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Marine Corps Main Battle Tank Force
AUTHOR Major John D. Theeuwen, USMC
CSC 1990
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
-TEXT-
                EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  MARINE CORPS MAIN BATTLE TANK FORCE
Thesis Statement:  If the Marine Corps is to maintain its
capability as a force in readiness across the entire spectrum of
conflict it will have to increase its main battle tank force
capabilities.
     The Marine Corps is reexamining its roles and missions in
light of the rapidly changing world situation and declining
budgetary resources.  As a result, initiatives are being explored
to reduce the Marine main battle tank (MBT) force to two
battalions of three companies each.  This would leave a total of
88 M1A1 MBTs in the active forces.  One affiliated reserve
company in each battalion would leave only 28 M1A1 MBTS in the
active force.
     The Marine Corps must maintain a global response capability
across the entire spectrum of conflict.  There is an increasing
amount of armor throughout the world.  Advances in armor
technology and reactive armor and exportation of these
technologies are rendering our current antitank systems, both
105mm cannons and ATGMs, less effective.  Lightweight tanks will
not have sufficient firepower or survivability to accomplish MBT
missions against a modern mechanized threat.  As recommended by
the Armored Structure Study Group and the MAGTF Ground Combat
Plan Working Group, a minimum of three M1A1 tank battalions in
the active forces and two battalions in the reserves would be
required to meet worldwide contingencies.  This would provide
adequate combat power, sustainability and flexibility to a MAGTF
commander against a mechanized threat.  This will not create a
"mechanized heavy" Marine Corps or interfere with the Marine
Corps' ability to conduct air mobile operations when required.
It will provide the ability to respond across the entire spectrum
of conflict.  Reduction of the Marine Corps' MBT force to two
battalions (88 MBTs) in the active and two companies (24 MBTs) in
the reserves does not provide adequate combat power, and this
reduction should be avoided.
                        OUTLINE
TITLE:  MARINE CORPS MAIN BATTLE TANK FORCE
I.   INTRODUCTION
     A.   MAGTF MASTER PLAN/CMC GUIDANCE
     B.   REDUCTION OF USMC TANK FORCE
II.  MAIN BATTLE TANK
     A.   SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
     B.   CONCEPT OF EMPLOYMENT
     C.   HISTORY OF ALTERNATIVES
III. LIGHTWEIGHT TANKS
     A.   HISTORY OF ALTERNATIVES
     B.   CONCEPT OF EMPLOYMENT
     C.   LIMITATIONS
IV.  GENERAL THREAT OVERVIEW
     A.   THREAT CONCEPT OF EMPLOYMENT
     B.   TANK FORCES
     C.   ADVANCES IN SOVIET TECHNOLOGY AND WILLINGNESS TO EXPORT
          IT
          1.  ARMOR TECHNOLOGY
          2.  REACTIVE ARMOR TECHNOLOGY
V.   SPECTRUM OF CONFLICT
     A.   ARMORED STRUCTURE STUDY GROUP RECOMMENDATION
     B.   MAGTF GROUND COMBAT PLAN WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATION
     C.   ATGM AND LIGHTWEIGHT TANK LIMITATIONS
     D.   LIKELIHOOD OF CONFLICT
     E.   STRATEGIC MOBILITY
     F.   IMPACT OF TANK REDUCTIONS
VI.  CONCLUSION
        MARINE CORPS MAIN BATTLE TANK FORCES
INTRODUCTION
     The Marine Corps is currently in the process of reexamining
its roles and missions in light of the rapidly changing world
situation and declining budgetary resources.  In July of 1989,
the Marine Corps published the MAGTF Master Plan in which the
Commandant stated "we must continue to maintain a global response
capability, and we must insure that we can effectively respond
across the spectrum of conflict."  Current initiatives within the
Marine Corps call for a reduction from the planned three M1A1
tank battalions and an armored assault battalion (Okinawa) to
only two tank battalions, one at Camp Lejuene and one at MCAGCC,
29 Palms, CA.  It further calls for the reduction of these
battalions to only three companies with an affiliated reserve
company for each battalion.  This would leave the Marine Corps
with a total of 88 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in the active forces
and only 28 MBTs in the reserves.  In view of current and future
Third World capabilities, this does not appear to be in keeping
with the Commandant's guidance of maintaining an effective
response across the spectrum of conflict.
