Over The Horizon Amphibious Assault: Making The Best Of Equipment Incompatibility AUTHOR Major Carl D. Turk, USMC CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA Operations EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: OVER THE HORIZON AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT: MAKING THE BEST OF EQUIPMENT INCOMPATIBILITY I. Purpose: To create an awareness of the concept of future over the horizon amphibious assault operations and to emphasize the dynamics of some of the major equipment that is necessary to conduct this type of warfare. II. Problem: To often, technology provides new equipment that arrives well before appropriate procedures and methods of employment are considered. Usually, much is known of a particular weapon system's capabilities and limitations prior to procurement and fielding due to thorough research and development programs. A weakness in this process however, is that at times, the integration and employment of a new system may not have been fully analyzed, tested, or checked for acceptable compatibility with existing systems or equipment. This may be the case with some of the equipment slated for over the horizon assault employment. III. Conclusions: The concept of over the horizon amphibious assault is well on its way to becoming a viable capability within the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps team. Major equipment procurement programs are currently providing some of the necessary components to the fleet. Unless unforeseen circumstances occur, the over the horizon capability should be a reality shortly. IV. Recommendations: The U. S. Navy and Marine Corps must thoroughly conduct an operational analysis of the equipment necessary to conduct over the horizon amphibious assault to ensure that incompatibilities with other systems are minimized. Procedures and doctrine should be developed to take into account those areas where incompatibilities do exist between weapons systems or equipment. The U. S. Navy and Marine Corps must retain a viable conventional amphibious warfare capability until such time that adequate over the horizon capability exists to be able to project power from not only the sea but from over the horizon also. OVER THE HORIZON AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT: MAKING THE BEST OF EQUIPMENT INCOMPATIBILITY Thesis Statement:The over the horizon (OTH) assault concept will offer a new dimension to future amphibious operations; this capability however, will be inhibited due to equipment incompatibilities. I. A brief history of modern amphibious assault A. Implementation of the personnel landing craft B. Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) evolves C. Early models of helicopters are employed D. Doctrine has developed with new technology II. OTH assault has Navy emphasis A. New classes of ship (LHD & LSD-41) B. Landing Craft Air Cushioned, (LCAC) 1. capapbility and advantages 2. limitations to operations C. Naval gunfire and OTH assault III. OTH has top priority with the Marine Corps A. Development of MV-22A, Osprey 1. Osprey characteristics and capabilities 2. dilemmas presented by Osprey B. LCAC and Osprey working together IV. List of new equipment not perfectly suited to OTH A. Non-OTH classes of ships B. CH-53E, Super Sea Stallion C. Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) D. AH-1 attack helicopter V. Preparation and Planning A. Develop employment concepts now B. Maximize advantages and retain proficiency in Non-OTH areas C. Budget cuts and their affects OVER THE HORIZON AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT: MAKING THE BEST OF EQUIPMENT INCOMPATIBILITY. General Omar N. Bradley on October 19, 1949, predicted that large-scale amphibious operations would never occur again. The General was proven wrong in his prediction when the amphibious landing at Inchon Korea took place in 1950. Amphibious warfare continues to be a vital element in our country's national strategy today, and will be considered so in the future. Former Commandant of the Marine Corps General P. X. Kelley stated: Indeed, the incremental advances we have experienced in the art of amphibious warfare will soon be giving way to an exciting era--in which the rapid pace of strategic, operational, and tactical improvements will transform the current renaissance into nothing less than an amphibious revolution.1 This revolution in amphibious warfare will be principally driven by the technological advances which ultimately result in new equipment. It is this new equipment that will allow modification of and enhancement to the concept of traditional amphibious warfare . The Navy and Marine Corps have given high priority toward planning and formulating an operational and tactical framework for amphibious operations from over the horizon.2 The over the horizon (OTH) assault concept will offer a new dimension to future amphibious operations; this capability however, will be inhibited due to equipment incompatibilities. A brief review of recent amphibious history may be helpful in establishing a better understanding of the dynamics of over the horizon assault. Prior to World War II, few amphibious landing crafts and vessels existed. Those that did exist were in many cases in various stages of experimentation.3 The landing craft in use today within our amphibious forces had their beginnings and can be traced back to the World War II period. The tactical and strategic aspects of World War II demanded newer and more capable landing craft so that the war could be properly pursued. Many types were constructed and tested. One landing craft in particular, the LCPR, was so unstable and difficult to handle in the surf that it almost caused a disaster during the North Africa landing. The nation continued to exercise its industrial might and finally produced