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The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Operational Maneuver Group) and Operational Maneuver From The Sea

The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Operational Maneuver Group) and Operational Maneuver From The Sea


CSC 1997


Subject Area - Warfighting




Title: The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Operational Maneuver Group) and Operational Maneuver From The Sea


Author: Major David K. Pigman United States Marine Corps


Thesis: Due to the decline in the United States forward deployed military forces, and marked increase in potential threats to the United States vital world wide interests, the current Marine Expeditionary Unit must possess the capacity to functional at the operational level of war.


Discussion: The concept of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (Operational Maneuver Group) or MEU(OMG) has tremendous relevance for the Marine Corps, the geographic CINCs, and the ability of the United States to defend its vital interests throughout the world. The MEU(OMG) represents a relatively light, highly mobile, versatile, and lethal forward deployed force, capable of achieving operational objectives early and capping a crisis situations before it spreads or spirals out of control. The MEU(OMG) is not a replace, but rather an enhancement to the current Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).

The current MEU(SOC) is at best an enabling force, capable of very limited offensive and defensive operations at the lowest tactical level of war. Improvements within the structure and organization of the MEU designed to enhance mobility, operational range, and lethality have the potential to transform the MEU from an enabling force into an operational tool in the hands of the geographic CINC's. This paper explores the concept, capabilities, and requirements for the MEU(OMG) to be employed at the operational level in conjunction with a Naval Expeditionary Force. The critical elements analyzed include MEU(OMG) structure, the Naval Expeditionary Force (NEF), command and control, intelligence, maneuver, force protection, lethality, and logistics.

The inherent versatility of the forward deployed MEU operating in concert with the NEF, is capable of capitalizing on the MEU(OMG) concept. With the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) and MV-22 Osprey transportable Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) as the central maneuver pieces of the MEU(OMG), the current limitations in operational mobility, range, survivability, and lethality can be overcome. Weighted by both theater and national assets, the MEU(OMG) will possess combat potential well beyond what would normally be associated with the size of the organization.


Conclusions: The MEU(OMG) concept represents a tremendously relevant capability given the current world security situation and regional instabilities. The United States Armed Forces have become primarily a CONUS based force following the Gulf War. Conversely, nothing has been done to significantly increase the combat potential of the Marine Expeditionary Unit, the United States premier forward deployed force in readiness. The forward deployed forces of the future must possess the capability to achieve operational results, serve as a true deterrent force, and cap a crisis in its early developmental stages. In this era of Operational Maneuver From The Sea (OMFTS), the doctrine of maneuver warfare and decisive maneuver the Marine Corps must maintain the capability to forward deploy forces which are relevant to the future.


The marked reduction in the military forces of the United States which are forward deployed throughout the world has resulted in a force reliant on strategic lift and power projection. The Marine Corps current warfighting philosophy manifested by "... From the Sea, and Forward ... From the Sea," combined with the current doctrine of maneuver warfare, and the future concept of operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS), firmly establish the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), MEU(SOC) as an essential component of the United States power projection capability. The MEU(SOC) possess numerous deficiencies when considering its employment in an operational environment, to include range of maneuver, operational mobility, and lethality of fires. In future conflicts, the forward deployed MEU (Operational Maneuver Group), MEU(OMG), must possess the operational capability to fight and win initial engagements; significantly more mobile, survivable, and lethal than its predecessor, the MEU(OMG), would represent a forward deployed force of operational potential.

The current Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) consists of the four standard elements which comprise a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). These include the headquarters element, the ground combat element (GCE), the aviation combat element (ACE), and the MEU service support group (MSSG). The current MEU(SOC) ground combat element is composed of a Battalion Landing Team (BLT). The BLT consists of a standard Marine infantry battalion consisting of a headquarters company, weapons company, and three rifle companies organized as a mechanized company, heloborne company, and a small boat company respectively. The BLT is reinforced with an artillery battery, a light armored reconnaissance company(-), a amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) platoon, a tank platoon, a

combat engineer platoon, and a reconnaissance platoon. The Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the MEU(SOC) consists of a composite squadron formed around a CH-46 (Sea Knight) squadron with a detachment of (4) CH-53's (Sea Stallion), (4) UH-1's (Huey), (4) AH-1's (Cobra), and (4) AV-8B's (Sea Harrier). The following diagram depicts the current configuration of both the ground combat element (GCE) and aviation combat element (ACE) organic to the MEU(SOC).


The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Operational Maneuver Group) MEU(OMG) would be composed of the same four standard Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) elements which comprise the MEU(SOC). The structure of both the headquarters element and the MEU service support group (MSSG) remain relatively unchanged. The ground combat element (GCE) will still be comprised of the battalion landing team (BLT) reinforced. Significant changes to the BLT structure include the increase from the (16) vehicle light armored reconnaissance company(-) currently deployed, to a reinforced company of (32) vehicles. Another significant change is the addition of (24) MV-22 transportable Light Strike Vehicles (LSV). These LSV's would be crewed by Marines from one of the BLT's three rifle companies. The Marines forming the LSV company would also retain the capability to conduct either heloborne or small boat operations, capabilities resident with the current MEU(SOC) structure. The MEU(OMG) structure also requires the one-for-one replacement of the AAV with the advanced amphibious assault vehicle (AAAV). The aviation combat element (ACE) remains relatively unchanged from its original MEU(SOC) structure. The only significant change being the one-for-one replacement of the CH-46 with the MV-22 Osprey. The diagram on the folowing page depicts the proposed configuration of the ground combat element (GCE) and the aviation combat element (ACE) in the MEU(OMG) structure.




The MEU(OMG) does not represent any loss in capabilities resident within the MEU(SOC). The primary (SOC) missions still apply to the MEU(OMG), which must be qualified to perform them prior to deployment. The MEU(OMG) is designed specifically to overcome present deficiencies of the MEU(SOC) while retaining all present capabilities. The MEU(OMG) equates to the combat capability of a task organized Battalion Landing Team (BLT) minus. The essence of the MEU(OMG) is its ability to operate in both spatial and temporal depth, generate tempo, avoid decisive engagement, and simultaneously mass the effects of fires while remaining dispersed throughout the battlespace. The first logical step in this process is the expansion of the MEU from an enabling force for the introduction of follow on forces to an operational maneuver group, capable of achieving operational results within the troubled littoral regions of the future. The following diagram depicts a standard task organization of those

BLT (-) assets and units which would compose the MEU(OMG).


Operational maneuver from the sea conducted by forward deployed forces, possessing the organic capability to achieve operational results in conflicts other than major regional contingencies represents a tremendous capability. The ability to project sufficient combat power into troubled littoral regions, primarily within the Third World, without significant deployments from the continental United States must be considered in the current era of force reductions, limited strategic lift, increased threats to regional stability, and the potential for multiple and simultaneous crisis situations. The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), MEU(SOC), which constitutes the point of the spear of United States forward presence, is presently utilized most often as an enabling force for the introduction of follow on, CONUS based forces; it is capable of only limited offensive and defensive operations at the lowest tactical level. Improvements within the structure and organization of the MEU(OMG) designed to enhance mobility, range, and lethality have the potential to transform the MEU(OMG) from an enabling force into an operational weapon. The MEU(OMG) has wide implications and relevance to a CINCs capability to employ a relatively light, highly mobile, and lethal force in a crisis area with which to achieve operational objectives early, before the crisis spreads or spirals out of control.