     Although large scale armored and mechanized operations are
not typical of the environment in which MAGTFs will most likely
be employed, they are an integral component for combined arms
warfare and cannot be ignored.  Those Third World nations whose
geography support the use of tanks and mechanized forces have a
credible tank and mechanized capability.  Continued erosion of
Marine Corps tank forces will jeopardize our capability to meet
world wide contingencies; not just general war, but also at the
mid and low intensity level.  If the Marine Corps is to maintain
its capability as a force in readiness across the entire spectrum
of conflict it will have to increase its main battle tank force
capabilities.
MAIN BATTLE TANK
     A main battle tank (MBT) is a weapons system which utilized
armor protected firepower, shock effect, and maneuver in order to
destroy the enemy.  It must have sufficient speed, agility,
firepower, armor protection, and fire control to acquire, engage
and defeat all projected enemy forces.  It must be simple and
reliable which will ensure its employment without excessive
training or maintenance requirements.
     In the Marine Corps, the tank battalion is a maneuver unit
organized to conduct combat as part of the combined arms team.
It can be employed separately, or as part of a larger force, but
will normally be task organized through reinforcement or cross
attachment with other combat and combat service support units.
This mechanized force often is the commanders best means for
achieving decisive success.  Marine mechanized forces are
offensive in nature because only in the offense can the commander
fully exploit the characteristics of firepower, mobility and
shock.  Even in a defensive operation, the commander seeks ways
to employ his mechanized forces offensively.
     Against a mechanized opponent, tanks are best employed in
mass as a maneuver element, organized as a combined arms force
with mechanized infantry.  It provides to the MAGTF commander the
capability of exploitation in the offense and counterattack in
the defense.  In the offense, this force must be capable of
conducting a turning movement.  It must be capable of
penetrating, either by passing around or through the enemy's
defenses to secure objectives deep in the enemy's rear to force
the enemy to abandon his position or divert major forces to meet
the threat.  In the defense this force must be capable of rapid
and decisive action to counterattack enemy penetrations.  In
either case, offense or defense, against a mechanized opponent,
this force must possess the mobility, armor protection, and
firepower to defeat enemy tanks and mechanized infantry
formations.
     Several alternatives for a MBT within the Marine Corps have
been explored over recent years.  In 1985, the Marine Corps
examined the current M60A1, M60A1 with an improved fire control
system, M60A3, and M1A1 as candidates for the future Marine Corps
MBT.  The M1A1 was selected for procurement.  It was the only MBT
that had the required tactical mobility and armor protection to
provide adequate survivability and the firepower to defeat the
projected threat MBTs.  All the other candidates carried the
105mm main gun which was considered inadequate against advanced
tank armors.  In February 1988, the Armor Structure Study Group
examined the M60A1, M60A3, M60A4, M60A5, the Armored Family of
Vehicles (a U.S. Army program), the M1, and M1A1.  The M1A1 was
the only candidate with the 120mm main gun.  Again, it was
considered the only candidate that had adequate survivability and
firepower to meet the threat.  All the other candidates carried
the 105mm main gun and lacked armor protection.  Their
probability of survival on the future battlefield, even in the
LIC and MIC environments was considered low.  The Study Group
also examined the executability of a unilateral Marine Corps
program to produce the M60A5.  They found that savings in unit
cost did not take into consideration R&D cost, and the cost for
training that had been supported by the U.S. Army.  The Study
Group concluded that the M60A5 possessed marginal capability to
defeat the threat in the future LIC and MIC environments,
demonstrated limited capability for growth and the unilateral
nature of the program was not worth the risk.  With the limited
numbers of vehicles in the Marine Corps and the capabilities,
present and projected, of potential enemies in the LIC, MIC
environment the Armor Structure Study Group reported, "we believe
it is in the best interest of the Marine Corps to procure the
M1A1."