the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP). This landing craft was sometimes referred to as the "Higgins" boat as this was the name of the man who designed and built the boat. The LCVP was a tremendous increase in capability over other crafts that existed during that period of time, The LCVP was constructed of wood and was fitted with one-quarter inch armor to protect the occupants. It had a steel bow ramp, could make nine knots, and could carry as many as thirty six troops or eight thousand pounds of cargo. The LCVP had a V-bottom that meant it had to be carried , while aboard ship, in a davit. This particular botton shape also meant that personnel could not embark aboard the craft until it was in the water and was secured along the ship's side. Personnel then would use a wet net, that was over the ship's side, to embark aboard the craft. LCVPs were utilized extensively to land troops during the war. They were considered dangerous in a surf greater then five feet because they had only one screw which reduced maneuverability. Nevertheless, the LCVP contributed immeasurably toward winning World War II and can be credited for giving impetus to the development of modern amphibious warfare. The same forces that drove the development of various landing crafts during World War II, also gave emphasis to the operational requirement and then finally the production of the amphibious vehicle known as the Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT). The Department of Defense definition of an amphibious vehicle is a wheeled or tracked vehicle capable of operating on both land and water. The amphibious vehicle is unlike the landing craft which must be beached at or near the waters edge. Amphibious vehicles are designed to operate afloat or ashore without modification to ensure impetus in the attack through the beach. At the beginning of World War II, the only available LVT was the military model of the Roebling Alligator, the LVT(1).4 The LVT(1) was constructed of arc-welded steel from 14 gauge to 3/16 inch in thickness. It weighted 17,500 pounds and could carry a cargo of approximately 4,500 pounds. A 150 horsepower engine supplied the power to the LVT(1). This engine provided a land speed of 12 mph and a water speed of 7 mph. Improvements in the design of the LVT and better operational tactics were developed throughout the war. The model of amphibian vehicle in service today in the Marine Corps is the AAV7A1 series of Assault Amphibious vehicle. This particular family of amphibious vehicles is forecasted to support the Marine Corps well into the future century. Although early models of helicopters were in production and flown extensively prior to 1950, the first major tactical applications occurred during the Korean War. The Marine Corps was instrumental in developing the concept of vertical envelopment during the war in Korea. The first medevacs were successfully conducted by helicopters from VMO-6 during the first week of August 1950. A helicopter from VMO-6 also performed the first rescue of a downed pilot on August 10, 1950. The helicopter dramatically reduced the time required to evacuate wounded personnel from the battlefield to hospital facilities located in rear areas. It is impossible to determine the number of lives that were saved as a result of medevac helicopter missions. However,the number of wounded Marines that were evacuated by helicopters during the Korean conflict numbered close to 10,000 personnel. 5 HMR-161, flying the HRS-1 transport helicopter, set another milestone on September 3, 1951, by transporting 224 personnel and 17,772 pounds of cargo when it conducted the first helicopter lift of a combat unit. The use of helicopters has continued to expand within the Marine Corps since the Korean War and they will contribute to amphibious operations for years to come in the future. The introduction of new equipment and the capability improvements that are usually gained as a result, have challenged planners to continuously update and modify amphibious doctrine when necessary. This is critical to ensure that the maximum potential of a new system is efficiently utilized. Any relationship or interaction of a new system to an existing system should be analyzed by operational planners to determine that a high degree of compatibility will exist. Every effort should be made early in the equipment fielding process to ensure that as much compatibility as possible is attained. The U. S. Navy has placed a high degree of emphasis in the development of amphibious assault operations from over the horizon. This can be attributed to the concept's potential to produce tactically desirable characteristics not currently available when conventional amphibious warfare techniques are considered. The OTH assault concept will integrate into and positively complement the Navy's existing Sea Echelon concept.6 The Sea Echelon Concept considers the enemy's capability to employ nuclear weapons and mines within the amphibious objective area. Of primary concern is the need to disperse the ships for security purposes at sea until such time as they are needed. One major advantage offered by the over the horizon concept will be that better operational security will be attained by the amphibious task force. The force will be afforded greater protection from observation or electronic detection which is advantageous when the ever increasing enemy capabilty, which is being improved by advancing technology, is taken into consideration. One of the objectives of the Navy's 600-ship plan is to provide the amphibious lift capability to embark the assault echelons of a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEB) and a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). Consequently, two new classes of amphibious ships are now entering service in the