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The Amphibious Assault And The Advanced Assault Amphibian
CSC 1992
SUBJECT AREA Operations
				EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:   The Amphibious Assault and the Advanced Assault Amphibian
Author:  Major K.R. Lardie, United States Marine Corps
Background:  The Marine Corps is responsible for the development
of doctrine and equipment for amphibious operations.  When new
equipment was integrated, such as the Higgins Boat, the LVT, the
helicopter, and LCAC the doctrine was refined to maximize the
capabilities of the new platforms.  Today with the possible
integration of the V-22 "Osprey"  and the Advanced Assault
Amphibian (AAA) this doctrine is again reviewed.  The Marine Corps
over the past decade has tried to develop a high speed amphibious
assault vehicle.  The technology required was to costly or
unavailable.  Today the technology is available, prototype testing
has been conducted and the cost is still the issue.  The funding
required for the technology is not the issue, the issue lies in
the funding for procurement and if the capability is worth the
cost.  Defense planners have raised an additional issue that
questions the need for the surface assault capability.  Only the
future holds that answer.  But if we lose this capability, one
must reflect, "Where would have all the Iraqi Divisions been
instead of defending the shoreline of Kuwait City? "  The Marine
Corps supports the "maneuver from the sea" doctrine.  The AAA best
supports this doctrine.  It provides a much needed mechanized
fighting vehicle for the MAGTF in support of ground operations and
it provides a high water speed (25 knots) assault craft that
compliments the LCAC.  The AAA provides the troop lift while the
LCAC provides the lift for the MAGTF's fire support, the
artillery, tanks, and LAVs.  A credible MAGTF surface assault
force from OTH.  The Marine Corps must continue to refine and
develop doctrine and equipment that supports amphibious power
projection.  It is the Corps primary mission.
Recommendation:  In order to meet the current doctrinal needs for
OTH assaults and MAGTF operations ashore, the AAA should be
procured.  The Marine Corps must not terminate a requirement based
solely on its affordability.  We must look at how much more
capability the AAA provides the MAGTF into the 21st century and
the results if we choose to accept the deficiencies of the current
AAV.
           THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT AND THE ADVANCED ASSAULT AMPHIBIAN
                                    OUTLINE
Thesis Statement.  The Marine Corps needs to closely review current
and future "maneuver from the sea" doctrine and then develop an
assault vehicle that can support both the over-the-horizon
operations and the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operational
requirements ashore.
I.  	The conduct of amphibious assaults and its doctrine has been
	continuously refined as new equipment is developed.
    	A.   	The amphibious assaults were made possible by the Higgins boat.
    	B.   	The Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) made amphibious assaults
		against a hostile defended beachhead possible.
    	C.   	The helicopter and its vertical assault capability added a
		new dimension to amphibious assaults.
    	D.   	The Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) allows for
		over-the-horizon (OTH) amphibious assaults.
    	E.   	The V-22 Osprey supports OTH assaults with more lifts
		flexibility and firepower.
II. 	The U.S. Navy has a limited amphibious fleet and supports the
	OTH concept.
    	A.   	Current documentation recommends that amphibious assaults
		need to based on ship-to-shore (STS) movements initiated
		from OTH.
    	B.   	The current and projected make-up of the amphibious fleet
		will only support OTH, assaults.
    	C.   	Naval gunfire (NGF) support ships are not being built to
		support landing forces.
    	D.   	Modern weapons technology and smart munitions requires the
		amphibious task force (ATF) to conduct OTH operations.
III. 	The Marine Corps needs to field an AAV that supports OTH
	doctrine yet meets the MAGTFs operational requirements ashore.
    	A.   	The LCAC can be utilized to transport AAVs STS.
    	B.   	The current AAV supports LCAC OTH STS operations but limits
		MAGTF operations.
    	C.   	The AAA must possess more land fighting characteristics to
		support the MAGTF while maintaining a capability to support
		OTH operations.
IV. 	The Marine Corps must maintain the capability to project power
	against a defended beachhead, by developing the needed equipment and
	integrating it into doctrine.