LIGHTWEIGHT TANK (LWT)
     The Marine Corps has made several attempts to procure a
lightweight tank in various forms, but to date has been
unsuccessful.  Efforts began in the mid-to-late seventies with an
interest in a lightweight direct fire support system.  Helicopter
transportability was a requirement.  This requirement increased
mobility and firepower to the MAGTF; armor protection would be
sacrificed to provide mobility.  This led to the Mobile Protected
Weapon System (MPWS) program.  The Light Armored Vehicle (LAV)
program was initiated in 1981 out of Congressional interest for
the Marine Corps to respond to RDF missions.  The concept was for
a series of vehicles called Mission Role Vehicles (MRVs) to
perform various mutually supporting functions on the battlefield.
     One of the MRVs was an Assault Gun (lightweight tank)
variant.  Simultaneously, the U.S. Army was exploring a
lightweight tank concept called the Mobility Protected Gun System
(MPGS) to replace its Sheridans in its airborne force.  The
Marine Corps declared an interest in the MPGS program and began
work with the U.S. Army on a joint ROC.  The two services came in
conflict on the mobility issue.  The Army required 30mm
protection, but this could not be carried by a helicopter.  The
Marine Corps eventually dropped out of the program.  It also
dropped the MPWS program to pursue the LAV-AG.  The LAV-AG
however, was shelved because of technical difficulties and Marine
Corps priorities for resources.
     All of these systems were intended to provide a highly
mobile direct fire antitank capability.  This would allow the
Marine Corps to engage threat armor, using highly mobile
helicopterborne forces without the reliance on heavy tank forces.
The problem is that threat armor has advanced more rapidly than
our capability to procure lightweight guns (helicopter liftable)
to kill them.  Also, to maintain helicopter transportability, the
armor protection must be very light.  This makes these vehicles
vulnerable to a dangerous percentage of threat weapons on the
battlefield, basically, heavy machine guns and up.
     Furthermore, it was revealed that should these lightweight
tanks become decisively engaged by threat armor they would not
have the firepower to consistently kill the threat tanks or the
armor protection to survive.  Their inherent speed over the
ground would help, but they could not become decisively engaged,
nor could they win a decision unilaterally.  Their role began to
change from that of antitank to reconnaissance and screening.
Missions that would find the enemy, maintain contact, bring
indirect fire, to bear, and attack and defend within their
capability provided they did not become decisively engaged.  This
mission was given to the Light Armored Infantry Battalion (LAI
Bn) with the LAV Assault Gun to provide a direct fire capability
to engage enemy light armored vehicles, air defense systems,
bunkers, fortified positions, and personnel.  In light of the
fact that the LAI Bn has the LAV-25 to engage these same targets
it brings into question whether the expenditure of over $400
million in development and procurement is worth the cost.
     The Marine Corps has continued to explore options to provide
a lightweight tank.  In 1987, the U.S. Army again attempted to
develop a light tank for its airborne force called the Armored
Gun System.  The Marine Corps again expressed an interest and
attempted to develop a joint ROC.  The U.S. Army required 30mm
protection thus making it non-helicopter transportable.  The
Marine Corps dropped the helicopter transportability requirement.
The Marine Corps required a swim capability.  The idea was to
take the turret developed for the AGS and integrate in onto the
LAV or AAV.  The Army's AGS program lost funding as a result of
changing priorities during the FY90 POM process and thus ended
another joint program.
     The Army's work, however, produced several candidate
vehicles for the AGS to include the Cadillac Gage Stingray, FMC
Close Combat Vehicles Light, and the Teledyns Continental Motors
TCM-20.  All carried the 105mm gun and none were helicopter
transportable.  These would be lighter than a tank but much less
survivable.  The 105mm gun would also limit kill capabilities
against threat MBTs.