On the modern, nonlinear, and chaotic battlefield envisioned in the littoral regions of the 21st Century, responsiveness, speed, mobility, and lethality will take precedence over massed formations, and the time required for their deployment. The MEU(OMG) structure will provide the commander a capability to fight a relatively independent combined arms battle. This modern combined arms battle is characterized by widespread reliance on powerful weaponry,

decisiveness, high mobility, dynamism, rapid and sharp changes in the situation, nonlinearity and above all, great spatial scope.[1] Highly mobile and lethal light armored forces, as part of a combined arms organization, give the operational commander the capacity to destroy enemy forces in great depth.[2] Recent developments in advanced reconnaissance systems and significant improvements of high-precision weapons have resulted in profound changes in the nature of conducting the entire spectrum of operations in the future.[3] The future aggressor will likely possess the potential to destroy very important defensive points and objectives in a short period using sea and land launched precision guided munitions (PGMs) and aviation. Enhancements in the speed of collecting and processing real time reconnaissance data make it possible to sense, engage, and destroy multiple targets simultaneously.[4]

The conceptual MEU(OMG) would be formed around a heavily reinforced Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Company and a MV-22 Osprey mobile company mounted in Light Strike Vehicles (LSV). Significant upgrades in the operational range and lethality of these organic platforms, reinforced by Naval Expeditionary Force (NEF), theater, and national assets will combine to create a force capable of expanding both the mission profile and role of the current Marine Expeditionary Unit. The resulting marked increase in relative combat power will allow the MEU(OMG) to strike operational targets throughout the depth of the battlespace. These operations may be in support of the employment of follow on forces or conducted independently dependent upon the threat and scope of the operational goals to be achieved. The

MEU(OMG) will posses the relative combat power to defend advance naval and air bases once secured. The standard (OMG) mission of the operational raid will remain the centerpiece of MEU(OMG) capabilities.

Although the concept of the Operational Maneuver Group (OMG) may be traced back to German, and subsequent Russian operations during World War II, it is only within the last two decades that the OMG has been formally recognized. Early in the 1980s, Polish and Soviet theorists developed the concept of employing a tank or motorized rifle division as an independent Operational Maneuver Group for an army level force.[5] "The OMG concept was developed to change the correlation of forces and means to the attacker's advantage, and to accelerate the destruction of the enemy throughout his defensive depths by using highly mobile combined arms forces in the depth of the enemy rear."[6] The primary mission of the OMG is to neutralize or destroy high value and high payoff targets in depth. This would be accomplished through a series of raids aimed against such targets as command and control nodes, logistics bases, operational reserves, the interdiction of lines of communication, or any number of targets which may be considered either critical requirements, vulnerabilities, or even the tactical or operational centers of gravity. The OMG concept does not require the total defeat of the enemy; success is predicated on the rapid neutralization of critical nodes which will disrupt enemy operations. It capitalizes on speed and tempo to unhinge the enemy, forcing him to reorient, while denying him the time and situational awareness for this to be accomplished. The OMG therefore constitutes an attack upon the psychological, morale, and ultimately the will of the enemy to resist.

The MEU(OMG) would represent a valuable tool in the hands of the MAGTF commander for the shaping of the battlespace, particularly as it pertains to the deep battle. Deep battle constitutes attacks oriented upon operational level targets within the enemy rear area, thus it is not terrain but rather objective oriented. History provides numerous examples of raids by relatively small, combined arms forces, capable of achieving operational level results. "The raid of a small group of Israeli tanks into the rear of the Third Egyptian Field Army in October 1973 unhinged and threatened to defeat the entire Third Army in detail."[7] The OMG is equally well suited for either defensive or offensive operations. The defensive operations of the OMG are concentrated deep in the enemy rear area, but have the potential to degrade enemy offensive combat power in numerous ways. Interdiction operations conducted by the OMG could potentially force the enemy to commit his operational resources or divert other combat forces to protect his logistics base, lines of communication, command and control nodes, critical vulnerabilities, or the tactical/operational center of gravity. This in turn would degrade the enemies combat power and place the commander in a series of dilemmas from which he may not be capable of recovering. The detachment of major combat elements, resources, or effort to eliminate the threat creating chaos in his rear area may then make him more vulnerable to counterattack by other elements or assets in theater.

Future enemies of the United States will certainly expect to be bombed and attacked by precision guided munitions from great ranges. The ability to create a true dilemma for the enemy is the capability to pose a potent ground threat operating within his rear area."[8] This is

particularly relevant when the enemy is faced with an opponent whose size he can not determine, whose base of operations he can not locate, and a highly mobile force which he is unable to regularly orient upon and fix. As with all operations the OMG concept at any level assumes a degree of risk, as does the maneuver warfare doctrine of the Marine Corps. When one considers and assesses risk, one must also be willing also to determine the potential gains of bold, decisive, and timely action. In future crisis, the ability to conduct a traditional massive deployment of forces and logistics build-up at port and air facilities in theater may not be practical or feasible for any number of reasons. An obvious lesson of Desert Shield/Desert Storm is the requirement for the enemy, even at the lower tactical level, to do everything within his power to deny access to air and port facilities to disrupt and delay the United States ability to project CONUS based combat power into the theater of operations. This may include anything from the employment of chemical mines in and around port facilities to a woman with a cellular phone and hand held global positioning system (GPS) providing ten digit grid coordinates to an improved SCUD type missile system hidden deep in enemy territory.[9] The effective employment of these systems would be sufficient to attack and potentially cripple what continues to be the American strategic center of gravity, the national will and acceptance of casualties.

There are definite advantages to employing a smaller, more mobile, and lethal forces than the massive build-up of forces and equipment which has characterized recent operations conducted by the United States. The timely ability of a relevant, forward deployed force to impact upon a crisis early, to develop the situation, gather intelligence, engage and destroy high value/high payoff targets, to shape the battlespace, and create conditions for the introduction of

follow on forces are all critical to the success of operational maneuver from the sea. This ability to shape the battlespace prior to the introduction of follow on forces is particularly relevant when one considers future war theories. Many theorists of future war believe that even lesser developed nations will soon possess the capability to make fixed sites and installations relatively untenable. Future adversaries will possess both the means and motives to disrupt deployment time lines and delay the build up and projection of combat power into the littoral region. The enemy goal being to secure operational objectives before the United States is capable of projecting decisive combat power into the region. The United States must therefore possess a forward deployed operational force capable of creating conditions favorable for the introduction of follow on forces in a hostile environment. The force must be potent when engaged, agile enough both to avoid decisive engagement and to strike the enemy in depth, and light enough to retain mobility while operating with a reduced logistic footprint ashore.

The Marine concept of a light armored force to counter the Soviet operational maneuver group was initiated by General Alfred Gray in the late 1970s.[10] The dominant considerations which led to the procurement of the LAV were strategic deployability, low maintenance to operation cost, limited logistics footprint, extended operational range, and firepower. "Lighter than the Soviet version, it was designed for operations in varied, more spatial terrain against a spectrum of Third World threats, to include those possessing older Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers but incapable of operating and maneuvering them effectively due to cultural inadequacies or environments ill-suited for heavy formations -- conditions prevailing in much of

the world."[11] "In the early 1980's the French in Chad demonstrated to Libyan armored and mechanized forces what very light but agile forces could do in open spatial terrain against rigid, but relatively well equipped and trained opponents."[12] The future threat will most probably be ill defined, illusive, and unpredictable in the search for asymmetrical means to counter the United States' overwhelming capability to conduct conventional platform warfare. The OMG concept never fully came to fruition within the Marine Corps for numerous reasons, not the least of which was a lack of emphasis on MEF/Corps level operations and subsequent lack of appreciation for nonlinear and deep operational maneuver. With the current emphasis upon battlespace shaping, operational art, and dominant maneuver, the time is here to revisit the OMG and its implications for the Marine Corps.