    	A.   	Amphibious assaults will be capable by the use of speed,
		flexibility and lift of LCAC, AAA and vertical assault craft.
    	B.   	Surface and air smart munitions can support NGF
		requirements of a landing force.
	C.  	The Marine Corps concept for STS movement must be
		integrated with current and projected naval capabilities.
	D.  	The uniqueness of the Marine Corps is its primary mission,
		the amphibious assault.
           THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT AND THE ADVANGED ASSAULT AMPHIBIAN
    	Betio, an island in the Tarawa atoll, was assaulted by the
Second Marine Division on 20 November 1943.  Although the island
was only two and one half miles long, 800 yards wide at its widest
point, and defended by slightly less than 5,000 Japanese, it was
approached lightly. (17: 192)  A naval force of six fast battle-
ships, six heavy and five light carriers, two heavy and light
cruisers and twenty-one destroyers gave the island a three-hour
workover after bombers had dropped 200 tons of explosives on the
defenders.  The naval fire support for the eight Marine battalions
in the initial assault on D-Day alone was over 23,000 rounds, 3000
of which were eight inch or larger. (8:87)  Even though so much
destruction was placed on so few defenders in such a small area,
the Second Marine Division suffered over 3,300 casualties.  Most of
those killed, died in the first twenty-four hours, coming over the
beach.
    	The Corps learned many techniques during this amphibious
assault that would be used in later campaigns.  Even with new
techniques, the tactic of sheer brute force to accomplish a
successful amphibious assault proved costly in both men and
material.  New doctrine and new equipment was needed.  Something
revolutionary in the concept of the amphibious assault must be
found.  The original Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) was introduced
to meet the requirement.  Today the issue surrounds the Advanced
Assault Amphibian (AAA)  will it provide the needed capability for
the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) and integrate into the
concept of over-the-horizon (OTH) assaults into the 21st century.
    	The doctrine for conducting amphibious assaults has been
continually refined in conjunction with equipment development.  The
"Higgins Boat," a craft with a shallow front draft and ramp that
lowered to the ground for a bow, solved most of the difficulties
associated with rapidly moving men and material from large trans-
port ships and onto a hostile shore. (8:71)  Another and probably
the most important invention, for the Pacific theater, was Donald
Roebling's  "Alligator" amphibian tractor, later to be known as the
LVT. (9:70)  This vehicle could carry troops and equipment from the
large transport ships like a boat.  When it reached a coral reef,
or premature shallow, it could crawl over it instead of grounding
out like the Higgins Boat.  By mounting machine guns and a light
cannon, the LVT could continue inland, providing mobility and
provide direct fire support for the Marines it brought to the
beach.
    The LVT was improved upon in earnest after World War II. It
became the dominate piece of equipment for forcible entry upon a
hostile shore.  Marine experience in Korea with Sikorsky's
invention changed this thinking.  Utilizing the helicopter, Marines
could be lifted from ships at sea, ferried over strong coastal
defenses and landed in the enemy's rear.  Unlike airborne
operations, the troops could be landed precisely where desired and
organized for immediate employment.  A combination surface and
vertical assault would force the enemy to defend in depth, thus
weakening his beach defenses.
    	Today, revolutionary pieces of hardware add a new dimension to
projecting seapower ashore; the Landing Graft Air Cushion (LCAC),
the still debated V-22, and the AAA.  The LCAC rides over the water
on a cushion of air and can reach speeds of fifty knots.  It not
only can skim across coral reefs and shoals, while supported on its
cushion of air, but also transit over water obstacles such as
underwater mines and barriers that would normally impede standard
naval landing craft and LVTs.  The LCAC allows 70 percent of the
world shore lines to become accessible for an amphibious assault.