     The LAV-AG program was reemphasized and work began to
develop an LAV-AG to support the LAI Bn.  The LAV-AG will also
mount the 105mm cannon.  These will be helicopter transportable,
but like the other LAV MRVs, will be vulnerable to the majority
of threat weapons.  Because of the limitations of the 105mm
cannon against advanced armors and its poor armor protection, it
was considered too weak to be decisively engaged by threat tanks,
and the requirement for the LAV-AG to kill tanks was removed from
the LAV Required Operational Capability (ROC) and Concept of
Employment.
GENERAL THREAT OVERVIEW
     The Marine Corps must be prepared to fight across the entire
spectrum of conflict anywhere in the world.  The threat can vary,
with differing degrees of probability, from action directly
against Soviet or Warsaw Pact forces to nonaligned Third World
countries.  All have varying degrees of armor and antiarmor
capabilities, but various trends emerge when examining potential
adversaries.
     The Marine Corps must be prepared to meet contingencies
anywhere in the world.  There is no longer a question whether
deploying MAGTFs will meet tanks on the next battlefield.  Nearly
every country in the world possesses tanks of some quantity.
Therefore, the question will be how many tanks and of what type.
Most potential adversaries are Soviet trained and equipped, and
many are given top of the line equipment and technology.  Many
are tank and mechanized heavy forces possessing sophisticated and
lethal combat equipment comparable, and in some area superior to
our own.  While the number of equipment may be less, we can
expect to see similar employment of combined arms concepts.
Their use as a rapidly moving combined arms team, integrating
massed artillery fires, mechanized infantry, and close air
support, both fixed wing and helicopter, all under an extensive
antiair umbrella, would present a formidable threat to any
opposing force.  That is not to say that they could not be
defeated; but, the effort required and costs in men and materiel
would be a function of the numbers and types of equipment
available to them and their level of training.  The tank forces
of potential adversaries are listed below:
Click here to view image
     The development and fielding by the Soviet Union of the T64
series, T72 series, T80 series, and FST-1 tanks and the
installation of reactive armor (RA) on these tanks represents a
significant improvement in their armor capabilities.  Of primary
concern is the ease and willingness of the Soviets to export the
armor and antiarmor technology that produced these tanks.
Advances in Soviet armor technology are rapidly being passed to
their allied and client states.
     In April 1988, the former co-chairman of the 1985 Defense
Science Board Task Force on armor/antiarmor, retired Army General
Don Starry, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Subcommittee on Conventional Forces and Alliance Defense.
General Starry told the subcommittee that the latest U.S.
antitank guided missiles (ATGMs), the TOW2A and Hellfire, were
unable to penetrate the latest Soviet armor configurations.  He
went on to say that the "combination of composite or ceramic
armor and reactive appliques has likely make obsolete every
fielded system - especially every fielded [ATGM] which uses a
shaped charge warhead as a defeat mechanism."  When asked by
Senator Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the subcommittee, if that meant
that our bullets and missiles would bounce off Soviet tanks,
General Starry replied that it was correct. 1
     If the Marine Corps is never going to face the Soviets, why
is this significant?  What is of concern is the exportation of
these technologies.  In March and April of 1988, live fire tests
conducted by the Army revealed that not one 105mm depleted
uranium round fired from the M1 (same M68 cannon that is on the
M60A1 and proposed LAV-AG) was able to penetrate the armor of an
export model of the T72. 2  In fact, the M833 round, our current
armor defeating round, can only penetrate up to the T62. 3  All
follow-on tanks, T64 series, T72 series, T80 and FSTs are
protected in the frontal 60 degree arc.  This includes the export
model of the T72.  This failure of the 105mm cannon against
potential threat armor and its lack of engineering growth
potential to keep pace with emerging armor technology was a
driving factor in the decision to procure the M1A1 with its 120mm
cannon.  Ammunition for the 120mm cannon will be able to defeat
the frontal 60 degree arcs of all threat tanks, to include export
models, far into the future. 4
     Why is the frontal 60 degree arc so important?  Critics say
maneuver can be used to achieve shots from the flanks and rear
where the armor is weaker.  Enemy tank crews are trained just as
U.S. tank crews; that is, when faced with an antitank threat put
the thickest armor to that threat.  In a meeting engagement, an
enemy tank force that receives a threat from a flank will soon
turn to face that threat.  In the defense, flank and rear shots
usually come after the enemy has breached, or passed through
defensive positions.  During the last three major tank conflicts
in the Middle East (67, 73, and 82), 70 percent of the hits
struck on the tanks 60 degree frontal arc, another 23 percent
struck somewhere on the tanks side 120 degree arc, and only 7
percent struck the tanks rear 60 degree arc. 5
     Reactive armor (RA) has also become a significant problem.
