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Regaining Control Of The Modernization Process

Regaining Control Of The Modernization Process

 

CSC 1992

 

SUBJECT AREA Logistics

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Title: Regaining Control of the Modernization Process

 

Author: Major R.A. Arnold, United States Marine Corps

 

Thesis: A difference in perception of risk affects the ability

of commanders to make informed decisions about force modern-

ization. Dif ferences stem from institutional and entrenched

ideas about procurement and require change to restore

responsiveness and ensure the fleet is equipped for modern

warfare.

 

Background: A difference in perception prompted the writing

of this paper. My experience leaves me with a perception that

the risk attached to helicopter operations is reaching unac-

ceptable levels. A fundamental breakdown in communications

between decision-makers who establish policy and operators in

the field who execute policy, have inhibited the modernization

process. The mission tasks of the helicopter community are

expanding without commensurate investment in technology.

The examples of the AH-1W Night Targeting System and the

reorganization of Marine Aircraft Groups are presented to

illustrate the differences that exist in perception concerning

these programs. Three factors are discussed that influence

internal Marine Corps decision-making: a failure to recognize

the changing nature of the battlefield, a reliance on pilots

to fill the gap between technology shortfalls and expanding

mission requirements, and an institutional approach to systems

acquisition.

The current aviation plan is reviewed and defended as the

best short-term solution to the modernization plan, but only

if it can be executed. A change to the AVPLAN is presented

to increase its viability and provide the Marine Corps with

a mission capability not presently programmed. Decision-making

theory is briefly discussed to provide insight into the

acquisition process; aspects presented include: satisficing

behavior, incrementalism, and bureaucratic politics.

The institutional structure of the Department of the Navy

is presented as a major impediment to the modernization of the

helicopter fleet. It is suggested that broadening the process

to the DOD level and integrating Marine programs into DOD

programs could assist in resolving current impasses.

 

Recommendations: Acknowledge that the current acquisition

system is both unresponsive and inef ficent and advocate bold

and sweeping changes. Seek compromise on the MV-22 to accelerate

its production and institute changes to remove the bias towards

upgrade approaches to acquisition.

 

REGAINING CONTROL OF THE MODERNIZATION PROCESS

 

Thesis Statement. A difference in perception of risk affects

the ability of commanders to make informed decisions about

force modernization. Differences stem from institutional and

entrenched ideas about procurement and require change to restore

responsiveness and ensure the fleet is equipped for modern

warfare.

 

I. A DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTION

A. Perspective and Perception

B. Risk Assessment

C. Unacceptable Risk in Helicopter Operations

D. The UH-1N as an Example

1. Cockpit preperation

2. Lack of Tactical Navigation Aids

3. Comparison with Fixed-wing Aircraft

4. Expanding Mission Requirements

5. The view of Decision-makers

 

II. WE ALL SHARE THE SAME GOAL

A. We are all Marines

B. My Intent

 

III. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTION

A. The AH-1W Night Targeting System

1. Requirements

2. Limitations of NTS

3. The Difference in Perception

 

IV. A SECOND ILLUSTRATION: REORGANIZATION

A. Compositing

1. East Coast Groups

2. West Coast Groups

B. Will Investment be made in Facilities

C. Southwest Asia worked well

 

V. INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

A. Nature of the Battlefield

B. Technology Shortfalls

C. Institutional Paranoia

 

VI. THE CURRENT AVIATION PLAN

A. We Live with Past Decisions

B. he Plan must be Executed

C. We must Correct the Process for the Future

 

VII. DECISION-MAKING

A. Satisficing Behavior

B. Incrementalism

C. Bureaucratic Politics

1. Budget Barginning

2. The MV-22 Fight: Congress v. SECDEF

 

VIII. IS THE NAVY OUR FRIEND

A. Navy Priorities

B. The Navy View of the Budget

 

IX. JOINT OPERATIONS

A. A DOD Problem

B. An Aging Fleet

C. A Credible Capability

 

X. BROADENING THE PERSPECTIVE

A. Broaden the Prespective to a DOD Perspective

B. Integration of Research and Development

C. Apply Proven Concepts

 

XI. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AVIATION PLAN

A. A Replacment for the UH-1N

B. A Continuing Requirement

C. Being Realistic

D. Proposal for Acquisistion

E. Politics are Key

 

XII. THE MODERNIZATION OF MARINE HELICOPTERS

A. A Bridge between Constituencies

B. Sister Service Support

C. Funding Changes

 

REGAINING CONTROL OF THE MODERNIZATION PROCESS

 

by Major Roy A. Arnold

 

A DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTION

 

An aspect often overlooked in the interpretation of high

 

level decisions is the influence that perspective and perception

 

have on decision-making. Differences of perspective are perhaps

 

easiest to understand. A squadron or battalion commander is

 

concerned with mission requirements today and tomorrow.

