Can We Move The Men And Equipment To North Norway In Time? AUTHOR Major Micheal J. Vrabel, USMC CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA Operations EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: CAN WE MOVE THE MEN AND EQUIPMENT TO NORTH NORWAY IN TIME? I. Purpose: To show that the Marine Corps Prepositioning program provides deterrence to Soviet aggression and aids in the Defense of NATOs northern flank. II. Problem: Because of Norwegian concerns about prepositioning U.S. Marine Corps equipment in north Norway, close to the Soviet border, the equipment was prepositioned in central Norway 400 miles from the designated employment area. Can we move the men and equipment to north Norway to provide the desired deterrence. III. Data: Norways geographic position on the left flank of NATO and the strategic location of the airfields and ports in the north offer a significant advantage to whoever controls them in war. Because of this fact and to deter Soviet aggression, NATO will reinforce Norway in times of crisis. The requirement to preposition equipment in central vice north Norway added some obstacles in the path of timely employment of the MEB and may have had a negative effect on deterrence. The major area of concern in relation to deterrence was the limited LOCs for movement to northern Norway. Specifically, the limitations of the roads and ports in and around Trondheim and in the employment area, the security for the movement north, and the problems of cold weather on movement. The staff planning that has been accomplished by the 4th MEB and DKT in evaluating the capacities of the roads and ports in the reception and employment areas and the coordination of the mobilization of assets and movement during redeployment has allowed the timely movement to be accomplished. The combination of quickly mobilized Norwegian personnel, prepositioned Norwegian combat equipment, and the availability of commercial equipment allows Norway to provide initial security for the MEB and move personnel and equipment in any weather. IV. Conclusion: Because of the detailed staff planning, the Norwegian mobilization concepts, and the successful testing of the redeployment concepts, the reception and redeployment of a MEB does provide the deterrence that it is required to provide. CAN WE MOVE THE MEN AND EQUIPMENT TO NORTH NORWAY IN TIME? Outline Because of the limited LOCs that exist in central and north Norway it seems doubtful that this force of 13,000 Marines can be deployed north fast enough to provide a creditable deterrence to the Soviets. I. Purpose of prepositioning equipment in Europe. A. Soviet/Warsaw Pact threat to NATO countries. B. Deterrence. II. Reason for prepositioning in central Norway. A. Nordic balance. B. Other option areas. III. Disadvantages of prepositioning in central Norway. A. Redeployment problems 1. Road and rail limitations. 2. Port limitations. 3. Air transport limitations. 4. Movement interdiction. B. Distance from the employment area. IV. Value of Norways strategic location. A. Guards left flank of NATO. B. Possess valuable airfields. C. Overwatches major Soviet access to the North Sea. V. Norwegian mobilization concept. A. Mobilization of civilian assets. B. Small standing army that expands in crisis or war. VI. Solution to the redeployment problems to the north. A. Staff planning. B. Evaluate capacities of road and ports. C. Coordinated mobilization. D. Coordinated movement. E. Concepts tested VII. Example of deployment, reception, redeployment. VIII.Solution to security requirements during redeployment. A. Initial security from Norwegians. B. Subsequent security from deploying unit. IX. Solution to weathers effect on redeployment. X. Conclusion. CAN WE MOVE THE MEN AND EQUIPMENT TO NORTH NORWAY IN TIME? by Major Michael J. Vrabel, U.S. Marine Corps The Soviets are massing troops and equipment along the borders of the Eastern Block countries in central Europe. They are also massing along their border with Norway, the county that guards the strategic northern flank of NATO.(1:180) But the western powers have nothing to fear, NATO has U.S. forces that are earmarked for the defense of Europe, their equipment and supplies already prepositioned near their arrival airfields in Norway and West Germany. The airlifted U.S. forces quickly arrive and marry up with their equipment; their presence shifting the balance of forces and deterring the Soviets. The crisis is thus defused. The possibility of the Soviet/Warsaw Pact border build up described here was one of the factors that prompted NATO to establish the army POMCUS program and the Marine Corps prepositioning program. (1:187) The idea was to provide a creditable deterrent to any Soviet attack by having the ability to move large forces quickly to areas of concern. In order for this prepositioning to provide the desired deterrence it must be obvious to the Soviets that it will work