(4:75)  It also has the capability to ride on its cushion over
coastal marshes, rocks, and sand dunes associated with most
shorelines to deposit its notional payload (60 tons or 75 tons in
overload conditions) on firm terrain. (32:31)  The V-22 is the
desired medium lift, multi-mission, tiltroter aircraft for the
Marine Corps.  Having the capability to carry more troops or cargo,
the V-22 can fulfill the vertical assault mission into the 21st
century, that is now trying to be accomplished by the slower and
aging CH-46. (7:41)
    	The Marine Corps sees a capability in these systems to land the
assault echelons much faster.  The LCAC, with its fifty knot speed,
is five times faster than the Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) or
Landing Graft Utility (LCU).  These crafts have top speeds around
eleven knots.  The AAA will also provide a surface assault
capability from OTH and provide a mechanized vehicle for operations
ashore.  The V-22 flies at speeds in excess of 250 knots.  This is
twice as fast as the current ship-to-shore (STS) helicopter, the
CH-46.  The Navy and Marine Corps does not see speed as the only
advantage of these systems.  The advantage lies in the MAGTF's
ability to launch an assault from greater distances onto a hostile
shore with credible combat power.  This capability provides
military leaders greater flexibility in choosing from much more
coastline, from a greater distance, with a capable combat force.
    	The long range capability of the systems enables the
Amphibious Task Force (ATF) to initiate the STS movement from OTH.
No longer should ships have to maneuver within 5000 yards from the
shore to launch the surface assault.  This type of maneuver warfare
will make detection of the ATF more difficult and reduce its
vulnerability to land based artillery and short range missiles.
The difficult task of neutralizing shore based weapons prior to an
assault is reduced.  The Marine Corps criticism of the Navy not
supporting the amphibious mission, due to its diminishing amount of
naval gunfire, becomes moot if required only to conduct OTH
assaults.  Although there still is and will be a lack of amphibious
shipping.  The guided missile frigates can defend the ATF from the
threat of hostile aircraft.  This type of ship has the primary
mission of protecting carrier battle groups and the Navy has no
qualms in building them.  Also, it is now possible for carrier
battle group aircraft to provide a defense for the ATF, since the
surface assaults can be initiated from OTH.
    	As early as 1979, the Navy was telling the Marine Corps, in
increasingly more definitive terms, that OTH amphibious assaults
will become doctrine.  The Marine Corps was invited to participate
in the development of OTH concepts. (12:37)  In late 1982, at the
direction of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Navy was
directed to fully explain its procurement of the Landing Ship Dock
(LSD) 41 class, the primary carrier of LCACs.  In order to justify
the procurement a complete explanation of how the Navy planned to
project seapower ashore was required. (12:38)  In May of 1983, a
comprehensive document was published outlining the U.S. Navy's
amphibious ship procurement and concept for projecting power
ashore.  The document titled the "Amphibious Ship Mix Study" was
jointly signed by both the Chief of Naval Operations and the
Commandant of the Marine Corps.  The concept of operations
reflected in the document identifies that the LCAC and helicopter
in combination provide a remarkable advance in amphibious assault
capabilities.  It also reflects that the OTH concept of operations
is appropriate to size the forces programmed for the 1990's.
(21:32)  Due to the lack of an AAA, the concept reflects the
current AAV going ashore via the LCAC.  The shipbuilding plan
outlined in the study supports the OTH concept of warfare.
Although the exact numbers of amphibious ships projected by the
study to be in the inventory in the 1990's has changed, the types
of ships have not.  Of all the ships within the current and planned
inventory, only two, the LST and LKA cannot support OTH assaults.
Both of these ships are currently being phased out of the
inventory. (26:64)  The new types of amphibious ships, the LHD,
LSD-41, and LSD-49 all support the OTH concept of warfare.
    	The V-22 can greatly enhance the capability to conduct an OTH
assault, but how does the eight knot AAV integrate into this
concept or even a 25 knot advanced AAV?  The current family of
AAVs (AAV7A1) is much to slow to swim from 30-50 miles at sea.
Although the AAV can be carried to the shore by LCACs, launched
from OTH, its size (three AAVs per LCAC) prevents sufficient
numbers from being carried in a single lift.  If the AAVs take up
the bulk of the space in the first wave, the assault echelon will
have very limited combat capabilities ashore.  The tanks, artillery
and light armored vehicles will have to come ashore on subsequent
waves, thus delaying the build-up of relative combat power of the
landing force.  From a 30 mile OTH assault the estimated turn
around time would be at least hour, this is not a desirable
characteristic unless the vertical lift capability provided by the
V-22 is utilized.