 

Headquarters Marine Corps is by necessity, concerned with

 

mission requirements not only today, but ten years from today.

 

Headquarters is forced to assess competing requirements over

 

time, accepting risk when resources preclude covering both the

 

needs of today and the projected needs of tomorrow.

 

Risk assessment and acceptance are appropriate tools at

 

every level of command. Acceptance of risk is not ignoring

 

risk. It means the delibrate recognition of a problem beyond

 

the capability of the commander to resolve. When risk is

 

identified the commander must develop a plan to limit its

 

impact on mission accomplishment. The scope of assessment is

 

set by where you sit in the decision chain and therefore how

 

you perceive a particular risk. The commander for whom a risk

 

is a primary day-to-day concern will view it differently, and

 

assign' it more importance, than a superior for whom the risk

 

is only one of many that affect the various units under his

 

command.

 

A difference in perception prompted the writing of this

 

paper. My experience leaves me with a "perception" that the

 

risk attached to helicopter operations is reaching unacceptable

 

levels. Further, that this view is not shared by headquarters,

 

nor is the frustration of the fleet pilot even understood.

 

That a difference exists in perception between a pilot and

 

headquarters is by itself not a surprising fact; but the extent

 

of that difference is such that I find it disturbing. For

 

example, when General Gray visited Southwest Asia he was

 

surprised when told AH-1W's were not equipped for night

 

anti-mechanized missions; his "perception" was that night-

 

fighting systems had been in the fleet for some period of

 

time.1 This represents a fundamental breakdown in

 

communications between the decision-maker who establishes

 

policy and the operator in the field who must execute the

 

policy.

 

To illustrate the frustration within the helicopter com-

 

munity, let me present a typical example. A UH-1N crew preparing

 

for a mission requiring night vision goggles (NVG), walks to

 

the aircraft (that may be older than they are) carrying

 

cardboard, duct-tape, an assortment of paper maps, chemlights,

 

flashlights, and other paraphernalia. In the next few minutes

 

they will use the cardboard to extend the glareshield to reduce

 

the reflection of light from cockpit instruments, use the

 

duct-tape to cover light sources not suppressed by blue-light

 

kits, and strategically place maps and other mission essential

 

items where they will not interfere with control of the aircraft.

 

The UH-1N has no tactical navigation aids to assist in

 

mission completion. A map and stop watch will get the crew and

 

passengers to the objective, this requires one of the pilots

 

to concentrate solely on navigation and a scan largely inside

 

the aircraft. At terrain flight altitudes, a second set of

 

eyes outside the aircraft can mean the difference between life

 

and death; the crew and passengers assume a risk to offset a

 

lack of technology.

 

The need for a modern platform has been identified for

 

well over a decade without a replacement being programmed; the

 

explanation is always one of fiscal constraint.2 Yet while

 

taxing to the runway, the UH-1N crew will more then likely

 

pass night attack AV-8B's or F-18D's equipped with state of

 

the art navigation, nightvision, survivability, and targeting

 

systems. To the helicopter crew this makes it hard not to

 

feel that they and their passengers are "second-class citizens"

 

more expendable than their fixed-wing counterparts.

 

Even when the community gets a "new" aircraft, the disparity

 

in approach to modernization as compared to the fixed-wing

 

community is striking. The AH-1W is the community's newest

 

aircraft. I fly the AH-1W and find people amazed when I tell

 

them that this "new" aircraft can't autonomously fire its

 

primary weapons system, the HELLFIRE missile;3 that I have no

 

range finding capability other than my eyes and a map study;

 

and that the AH-1W is the only attack helicopter in the world

 

produced in the 1980's which has no fire control system for

 

gun or rocket delivery; when I pull the trigger it's based on

 

preflight study of ballistic tables, good old Kentucky windage

 

and experience.

 

The frustration is compounded when, without the benefit

 

of investment in technology, aircrew are tasked with expanded

 

mission tasking: maritime interdiction, gas and oil platform

 

operations, and military operations in urban terrain. All

 

represent new challenges to be conquered solely through reliance

 

on aircrew innovation. A recent statement that the fiscal

 

constraints of the 90 `s would require imagination and innovation

 

to meet coming challenges is not well received by a community

 

that has already been doing just that for the last decade.