Operational results have always been achieved through the successful engagements and battles of tactical units. The scope of the mission assigned, physical characteristics of the area of operation, and threat integration must all be thoroughly analyzed when a force is being considered to conduct operations, regardless of that forces' size. The capacity to strike operational targets within the enemy rear area, inherent in the MEU(OMG) concept, must be oriented on operational objectives and not geography, the term deep operation is therefore a relative one. Attempting to fix a standard distance or range of operations in kilometers or miles forward of the main battle area (MBA) disregards the essential focus upon the operational objective. "In today's world what a CINC wants is a force that can go in quick, go deep, and cap a crisis with minimal casualties; if you can do all those things you a tremendously relevant in

today's world"[13] Future warfare will become even more reliant upon forward deployed expeditionary forces, where a crisis might be deterred, defused, stabilized, or contained through the timely application of military force.

The MEU(OMG) must not be viewed in isolation and to the exclusion of other capabilities and elements. As with the MEU(SOC), the limitations in the size of the structure will not allow it to operate independently over extended periods of time, particularly during a major regional contingency. The MEU(OMG) retains both the structure and capability of performing the wide range of missions currently associated with the MEU(SOC). The MEU(OMG) does not detract from the current force structure or degrade the current capabilities resident with the MEU(SOC). What the (OMG) structure will provide are additional and flexible options which are relevant to the geographic CINC and his ability to shape both current and future operations. The MEU(OMG) provides expanded mission capabilities which the current structure is incapable of performing for a variety of reasons. The most obvious being deficiencies in command and control, operational range and mobility, and the range and lethality of organic weapons systems. The MEU(OMG) may be employed in any number of missions or roles beyond current MEU(SOC) capabilities. These missions include raids, deep interdiction operations, spoiling attacks, limited turning movements, or security force operations forward of a larger formation.


Forward ... From the Sea demonstrated recognition by the Navy that they must possess both the doctrine and capabilities to effectively operate in the littorals. To make operational

maneuver from the sea (OMFTS) a reality, Naval forces must develop an integrated Navy and Marine Corps Naval expeditionary force (NEF) capability which will allow forward deployed Navy or Marine officers to rapidly assume a Joint Task Force (JTF) role.[14] The capability to establish a Joint Task Force centered upon the forward deployed Naval Expeditionary Force represents an essential component to MEU(OMG) operations. In order to create new joint NEFs, the naval services must build upon their foundation of amphibious teamwork to create new command relationships that would allow the NEF to prosecute littoral campaigns effectively.[15]

The CATF and CLF must retain co-equal status for planning purposes, however, a philosophical shift towards a supported and supporting relationship may prove to be the most conducive in the execution of operational maneuver from the sea. The unwillingness of the Navy to relegate the CVBG to a supporting role of the supported MEU(OMG) operations represents one of many obstacles which must be overcome. All indications are that the Navy has adopted expeditionary warfare and OMFTS in theory. In terms of actually training to a standard consistent with ... From the Sea, Forward ... From the Sea, Operational Maneuver From the Sea, or development of capabilities to a level envisioned as essential within the MEU(OMG) concept; there is much to be done. Current training conducted between the ARG/MAGTF and CVBG during pre-deployment exercises is inadequate, and almost non-existent once forward deployed. The ability of the MEU(OMG) to achieve operational results will be heavily reliant upon the full weight of naval expeditionary force capabilities. Battlespace dominance must extend beyond the

high water mark and encompass all dimensions and capabilities resident within the naval expeditionary force. Seamless operational integration and the cohesion of the (NEF) as a warfighting instrument of forward deployed national policy is an essential prerequisite to MEU(OMG) operations.

The Naval expeditionary force retains the potential to significantly enhance MEU(OMG) operations in terms of all major battlefield functions: command and control, intelligence, mobility, firepower, and logistics. The NEF, consisting of the ARG and the CVBG, represents a sea base of operations which is essential for MEU(OMG) operations. The command, control, and intelligence capabilities of the OMG ashore may be greatly enhanced by assets available from the NEF. These include satellite and other means of long range communications essential for command and control over a vast, spatial area of operation. The intelligence assets available to the NEF represent tremendous utility to the MEU(OMG) in numerous respects. The NEF is well equipped, trained, and capable of performing intelligence functions directly supporting the OMG. These include electronic warfare (EW) from both airborne platforms and the outboard system at sea, processing of photographic and satellite imagery, and increased battlespace management and situational awareness provided by the E2-C Hawkeye.

Mobility is the most obvious of the operational functions with which the Naval Expeditionary Force directly supports the MEU(OMG) concept. The increased capabilities, combined with a marginal increase in the size of the MEU(OMG) are advantages when considering current reductions in amphibious lift. The three ship amphibious ready group (ARG) will remain adequate to transport the OMG structure. The only increase to the current table of organization being (16) Light Armored Vehicle's (LAV) and (24) Light Strike Vehicle's (LSV).

The most significant adjustment to the current ARG configuration will be in the number of landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) required to project the surface delivered element of the OMG from over the horizon in one lift. This rapid build up of combat power ashore is essential for the survivability of the force. The ability of the surface delivered force to move inland rapidly, as a complete force, represents a critical phase of the OMG operation. Naval battlespace dominance will facilitate the ability to isolate the craft landing zone (CLZ) and provide pre-assault reconnaissance and deception operations critical to force insertion through a combination of Naval Surface Fires (NSF) and advance force operations. The current standard ARG complement of four LCACs is not sufficient for a single lift of the projected size of the surface delivered force. The requirement to project the surface delivered force ashore in a single lift is essential for the rapid projection of combat power, and to deny the enemy the ability to react with a mobile reserve. The optimal number of LCACs to provide maximum flexibility and meet anticipated requirements is eight; this further implies that the ARG will include two LCAC capable well decks with four OMG pre-boated LCACs each. The requirement for eight LCACs is based on the capability to deliver (32) LAV's in a single lift.

The NEF brings tremendous firepower potential to perform battlespace dominance, shaping operations, and direct fire support to the MEU(OMG). The dominant firepower asset resident to the NEF is represented by the carrier battle group (CVBG), which remains the premier strategically forward deployable asset available in support of national policy objectives. Carrier attack aviation represents the dominant arm of the task force, and will play a pivotal role in achieving battlespace dominance, conducting shaping operations, and providing fires in direct support of the MEU(OMG). Attack aviation operating forward from the sea is the asset of choice

to complement the highly maneuverable and lethal, but relatively light MEU(OMG).. Aviation provides the responsiveness, versatility, and shock effect to rapidly mass decisive firepower at the critical time in space to achieve decisive results. The primary mission projected for attack aviation will be the deep interdiction role. This will add depth to the battlespace, provide increased situational awareness to the maneuver forces, disrupt and delay enemy formations maneuvering far forward and against the OMG prior to closure, and facilitate the attack and destruction of high value and high payoff targets in depth. It is likewise essential that the full weight of naval expeditionary force surface fires to include improved long range guns, missiles, and the conceptual arsenal ships, organic to the NEF, be available to support the OMG.

The training void which currently exists between the ARG/MEU and the CVBG must be closed if the MEU(OMG) concept possesses any potential for success. The establishment of standard operational procedures, integration of capabilities and functions, clear articulation of command relationships, and establishing linkage with supporting joint and national assets are all essential to the integration of the MEU(OMG) within the NEF. The capabilities resident with, and reflected in the seamless integration of these assets, represent a highly relevant capability to the warfighting CINC with which to execute operational maneuver from the sea to achieve national policy objectives. In order to fully realize this potential the concepts of, ... From the Sea, Forward ... From the Sea, and Operational Maneuver From the Sea must become more than buzz words with which to wage fiscal battles on Capital Hill. These concepts must become real capabilities, grounded in an expeditionary mind-set which allows the MEU(OMG), backed by the full combat power of the NEF, to fight and win in the littorals.