fleet. These new ships are the Amphibious Assault Ship, "Wasp" class (LHD), and the Dock Landing Ship "Whidbey Island" class (LSD). These ships will bring needed amphibious lift capability and will ensure that the capacity to project power ashore in the future will be feasible. Although each new ship is considered multi-purpose, each brings with it certain characteristics that are advantageous and will have favorable over the horizon amphibious assault application potentials. The Navy is currently introducing the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) into the fleet in conjunction with the production of the LSD and LHD classes of amphibious ships. The 4th Assault Craft Unit located in Little Creek, Virginia, recently received LCAC number twelve.7 The Navy eventually plans on acquiring 45 LCACs for the east coast and also 45 for the west coast base located at Camp Pendleton, California. The LCAC has many advantages over conventional hull displacement landing craft which make them well suited to the OTH assault mission. They are more than four times faster than current landing craft and are capable of exceeding 40 knots on water and up to 25 knots on land. This performance is obtainable since the LCAC rides on a four foot cushion of trapped air and can operate in waters regardless of depth, waves, obstacles, or tides. The LCAC can continue to move inland over mud flats, sand dunes, and ditches if desired. Each LCAC can carry 60 tons of cargo and has a range of 200 nautical miles. They will be able to negotiate approximately 70 percent of the world's coastlines due to the ability to ride over the surface on air cushion. The LHD will be able to carry 3 LCACs and the LSD, Whidbey Island class, will be able to carry 4 LCACs. Although the LCAC will bring advantages to amphibious warfare, there will also be limitations and additional responsibilities to consider. The LCAC is not suited as a personnel transporter as it does not possess a covered shelter and would hazardously expose personnel to harmful noise and the elements. The maintenance requirements will no doubt increase as a result of the aircraft related machinery and its exposure to the highly corrosive salt environment. The LCAC is not compatible with the Amphibious Cargo Ship (LKA) or the Tank Landing Ship (LST). The question of adequate Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) arises when considering OTH amphibious assault. Adequate naval gunfire has long been a Marine Corps requirement placed upon the Navy. Conducting assaults from over the horizon provides a new dimension to the naval gunfire requirements. The Navy is working on several projects to enhance NSFS.8 These include improvements to 16-inch shipboard gunfire control systems, semi-active laser guided projectiles, and procurement of sufficient NSFS ammunition supplies. Additionally the Army's Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is being evaluated for use at sea. The over the horizon amphibious assault concept will receive the Marine Corps' top priority and is seen as the most dramatic change since the tenative Manual for Landing Operations was published in 1934.9 Along with being the top priority, it is also a major operational challenge since this concept involves the integration and development of new equipment and emerging technologies. All aspects must be taken into consideration in order to develop the concept of OTH assault to its fullest potential. The major component of the Marine Corps' OTH assault future team will be the MV-22A, Osprey. This aircraft is being built by the Bell helicopter and Boeing Vertol companies in a joint manufacturing venture. Full-scale development began on the Osprey program in mid-1985. This program was the first of its kind-since it would produce an aircraft to satisfy the requirements of all four services. Although initially all four services would buy the Osprey, the Marine Corps will purchase the most with a planned buy of 552 to replace the aging CH-46, medium lift helicopter. The Osprey will have an empty weight of 31,818 pounds, a vertical takeoff gross weight of 49,961 pounds which results in a payload weight of 18,143 pounds. Using a short field takeoff maneuver increases gross weight to 54,171 pounds. It will be 57.33 feet long, wideth of 84.57 feet which is the rotor diameter, and will be 21.73 feet high. For comparisome, the CH-46 has a blade diameter of 51 feet. The MV-22 will be powered by two 6,000-shaft horsepower Allison turboshaft engines and will be capable of speeds as high as 300 knots. Senator Barry Goldwater has stated, "the tilt-rotor is the most important aviation development since the Wright brothers." The aircraft will feature automatic wing and rotor-blade folding, air-to-air refueling provisions, a dual cargo hook, infared suppressors, and a rear loading ramp. The cargo compartment will measure 6x6x24 feet. The MV-22 will have a fly-by-wire control system. The Osprey will be fast, flexible, and surviveable. It will be able to operate from ships or austere landing areas. Introduction of the Osprey will not occur without challenges or dilemmas. Its size and dimensions will create problems concerning space and operating procedures when aboard ship. Landing spots and hangar spaces must carefully be reviewed and planned to ensure a safe transition is accomplished. The Osprey will not be able to operate from certain ships' such as the LST due to its size. Although the main compartment will be able to accomodate 24 combat-equipped Marines, it will not be wide enough for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The HMMWV must be externally moved by cargo hook. This will surely decrease the Oeprey's speed due to the added drag and requirement to slow down with an external load. The Osprey and LCAC working together will be able to