 

From the perspective of the cockpit it seems decision-makers

 

are not aware of the degree of risk crews have come to accept

 

as a daily matter of course, nor the growing feeling that the

 

envelope has expanded as far as possible with aircraft

 

essentially designed for the permissive environment (by todays

 

standards) of Vietnam.

 

The view of decision-makers is quite different. The 1990's

 

are viewed as a period when the helicopter community will

 

undergo unprecedented modernization. The modernization plan

 

revolves around the acquisition of the MV-22 as a replacement

 

for the CH-46. The remainder of the plan continues the goal

 

of reducing the types of aircraft operated by the Marine Corps,

 

upgrading remaining aircraft to better operate at night and

 

in adverse weather, and reorganizing Marine Aircraft Groups

 

for combat.4 These seem admirable goals that should be supported

 

by the fleet, but the truth is that the plan is viewed with

 

some reservation. Why?

 

 

WE ALL SHARE THE SAME GOAL

 

Before answering that question I need to point out that

 

fleet pilot and decision-maker are first and foremost, Marines.

 

We share the common goal of sustaining the Marine Corps rep-

 

utation as the nations primer fighting force. Nothing in my

 

remarks should be taken as an indication that I believe

 

individual Marines have forsaken that commitment. My exposure

 

to those involved in force modernization leaves me convinced

 

that the system is doing its best to meet the needs of the

 

fleet. Having said that, however, doesn't change the fact

 

that the aircraft we fly today and for the projected future

 

are not what they should be. I hope to reconcile the disparity

 

between the intent of the acquisition system and the reality

 

of the state of the fleet.

 

 

AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE DIFFERENCE IN PERSPECTIVE

 

This is a complex problem and it is difficult to know where

 

to begin; let me start by sketching an example of how a program

 

can be viewed quite differently according to where you sit.

 

The AH-1W, as mentioned earlier, is without a nightf ighting

 

capability to autonomously fire either the TOW or HELLFIRE

 

missile at night.5 The fleet stated an operational requirement

 

for systems to solve this problem: a Helicopter Night Vision

 

system to assist in flying the aircraft and acquiring targets,

 

and a laser designator for HELLFIRE engagements. The fleet

 

saw the main requirement as a FLIR with repeater scopes in

 

both cockpits to allow for navigation and terrain avoidance

 

during tactical maneuvering, as well as the ability to acquire

 

and identify targets.

 

The Night Targeting System (NTS) currently funded in the

 

AVPLAN limits the FLIR picture to the gunners telescopic sight

 

unit (TSU) and because of the small dimensions of the sight,

 

to a one inch by one inch picture. The NTS can only be used

 

when the gunner places his face in the TSU, the pilot has no

 

ability to use the NTS for navigation, terrain avoidance, or

 

target identification. Additionally, the small screen limits

 

resolution, making target identification problematic. The

 

feeling is that the aircraft would have to close to ranges

 

that place it in a high probability kill zone before we could

 

break-out targets from background clutter and positively

 

identify a hostile; not to mention the fact that the pilot in

 

command cannot confirm that the gunner is engaging the right

 

target. 6

 

This sets the stage for the difference in perception. The

 

decision-maker believes the fleets needs are met by NTS and

 

is committed to fielding the system. Criticism that might

 

endanger the systems funding is discouraged. The fleet on the

 

other hand is faced with a dilemma; while NTS is deficient in

 

nightfighting capability, it does provide the laser designator

 

and range finder desperately needed. The fleet pilot is

 

concerned that if NTS is cancel led he gets no enhanced capa-

 

bility, but also concerned that if NTS is fielded he will never

 

see the true nightf ighting system that was the original cause

 

for the program. This is probably an overly pessimistic

 

perception, but it is important that decision-makers know it

 

exists and that the expectations of the fleet, realistic or

 

not, are not being met.

 

 

A SECOND ILLUSTRATION: REORGANIZATION

 

Reorganization of Marine Aircraft Groups to enhance combat

 

readiness is another aspect of the AVPLAN that can be viewed

 

differently according to where you sit. At face value, com-

 

positing helicopter groups to provide the full range of assault

 

support would seem a great idea; and if this were a perfect

 

world with unlimited resources, it would make great sense.

 

Indeed, on the east coast, MAG-26 and MAG-29 have enjoyed this

 

organizational concept for years. However, east coast groups

 

reside on the same airfield and therefore share much of the

 

infrastructure (simulators, test-cells, warehouses, air

 

traffic control, etc..) necessary to sustain operations. The

 

west coast groups due to their size, require separate facilities

 

and are unable to benefit from the consolidation of infra-

 

structure. The cost of duplicate facilities would represent

 

a significant investment.