The Marine Corps was the first of the services to embrace the concept of expeditionary warfare. This transition from amphibious to expeditionary was initiated by General Alfred Gray who foresaw the looming changes in future missions and roles consistent with destabilization throughout the Third World, the growth of the increase in major regional contingencies posed by the rogue nations, and the Untied States shift from a forward to CONUS based force.[16] The United States Army and Air Force have subsequently developed their own expeditionary capabilities represented by adaptive joint force packaging and the expeditionary wing concepts. With renewed emphasis in the littorals represented in ... From the Sea, and Forward ... From the Sea the United States Navy has become energized regarding the Naval expeditionary force and its role in operational maneuver from the sea. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) recently directed eight million dollars be provided to the Third Fleet for their participation in the Commandants Warfighting Laboratory's Exercise Hunter Warrior experiment to upgrade command and control systems on the flag ship[17] "Hunter Warrior will include full naval participation in an extended littoral battlespace and address numerous issues relevant to the MEU(OMG) concept to include sea basing, long range communications, fire support, and the meshing of sea based command and control with deep operational maneuver ashore."[18] It is essential that parallel research, development, training, and experimentation be conducted between the Marine Corps and the Navy to ensure doctrine and capabilities result in the optimal solution in performing operational maneuver from the sea.


Command relationships between the MEU/ARG and CVBG continues to be a potential sticking point with serious implications in the ability to effectively operate in the littorals. This must be resolved if the full operational potential of the MEU(OMG) is to be realized. The ability to command and control operations ashore is unquestionably one of the strong suits of MEU(OMG) due to its reliance on mission type orders and commanders intent. It is a structure which should be afforded wide operational parameters and be unconstrained by excessive control measures which dominate the linear battlefield. The MEU(OMG) as the initial focus of main effort ashore must be weighted with the resources required to enhance command and control capabilities. This includes access to dedicated satellite channels, the entire suite of global positioning systems, data links to aerial command and control platforms, and long range communication assets.

MEU command of the OMG will be predicated by the range and scope of the mission. The command structure and relationships could take on any number of forms to include the formation of a JTF, service, or component commander. "The Marine Corps has traditionally been overly concerned with being all things to all people; we should be more concerned with capabilities. If the Marine Corps develops a capability that is relevant to the CINC, he will find a way to maximize it, and a command relationship that will work."[19] In the MEU(OMG) concept, battle management will be synonymous with command and control. Command and control will predominantly be performed from sea based platforms, most likely the flag ship of the CVBG. This will serve to provide greater situational awareness to the commander and access to the full

range of joint and national assets available to support the operations of the MEU(OMG). The challenge will remain the ability to transmit essential information between sea based command and control and units performing deep operational maneuver ashore.


The capabilities of the MEU(OMG) to conduct effective surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering and dissemination must capitalize both on traditional and non-traditional capabilities. Static reconnaissance, normally associated with dismounted reconnaissance teams manning observation posts, will not suffice on the highly mobile and fluid battlefield upon which OMG operations are envisioned. Collection assets must therefore be highly mobile, survivable, and responsive. Reconnaissance and surveillance teams must possess ground mobility, navigational, and communication capabilities comparable to the OMG. Their defensive firepower must be sufficiently robust to ensure survivability in a chaotic and highly lethal environment. The survivability of reconnaissance and surveillance teams will rely most heavily on stealth and mobility. They must be capable of performing the entire spectrum of reconnaissance operations and must be highly proficient in the reconnaissance and classification of obstacles, target location and identification, and the control of long range fires.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is essential to long range observation, situational awareness, target acquisition, and target designation. It has the potential to be the most responsive and versatile intelligence asset available to the MEU(OMG). Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which would be organic to the MEU(OMG) structure, would provide a myriad of capabilities relevant and complementary to the force envisioned. The hover capability of the (VTOL) (UAV) would result in significant

improvements in time on station, the ability to conduct detailed reconnaissance, and provide simultaneous imagery. The (VTOL) (UAV) is highly mobile, possesses a wide array of versatile capabilities, and requires only minimal logistics support for maintenance, operation, and transport. Within the MEU(OMG) structure two Light Armored Vehicle (Logistic) variants will transport and employ two (VTOL) (UAV) each. This will provide the organic capability to conduct long range reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition expanding the battlespace well beyond line-of sight.

The primary applications of the (VTOL) (UAV) within the (OMG) structure is within the reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition roles. Other potential missions of this system include use as a communication or electronic warfare platform, designation of targets for attack by precision guided munitions, conducting psychological operations, and the employment of non-lethal munitions and devices. The VTOL UAV is ideally suited for operations in restrictive terrain and the multi-dimentional urban environment where OMG mobility is limited and survivability threatened. The capability to acquire and designate targets may be enhanced by a wide array of observation devices to include forward looking infra-red (FLIR), thermal sights, global positioning system (GPS), and the ability to laser designate targets for attack by precision guided munitions. There are also numerous applications for this system in humanitarian, peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations, and military operations other than war (MOOTW). The ability to patrol the urban environment, monitor massed migrations and movements of refugees, and perform reconnaissance of the areas adjacent to a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) are all representative of the application of VTOL UAV technology in the MOOTW environment. The ability of these systems to enhance force protection and

simultaneously serve as a combat multiplier in operational mobility and lethality make it an essential component of the MEU(OMG) structure.

One of the most critical requirements for the MEU(OMG) is the ability to receive and process real time intelligence. There have been several relatively recent technological developments, which if applied, impact substantially on the ability to gather and disseminate intelligence. Two examples are the development of elevated tethered sights and periscopic sights, each capable of housing a wide array of imagery capability. These systems have the potential to revolutionize, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. Access to satellite imagery will also be essential to the ability of the MEU(OMG) to maintain a clear and accurate intelligence picture. The primary roles of the satellite will continue to be reconnaissance and communication. The MEU(OMG) must be weighted with both national and joint assets to further enhance situational awareness. The dramatic increase of intelligence available to the MEU(OMG) will require significant upgrades in the ability of the command and control system to receive, process, and disseminate this intelligence. The sheer number of data links required to effectively tap into all of the resources available and disseminate it over a widely dispersed battlefield, warrant an individual (LAV) platform dedicated entirely to intelligence.

The Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS), mounted on F/A-18's of the CVBG, provides an electro optical, infrared, and high resolution synthetic aperture radar. The (ATARS) is limited in its ability to provide real time, continuous imagery. The MEU(OMG) must be capable of accessing real time photographic imagery if it is to remain oriented on the enemy, avoiding decisive direct fire engagements, and to continue to operate against the operational center of gravity. Another intelligence capability which must be organic

to the MEU(OMG) are those currently resident with the Sensor Control and Management Platoon (SCAMP). These include seismic, magnetic, thermal, and infrared sensors capable of being employed either manually, by aviation means, or in combination. Seismic sensors would prove extremely valuable to the OMG structure as an economy of force enhancement, to provide early warning, and assist in the acquisition of targets. The use of tethered or extended mast periscopic sights in conjunction with ground surveillance radar from protective terrain provide the ability to conduct surveillance and targeting without exposure to enemy observation and direct fire systems.

There are a wide array of joint and national assets that may be utilized to enhance the capabilities of the MEU(OMG) to collect and disseminate intelligence. These include but are not limited to aerial photo reconnaissance, Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), and satellite imagery. "The Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) promises to revolutionize how US forces conduct conventional warfare."[20] The JSTARS provides essential information regarding the location and movement of large, massed enemy formations. Command and control decisions effecting target acquisition and precision engagement, and maneuver to either avoid or engage the enemy are all enhanced with the increased situational awareness which JSTARS can provide. The JSTARS would operate in conjunction with UAVs, which may be vectored to areas where large enemy signatures are acquired to perform more detailed reconnaissance. "JSTARS combined with developments in precision guided munitions (PGM) will permit a commander to use interdiction to quickly destroy large numbers of enemy targets near simultaneously, even during darkness and in

inclement weather conditions."[21] The systematic, deep attrition of enemy combat power dramatically multiplies the strength and operational potential of the small, but highly powerful and capable MEU(OMG).