RA renders the Dragon, Improved Tow (I-TOW), and TOW2
ineffective. 6  Again in live fire in March and April of 1988, the
chemical enemy warheads of the I-TOW and TOW2A were unable to
defeat the export model of the T72 when new RA boxes were added.
The previous year the Army tested the tandem-warhead (a small
charge to explode the RA prior to the main warhead detenation)
TOW2A against an earlier generations of RA and the warhead was
able to penetrate.  The tests in 1988 were against a more
advanced version of the RA believed to match what the Soviets are
now deploying. 7  The danger is that the technology for RA is easy
and inexpensive and, if Third World countries can't make it
themselves, the Soviets can make it, put it in a box, and ship it
to them with instructions for installation on the tank.
SPECTRUM OF CONFLICT
     The Marine Corps must be prepared to conduct offensive
operations across the entire spectrum of conflict.  This drives
two factors, you must possess the weapons to defeat the threat
and be organized to employ those weapons effectively.  In terms
of the Marine Corps tank force, the Armor Structure Study Group
recommended a minimum of three tank battalions (plus two
companies in Okinawa) in the active forces and two in the
reserves to meet worldwide contingencies.  The MAGTF Ground
Combat Plan Working Group also recommended a minimum of three
tank battalions of four companies each, with no tank companies in
Okinawa.  The MAGTF Ground Combat Plan Working Group concluded
that four companies in each battalion provide a significant
increase in flexibility to the MAGTF commander in those most
likely contingencies facing any significant armor threat.  This
organization enhanced training and readiness because all
battalions were the same.  This would also eliminate the
requirement for unit deployment of tank crews to Okinawa.  It was
felt that because of the lack of training areas for tanks in
Okinawa those limited assets would be better served in the two
CONUS MEFs.  If tanks were required to be in Okinawa they could
be prepositioned but not manned.  This recommendation, however,
was dropped from the final draft that is currently in staffing.
     The exportation trend clearly demonstrates that more and
more sophisticated mechanized forces are and will be in the hands
of potential adversaries.  They are acquiring new technology and
improving their armor protection.  The most reliable weapon to
destroy a threat MBT is a dumb, fire and forget, non-jammable
main gun round from another tank.  Reliance on ATGMs as the sole
antitank capability within a force does not appear prudent.  The
U.S. Army report on findings from the 1973 Yom Kippur War stated
that combat in the Middle East demonstrated that ATGMs were not
the primary agent of destruction of tanks.  ATGM effectiveness
falls off when engaging a force that is employing a combined arms
concept.  The tank is the greatest killer of other tanks, and
when properly employed with the concept of the combined arms
team, remains the dominant land weapons system.  This becomes
even more critical when improved special armors and reactive
armor are taken into consideration.
     Can a lightweight tank or LAV-AG accomplish the missions
normally assigned to MBTs?  In some instances, probably.