 

The concern is that reorganization will be instituted

 

without necessary facilities being in place, thereby requiring

 

fleet units to operate in austere conditions, at greater cost,

 

and with no guarantee that out-years will see resources made

 

available to bring facilities up to standard. There is ample

 

historical precedent to make the concern a real one, this

 

wouldn't be the first time the Marine Corps absorbed the cost

 

of reorganization internally.

 

Additionally, one has to ask the basic question, why?

 

MAG-16 and MAG-26 were both task organized for Southwest Asia

 

( a concept I thought was a Marine Corps selling point stressing

 

our flexibility ) and did exceptionally well.7 At a time of

 

dwindling resources, should we divert assets to address a

 

marginal gain in an area where we are already successful? I

 

feel we should look on this area as one where we can economize

 

and husband our resources for more pressing problems.

 

 

INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

 

This leads us back to the question of why this situation

 

exists. I believe that problems with helicopter modernization

 

stem from three causes:

 

A failure to recognize the changing nature of the

battlefield.

 

A reliance on pilots to fill the gap between technology

shortfalls and expanding mission requirements.

 

An institutional approach to systems acquisition.

 

 

NATURE OF THE BATTLEFIELD

 

Marines may recognize that the battlefield is changing,

 

but they have not made the connection to its impact on mission

 

requirements. The tempo of Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)

 

operations results in short term focus on known missions,

 

primarily battalion level tactics supported from amphibious

 

shipping. Prior to Desert Storm, operations above the division

 

level held.little relevance for most Marines. Marine Expe-

 

ditionary Force (MEF) operations translate to increased time,

 

space, and sustainment issues that differ from battalion

 

operations and must be addressed in both our concept of the

 

battlefield and in the systems we procure. The Marine sector

 

of the battlefield in Operation Desert Storm extended from

 

assembly areas south of the Kuwaiti border to the northern

 

suburbs of Kuwait City, from the shores of the Persian Gulf

 

to Kuwait's far western border: an area of 10,000 square miles.

 

Deficiencies in helicopter survivability, navigation, range,

 

and night-fighting capabilities constrained commanders in the

 

employment of helicopters on the battlefield.

 

 

TECHNOLOGY SHORTFALLS

 

Second, Marines are famous for making due with less and

 

never saying a mission is beyond their capability. In the

 

helicopter community, this meant that while mission require-

 

ments changed drastically in the 1980's, the equipment to

 

support the changes was not forthcoming; commanders dealt with

 

the shortfalls by asking pilots to press the envelope and

 

accept greater risks. Pilots did press the envelope and

 

completed their assigned missions, but the fleet also sustained

 

losses in airframes, passengers and crews which I believe in

 

part could have been saved with appropriate investment in

 

technology.

 

I realize this is a strong statement, but it is one that

 

I feel is justified. A review of accident statistics shows

 

that pi lot error continues as a leading cause of helicopter

 

accidents. To the layman, a finding of pilot error would seem

 

to be definitive, the pilot made a mistake causing the aircraft

 

to crash. The problem is the pilot not the aircraft. To a

 

safety officer, a finding of pilot error is only a starting

 

point for further investigation, pilot error only describes

 

the endstate, it doesn't explain why the "error" was made.

 

When you place pilots in a low altitude, high threat environment,

 

require that they navigate by map, do it at night on NVG's,

 

operate at maximum range, and do it with aircraft designed for

 

Vietnam, you have to ask yourself why more "errors" aren't

 

made. There is a point where human capability is exceeded and

 

no amount of training will substitute for providing the pilot

 

with technology to bring the mission back to an acceptable

 

risk level.

 

 

INSTITUTIONAL PARANOIA

 

Last, and related to our desire to do more with less, and

 

a very real paranoia that if we ask for too much we won't get

 

anything, is the Marine Corps approach to system acquisition.

 

Institutional in its reflection of the points made above,

 

weapon systems are bought with known deficiencies with the

 

hope that upgrades will be funded in the future. This worked

 

in the past but represents a gamble that the "balloon" won't

 

go up before problems are fixed with block upgrades. The AH-1W

 

is a perfect example: bought without a night targeting system

 

or laser designator, it was recognized as deficient when

 

purchased; block upgrades (NTS) are planned, but the balloon

 

did go up in August 1990 and Marines went to war tactically

 

constrained.