and work in a timely manner. The army POMCUS sites located in West Germany near the reception airfields and near extensive road networks provides a deterrent to the Soviets. That the Marine Corps prepositioning provides the same level or really any level of deterrence could be seriously questioned. The reason the Norway prepositioning program seems to lack real deterrence relates to the prepositioning sites chosen for the MEB (Marine Expeditionary Brigade). During the initial negotiations between the U.S. and Norway concerning prepositioning locations, the Norwegian government expressed concern about upsetting the Nordic balance if the Marine Corps prepositioned equipment in North Norway close to the employment area and the Soviet border. (1:189) This Nordic balance consists of a close relationship and interdependence which exists within the Nordic region and although it does not include security arrangements, each country is fully aware that any significant step taken by one will affect the others. (2:3) Because of these Norwegian concerns the negotiators agreed that the MEB equipment would be stored in central Norway near Trondheim and the Marines would fly into Trondheim, marry up with their equipment and redeploy to North Norway. This redeployment was to be the responsibility of Norway. (1:191) Because of the limited LOCs that exist in central and north Norway it seems doubtful that this force of 13,000 Marines can be deployed to Norway, marry up with their equipment, then redeploy north fast enough to provide a creditable deterrence to the Soviets. Norway, North of Trondheim, is rugged country with high mountains, deep valleys and many fjords. The land routes that could be used to redeploy the MEB to the north consist of one road and one rail line. Both pass through numerous tunnels and deep valleys, cross many bridges and must cross two fjords that can only be traversed by ferry. Considering this, land redeployment does not provide the kinds of trafficability and dependability that would convince the Soviets that the MEB could quickly move north. Air transport of the MAB north also is not considered a viable redeployment option because the MEBs heavy equipment would require too many aircraft and too many sorties to even get close to providing the timely movement necessary for deterrence. That leaves sea transport as the only practical way to move the MEB, but the problem of timeliness for redeployment still exists. When the troops are airlifted into Norway they must travel the roads in the reception area to staging areas, marry up with their equipment, then move to the ports for seaborne redeployment. There is a limited road network in and around Trondheim and most roads are only two lanes wide which would limit the volume of traffic. Can the road network handle all this movement? Roads are not the only difficulty, there are also limited port facilities in both Trondheim and the employment area. Will these facilities be able to handle the volume of traffic? What are the odds that even if all of the logistics problems could be worked out, that the ships carrying the Marines would make it to the north considering enemy submarines and aircraft and the weather? Why be concerned about the credibility of the deterrent provided by this MAB? Because of the strategic significance of Norway. Norway guards the left flank of NATO, and control of her airfields and harbors can affect the resupply and reinforcement of the entire NATO alliance. Soviet control of these assets, especially the airfields, would allow their Naval air forces control of the skies above the Norwegian and North Seas, providing cover for their fleet and denying the area to NATO naval forces. (3.90) The Norwegian airfields would also provide fighter escort and refueler aircraft staging areas that would extend the range of their long range bombers so that they could more effectively interdict NATO shipping in the North Atlantic. Also, sixty miles northeast of the Norway - Soviet border, on the Kola peninsula, is a major Soviet naval base, Murmansk. This base is homeport for more than 50% of the Soviet Navy and provides the Soviet surface ships and submarines with year around access to the North Sea and the North Atlantic via the Norwegian Sea. (4:874) In war, control of the fjords and airfields in Northern Norway will allow us to bottle up a significant portion of the Soviet fleet to keep them from interdicting the U.S. - NATO resupply routes in the North Atlantic. We need to be able to reinforce Norway in times of crisis. We need to be able to do it under the current U.S. - Norwegian agreement which calls for deployment of forces to central Norway and redepolyment to the north. We need to do this to protect this strategic area by providing a creditable deterrence to Soviet aggression. But the question is HOW can we do it. If we accept the fact that redeployment by sea is the only practical way to