's position away, the


V/STOL aircraft and support activities could be revetted and


camouflaged in several alternate locations.


Once ready, a typical installation would be alerted by


higher headquarters or organic intelligence assets of the


approach of an enemy target - such as a high value ship or


formation of ships - and an increased passive watch would be


initiated. Sensors in place would be coordinated with Forward


Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) equipped search aircraft or RPVs,


leaving active measures such as surface search radar to be


activated only when the target is identified and firmly in


range. Once the target is located, antiship missiles would be


fired in salvo and would link for terminal guidance from the


command center or the aircraft on scene to attack the specific


enemy target from several directions. After the attacks are


completed, the JTF would love to alternate positions or rembark


to move to new missions. A small force like this, such as a


Marine Expeditonary Unit with a V/STOL air element, a cruise


missile battery, an RPV battery, and radar could threaten


hundreds of square miles of ocean. This would require an enemy


commander to have to search his flanks with painstaking effort or


risk catastrophic loss.


Fleet Defense in SLOC Choke Points.


The flip side of this coin is that we run the same risk when


we enter a SLOC choke point, since the enemy can employ similar


weapons and tactics against us. Once again, the power and


mobility onf the MAGTF will come into play to detect and eliminate


enemy sea control bases. As our task forces approach within


striking range of land or ice edges, the MAGTF could provide


"flank security" by leapfrogging with helicopter or V/STOL lift


to search out and destroy enemy ambush locations ahead of our


ships. The flexibility of the MAGTF combined arms team provides


the necessary means to find the enemy and then "pile on" to


quickly and effectively overwhelm him.


The primary difficulty will be the enormous areas to be


screened because of the range of the enemy's weapons and

sensors. Because of this, the emphasis has to be on the air


mobility of the Ground Combat Element and powerful close air


support. As the fleet approaches the choke point, MAGTF elements


would be flown well ahead to engage any suspected enemy


position. If the ground ahead is known to have enemy forces


hidden in the vicinity, then the around forces will be deployed


early enonugh to ensure detection and elimination of the threat


As one element is in place on the forward flank, the next is


flown to the next screening position and the last is recovered.


This pattern is repeated until the fleet is securely beyond the


influence of the SLOC choke point.




Whether the MAGTFs are used to seal off or interdict enemy


maritime power in the SLOC choke points or to defend the Navy


from shore based attack, they will be functioning in the mission


they were intended for: land power projection for the fleet.


There have been a number of missions proposed for the MAGTFs,


including theater reserve, flank attacks to support the main


effort in the continental battle, or even using the Ground Combat


Element in one place and the Air Combat Element in Another.


These missions ignore the raison d 'etre of the Corps; to be an


integral part of the prosecution of the naval war. The MAGTF


concept has evolved to improve the synergy of combined arms with


mobility, a combination perfectly suited to modern war's


far-flung requirements and particularly for influencing the land


portion of the naval battle.


Quickly employed and augmented with the various specialists


in area denial, the MAGTFs in the SLOC control mission can at


least inflict casualties on the enemy and force the enemy to use


long, vulnerable lines of communication to support his naval


power. At best, we can seal the enemy in his own home waters to


destroy him in detail. The means are at hand now to develop the


weapons, tactics and doctrine for this vital mission and to train


for it.









Major Gary Anderson,who laid out the foundation of


recent thought on advanced naval bases in his articles "Defense


of Advanced Bases: The Forgotten Mission", and "Refining the


Choke Point Proposal", Marine Corns Gazette, Feb 83, pp41-45, and


Oct 83, pp28-33, respectively


2 Commander Bruce VanHeertum,USN, "Power Projection as


Part of Sea Control", Marine Corps Gazette, Sep 79, pp28-33. A


Bevan G. Cass award winning article which outlines the use of


Marine forces in their traditional role as an extension of sea




3 There are two items that bear on this incident: The


Battle of the Falklands by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, New


York, W.W. Norton, 1983, pp 296-297 and Lieutenant Colonel


Roger's article "Countering the Coastal Defense Cruise Missile",


Naval Institute Proceedinas, Sep 1987, pp49-55. Both have


descriptive accounts of the attack on the HMS Glamorgan.