 

 

THE CURRENT AVIATION PLAN

 

The news is not all bad. The current AVPLAN has the

 

potential to meet the majority of the fleets needs if executed

 

as planned. My initial perception of a large disconnect between

 

the fleet and headquarters was not entirely justified. It has

 

to be recognized that we are living with decisions and concepts

 

of procurement which predate the individuals involved in today' s

 

decision-making. I think all would have preferred a modern-

 

ization program that stressed state-of-the-art aircraft

 

development vice block upgrades to 1950's and 1960's technology,

 

but periodic decisions over the years, taken for reasons I

 

will explore in a minute, give us the reality we have to deal

 

with today. If the plan is executed as written it will go a

 

long way to meeting my concerns about force capabilities. It

 

is not perfect and I will address one major change that I think

 

is needed, but it will give pilots a better ability to manage

 

risk and meet the needs of the Marine on the ground.

 

The paramount need is that the plan be executed; and at

 

present, that is far from assured. Second, but I believe no

 

less important, is that we recognize the institutional features

 

which have gotten us into this situation and make sweeping and

 

bold changes to ensure that Marines in the future do not find

 

themselves trapped in the same situation. Our goal should be

 

a longrange plan to stress state-of-the-art development and

 

to minimize the block upgrade approach that is the current

 

stock and trade of the procurement program.

 

Click here to view image

 

DECISION-MAKING

 

The Marine Corps approach to procurement is not the only

 

factor that must be explained to understand the current state

 

of affairs, a broader discussion of decision-making is required.

 

A "rational" decision-making process where all possible

 

alternatives are evaluated and the option that best attains

 

the stated objectives chosen is a rare occurrence in any

 

organization, civilian or military. In the case of the Marine

 

Corps, three primary influences act to limit the decision-making

 

process: satisficing behavior, incrementalism, and bureau-

 

cratic politics.

 

 

SATISFICING BEHAVIOR

 

Satisficing behavior is something we practice in daily

 

life. It's the practice of accepting the first option that

 

appears to meet the requirements of a particular problem. We

 

recognize that a better option might exist, but since the

 

solution we have is perceived to be satisfactory, we stop the

 

search for a better answer. How many times have each of us

 

gone to the toolbox looking for a particular screwdriver and

 

settled for the first one we find. We accept a solution that

 

is less than ideal because it of fers immediate satisfaction

 

of our needs. I believe this explains the Marine Corps preference

 

for getting its hands on anything new regardless of short-

 

comings, putting it into immediate service (satisficing our

 

needs), and accepting that future upgrades will be required.

 

 

INCREMENTALISM

 

Incrementalism refers to a step-by-step, rather than a

 

comprehensive approach to change. Organizational policy will

 

seldom change with incremental decision-making, the focus is

 

on means vice ends. The military is particularly susceptible

 

to incrementalism because of its organization and personnel

 

policies. Organization compartmentalizes functions and places

 

full responsibility for the success or failure of decisions

 

in the hands of a few. Faced with uncertainties or unclear

 

goals, those charged with decision-making will often opt for

 

limited and measured changes to proven and successful policies.

 

Personnel assignment practices add fuel to the fire by limiting

 

the time an individual is in a position to affect change.

 

Human nature, faced with the constraints of time, will focus

 

on what is thought to be achievable within given time lim-

 

itations. We all want to be "successful" during our tours and

 

so avoid solutions we know will be finished by our replacements.

 

We are driven to leave a "clear desk."

 

 

BUREAUCRATIC POLITICS

 

Bureaucratic politics plays a large role in procurement

 

decisions. The bureaucratic politics model holds that

 

"...decisions and actions result from political games played

 

by individuals and groups in positions that give them legitimacy

 

and power to affect policy on particular issues."8 An example

 

would be the politics of Congress; a Senator or Congressmen

 

doesn't oppose anothers "special" project, not because of the

 

merits of the project, but because it will earn him equal

 

treatment for his "special" projects. The same holds true,

 

at a lower level, for other budgetary bargaining that takes

 

place in Washington.

 

The Marine Corps has been caught in the middle of an

Executive v. Legislative battle over the MV-22 that falls into

the category of budget bargaining. The MV-22 complicated the

entire equation of force modernization by pitting it's Con-

gressional supporters against Secretary of Defense Cheney.

Secretary Cheney decided early in his tenure to kill the MV-22

program on affordability grounds. The result is the reluctant

continuation of MV-22 development at uneconomical rates and

resistance in Congress to any helicopter initiatives that could

weaken the case for MV-22 production. The Marine Corps faces

an unclear budgeting picture with regard to MV-22, and those

uncertainties cascade to affect other programs resulting in

the type of incremental decision-making mentioned earlier.

 

 

IS THE NAVY IS OUR FRIEND?

