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Regaining Control Of The Modernization Process

Regaining Control Of The Modernization Process


CSC 1992







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



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


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.




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




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



A. We are all Marines

B. My Intent



A. The AH-1W Night Targeting System

1. Requirements

2. Limitations of NTS

3. The Difference in Perception



A. Compositing

1. East Coast Groups

2. West Coast Groups

B. Will Investment be made in Facilities

C. Southwest Asia worked well



A. Nature of the Battlefield

B. Technology Shortfalls

C. Institutional Paranoia



A. We Live with Past Decisions

B. he Plan must be Executed

C. We must Correct the Process for the Future



A. Satisficing Behavior

B. Incrementalism

C. Bureaucratic Politics

1. Budget Barginning

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



A. Navy Priorities

B. The Navy View of the Budget



A. A DOD Problem

B. An Aging Fleet

C. A Credible Capability



A. Broaden the Prespective to a DOD Perspective

B. Integration of Research and Development

C. Apply Proven Concepts



A. A Replacment for the UH-1N

B. A Continuing Requirement

C. Being Realistic

D. Proposal for Acquisistion

E. Politics are Key



A. A Bridge between Constituencies

B. Sister Service Support

C. Funding Changes




by Major Roy A. Arnold




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




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




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?





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.





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.





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.





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



A reliance on pilots to fill the gap between technology

shortfalls and expanding mission requirements.


An institutional approach to systems acquisition.





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.





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




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.





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







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.


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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 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 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 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.





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




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.





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.





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.





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




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?


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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.





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



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.





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,





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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