move the MEB with all of its heavy combat equipment, to answer this question we must address and solve the following problems; the limitations of the roads and ports in and around Trondheim, the security for the movement north, the limitations of the ports and roads in the employment area and the problems of cold weather. To better understand how these problems can be solved, a further explanation of Norway and her mobilization concepts and her industrial capabilities is required. Norway is a modern industrialized country about the size of New Mexico with a population of only four million people. This is the lowest population density in Europe. (5.1) The cost for a large well equipped standing army to defend her extensive borders against invasion would be prohibitive. Therefore, the Norwegians developed a total defense concept that takes into account the fact that a modern industrialized society possesses vast resources and a surplus of goods and services that can be utilized in time of crisis or war. Under this concept Norway can activate ground transport firms, shipping companies, work shops and stores; they can mobilize oil companies who deliver their product right to the front lines and they can mobilize civilian helicopter companies operating on the oil rigs off shore to add 80 - 100 helicopters to the effort. (2:9) The active peace time strength of the Norwegian standing Army is approximately 38,000. This army operates under a mobilization system that, in times of war or crisis, expands it to a force of over 300,000. (2:14) This mobilized force represents 8% of the Norwegian population and they will fall in on a significant amount of combat equipment already prepositioned in critical areas of Norway as well as the civilian equipment referred to above. The combination of quickly mobilized personnel, prepositioned Norwegian military equipment, and the vast amounts of commercial equipment available, makes the seemingly impossible task of receiving and redeploying the MEB, while at the same time deploying their own forces, possible. All of the pieces of the puzzle exist for the reception and rapid redeployment of the MEB, but now do we put them together? The 4th MEB and Defense Command Trondalog (DKT) - (The Norwegian military district headquarters charged with planning the reception and redeployment of the MEB) are hard at work today, and have been for the last four years, developing and perfecting the plans that will focus all the necessary assets on the job of receiving, staging, equipping and redeploying the 13,500 men and their equipment north from Trondheim in a timely manner. It is, admittedly, not an easy task to identify and coordinate these assets and schedule the use of the limited facilities that are available to handle this volume of men and equipment. What these two staffs are doing to accomplish this task is identifying the shipping, material handling equipment, busses and trucks, that will be mobilized during a crisis and scheduling the mobilization of these assets to assure that adequate numbers will be available when and where required. They have also been taking careful note of the trafficability of roads and throughput capacities of the ports, both in Trondheim and in the employment area, designating routes, developing movement schedules and testing all the plans on computer models and during exercises. To coordinate this movement they utilize state of the art equipment like the Logmar system which uses lasers to read special markings on MEB equipment, similar to those used on products at the check out counters at supermarkets. With these they are able to monitor trucks, mobile loads, etc. that leave the storage sites enroute to the staging areas. The system, interconnected by computer to the staging areas and embarkation areas, can note when equipment arrives at the staging areas and when they go aboard ship. This way the planned timelines for movement can be monitored to assure that the equipment is where it is supposed to be, when its supposed to be, and if logjams occur they can be identified and handled quickly. As an example of how this deployment, redeployment would work, the easiest unit to deploy, receive and redeploy, the infantry battalion, will be used. Other units like an engineer battalion or an artillery battalion with their increased equipment densities would be much more difficult to handle, but the system can coordinate and redeploy them as well. One other point that needs to be recognized about this system is that the storage sites are configured for specific type units at the battalion level. The trucks or other common types of equipment will be prepositioned in the numbers required for all units assigned to that site. As the units arrive this equipment will be issued out of a common stock. This is done so that the equipment issue has some flexibility. The mobile loads designated for the specific units are held in