 

The United States Navy is also a problem for long-term

 

helicopter modernization. In discussions with those involved

 

in programming, the consensus was that all things considered,

 

the state of the helicopter fleet is a direct result of internal

 

Department of the Navy priority decisions: decisions that

 

place helicopters somewhere along with amphibious shipping and

 

minesweepers in priority, in other words at the bottom of the

 

list.

 

The Navy has long viewed the budget as essentially a fixed

 

division of resources between the Army, Air Force and the Navy,

 

with the Marine Corps being funded out of the Navy portion of

 

the pie.9 The belief is, that regardless of merit, increases

 

to support Marine unique programs divert resources from com-

 

peting Navy programs. The Navy can accept funding for F-18's,

 

and to a lesser extent AV-8's, because they see roles for those

 

aircraft in defense of the fleet and power projection missions.

 

Helicopters on the other hand fit only peripherally into

 

maritime strategy requirements of an essentially blue water

 

navy. 10

 

The Navy is not completely to blame for the current state

 

of affairs. Marines have become so accustomed to a lack of

 

Navy support for helicopters that we build it into our pro-

 

curement strategies. We accept up front that funding will be

 

a hard fought battle and adjust our goals before the battle

 

even begins.

 

 

JOINT OPERATIONS

 

The problem of modernizing Marine helicopters is not an

 

isolated Marine Corps problem; it is a Department of Defense

 

problem. Single service operations are a thing of the past.

 

In an era of declining resources, joint operations preserve

 

military capability and protect United States interests at

 

lower cost. MAGTF's by virtue of their forward deployed

 

presence will contribute to Joint Task Forces (JTFs) with

 

increasing frequency as joint doctrine is tested and refined;

 

they must deliver the full range of capabilities that doctrine

 

tells joint planners they possess. The failure to successfully

 

perform on the battlefield will lead to a reassessment of

 

Marine Corps missions and roles. The United States cannot

 

af fordto maintain units with limited utility.

 

At present the workhorse of the fleet, the CH-46 is on its

 

last legs and the MV-22 planned as a replacement is far from

 

assured. The UH-1N, as old and tired as the CH-46, has no

 

planned replacement; the AH-1W is deficient and has no follow

 

on planned other than additional upgrades. In short, we have

 

a fleet of aging helicopters unable to perform on the battlefield

 

without unacceptable risk to crews and passengers. Unless

 

action is taken that restores mission capability to Marine

 

helicopters, operational commanders will be constrained on the

 

battlefield and deprived of tactical and operational mobility.

 

In turn, joint planners will be forced to question the Marine

 

Corps utility for a wide range of missions as our counterparts

 

in the Air Force and Army continue to widen the gap in mod-

 

ernization. 11

 

If Marines are to bring a credible capability to the joint

 

arena, a comprehensive modernization program must be instituted

 

to correct the current state of helicopter aviation. The

 

problem, of course, is how to achieve this modernization during

 

a time of force drawdowns and reduced defense spending.

 

 

BROADENING THE PERSPECTIVE

 

The solution to this seemingly contradictory state of

 

affairs is to broaden the traditional Marine perspective to

 

a Department of Defense (DOD) perspective. The same pressures

 

acting on the Marine Corps also act on the other services.

 

The reduction in the proposed B-2 bomber fleet, the restriction

 

of the Army's Comanche program to research and development,

 

the cancellation of the Navy's A-12 program, all provide ample

 

evidence that business as usual is over when it comes to

 

procurement. Change provides as many opportunities as it does

 

challenges to the status quo. The traditional acquisition of

 

systems with narrow service applications must give way to an

 

acquisition concept that develops core technologies for

 

adaptation to a wider range of applications. The Marine Corps

 

cannot continue to operate helicopters that no one else operates

 

in significant numbers, not only are they less capable, they

 

are increasingly expensive to operate and maintain.

 

Integration can go beyond a DOD perspective to include

 

other government agencies and civilian aerospace companies.

 

A national rotary-wing (to include tilt-rotor technology)

 

research and development center operated under the auspices

 

of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), could

 

leverage private and governmental investments in R&D to keep

 

American industry on the cutting-edge and ensure competi-

 

tiveness with foreign industry.

 

Concepts proven as effective in the management of various

 

programs could be compared for application on a wider basis.

 

For example, the Marine Corps concept of "necking-down," could

 

be applied across service lines to arrive at a national fleet

 

that would truly be efficient and sustainable.