Operational mobility and superior range are two of the most essential capabilities the MEU(OMG) must possess. This can not be limited to air combat element ACE assets but must be an inherent capability of the ground combat element GCE in the future. The MV-22 platform provides tremendous operational potential for deep operational maneuver. The limitation resides with the lack of mobility of dismounted infantry which would be foot mobile once debarked. "This problem could potentially be overcome with the development of a light strike vehicle LSV, which the MV-22 would carry internally."[22] The obvious limitation is the fact that the MV-22 will be transporting both the LSV and embarked Marines simultaneously. This LSV, not yet designed or developed, must possess the range and mobility to maneuver into the depth of enemy controlled territory to attack operationally significant targets. The range and maneuverability of the MV-22 will allow it to insert the LSV force within range of the objective area and would be available to extract the force upon completion of the operation.

The Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) would be relatively light weight, MV-22 internally transportable, possess superior off road mobility, sprint speed, and operational range. The LSV must also be upgraded with sufficient stand-off firepower to engage and destroy a wide array of targets. The mobility of the LSV combined with organic fiber optic guided missile technology and augmented by the long range fires of ground, naval, and aviation assets provide a

exceptionally versatile and lethal combination. The LSV force would be ideally suited for numerous missions and roles to include reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, screening, and fast attack/deep strike. Additional requirements include extended range communication, global positioning system, and adequate night observation provided by forward looking infra-red or thermal imagery. The ability of the LSV force to designate targets must be complemented with a laser designation capability to facilitate attack by precision guided munitions.

The tank has traditionally been the force of choice for operational maneuver. The M1A1 certainly possesses and has demonstrated the capability to execute operational maneuver. The shock effect, tactical mobility, and direct firepower of the modern main battle tank remains unequaled on the battlefield, however such tactical and operational advantages are quickly being eroded by the proliferation of missile technology, precision guided munitions, and other relatively sophisticated weapons systems throughout the world. "It is highly doubtful that a future opponent will attempt to match the United States in platform warfare."[23] Future adversaries will most likely attempt to maximize the effects of asymmetrical means. The M1A1 will be an operational liability for numerous reasons if the MEU(OMG) is assigned operational objectives requiring long range mobility.

The operational maneuver of a mere platoon of M1A1s would completely overwhelm the ability of the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG) to maintain the long, extensive, and tenuous tank logistics tail while simultaneously supporting other operations. The resupply of ammunition and fuel alone would maximize a significant portion of the line haul assets of the MSSG and heavy lift capacity of the ACE. The hours of maintenance to hours of operation ratio of the

M1A1 makes it unsuited for deployment in small numbers, with limited maintenance support beyond the second echelon, and at the end of a long and often tenuous supply line. Rapid force projection of the M1A1 ashore is limited by the fact that the landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) can only lift one M1A1. The operational mobility of the M1A1 is also significantly limited by the lack of engineering support, particularly in terms of the bridging assets available to enhance maneuver. The M1A1 can only negotiate approximately 20% of the bridges within the United States; the percentage would undoubtedly be much lower in the lesser developed Third World, where the vast majority of future operations will probably be conducted. However, the M1A1 should not be discounted regardless of its limitations; given the right terrain and threat conditions it could provide tremendous operational potential for employment with the MEU(OMG).

The Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle AAAV will provide a marked improvement in ship to shore movement and potential for operational mobility over the current Amphibious Assault Vehicle AAV. However, many of the same limitations of the M1A1, also effect the operational potential of the AAAV, generally to a lesser degree. The AAAV represents tremendous advantages over the AAV in terms of firepower, speed, and range of operations. The projected 25mm or 30mm stabilized main gun provides a marked upgrade in armament and direct firepower potential. The speed and operational range of the AAAV, although vastly improved, continue to make it best suited for operational employment near the coastal area. Also, the AAAV does not significantly reduce the logistic footprint required to support sustained operations ashore. As with the M1A1, the MSSG does not possess the organic capability to

sustain the AAAV force ashore for extended periods, particularly in a fluid, high tempo operational environment.

The Light Armored Vehicle (LAV), resident within the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions, represents the best current platform suited for the role of deep operational maneuver. The current relegation of the LAV to reconnaissance and security force operations is a significant under-utilization of the platforms operational capabilities. With a range of 400 miles, relatively light weight, tremendous operational road speed and cross country mobility, combined with an exceptionally low hours of maintenance to operation ration, the LAV is a natural key component of the MEU(OMG). The LAV platform is ideally suited for rapid force projection; each LCAC can embark four LAVs. Although not practical to insert the reinforced LAV company with the four CH-53s organic to the ACE, the LAV is air transportable. The reduced logistical tail required for the long range maneuver of the LAV represents a significant advantage. The 400 mile standard operating range could easily be doubled by increasing the fuel cell capacity, or by the addition of externally mounted fuel cells which could be jettisoned as required. The LAV can negotiate the vast majority of bridges throughout the world, and its swim capability allows it access to areas where bridges may not exist or remain intact. The ideal deep maneuver and mobility piece of the MEU(OMG) therefore, would be built around the LAV and the MV-22 with the conceptual light strike vehicle (LSV) embarked. This structure would be augmented and supported by other assets of the MEU(OMG), flexibly tailored, based on the commanders estimate, either in a direct or general support role. "Light armor inserted by a combination of air

and surface means provide the MEU(OMG) a means to project from a hostile shore to the objective of dominating an enemy's center of gravity."[24]

The Marine infantryman will continue to be an essential element within the MEU(OMG) concept. Through modernization of the weapons and other capabilities of the individual Marine, the range and lethality of his engagements can be greatly expanded. The overarching requirement regarding infantry is providing mobility commensurate with the remainder of the force. There are numerous options in this regard, however the AAAV and the Bison, a troop carrying version of the (LAV), provide the two best options. The AAAV is not immediately available for service in the Fleet Marine Force, and although the AAAVs projected 25mm or 30mm gun is far superior to the Bison in terms of armament, direct fire engagements will not be the preferred method in the virtual-line-of-sight dominated battlefield of the future in which the OMG will fight. The obvious reason being that the MEU(OMG) is not survivable if fixed in direct fire engagement with a force superior in numbers, heavy direct fire weaponry, and artillery.

The Bison, with a lift capacity comparable to the AAAV, demonstrates tremendous operational potential in terms of operational range, mobility, and maintenance to operation time and cost. As with all other LAV variants, four Bison can be embarked upon an LCAC simultaneously, along with the mounted reinforced rifle platoon. The AAAV, not reliant upon the LCAC, will facilitate a larger and more rapid build up of combat power ashore but it's range, maintainability, and logistical footprint degrade from its potential for operational maneuver. The infantryman, although essential to OMG operations, is not the centerpiece and will not be

required in large numbers for the structure to execute deep, nonlinear, operational maneuver. The OMG structure will only include infantry which is organically mounted on the platforms task organized for the specific mission. The requirement for the MEU to retain the ability to perform all of the standard (SOC) missions will not allow significant alterations to the organic infantry battalion force structure.


"In todays world and political climate, force protection is the name of the game."[25] This statement is particularly relevant to the operational envelope in which the MEU(OMG) will function, operating independently, and often isolated. Mobility and intelligence enhancement will increase force protection exponentially. The freedom of maneuver achieved through not being tied to a fixed logistical resupply site denies the enemy a target or potential center of gravity upon which to orient his forces. The ability to acquire targets at increased ranges by tethered or periscopic sights, UAV, JSTAR, or satellite enhance force protection by enabling the OMG to move before being acquired, closed with, fixed, and destroyed by a superior force. The ability to distinguish or identify friend from foe, now called combat identification, is an essential component of force protection, particularly in light of the long range lethality of the weapons systems employed, long range maneuver, and the potential dispersion and disjointed nature of forces spread across a nonlinear battlefield. The combat identification system developed must be responsive to the high mobility requirement of the OMG; it should include a comprehensive battlespace combat identification protective zone.