adjacent areas at the storage site and are loaded on the trucks when required. The infantry unit designated as a Norway contingency battalion would have its training especially tailored. It would receive more cold weather training to include ski and driver training. It would identify all the equipment not required for deployment, because of the prepositioned assets already in Norway, and it would have a plan to quickly turn over this excess to the base or division supply system. It would have developed a plan to quickly take care of administrative requirements, i.e. POVs and personal items to be stored, cold weather equipment to be drawn, etc. and would have coordinated with base transportation for transport to the air head. Airlift Control Element (ALCE) teams would coordinate loading the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and Civil Reserve air Fleet (CRAF) aircraft for transport of the battalion to Trondheim. Upon arrival in Norway the Norwegians would meet the aircraft with busses and take the majority of the troops to predesignated staging areas. The staging areas would in be civilian facilities, like a school, and hot food for the Marines would be provided while in the staging area by the Norwegians. The responsible officers that would sign for the prepositioned equipment and the drivers would be taken to the storage site. The rolling stock allocated to the unit would then be mobile loaded with the battalions organic equipment and driven back to the staging area. The supply Classes I (subsistence) and V (ammunition) would be transported to the staging area where a designated Basic allowance would be issued. The battalion with all its men and equipment would then be moved to a port, loaded on intercoastal steamers and redeployed north. This puts the combat ready battalion with all its equipment in its assigned area in a timely manner and provides the deterrent that the prepositioning program is designed to provide. All units of the MEB have this type of detailed and coordinated deployment, reception and redeployment plan to expidite movement north. The remaining problems to be addressed are those of thesecurity of the force during reception and redeployment, and the effects of weather on all phase of the operation. It must beremembered that the Norway prepositioning program is designed for reinforcement in a benign environment not during hostilities.(1:187) But, realistically, we must look at our vulnerabilities and try to limit the risk. The Norwegian army will provide the initial ground security in and around Trondheim and the Norwegian anti-air assets and F-16s will provide the MEB air security during the initial phases of reception, until its own aircraft and anti-air assets can be utilized. (6:25) In addition, the U.S Air Force fighter aircraft scheduled for the defense of the northern flank can be utilized, if available. During the transit north from Trondheim, Norwegian and U.S aircraft will provide air cover and the Norwegian Navy augmented with available assets from the U.S. Navy will provide security at sea. The Navy will utilize mines and anti-submarine warfare and the ships transporting the MEB will use the intercoastal waterway to limit vulnerability to submarines. The remaining issue, the weather, is something that cannot be controlled, but those tasked with the responsibility for the reception and redeployment of the MEB live and operate in the areas in question and can handle the movement of the MEB in any weather. The bus and truck drivers operate their equipment year around, the ships operate year around and the snow removal equipment is on hand in quantities that allow an industrialized society to operate in any weather. Can we move the men and equipment to north Norway in time? Yes we can. It will take hard work by those responsible for this task, but the organization of the equipment in storage, the detailed planning with built in flexibility, the availability of men and equipment to move the MEB and the successful testing of the concept prove that the U.S. Marine Corps prepositioning program can move the men and equipment in the time required and provide the deterrent that is necessary to assure peace is maintained. 1Joseph H Alexander, "The Role of U.S. Marines in the Defense of North Norway," Proceedings, May 1984. 2Fredrik V. Bull-Hansen, "The Strategic Position and Defence Challenges of Norway," A lecture by the Chief of Defence Norway, January 1986. 3Richard C. Bowman, "Soviet Options on NATO's Northern Flank," Armed Forces Journal International, April 1984. 4Tomas Ries, "Defending the Far North," International Defense Review, July 1984. 5Norway Post Report, Department of Foreign Service Series 227, Department of State Publication 9178, April 1981. 6Erling Bjol, "Nordic Security," Adelphi Papers, no. 181 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1983).
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