EABO - Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations
The Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) program envisions a class of 28 to 30 new amphibious ships to support the Marine Corps implementing the new Marine Corps Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) operational concept. Fleet exercises will be led by fleet commanders leveraging operational concepts like Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE). Combined with wargaming, the exercises will serve as the key opportunity for experimentation and the development and testing of alternative concepts.
The Advanced Base Force was first introduced in 1900. In 1921 the visionary work of then Maj Earl "Pete" Ellis, “Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia” provided foresight into what an amphibious campaign in the contested Pacific would require. The growing acceptance of the defensive advanced base mission for the Marine Corps as a precursor to the offensive mission of amphibious operations. The Advanced Base Force guaranteed great flexibility in meeting short-notice missions by providing a unitspecifically organized and designed to seize and defend advanced bases. The Marines directly supported the success of the Navy and overall operations by seizing an advanced base for the Navy’s use in support of the campaign.
Throughout its history, the Marine Corps conducted expeditionary duties involving the landing of small detachments of Marines and Sailors from Navy ships serving throughout the world to protect American interests. In the twentieth century, these operations also increasingly involved pacification efforts for extended periods of time by Marine regiments and brigades in foreign countries such as China, Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. To effectively support amphibious operations and gain the backing of the Navy, the Marine Corps needed a standing force trained in and capable of conducting offensive landings to seize and defend advanced bases.
Employing Marine Corps aircraft from multiple expeditionary advanced bases and amphibious warfare ships, as integrated elements of overall naval operations, complicates adversary targeting and increases our offensive options. Reinforcing expeditionary advanced bases with long-range strike, anti-ship, and anti-air systems can transform the capability into a sea denial outpost. These expeditionary sites can also serve as a base for offensive actions in support of sea control, such as strikes, raids, or seizure of additional advanced bases. Once secured, such bases would also provide additional hubs supporting the integrated naval logistics network. Securing multiple austere bases and airfields requires not only amphibious capabilities, but a host of expeditionary enablers (BEACHGRU, SEABEE, etc.) resident in the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) as well as joint complementary capabilities. Establishing such “oceanic outposts” would require a modern-day capability similar to defense battalion organizations. Theater security cooperation activities that account for establishing these expeditionary sites must be well-integrated and planned.
Sustained and integrated efforts across the joint force are required to ensure the continued U.S. and allied access to, and maneuver in the global commons. Well defended and mutually supportive Expeditionary Advanced Bases (EABs) could ensure operational freedom of action by keeping a foot in the door in contested environments.
Expeditionary Advanced Bases (EABs) are an enabling capability designed to operate within the area of adversarial A2/AD threats with a minimal need for fixed infrastructure and operating with the smallest physical and electro-magnetic (EM) footprint, required to accomplish the desired mission. EABs are temporary in nature and to the degree possible use passive defenses and rely upon mobility, mutual support, deception, and concealment to compound the adversary targeting problem.
Following publication of the Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment [LOCE] concept, the CNO and CMC directed development of an official naval concept for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). That action resulted in development of a classified white paper formally endorsed by the Commander Fleet Forces Command and the Commander Pacific Fleet. A Navy-Marine Corps concept development team is expanding the white paper into a full, classified concept with submission to CNO and CMC anticipated in the spring of 2018. Once the classified concept is approved, an unclassified version will follow.
As described in the LOCE concept, EABO seek to further distribute lethality by providing land-based options for increasing the number of sensors and shooters beyond the upper limit imposed by the quantity of seagoing platforms available. The EABO concept espouses employing mobile, relatively low-cost capabilities in austere, temporary locations forward as integral elements of fleet/JFMCC operations. Expeditionary advanced base operations may be employed to position naval ISR assets, future coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM), anti-air missiles (to counter cruise and ballistic missiles as well as aircraft), and forward arming and refueling points (FARPs) and other expedient expeditionary operating sites for aircraft such as the F-35, critical munitions reloading teams for ships and submarines,or to provide expeditionary basing for surface screening/scouting platforms, all of which serve to increase friendly sensor and shooter capacity while complicating adversary targeting. They may also control, or at least outpost, key maritime terrain to improve the security of sea lines of communications (SLOCs) and chokepoints or deny their use to the enemy, and exploit and enhance the natural barriers formed by island chains.
The EABO concept provides the opportunity to “turn the sea denial table” on potential adversaries and deter fait accompli actions. This can be done in a pre-crisis manner through security cooperation activities with our partners and allies. This could include pre-staging equipment and supplies in key regions, conducting EABO exercises, and perhaps even creating more persistently forward postured— but continuously mobile—forces task-organized for EABO. This would give the fleet commander/ JFMCC sea denial assets persistently postured in potentially disputed areas in order to deter aggression. In the event of crises, EABO can be employed in support of task forces maneuvering into the area to seize the initiative. To fully leverage the EABO initiative, the Navy and Marine Corps must pursue the ability to network sea-based and landbased sensors and shooters. Additionally, the Navy should determine what current or planned sensors and weapons can be fielded in an expeditionary variant while the Marine Corps should determine what changes to existing Marine systems can enhance their utility in a sea denial or sea control fight. Furthermore, new initiatives, such as fielding a common anti-ship missile that can be launched from existing surface combatants, submarines, manned (and perhaps unmanned) aircraft, and mobile ground launchers, should be explored.
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