move a greater number of troops and larger amount of cargo because of their increased operating speeds. This team will be the central basis from which the majority of the OTH amphibious assault concept will draw its capability. Both the Osprey and the LCAC will operate from and compliment the operations of the LHD and new LSD ships. Not all equipment within the inventory of the Navy and Marine Corps will be suited to OTH amphibious assault. In some cases there may not be any application at all to OTH assault. Displacement hull landing crafts such as the LCM-8 or LCU come immediately to mind. The LST will also not have much utility in an OTH assault. This class of ship must close with the beach in order to discharge its embarked Assault Amphibian Vehicles (AAVs) or if carrying tanks may in fact beach itself if necessary to land the tanks. Heavy helicopter lift will still be provided to the landing force by the Super Stallion, CH-53E. This helicopter will be able to operate from OTH but will not be able to do so at speeds equal to the Osprey. This will further complicate the di'lemma of providing armed escort because now there will be two unarmed transports of differing performance to consider and plan for. Once the AAVs are launched, they will only be able to cruise at a water speed of 8 mph. This is the primary reason that the ship transporting the AAVs must close with the land mass so that the distances the AAVs must swim is reduced. A challenge will certainly be offered to the OTH assault planner in developing the concept of employing the AAVs. Attack helicopters such as the AH-1W, Cobra will not be able to match the airspeeds necessary to provide armed escort for the Osprey. An alternative to the Cobra for escorting the Osprey during the ship to shore phase of the amphibious assault, especially from OTH could be the AV-8B, Harrier.10 An air search radar would help the Harrier perform this mission if assigned. Certainly a viable option for providing armed escort would be developing an escort version of the MV-22 that is properly equipped with the appropriate weapons systems.11 This would free the Cobras to escort the slower CH-53Es or provide more frequent close in air support to committed infantry units. The real challenge with OTH amphibious assault will lie in its planning, since it now seems that procurement of appropriate equipment is confirmed. Numbers of systems and equipment types to be procured may vary and eventually be reduced or acquired more slowly but total cancellation of a particular project is considered unlikely.12 Incompatibilities do exist with systems as previously discussed. It is therefore critical that operational planners consider system advantages and disadvantages so that the best and most compatible system relationship can be developed and employed. While maximizing the advantages of OTH technology, the Marine Corps must retain the capability to conduct amphibious warfare utilizing conventional techniques and equipment. This is primarily necessary because certain non-OTH capable equipment will still be in the inventories of the Navy and Marine Corps. As this older equipment is phased out, it should be replaced with OTH capable equipment. Although new ships and weapons systems such as the LHD, LSD-41, and the LCAC are now entering fleet service, future weapons system acquisitions may be in peril due to fiscal restraints. The danger is not that a particular program will be cut entirely but that the capability within a system will be reduced to try to save money. If this occurs, in many respects more potential may be lost in terms of quality then will be gained by buying a stripped down system. In the case of the MV-22, the U. S. Army recently cancelled its plans to purchase 231 tilt-rotors for budget reasons.13 This will impact the program and may effect the other services procurement plans for this system. Acquisition dicision makers will no doubt have their hands full dealing with future budget matters. The concept of OTH amphibious assault will soon become a reality. To ensure that this new capability is maximized, the incompatibilities in equipment that now exist, and that will be created in the future, should now be analyzed. This will greatly reduce tomorrows problems and will enhance the U. S. Marine Corps' future operational posture to successfully perform 0TH amphibious assault. FOOTNOTES 1Paul X. Kelley, and Hugh K O'Donnell, "The Amphibious Warfare Strategy," U. S. Naval Institute, (January 1986), 29. 2Ibid,28. 3MCDEC, USMC Amphibious Ships, Landing Craft and Vehicles, IP 3-4 (Quantico, 1987),pp.i. 4Alfred D. Bailey, Alligators, Buffaloes, and Bushmasters: The History of the Development of the LVT Through World War II (Washington, D. C.: History and Museums Division, HQMC, 1986),p.42. 5Robert V. Aquilina, "Korean War Chronology, Air War in Korea Fostered Major Tactical Innovations," Fortitudine, 17 (Fall 1987), 22-23. 6MCDEC, USMC The Sea Echelon Concept, IP 3-16 (Quantico, 1987), i, 2-3. 7"Latest USN LCAC Delivered," Jane's Defense Weekly, (6, December 1988), 51. 8"Marine Corps 1987 Concepts and Issues," Marine Corps Requirements and Programs Division, Headquarters Marine Corps, 3 February, 1987, p. 119. 9Thomas C. Linn, "Over-the-Horizon Assault: The Future of the Corps," Marine Corps Gazette, (December 1987), 44. 1OLTCOL J. Cox, CO, VMA-542, Personnel interview concerning AV-8B providing escort. Quantico, VA, February 3, 1988. 11Capt Timothy C. Hanifen, "Arming the Osprey," Marine Corps Gazette, (July 1987), 65. 12"Marines to Reduce Manpower But Stay Strong, Gray Asserts," Washington Times, January 20, 1988, Section A., p. 4. 13Barbara Starr, "Osprey Program to Survive Army's withdrawal," Navy Times, February 15, 1988, p. 40. BIBLIOGRAPHY Aquilina, Robert V. 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