    	The current AAV was designed to land the assault elements of
the ATF on a hostile shore and support the ground combat elements
in sustained land operations ashore.  The AAV's relatively large
size was a necessary requirement to carry a capacity of 10,000
pounds of cargo or 21 combat loaded troops.  Designed for use in
water and on land, the AAV's side armor will only provide
protection for embarked personnel from a 7.62 mm round at 300
meters and overhead protection against 105 mm artillery airbursts
at fifty feet.  The ongoing AAV7A1 Product Improvement Program
(PIP) has increased the side armor protection to 14.5 mm protection
at 300 meters and overhead protection against 152 mm artillery
fragments at 50 feet.  This application of bolt-on armor increases
the protection and also the weight by 4,500 pounds.  This added
weight reduces mobility, degrades the suspension, adversely affects
the power train, and is time consuming to install. (31:5)  The
AAV7A1's armament is the Upgunned Weapon Station with the M2 HB .50
caliber machinegun and the Mark 19 40 mm Grenade Launcher.  These
characteristics make the AAV a poor fighting vehicle.  Since the
MAGTF has nothing else to accomplish this mission, the AAV7A1 is
employed in this manner and provides limited survivability.
    	The Marine Corps still maintains a requirement to field a
follow-on vehicle. (1:40)  This vehicle, the Advanced Assault
Amphibian (AAA) is to be fielded in the 2000-2006 timeframe when
the extended service life of the current AAV7A1 ends.  This
capability to have a dramatic increase in water speed, at least 20
knots, eluded previous designers in the Landing Vehicle Assault
(LVA) and Landing Vehicle Tracked (Experimental) (LVT(X)) programs,
but has been demonstrated with the High Water Speed Test
Demostrater. (37:47)  This test vehicle is the AAA prototype.  With
the increased emphasis being placed on the capability of the Marine
Corps to prosecute land campaigns, the AAA must also be a fighting
vehicle.  Providing the vehicle with sufficient water speed, 20-25
knots, requires a greater power train.  To provide the vehicle
sufficient armor protection requires additional weight.  Both
requirements necessitate that the AAA may be as large as the
current vehicle.  If the size is to be reduced then the troop lift
and/or cargo capacity must be reduced. The recommended troop
capacity for the AAA is an infantry squad (15-17) vice the current
capacity of 21 for the AAV.
    	There were several alternatives explored for the AAA.  A
vehicle with a slight increase in water speed to 10 knots and a
significant increase in fighting capability was one option.  This
option requires a higher horsepower-to-weight ratio engine and
powertrain to increase the speed along with an increase the
armament and armor protection.  This alternative can be done with
minimal risk by using composites, spaced armor, and existing
technology.  An extremely more survivable fighting vehicle, yet it
limits the MAGTF, in conducting OTH operations.
    	Modifying the present AAV7A1 when it reaches the end of its
service life with new technology components is another option.  The
basic hull, which would be approaching its twenty-fifth year of
service, could be refitted with a new engine, retractable
suspension and a new type of water propulsion system.  The result
would be a AAV7A(2).  This alternative is similar to the previous
option but has increased risk due to many other aged sub-systems.
This alternative is the least desirable and requires less funding.
In a period of reduced funding, the budget usually drives the
requirement and currently it is this option that receives the most
attention.
    	Delaying all design efforts underway and waiting to see if
additional new technology becomes available is yet another option.
Although this option is the least expensive, it does include risk.
This option does not resolve the current needs of the Corps.  The
methodologies of obtaining more horsepower out of a constant weight
engine and more armor protection from metals and materials of
reduced weight is currently available.  The previously hoped for
technology is here but costly.  During this period of reduced
budgets and no perceived world threats, many feel it is time to
wait and see what the New World Order will bring.  As in any
program, if the funding for the AAA technology does not
materialize, the Marine Corps can always pursue one of the first
two options.