 

 

ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AVIATION PLAN

 

The current AVPLAN can solve many of the problems con-

 

fronting rotary-wing aviation, but only if executed. There

 

is still resistance to the MV-22, and without it, the

 

modernization program folds like a house of cards. A compromise

 

solution is needed to resolve the current impasse, restore

 

certainty to the program and allow full scale production. I

 

said earlier that the plan needed one adjustment, and I believe

 

that adjustment can both bridge a capabilities gap in the

 

current plan and also serve as a venue for compromise in the

 

MV-22 budget battle.

 

The element missing from the current AVPLAN is a replacement

 

for the UH-1N. There are several reasons for the absence of

 

a replacement. Decision-makers are betting that VMAOwill be

 

developed rapidly after the MV-22 is fielded and will be

 

suitable for both the AH-1W and UH-1N missions. Second, the

 

most likelyreplacement for the UH-1N, the H-60, comes close

 

to meeting the needs of a medium lift replacement and it is

 

feared would weaken the MV-22 case if fielded.12

 

I believe that even with the MV-22, the Marine Corps will

 

continue to have a requirement for a utility helicopter with

 

21st century capabilities. The MV-22 although identified in

 

Congress as a medium lift replacement is actually much more

 

than an improved CH-46. Its range and self-deployability will

 

give it an operational reach that MAGTF Commander's, Commander's

 

of Joint Task Forces, and CINC's have never had before, it

 

will change how we think about strategic closure and revolu-

 

tionize maneuver warfare from the sea. Its strength lies in

 

its speed and range, but coming into the LZ, it is still a

 

target with a 90 foot wing-span.13 The mission scenarios that

 

MAGTF's can expect to be tasked with will require platforms

 

more suitable for restricted and low profile insertion and

 

extractions for which the MV-22 is ill suited. NEO operations

 

in built-up areas, gas and oil platform operations, maritime

 

interdiction, all would be more suitable for an H-60 type

 

aircraft.

 

We also need to be realistic, the only way that VMAO will

 

be built is if it is a joint service program; given the

 

difficulty with selling the MV-22, it seems a supreme gamble

 

to believe VMAO will be fielded before 2020. Given that time

 

frame, even if a decision were made to go to an all tilt-rotor

 

fleet, H-60's procured in the 90's would have enjoyed a full

 

service life.14

 

I would propose that the AVPLAN be modified to reflect the

 

acquisition of H-60's to replace all UH-1N's and two squadrons

 

of CH-46's. This would create a fleet of about 140 aircraft.15

 

The manufacturer indicates that since numerous versions are

 

already in service and production, that the Marine Corps could

 

begin receiving aircraft as fast as funding was made available.

 

How does the Marine Corps get the funding?

 

Click here to view image

 

Politics are a key to the solution. Political judgment

 

has dictated a smaller military for the future, yet the survival

 

imperative of political incumbents has covered the downside

 

by supporting the modernization of the remaining force. The

 

key is to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of

 

the possibilities presented by the changes in progress. An

 

acquisition plan presented to Congress consolidating all DOD

 

rotary-wing requirements and providing for common management,

 

would I think find wide support given the current Congressional

 

fixation with jointness.

 

The modernization of Marine helicopters can be achieved

 

by integration of Marine requirements with existing DOD

 

programs. This approach also serves the secondary, but no

 

less important role, of assisting in the maintenance of an

 

industrial base capable of expansion should reconstitution

 

become necessary. Scales of economy could be achieved with

 

fewer types of aircraft and production lines could be kept

 

open for parts support and modernization upgrades.

 

The MV-22 could benefit from this approach. A new

 

acquisition plan that bridges the current positions of the

 

various political constituencies by adopting the MV-22 for

 

multi-service missions, while at the same time moving the

 

Marine Corps to a fleet of helicopters in common with the other

 

services, might be the necessary instrument with which the

 

Secretary could accept compromise.

 

To garner the support of the other services the Marine

 

Corps would endorse and advocate the consolidation of DOD

 

programs along the lines already mentioned. The Marine Corps

 

would commit to joint development of a tilt-rotor attack variant

 

for the Army and the Marine Corps, commit to joint development

 

of a heavy lift replacement that would meet the needs of all

 

services, and commit to a light utility variant of the tilt-rotor

 

that would meet the needs of all services. The Marine Corps

 

must realize that joint development is the future and that we

 

are too small a service to carry out independent development.

 

Finally, I would propose that we advocate a change in how

 

programs are funded. Procurement dollars should be administered

 

at the DOD level, services should budget for operations and

 

maintenance alone. This would remove the Navy from a veto

 

position over initial procurement decisions and force programs

 

to stand alone on the merits of how they contribute to CINC

 

and DOD mission requirements.