4 This comes from an article by ViceAdmiral Mustin in "The


Role of the Navy and Marines in the Norwegian Seal" in the Naval


War Colleae Review, Mar/Apr 1986, pp2-6


5 Ibid.


6 I'm referring to Norman Friedman's article "The Battle


Group and US Strategy" in Defense Science 2002+, Oct 1984,


pp47-51. which strongly supports the idea of concentrating on the




NOTES (continued)

7 For the purposes of this research, I've used Captain


Alfred Thayer Mahan's book Naval Strategy, Boston: Little, Brown


and Co., 1918. The most interesting and pertinent passage is on


pages 136-136 in which he describes the "Highways of the Sea",


and the critical value to sea warfare they hold.


8 General A.M. Gray is quoted on this and other subjects


by John Miller in his article "Power Projection: The Future of


the Corps", in the Seminar Report, Naval Institute Proceedings,


Dec 1987, pp2-7.

9 My primary sources of information on this subject were


Robert James' Gallipoli, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1965 and


Jeffrey Wallin's By Ships Alone: Churchill and the Dardanelles,


Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1981.


10 For a more detailed view of the defenses of the English


Channel, see The Narrow Seas by Reginald Hargreaves,London:


Sedgwick and Jackson Ltd., 1959, Chapter XXII, "The Sea That Is


the Wall of England" pp 470-495,


11 The subject is well covered in Fiasco by John Deane


Potter,New Yorker: Stein and Day, 1970.


12 The most well known (and controversial) account of the


suffering of the sailors in Convoy PQ-17 is David Irving's book


The Destruction of PQ-17,New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.


13 The subject of occupation of Iceland as an Allied base


in WW II is covered in detail in Lieutenant Colonel Donald


Bittner's book The Lion and the White Falcon, Connencticut:


Archon Books, 1983.






Anderson, Gary W., Major, USMC, "Defeuse of Advanced Naval


Bases: a Forgotten Mission", Marine Corps Gazette, Feb 1983. PPs


41-45. This and the following article are part of a series


written by the prolific Major Anderson on the use of Marines to


hold advanced Naval Bases. He also had to respond to detractors


in More choke Point Controversy, Marine Corps Gazette, Jul 1984,


pp 19-20.


Anderson, Gary W.,Major, USMC, "Refining the Choke Point


Proposal", Marine Corps Gazette, Oct 1983. PPs 28-29. This


article should be viewed as an excellent foundation for the


concept of choke point control. He also had to respond to his


detractors in "More Choke Point Controversy", Marine Corps


Gazette, July 1984, pp 19-20.


Bittner, Donald F.,Lieutenant Colonel, USMC, The Lion and


the White Falcon, Archon Books, Ramden Connecticut, 1983. The


role of Iceland as an Allied base in WW II is covered in


unflinching detail. A lot of popular myths go by the wayside,


particularily the "invitation" of Allied forces to begin with.


Freidman, Norman, "The Battle Group and US Naval


Strategy",Defense Science 2002, Oct 1984, PPs 47-51. Mr.


Freidman describes the use of Battle Groups to achieve sea


control and describes the pivotal role of the SLOCs to prosecute


a naval war.


Freidman, Norman, "The Maritime Strategy and the Central


Front", Hudson Institute Paper, May 1985. In this article, Mr.


Freidman describes the vulnerability of the Soviets to sea


interdiction and the possible scenarios of naval war wish the


Soviets. He is quite clear on the danger posed by Soviet


submarines and long range bombers.


Hanks, Robert J.,Rear Admiral, USN (Ret), The Unnoticed


Challenge: Soviet Maritime Strategy and Global Choke Points,


Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Inc., Cambridge MA,Aug


1980. This booklet was written during the Carter administration


to bring attentionn to the Soviet threat to the maritime routes of


the Western Allies.


Irving, David, The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17, Simon and


Schuster, NY 1968. This is the very detailed and as I understand


it, controversial book that details the fiascos and alleged


ineptitude that led to the loss of most of that convoy. Mr.


Irving spares no one - from the vacillation of the British


Admiralty, to the lack of coordinationn of the German forces - and


he gives a detailed and moving account of an event few would like


to remember.


James, Robert Rhodes, Gallipoli, The Macmillan Co.,NY.


1965. With very simple drawings, James gives a blow by blow


account of the naval attempts to force the strait, then the


individual landings by the British and French infantry.

Kampe, Helmut, Vice Admiral, Federal German Navy (Ret.),


"Amphibious Objective: Baltic Approaches", Naval Institute


Proceedings, March 1988, pp 113-117. Vice Admiral Kampe's


article describes the growing threat of Soviet amphibious power


and its ability to seize the Baltic Approaches and control this


vital SLOC choke point.