    	The Marine Corps must continue to closely review the future
doctrine requirements by the Navy for projecting seapower ashore.
The Marine Corps has a requirement to develop an AAA.  It is the
best alternative to support "maneuver from the sea" and MAGTF
operations ashore.  Today it looks as though that the Corps budget
will decide if the AAA is to be the vehicle that supports the MAGTF
in OTH assaults and mechanized operations from 2000-2025.  Should
the AAA be produced. it will have a service life of twenty five
years.  This vehicle is supportable by the new LSD-41 and LHD class
ship and will compliment the LCAC.  Also, if current political
indicators continue, most military planners believe that the V-22
will also be available to meet vertical lift needs of the Corps by
2000.
    	The three major characteristics for the AAA, the 25 knot water
speed, increased armament, and better armor supports the MAGTF
requirements into the future.  The water speed of the AAA
compliments the LCAC so that the LCAC can be used to carry other
critical assets ashore, such as artillery and tanks.  To develop a
vehicle without this capability would be generation of vehicles no
different than the current family of AAVs.  If the latter is
pursued, it would require the LCACs to carry the AAV in the conduct
of the assault.  The LCAC is not the desired assault craft when
going across and against a hostile shore.  Also, with limited LCAC
assets, the build up of combat equipment ashore is delayed if the
first LCAC waves have to be dedicated to carrying AAVs.  Operations
ashore still require the capability to swim rivers, marshes, and
surf.  Although the LCAC can provide the MAGTF an amphibious
capability, it does not provide the continuous capability ashore
and the mechanized asset required for the ground force.
    	A Marine Corps decision that tended to reflect and support a
departure from the need for an amphibian vehicle to assault a
hostile shore is the preposition of forces afloat.  To compensate
for the total lack of amphibious shipping, the Marine Corps placed
three mechanized brigades aboard Maritime Propositioned Ships (MPS)
which contains over forty percent of the AAVs in the Marine Corps
inventory.  The total quantity of AAVs aboard MPS is 327, 109 in
each MPS squadron.  The total quantity of AAVs in the operational
forces is only 545. (31:12)  Since these ships offload in a benign
environment the question arises if the next AAVs have to be
amphibious.  If the AAV no longer has a surfing requirement many
capabilities may be improved to better support the MAGTF in the
subsequent land campaign.
    	The AAA, if it is to be a smaller vehicle should be more
heavily armored.  The weight savings from the reduced vehicle size
can be used for the armor improvements.  If the weight does not
exceed the current AAV weight envelope embarkation planning factors
will not be affected.  The current AAV was designed to embark
twenty-five combat loaded troops.  Twenty-five troops was rarely
carried due to tight quarters and because that troops are loaded
tactically vice administratively.  A reinforced squad, a normal AAV
load, for infantry operations ashore, contains fifteen to seventeen
people.  The requirement for troop capacity should be the rein-
forced infantry  quad.   If the design of the AAA has no surf/high
water speed capability then the planners should maximize the armor,
optimize the troop carrying capability, and keep the combined
weight of four AAAs within the lift capacity of the LCAC.  The
latter requirement must be considered since the LCAC would be the
AAAs principal prime mover, from ship to shore, if the AAA has no
surf capability.
    	A smaller vehicle with increased armor protection are the
fundamental characteristics of a fighting vehicle to support
the MAGTF into the 21st century, but to support the MAGTF more
capabilities are required.  Since the amphibious assault is usually
the rapid linkup of the surface elements with heliborne forces, the
infantry embarked in the AAA must be able to fight from the
vehicle.  The vehicle should have enough armament to defend itself
and defeat a similar threat.  The infantry must have the capability
to fight from within or ability to fight the vehicle to prevent
halts for minor resistance.  Many planners have indicated the U.S.
Army's M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the replacement for the
AAA if no amphibious capability is required.  This tank killer is
unnecessary since the MAGTF uses its tank, antitank, and air assets
for that mission.  The M2/M3 does not provide the basic vehicle
mission requirements in support of a MAGTF. The M2/M3 is large, can
only carry seven people, and has limit capabilities in the
amphibious environment.  The AAA provides more to the MAGTF than
the M2/M3.