 

The MV-22 would go into full production with the Marine

 

Corps receiving a smaller fleet then originally proposed and

 

the Army, Navy, and Air Force revalidating the requirements

 

they had previously identified. The mission of the MV-22 would

 

be expanded from the Marine unique over-the-horizon assault

 

to include the miss ion of intra-theater operational mobility

 

for the JTF.

 

If the Marine Corps accepted this plan, it would have a

 

modern helicopter fleet with sophisticated survivability,

 

navigation, and nightf ighting capability. Additionally, it

 

would benefit from the scales of economy that accrue when

 

operating systems which are part of a fleet of thousands.

 

Finally, the MV-22 would stand a better chance of full scale

 

production if it is presented as part of a comprehensive DOD

 

plan vice a unique Marine plan.

 

The variance between the expectations of the fleet and the

 

ability of decision-makers to fill those expectations is

 

unsatisfactory. Decision-makers driven by a budget process

 

out of control, constrained by bureaucratic politics (both

 

internal and external), and trying to make the best of a bad

 

situation, have been conditioned and "socialized" to accept

 

as normal, a procurement timeframe that spans decades. This

 

is not acceptable. A solution must be found to make the process

 

more responsive and efficient. The rapidly declining budget

 

will make it harder and harder to justify and explain, why an

 

aircraft that is still in initial production requires funding

 

to field upgrades.16

 

In closing, the Marine Corps is a vital part of the defense

 

establishment and must be modernized to contribute to the

 

National defense; helicopter modernization is a major part of

 

that effort.

 

 

ENDNOTES

 

1. General Grey, 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

 

2. A conceptual platform identified as VMAO is planned as a possible

replacement for the UH-1N. It remains a concept and is currently not in

development, earliest introduction to the fleet would occur after 2010.

 

3. The HELLFIRE missile is laser designated and at present the AH-1W

hasn't been equipped with a designator.

 

4. Marine Corps Bulletin 3125: The Marine Aviation Plan (AV-PLAN);

draft update 1992.

 

5. The TOW missile is optically guided by the AH-1W gunner. The

telescopic sight unit (TSU) which the gunner uses to guide the missile

is not night enhanced.

 

6. The issue of fratricide figures in this issue. Until the pilot

in command can visually see what the gunner is aiming at he will be dependent

on verbal descriptions and a general orientation provided by a cursor in

the Heads Up Display (HUD).

 

7. It should be noted that MAG-26's peacetime organization still

required task organization for the given mission and joined units after

arrival in Southwest Asia. There were few significant problems.

 

8. James H. Dixon and Associates, National Security Policy Formulation:

Institutions, Processes, and Issues. (Washington, D.C.: National defense

University, 1984), p.144

 

9. Refer to grahics pg 27.

 

10. For example, Secretary of the Navy Garrett has directed that a study

be conducted to determine the feasibility of incorporating Marine F-18

squadrons into Carrier Air Groups on a permenant basis.

 

11. The Army and Air Force both recieve funding from USC INC-SOC to

equip helicopters for Special Operations missions

 

12. The manufacturer has developed a version that incorporates the

marinized features of the Seahawk with the combat capabilites of the

Blackhawk.

 

13. Refer to the grahics on page 28.

 

14. A 20 year service life is used for current budget calculations

 

15. Includes training aircraft, reserve aircraft, and pipline aircraft.

 

16. The AH-1W is in production and has numerous upgrades in development

that would require major retrofit programs.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. Collins, D.M. "Safety vs. Professionalism" Marine Corps Gazette.

January 1987.

 

2. Dixon, James H. and Associates. National Security Policy Formulation:

Institutions, Processes, and Issues. Washington, D.C.: National defense

University, 1984.

 

3. Ette, J.P. "Reflections on Marine Aviation" Marine Corps Gazette.

May 1987.

 

4. Smith, K.A. "Aviation Saf ety: The Story gets Worse" Marine Corps

Gazette. May 1991.

 

5. Utgoff, Kathleen P. and Stepen M. Gates.Aviation Accidents: Suggested

Analyses and Preliminary Findings, Marine Corps Operations Analyses Group

 

6. Viotti, Paul R. and Mark V. Kauppi. International Relations Theory:

Realism, Pluralism, Globalism. New York: Macmillian Publishing Company,

1987.

 

DOCUMENTS

 

1. Marine Corps Bulletin 3125: The Marine Aviation Plan (AVPLAN) for

Fiscal years 1989-1998. 1989.

 

2. Marine Corps Bulletin 3125: The Aviation Plan (AVPLAN) for fiscal

year 1989-1998: Draft update. 1992.

 

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