The use of tethered sights or some other means of virtual line-of-sight (VLOS), will provide tremendous improvements in not only target acquisition and fire support coordination, but will dramatically improve the situational awareness of commanders at all levels. The OMG as a force will not be dependent upon line-of-sight; the stand off capability of its weapons systems coupled with positioning in protective, close terrain are central concepts of force protection. The effects of enemy artillery fire may be significantly reduced through the employment of portable countermeasure devices, such as the Shortstop Electronic Protection System. "Shortstop detects and defeats incoming mortar, artillery, or rockets equipped with radio-frequency proximity fuses. Shortstop, using digital radar frequency memories and fast switching, senses the signal from the fuse and sends a burst transmission to its trigger, causing rounds to explode at a safe distance -- up to 1,000 feet high and a mile away from the target."[26] Protection against the effects of indirect fire is a tremendous combat multiplier for the MEU(OMG), as it engages the enemy with long range, virtual line- of-sight weapons systems from the relative protection of broken terrain. "The prototype model of Shortstop weighs 185-lb, three follow-on models are being developed to include a man-carried pack, a vehicle-mounted model, and a stand-alone, tripod-mounted version."[27]

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will likely expand substantially throughout the remainder of this decade and into the next century. The retention of operational mobility, and stealth of the MEU(OMG) is its greatest source of protection against this threat. The stationary target on the modern battlefield will be sensed, targeted, and eventually destroyed.

The OMG must therefore displace frequently and make every effort to reduce its signature and subsequent vulnerability. In the future battlespace dominated by sensor to shooter technology, denying the enemy a target upon which to orient is critical to force protection. This does not imply continuous long range maneuver, but it must deny the enemy the ability to orient on the force. The MEU(OMG) must remain dispersed for force protection while retaining the ability to mass fires and their effects. The capability to detect and warn of the presence of chemical or biological agents and to determine when personnel may relax chemical/biological warfare protective measures must be organic to the OMG. The UAV may be of tremendous utility if capable of detecting, locating, and reporting contaminated areas to be avoided.

"The implementation of these new operational concepts will have vast implications for the Marine Corps/Navy team in the management of combat casualties in the future."[28] The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and high tech precision weapons systems combined with the traditional conventional threat will present unique challenges for medical personnel. Limitations in the capabilities to evacuate casualties and provide medical treatment for mass casualties must be resolved. "The mix of injuries across the battlefield would necessitate readiness to provide casualty care for a large variety of injuries not typical of past conflicts."[29] Navy medical planners have recently begun to evaluate current medical procedures and their ability to support operational maneuver from the sea. The results and findings of this evaluation will have broad implications regarding the medical capabilities resident with the naval expeditionary force and the MEU(OMG). "Requirements envisioned as critical to providing

quality medical support on the future battlefield are improved medical evacuation capabilities and procedures, improved medical training for the individual Marine and capabilities of the corpsman, positioning medical officers forward on the battlefield, and reducing the weight and increasing the deployability of class VIII supplies."[30]


"When considering fires available to the OMG four broad categories must be explored to include organic fires, naval surface fires, air support, and the entire suite of evolving non-lethal weapons.[31] Due to its lack of armor protection and heavy weapons systems, the MEU(OMG) will not be capable of fighting direct fire engagements against heavily armored or mechanized forces. The OMG must however, possess the capability to destroy or neutralize these systems with organic fires from stand-off ranges utilizing the cover of protective terrain. The challenge for the MEU(OMG) therefore, is the ability to mass fires and their effects without massing firing systems. "The weaknesses and deficiencies associated with light against heavy armor may be significantly reduced with the addition of relatively simple off-the-shelf technology operated in new ways."[32] One of the essential capabilities of the MEU(OMG) will be its ability to mass fires and their effects without massing forces or systems on the battlefield. This dispersion allows the MEU(OMG) to retain its mobility, avoid direct fire engagements, and subsequently enhances the survivability of the organization.

The employment of standard field artillery systems within the MEU(OMG) structure is limited by their relatively large footprint, logistics requirements, and general lack of mobility and

protection essential to operational maneuver. The Commandants Warfighting Lab is considering the employment of an autonomous 120mm mortar system, remotely fired, possessing a self destruction mechanism, which would be "seeded" throughout the battlefield in depth.[33] The glaring weaknesses of this system is its lack of responsiveness, mobility, and its vulnerability. The autonomous mortar is positioned at a fixed location, immobile, and vulnerable to destruction by everything from militia to counter-battery fire. Once sensed, by whatever means, these systems could be quickly engaged and destroyed. This system is also limited by ammunition constraints with no means identified by which to resupply it. The MEU(OMG) would rapidly out maneuver the range of the autonomous mortar system.

The Delco/Royal Ordnance 120mm breach loaded armored mortar system (AMS) mounted on the Light Armored Vehicle chassis has resulted in a highly mobile, versatile, survivable, and lethal system. "The AMS components include a GPS-aided, integrated fire control computer, thermal imagery and laser range finder, and a turret attitude sensor system (TASS)."[34] "This system is capable of both high and low angle fire at a maximum range of 9 kilometers with standard ammunition and 12 kilometers with rocket-assisted ammunition; with a sustained rate of 4 rounds per minute and a rapid rate of 8 rounds per minute, the AMS is ideally suited as the primary indirect fire support platform for the MEU(OMG)."[35] The mobility of the (LAV) platform, combined with the range and lethality of the AMS combine to produce a highly versatile and responsive indirect fire capability. The employment of precision guided munitions with the 120mm AMS represents a tremendous combat multiplier. Limitations in engagement

ranges will be compensated for by first round kill probabilities. The LAV mounted AMS is a logistically supportable system which places minimal burden on the CSS structure.

Other (VLOS) systems which may be effectively incorporated with the OMG structure are the Man-Portable Non-Line-of -Sight (MANLOS) and the Fiber Optic Guided Missile (FOG-M). (MANLOS) and (FOG-M) are both fiber optically guided missiles; with guidance performed through a television camera in the nose of the missile which transmits video back to the controlling gunner along a fiber optic cable data link. The advantages of a long range, highly lethal, (VLOS) system are the stand-off capability and force protection they provide. The enemy may be effectively engaged from covered and concealed positions well beyond line-of-sight. The use of the (VTOL) (UAV) for target acquisition combined with the augmenting fires of the turreted 120mm (AMS) provide tremendous asymmetrical opportunities for the MEU(OMG) to engage and defeat much larger and heavier formations. Fiber optic guided missiles are ideal for operations within the urban littorals. The long range, precision accuracy, and stand off capability allow the firing platform to remain in protective terrain outside the urban environment and effectively engage targets within it.