However, they lack the firepower and armor protection to conduct
exploitation and counterattack operation against a modern
mechanized force.  In terms of maneuver warfare, in order to
conduct a turning movement or counterattack, a mobile force must
pose and sustain a threat to the enemy.  It must have mobility to
maneuver against the enemy's weak point.  It must possess the
ability to survive the enemy's countering firepower to allow it
to close with the enemy to bring its firepower to bear.  Finally,
it must possess firepower that is lethal to the enemy at the
point of engagment.  As threat technology improves in the future,
ATGMs and lightweight tanks will pose and sustain less and less
of a threat because of their lack of firepower and survivability.
     How likely is a conflict against a modern mechanized force?
If, for example, we look at Southwest Asia, a region that is
considered vital to U.S. interests, there have been several
occasions for conflict since the Second World War: the War for
Israel's Independence (1947), the Suez War involving Britain and
France (1956), the Six Day War (1967), the War of Attrition
between Israel and Egypt (1967-73), and Yom Kippur War (1973),
two incursions by Israel into Lebanon (1978, 1982), the Syrian
invasions of Lebanon (1978, 1985), U.S. Peacekeeping in Lebanon
(1983-85), the Iran/Iraq War (1981-88), U.S. involvement in the
Persian Gulf (1986-88), and three altercations with Libya (1983,
1986, 1988).  In this region alone potential adversaries have
over 13,000 tanks, many of them T72s of various generations.
     Another example would be Korea.  We have been at a constant
state of readiness on the Korean Pennisula since the end of the
Korean War.  The instability of the North Korean Government could
lead to an unprovoked attack at any time.  There have been
several attacks against U.S. forces, including the seizure of the
USS Pueblo.  At present, the North Koreans have over 2,000 tanks
of various types.
     If a lightweight tank or a ATGM cannot perform the required
functions of MBTs in the Marine Corps, are those MBTs
strategically mobile?  This brings to light the Marine Corps
roles and missions issue as to the requirement for air mobility
versus sea mobility.  U.S. Army airborne forces have a great deal
of strategic mobility, but they lack tactical mobility,
sustainment and sufficient combat power against a mechanized
threat.  They can't drop M1A1 MBTs by parachute.  If they face a
significant armor threat, they must sieze an airfield in order to
transport MBTs to the area of operations by air.  If they can not
transport sufficient numbers of MBTs to counter the threat, they
will be at serious risk.  Sheridans, lightweight tanks, or ATGMs
will not provide adequate firepower or survivability.  They
suffer from the same threat technological advances as does the
Marine Corps.  The primary threat to any airborne force is a
mechanized force and they are the least prepared to counter that
threat.  They become a weak immobile force against a strong
mobile force.
     The Marine Corps, because its strategic mobility is
primarily by ship, can get to a conflict with far more combat
power and sustainability than an airborne force, yet with much
less strategic lift requirements and in a shorter time than an
Army heavy mechanized force.  This is especially true if you
consider the capabilities enhanced by the MPS assets.  The Marine
Corps becomes the force in readiness for conflicts where the
threat is too heavy for airborne forces.  The Marine Corps
provides sufficient time for U.S. Army heavy mechanized forces to
follow on.  None of this precludes the Marine Corps from
participating in air mobile operations with or without its MBTs.
For missions in low intensity conflict requiring rapid response
by air, the Marine Corps can still respond.  If MBTs are not
required, the Marine Corps can leave them behind.  If the threat
warrents, LAV-25 and LAV-AT can be flown in.  If MBTs are
required they can be flown in by C5 aircraft.  (The M1A1 weighs
64.4 tons combat loaded.  This weight can be reduced by removing
fuel, ammunition, and the crew).  Possessing a sufficient MBT
force to counter a mechanized threat across the full spectrum of
conflict does not preclude the Marine Corps from reacting rapidly
to a lower spectrum of conflict by air.  However, possessing an
insufficient MBT force to accomodate the thought that the Marine
Corps must be light for rapid response by air will preclude the
Marine Corps from being able to counter a mechanized threat
across the full spectrum of conflict.
     Does 114 M1A1, (3 battalions, 4 companies each) verses 88 MA
(2 battalions, 3 companies each) make a significant difference in
the overall scheme of things?  It does if you depart from the
normal notional MAGTF and tailor the force in terms of METT-TS.