    	The AAA has a requirement to provide protection from 14.5mm and
shrapnel from at least 155mm indirect fire weapons.  The vehicle
armament must be at least a 25mm.  This provides weapons
commonality with its lighter brother, the LAV, and provides the
MAGTF a greater offensive firepower capability.  Whatever weapon
system chosen for the AAA, it must provide a self defense
capability during day and night operations and through normal
battlefield obscurants.
    	The major criticisms of the AAA are centered around two issues
in addition to funding.  The first issue, and what many in the
Marine Corps feel as the most critical, is that without the AAA the
Marine Corps will lose its unique capability to project seapower
ashore.  Many feel if we have a vehicle that cannot surf then the
U.S  Army could land its forces from the sea, from LCAC and MPS, as
easy as the Marine Corps.  The Army certainly has helicopter
capability to support the vertical lift requirements.  Since the
Army is much more suited to fighting a land campaign, they could
land on a hostile shore and just keep right on moving inland.  This
was demonstrated during World War II when we saw the Army assault
the shore of Normandy and continued the battle many miles inland.
    	The above argument seems ludicrous when you review the roles
and missions of the Marine Corps and U.S. Army.  There is certainly
much more to conducting an amphibious assault than riding ashore on
an LCAC or propositioned assets on MPS.  The integrated
capabilities of the MAGTF is to unique to duplicate.  The
coordination of naval gunfire, compatibility of equipment to a
marine environment, developing doctrine for the conduct of
amphibious operations, and training to execute that doctrine are
all difficult tasks that must be mastered.  The Marine Corp  is a
dedicated military occupational speciality with units and
respective tables of organization that are required to support the
amphibious assault.  The equipment is tailored so it can be
integrated with naval shipping and get from ship-to-shore.  Lastly,
unlike the Army, the MAGTF has its own air forces.  The Army must
make provisions to bring air forces and find the fields necessary
for the operation.  The amphibious assault mission is the Corps
mission.  It is a mission that cannot be delegated or assigned as
an additional mission.  The amphibious assault is a vital military
capability.  This capability must be maintained to support our
national maritime strategy as a maritime dependent nation   In
doing so it must be considered the primary mission of our service.
    	The second issue, and probably  more valid, is that with the
termination or phase out of AAVs the Marine Corps will lose the
capability to assault a defended beach.  This argument leads one to
believe that we would not be able to force our way ashore against a
heavily defended beach.  Maybe this capability is already lost. The
mere possession of an AAV does not make the capability to assault a
defended beach.  The battle for Tarawa illustrates my point.  Six
battleships, four cruisers and twenty-one destroyers supported the
Tarawa invasion.  All had guns ranging from five to sixteen inches.
This was not the entire naval fleet; it was merely a large portion
of one fleet. (17:226)  Today the entire U.S. Navy has a lesser
number of guns to support an amphibious assault. (35:40)  Before
the statement is made that we now have carrier air to support our
assault, there were eleven carriers to support the invasion of
Tarawa.  Few would disagree that a dug-in enemy is tough to destroy
with conventional ordnance from a battleship or aircraft.  The
first wave at Tarawa found this out.  The same issue was again
addressed, this time by the commanders of Desert Storm, when they
decided not to land the Marines against a well dug-in enemy and the
suspected large number of casualties.  Even though the commanders
in the desert decided not to conduct an amphibious landing, the
threat of a landing caused the enemy to focus towards what he
thought was his greatest threat.  The Iraqis dedicated much time,
equipment, and manpower to counteract the threat of a landing which
resulted to our benefit.  The dug-in enemies of today will continue
to be tough to destroy by sorties from carrier air and the limited
naval gunfire.