Mahan, Alfred Thayer, Captain, USN, Naval Strategy.Little,


Brown and Co., Boston MA, 1918. This book contains a wide


variety of Mahan's thoughts on the battles of Napoleon, sea


battles with Nelson, and the recent (for 1918) conflict between


the Japanese and the Russians.


Marino, Jose T. Admiral, Chilean Navy, "Trouble in the


Southern Pacific", Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec 1986, pps


77-82. An important article for anyone interested in the SLOCs


closer to home. Admiral Marino provides a new perspective in the


sea control activities of the Soviets in the Pacific.


Miller, John G., "Power Projection: the Future of the


Corps", Seminar Report, Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec 1987,


pps 12-14. A synopsis of General Gray's speech before the


Amphibious Warfare Board at Camp Pendleton in October, 1987.


Mustin, H.C., Vice Admiral, USN, "The Role of the Navy and


Marines in the Norwegian Sea", Naval War College Review, Mar/Apr


1986, pps 2-7. In this article, Admiral Mustin tells of the


importance of northen Norway to NATO defense and the prosecution


of a major war in Europe at sea, one can just as surely lose it


at sea".


Potter, John Deane, Fiasco, Stein and Day, New York, 1970.


An absorbing description of the WW II German effort to protect


the Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau from British attack by


running through the English Chanel!


Powers, Robert C.,Commander, USN, "Over the Horizon with the


Cruise Missile", Naval Institute Proceedings, Feb 1979, pps


108-110. Like the title says, Commander Powers wrote of the use


of aircraft, including RPVs, to control the targeting of cruise


missiles at long range.


Puleston, W.D.,Captain, USN, The Dardanelles Expedition, The


U.S. Naval Institute, Annaponlis MD, 1926. An interesting and


opinionated account of the Gallipoli episode in which Capt.


Puleston lays the blame for the loss of the battle directly on


the Sea Lord, Mr. Winston Churchill. The last line of the book


is particularly funny, considering the time period of this book:


"It is doubtful if even Great Britain could survive another World


War and another Churchill."


Rogers, Michael E., Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, "Countering


Coastal Defense Cruise Missiles", Naval Institute Proceedings,


Sep 1987, pps 49-55. This is the article that started me going.


Once I saw Lieutenant Colonnel Roger's depiction of the threat of


modern land based antiship cruise missiles, I could see its


application as a mission for the Marine Corps.


Stein, Benson M.,1st Lieutenant, USMC, "The Defensive Naval


Campaign: an Appropriate Mission", Marine Corps Gazette, Oct


1983, pps 26-27. Lieutenant Stein uses this article to relate


the past missions of the Marine Corps, such as advanced naval


base defence, to the MAGTF concept. He emphasises the naval


heritage of our missions and is not enthusiastic about "trendy"


new missions for the MAGTF


Underwood, G.L. Lieutenant Commander, USCG, "Soviet Threat


to the Atlantic Sea Lines of Communication: Lessons Learned from


the German Capture of Norway in 1940", Naval War College Review,


May 1981, pps 43-47. Lieutenant Commander Underwood outlines the


advantages the Germans gained from holding the Norwegian coast


and the Danish Straits. He applies these lessons to our present


situation vis a vis the Soviets, determining that the Soviet


Northern and Baltic Fleet would most likely be responsible for


countering NATO naval units in th North Atlantic. He recommends


that well coordinated operations using naval, ground, and air


componets be used to counter the threat.


Abbreviations/Acromyms Used.




AAW AntiAir Warfare


ACE Air Combat Element; the aircraft portion of the




ASW Antisubmarine Warfare


CINC Commander in Chief


CSS Combat Service Support; The logistic support part


of the MAGTF.


CVBG (Aircraft) Carrier Battle Group


E-Boat German torpedo boat (WW II)


FLIR Forward-Looking Infrared Radar; A night vision




GCE Ground Combat Element; The maneuver/artillery


portion of the MAGTF.


JTF Joint Task Force; A force made up more than one




MAGTF Marine Air-Ground Task Force


PHM Patrol Hydrofoil Missile craft


RPV Remotely Piloted Vehicle; Also known as a drone.


SCA SLOC Control Area


SLOC Sea Line of CommunicaLion


SpetzNaz Soviet Special Forces (Commandos)


U-Boat German submarine (WW II)

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