In MEF operates against an enemy with a mechanized capability,
one tank battalion of 3 companies only allows the MEF to provide
one tank company to one infantry battalion and keep a tank heavy
task force.  Only two of the eleven maneuver battalions in the
MEF have tanks for a total of 44.  This also leaves only 44
tanks, one three company battalion, to meet other contingencies
or to reinforce the committed battalion prior to reserve call up.
Furthermore, reserve call up would only provide two additional
companies.  There is no other source of trained personnel in the
event of high or mid intensity conflict.
     If the MEF deploys two tank battalions of four companies
each through a combination of amphibious shipping and MPS
shipping, it would provide four tank companies to four infantry
battalions and have two tank heavy task forces.  Six of the
twelve maneuver battalions would have tanks for a total of 114.
The lead echelons of two regiments, two mechanized infantry heavy
task forces and a tank heavy task force in each regiment, would
now become a potent threat and give the MAGTF commander a great
deal of flexibility.  One additional four company battalion would
be available for contingencies or to reinforce the committed
battalions prior to reserve call up.  Reserve call up would
provide two additional battalions for mid or high intensity
conflict.  Three tank battalions of four companies each in the
active force are not to many MBTs (114) to support three MEFs.
This would not "heavy up" the Marine Corps.  The M1A1 tank
battalion, in total, weighs less and takes up less cubic feet
than the current M60A1 tank battalions (one less tank per platoon
in the M1A1 battalion).  However, two tank battalions of three
companies each in the active force are not enough MBTs (88) to
provide adequate combat power over the full spectrum of conflict.
CONCLUSION
     The Marine Corps must maintain a global response capability
across the entire spectrum of conflict.  There is an increasing
amount of armor throughout the world.  Advances in armor
technology and reactive armor and exportation of these
technologies are rendering our current antitank systems, both
105mm cannons and ATGMs, less effective.  Lightweight tanks will
not have sufficient firepower or survivability to accomplish MBT
missions against a modern mechanized threat.  As recommended by
the Armored Structure Study Group and the MAGTF Ground Combat
Plan Working Group, a minimum of three M1A1 tank battalions in
the active forces and two battalions in the reserves would be
required to meet worldwide contingencies.  This would provide
adequate combat power, sustainability and flexibility to a MAGTF
commander against a mechanized threat.  This will not create a
"mechanized heavy" Marine Corps or interfere with the Marine
Corps' ability to conduct air mobile operations when required.
It will provide the ability to respond across the entire spectrum
of conflict.  Reduction of the Marine Corps' MBT force to two
battalions (88 MBTs) in the active and two companies (24 MBTs) in
the reserves does not provide adequate combat power, and this
reduction should be avoided.
                        ENDNOTES
1.  Dean, Scott D. and Benjamin E. Schemmer, "General Tells
Lawmakers New Soviet Tanks Make U.S. Systems "Obsolete"", Armed
Forces Journal International (May 1988): 17.
2.  Ibid., 17.
3.  Ropelewski, Robert R., "Soviet Gains in Armor/Antiarmor Shape
U.S. Army Master Plan," Armed Force Journel International
(February 1989): 69.
4.  Ibid., 69.
5.  Roos, John G., "Inside Reactive Armor," Armed Forces Journal
International (May 1988): 18.
6.  Ropelwski, 68.
7.  Dean, Schemmer, 17.
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        Publisher, 1988.
7.   Concept of Employment (COE):  Light Armored Vehicle-Assault
        Gun.  MCCDC, Quantico, VA, undated.
8.   Marine Air-Ground Task Force Master Plan 1990-2000, MCCDC,
        Quantico, VA, 7 July 1989.
9.   Marine Air-Ground Task Force Supporting Plans (Draft), MCCDC,
        Quantico, VA, undated.
10.  Marine Armor Force.  Armor Structure Study Group, HQMC,
        Washington, DC., 11 February, 1988.



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