Due to the size of the MEU(OMG) and its organic relative firepower, it is essential that air superiority be achieved prior to its employment. Air power which must be immediately available to the MEU(OMG) are fixed wing assets from the carrier battle group, along with the AH-1W Cobras and AV-8B Harriers organic to the MEU aviation combat element (ACE). These assets represent a significant combat multiplier in the arsenal available to the MEU(OMG). The ability of aviation to deliver precision guided munitions complements the target acquisition, designation, and virtual line-of-sight capabilities of the force. Aviation therefore represents a key

component of the MEU(OMG), both through its ability to provide increased stand off and deliver precision guided munitions throughout the depth of the battlespace. The full range of ordnance, to include new technologies, must be considered in applicability to deep operational maneuver where precision will be critical. These include GPS guided munitions, sensor fused weapons, and the Brilliant Antiarmor (BAT) self guided submunition. "The Sensor Fused Weapon (SFW) dispenses 40 submunitions, each capable of independently scanning the ground with an infrared sensor for a heat source which is attacked from the top by an explosively formed penetrator slug."[36] "The (BAT) uses acoustic sensors to detect moving armor or mechanized vehicles from miles away and a Raytheon IR seeker for terminal homing. After selecting an individual target in an armored column, BAT flies into the top of it, detonating a two-staged shaped-charge warhead."[37]

The value of these weapons systems within the MEU(OMG) concept is that they do not require line-of-sight, laser designation, or any other form of ground control other than the location of the target area. Massed armor, air defense systems, and guided missile platforms, either stationary or mobile, in open or close terrain, are all extremely susceptible to surprise attack by these systems. Target acquisition may be performed by UAV, fire support teams in LSVs, or a wide array of platforms and assets available to the OMG. The mere transmission of a GPS determined grid coordinate is all that is required to effectively engage multiple high value/high pay off targets. Area denial is another task for supporting aviation. The ability to accurately deliver scatterable mines will enhance force protection and restrict enemy mobility,

particularly in broken terrain. Standard aviation ordnance items such as fuel air explosive (FAE), Hellfire missiles, Rockeye CBUs, and the MK series bombs will still be relevant in the MEU(OMG) close battle. Long range naval surface fires resident with the carrier battle group provide tremendous firepower potential. The Tomahawk cruise missile is the weapon of choice in the precision attack of high value/ high payoff targets. These include critical command and control nodes, political and military leadership, weapons of mass destruction, and other strategic targets. "The U.S. Navy is currently studying a variant of the Army's Ferret missile system, called the Sea Ferret."[38] "The Ferret is an advanced missile system concept that provides situational awareness and precision strike capability launched from any Hellfire compatible system."[39] "Ferret functions are similar to the fiber optic guided missile (FOG-M), however, Ferret may be data linked to allow man-in-the-loop control."[40] With a range of well over 300 nautical miles, Ferret provides another precision system capable of destroying a wide array of targets throughout the MEU(OMG) area of operations. Naval surface fires in the future will not be limited to missile systems. The development of the improved, long range 5 inch gun will facilitate the use of traditional naval gunfire support. The 5 inch gun under development will be capable of delivering highly accurate and effective fires at a range in excess of 60 nautical miles. This capability will have significant implications for the MEU(OMG) operating within the littoral regions of the world.

The Navy is currently conducting research and experimentation with long range systems in addition to Sea Ferret and Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) which are ideally suited

for the support of operational maneuver in the littorals. "The Vertical Gun/Advanced Ship (VGAS) system has demonstrated the capability of launching a 155mm projectile out of a vertical launch tube with a range of approximately 110 nautical miles."[41] "The navy has also demonstrated the capability of firing the new EX 171 Extended Range Guided Munition (ERGM) from a modified version of the Mk 45 5-inch (127mm) gun, allowing it to engage targets ashore from a stand-off range of 75 nautical miles (140 km)."[42] The most significant threat to the naval expeditionary force littoral operations of the future will be represented by sea skimming missiles, like the silkworm, which are readily available and may potentially negate the advantage of long range naval surface fires.[43] The ability to target and eliminate the threat posed by these missiles is essential to ensure continued sea based support. Long range naval surface fires represent an essential element of that support.

The infantry organic to the MEU(OMG) will require a increased capability to suppress massed enemy infantry by other means. The ideal suppression weapon for the OMG structure is the GAU-19/A lightweight .50 caliber gun which could be mounted either within the LAV turret or upon the LSV. Mounted as either a primary or secondary armament the GAU-19/A provides protection against close-in ground threats and an on-board measure of air defense capability.[44] The tremendous volume of fire which the GAU-19/A is capable of generating, 1,000 to 2,000 rounds per minute compensates, from the perspective of direct suppressive firepower, for the lack of infantry within the OMG structure. With a weight of a mere 76 lbs, the GAU-19/A gun

operates on the Gatling principle of rotating barrels and a smooth continuous flow of ammunition to include M-8 API, M20 APIT, M-17 Tracer, M-33 Ball, and M-903 SLAP.[45]

Air superiority must be achieved prior to the employment of the MEU(OMG); this does not negate however, the requirement for an organic air defense capability. The primary responsibility for air defense will fall upon the fixed wing assets of the carrier battle group to attack and destroy the enemy aircraft, airfields, maintenance, air command and control nodes, and other targets which degrade the ability of the enemy to conduct offensive air support operations. It is highly unlikely that the threat against which the MEU(OMG) would be employed will possess a substantial offensive fixed wing capability, able to threaten the NEF's total airspace dominance. The threat will most likely utilize long range, precision guided missile systems against targets of opportunity. The most logical air defense platform to accompany the OMG is the LAV-Air Defense (AD) variant. "The LAV-AD is comprised of the Blazer air defense turret installed in a LAV chassis."[46] The obvious advantages of this configuration are the relative mobility of this system in relation to other OMG components, and the duel capability of the Blazer turret to engage air and surface threats. "The Blazer turret includes two air defense weapons: the GAU-12/U 25mm Gatling gun, and two four-Stinger missile launcher pods."[47] The GAU-12/U is a superior system in the duel purpose role against either air or surface targets; combined with on board navigational equipment, forward looking infrared (FLIR), laser range

finder, and fire-on-the-move capability combine for a extremely lethal and essential component of the OMG structure.[48]

There is every indication that massive human migrations to the littoral areas of the developing nations will occur throughout this decade and into the 21st Century. The MEU(OMG) must therefore be capable of effectively employing the entire spectrum of non-lethal agents within the urban littorals. The MEU(OMG) is not designed for, nor is it well suited for extensive operations within the urban environment. The MEU(OMG) will be able to control those areas outside of and around the urban littorals. This does not eliminate the potential of OMG elements to encounter large numbers of displaced refugees which may be hostile towards an outside presence. "Nonlethal capability sets can be divided into four distinct categories; personnel protectors, personnel effectors, mission enhancers, and training devices."[49] The MEU(OMG) must be capable of effectively employing protective measures and nonlethal weapons systems in situations where the use of deadly force is not essential to accomplishment of the mission.


"The challenge for the logisticians, the short pole in the MEU(OMG) tent, is how to support the ground maneuver element."[50] This challenge becomes even more daunting when it is further established that the OMG, for force protection purposes, can not afford to be tied to a fixed logistics base. The logistics dilemma demands that any ground component which is logistically ponderous should be eliminated from the OMG force structure. The fuel problem can

be significantly reduced through an increase to fuel cell capacity or the utilization of externally mounted fuel cells. In the case of the LAV, these cells could double the fuel capacity and subsequent increase the range of the vehicle from 400 to 800(+) miles. These externally mounted, collapsible fuel cells must be capable of being jettisoned as required, for example once the OMG has entered the objective are. The C-130J provides another potential solution to the resupply and refueling of the ground maneuver component. With its short strip capability and outstanding ground refueling capacity, the C-130J is ideally suited for this purpose. The CH-53, operating from amphibious shipping, provides another tremendous organic capability to sustain the OMG over extended ranges.

The Amphibious Warfare Technology (AWT) Directorate of the Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) has initiated a science and technology program titled Advanced Expeditionary Combat Service Support.[51] The purpose was to develop new combat service support concepts which incorporate new technologies, consider the future operational environment, and address the unique challenges which operational maneuver from the sea presents to the combat service support community. A functional sea-base with embarked logistic personnel, material, and equipment is a critical element to supporting and sustaining the maneuver forces conducting operational maneuver from the sea.[52] The MEU(OMG) will require a robust MEU Service Support Group (MSSG), adept at air delivery, configured to support deep operational maneuver, and support oriented. To achieve a seamless or near seamless distribution process, this distribution system must have a throughput capability beyond that provided by

existing surface, rotary wing, or anticipated tilt rotor assets organic to the MEU.[53] Dramatic breakthroughs currently being made in the miniaturization of communication equipment, generators, weapons, and ordnance items represent the best potential solution to the challenges which operational maneuver from the sea places upon combat service support.