    	The mission of projecting seapower ashore is not going to go
away.  The Marine Corps, in conjunction with the Navy, must refine
the doctrine and concepts to maneuver from the sea   The Marine
Corps must pursue the technological advances of all new weapons
systems available and exploit them in our doctrine, not just the
capabilities of the LCAC.  Yes it is still possible, yet not
desired, to project seapower onto a hostile shore with the brute
force required in World War II.  But as the most recent conflict
indicated, although not used, we still must maintain the
capability.  One would have to ask where would have all those Iraqi
Divisions located in Kuwait City been if there had been no threat
of an amphibious landing.  One must have the capability to have the
threat!  In todays ever changing world environment the Marine Corps
must use all available technology to maintain and improve our
amphibious projection capability.
    	The LCAC's ability over 70 percent of the world's beaches is
four times more than that of the current AAV. (3:75)  The LCAC and
AAA provides the landing force the opportunity to assault where the
enemy's defenses are nonexistent or limited.  The LCAC is unarmored
and has no protection from small arms fire.  The range and speed of
the LCAC provides its protection.  Even if the enemy realizes that
an amphibious assault will take place, he would be required to
defend 109 nautical miles of shoreline from an OTH assault of
thirty-five nautical miles. (12:38)  The LCAC can carry loads up to
seventy five tons, such as 1 M1A1 or 5 LAVs or 2 M198s with prime
mover or if needed 3 AAVs.  The LCAC provides a tremendous
capability, but with limited naval shipping and few LCAC in the
ATF, the surprise of an OTH operation is somewhat negated due to
the number of lifts and time required to get the landing force
ashore
    	Military planners state that the mission to assault a defended
beach must be planned for and while many others say that AAVs in
LCACs is the answer to bypass the defended beach.  Throughout the
next decade and beyond there will be limited naval gunfire and
smart munitions throughout the world.  This issue mandates that a
landing force must reduce the time spent in the STS mode.
Throughout the landing phase the landing force is vulnerable to
indirect and direct fire weapons.  The speed of the LCAC reduces
this period of time, but with limited numbers of LCACs and its
vulnerability to weapons, the landing force is still limited in its
buildup.  The AAA supports the landing force with the capability to
get ashore in the worst case scenario, the forcible entry, along
with its combat power, the artillery and tanks, simultaneously
carried ashore in the LCAC.  The AAA compliments the LCAC in the
amphibious assault and provides the mechanized capability to
continue the battle ashore.
    	In this authors opinion, the AAA provides a capability to
reduce casualties getting ashore and in subsequent operations
ashore.  The previous doctrine of steaming LSTs and LSDs to within
5000 to 7000 yards from shore and discharging the current AAV, that
travels a mere six to eight knots to the beach, is extremely
dangerous to the ships due to new weapons technology.  The driving
force behind the Navy in developing the OTH concept was the
vulnerability of the ships in the landing force.  This doctrine is
supported by the type of craft the Navy has pursued in previous
years; the LHD, the LSD-41 and the LCAC.  All of these vessels
support OTH operations.  The Marine Corps must continue to develop
equipment and refine the doctrine, the AAA and hopefully the V-22
will provide the capability to exploit this doctrine.
CONCLUSION
    	The Marine Corps development of the AAA provides a vehicle that
compliments the LCAC and OTH doctrine.  A vehicle that provides the
MAGTF a needed and major improvement in capabilities ashore.  The
AAA capitalizes on the new technology through major improvements in
water speed, armor protection, NBC/climatic protection and
armament.  The Marine Corps and Navy can no longer afford to bring
a billion dollar ship close to the shore.  The modern technology of
threat weapons throughout the world will not permit it.  If a ship
can survive a near to shore assault maybe it is a place to use our
MPS capability.  We must look at reality, what is the possibility
of conducting a World War II style amphibious assault?  If we can
do it, do we need to.  The future holds the answer, but today we
must plan for and maintain a capability that permits survivability
of the naval force and the landing force once ashore.  The AAA
provides a vehicle for the MAGTF of the 21st century and capability
that supports the OTH doctrine.  If the Marine Corps fails to
refine its doctrine, and build equipment to support the Navy's OTH
concept, we may not be capable to conduct amphibious assaults in
the future.  The Marine Corps, which both by tradition and law has
a special interest in the evolution of the art and equipment of
amphibious warfare. (17:559)  Least we never forget, it is our
primary mission.
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