The intent of the MEU(OMG) concept is to provide the Marine Corps with a concept of a forward deployed, relevant capability, able to achieve operational results and shape the battlespace for the introduction of follow on forces. In evaluating the MEU(OMG) it must be compared to other capabilities which currently exist and those projected by the Commandants Warfighting Lab. The MEU(OMG) concept, when compared to the current MEU(SOC), provides a tremendous advantage in operational range, scope, mobility, the generation of tempo, the ability to engage the enemy in depth with a wide array of lethal systems, and numerous other advantages. "The two most glaring deficiencies of the current Sea Dragon proposal rest in our inability to operate effectively in the urban environment, and an institutionalized reliance upon massed formations."[54] Other deficiencies include a general lack of mobility for teams operating ashore and an absence of organic direct fire support systems under the teams direct control. The mobility deficiency can be easily be eliminated through the combination of a third generation LAV with increased operational range, an MV-22 squadron transporting enhanced light strike vehicles, and AAAVs operating along the coastal areas.

The organic fire support deficiency may be overcome through a combination of the Fiber Optic Guided Missiles (FOG-M), Man-Portable Non-Line-Of-Sight (MANLOS) weapons, and

the 120mm turreted Armored Mortar System (AMS). The FOG-M system mounted within the LAV chassis is a particularly capable and lethal combination as a replacement for direct support artillery. Advantages include the high mobility of the system, responsiveness to immediate requirements, a range equivalent to modern artillery and missiles systems, the ability to engage with great precision, and an organic forward observer as the Marine flies the missile to its intended target. The MANLOS system provides a similar capability to the individual infantryman, transported in the Bison variant of the LAV, a light strike vehicle, or the AAAV. The 120mm turreted mortar combined with the new generation of acoustic, thermal, infrared, magnetic, and other sensing precision guided munitions provides capabilities similar to the FOG-M at reduced ranges. The 120mm turreted mortar also provides an outstanding platform with which to employ nonlethal munitions. The inherent advantages of these systems are that they all possess mobility commensurate with the maneuver elements, and provide responsive, highly lethal, and effective fires in direct support of the maneuver elements.

Evaluation of the MEU(OMG) merely from the perspective of size serves to underestimate the capabilities and potential of the structure, its relative combat power, and the tremendous combat multipliers which may be brought to bear at the operational level. The MEU(OMG) equates to the combat capability of a battalion landing team (minus); the relatively small target it offers an adversary combined with the weight of the naval expeditionary force, joint, and national assets would equate to operational potential far exceeding that currently associated with the MEU(SOC). The value and potential of the MEU(OMG) must therefore be evaluated considering its relative combat power and operational significance. The essence of the MEU(OMG) is its ability to operate in depth, generate tempo, avoid decisive engagements, and simultaneously mass fires while remaining relatively dispersed throughout the battlespace. In considering these factors the MEU(OMG) may be capable of generating the relative combat power equivalent of a much larger formation, potentially the brigade level.

The MEU(OMG) concept provides a capability which is both relevant to and consistent with the current Marine Corps doctrine of maneuver warfare and operational maneuver from the sea. The MEU(OMG) must be allowed to thrive in an environment dominated by chaos and uncertainty, where fixed sites and installations are untenable, and commanders at all levels retain maximum freedom of action to generate the speed and tempo essential for the execution of operational maneuver. The MEU(OMG) must not be considered in isolation; it represents a range of capabilities which must be resident throughout the Marine Corps. This combined with true adherence to the precepts of our maneuver warfare doctrine will dramatically increase the Marine Corps potential to execute operational maneuver from the sea. The first logical step in this process is through the expansion of the current role of the MEU from an enabling force to an operational maneuver group capable of achieving operational results within the troubled littoral regions of the future.























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Quantico, VA. Interview by author, 20 December 1996.



[1] Bogdon Swita, The OMG in the Offense, Military Review, November 1993, 31.

[2] Alan M. Mosher, Light Armor in Deep Operational Maneuver: The New Excalibur,

School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 6 May 1994, 4.

[3] Ibid, 31.

[4] Ibid, 31.

[5] Ibid, 32.

[6] Ibid, 33.

[7] Bogdon Swita, The OMG in the Defense, Military Review, July 1992, 37.

[8] BGen R. R. Blackman USMC, President, Marine Corps University, MCCDC, Quantico,

VA. Interview by author, 16 December 1996.

[9] BGen Keith T. Holcomb USMC, Director, Training and Education Division, MCCDC,

Quantico, VA. Interview by author, 20 December 1996.

[10] Steven L. Canby, Light Armor and Operational Maneuver From The Sea (OMFTS) Marine Light Armored Reconnaissance, Draft Article, 9.

[11] Ibid, 9.

[12] Ibid, 9.

[13] Ibid

[14] LtGen Walter E. Boomer, USMC, Conventional Operations as Sea-based Forces, Naval

Expeditionary Forces and Power Projection: Into The 21st Century, Perspectives on

Warfighting, 1992, 122.

[15] Lt David M. Cayce, USN, Composite Maneuver Warfare Commander, Marine Corps

Gazette, March 1995, 44.

[16] Colonel Robert K. Dobson USMC

[17] Colonel R. A. Gangle USMC (Ret), Commandants Warfighting Lab, MCCDC, Quantico,

VA, Interview by author, 20 December 1996

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] LtCol Price T. Bingham USAF (Ret), Revolutionalizing Warfare Through Interdiction,

Airpower Journal, Spring 1996, 27.

[21] Ibid, 27.

[22] Colonel Robert K. Dobson USMC

[23] Colonel R. A. Gangle USMC (Ret)

[24] Steven L. Canby, 3.

[25] Colonel Robert K. Dodson USMC

[26] Electronic "Umbrella" Protects U.S. Troops in Bosnia, Machine Design, 4 April 1996,


[27] Ibid, 20.

[28] Gary E. Horne, D.Sc., Neil B. Carey, Ph.D., and Cori R. Rattelman, Future Challenges

for Operational Medicine: Care of the Echelons, Navy Medicine, September-October

1996, 8.

[29] Ibid, 10.

[30] Ibid, 12-13.

[31] Colonel Robert K. Dobson

[32] Steven L. Canby, 2.

[33] Colonel R. A. Gangle USMC (Ret)

[34] Fight Like Never Before, Delco/Royal Ordnance 120mm Armoured Mortar System,

Delco Systems Operations

[35] Ibid

[36] Tenacious Tank Killers: Smart Submunitions Will Be Ready For The Next Gulf War,

Armed Forces Journal, November 1996

[37] Ibid

[38] Ferret, Northrop Grumman Proprietary

[39] Ibid

[40] Ibid

[41] Ibid

[42] US Navy Bolsters Long-Range Fire Support, Janes International Defense Review,

November 1996, 9.

[43] Colonel R. A. Gangle USMC (Ret)

[44] Firepower For Today's Air, Land, and Sea Applications: GAU-19/A Lightweight .50

Caliber Gun, Lockheed Martin Fact Sheet

[45] Ibid

[46] LAV-AD: Mobile, Fire-On-The-Move Defense Against Air and Surface Threats,

Lockheed Martin

[47] Ibid

[48] Ibid

[49] Ibid

[50] Colonel Robert K. Dobson USMC

[51] Major Gary Johnson USMC and Mr. Shujie Chang, OMFTS: The Combat Service

Support (CSS) Challenge, Draft Article.

[52] Ibid

[53] Ibid

[54] Colonel R. A. Gangle USMC (Ret)

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