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MPF[F] Analysis of Alternatives

Mission Needs Statement was approved May 2001, with a concept built around four key pillars: Force Closure; Amphibious Task Force Interoperability; Sustainment; and Reconstitution and Redeployment. The MPF(F) conducts Mission Need Statement (MNS) approved missions of meeting "widely varied expeditionary missions ranging from projecting combat power ashore to conducting independent operations". MPF(F) will support and augment forcible entry operations. Although not a stand-alone forcible entry capability, it will contribute to future forward presence and power projection scenarios. It will also be capable of conducting independent operations such as humanitarian service missions.

Joint Pub 3-18 defines forcible entry as, "seizing and holding a military lodgment in the faced of armed opposition?". The MPF(F) approved Mission Needs Statement (MNS) states that it will not be a forcible entry capability. The MPF(F) must be enabled by either the force protection (Sea Shield) of the Expeditionary Strike Group or the Carrier Strike Group. It supports and reinforces forcible entry operations, as does the KC-130 aircraft. MPF(F) does not conduct independent forcible entry operations.

On December 5, 2002, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (USD), Technology and Logistics (AT&L) approved Milestone A, entry into Concept and Technology Development, for the Maritime Prepositioning Forces (Future) (MPF(F)) concept. The USD(AT&L) made the following decisions: Approved the Analysis of Alternatives guidance. Directed submission of a Test and Evaluation Strategy (by the Navy) within 180 days.

The Maritime Prepositioning Force, Future (MPF(F)) program reached a major milestone in December 2002, as the commenced its Analysis of Alternatives (AoA). The MPF(F) AoA developed material alternatives to support the stated mission needs, compare those alternatives in terms of cost and effectiveness, and conduct sensitivity analyses to highlight the drivers of cost and effectiveness. The results of these studies provided the information needed by DoN and OSD leaders to make the final decisions on program acquisition.

The MPF(F) AoA developed material alternatives to support the stated mission needs, compare those alternatives in terms of cost and effectiveness, and conduct sensitivity analyses to highlight the drivers of cost and effectiveness. The results of these studies will provide the information needed by DoN and OSD leaders to make the final decisions on program acquisition. PEO Ships, PMS325, has been designated as the MPF(F) program office. The analysis effort was headed up by the Center for Naval Analysis, with oversight from an executive committee and an executive steering group with cross-DoD participation. The 10-month AoA was scheduled to be completed in October 2003.

The Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics) (USD (AT&L)) began Dec 2002. The AoA evaluates range of capabilities against mission areas identified in Mission Need Statement. Analysis of Alternatives began briefing results on 21 January 2004 with a brief to DoN Flags. Bringing MPF(F) to reality will require high-level integration as Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel and Facilities issues are addressed across the Naval Services. The Marine Corps fully supports all of the Joint sea basing efforts. The MPF(F) capabilities form the backbone of the sea base, which is inherently joint. OSD guidance for the AoA called on the Navy to consider a wide range of alternatives and compare their strengths and weaknesses, particularly with respect to responsiveness to the new defense strategy. The guidance also cited the MPF(F) mission needs statement as a beginning point for evaluating alternatives, identifying mission deficiencies, and establishing measures of effectiveness.

MPF(F) is slated to replace the current Maritime Prepositioning Force, which has a relatively short history. In the early 1980s, the Department of the Navy sought to counteract the post-Vietnam War reduction in amphibious lift capability and to provide theater assets in the Arabian Gulf after the fall of the Shah of Iran. The result was the Near-Term Prepositioning Force, which contained the equipment and supplies for a combined arms Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The goal was to combine the cargo capacity of prepositioned sealift ships with the speed of transport aircraft delivering a "Fly In Echelon" of Marines to quickly form a combat-ready brigade in-theater. The concept proved successful, and the program was expanded to three squadrons, each prepositioned in a forward theater, ready to meet with a Fly In Echelon of Marines. These three squadrons are today's Maritime Prepositioning Force.

The MPF Future concept was articulated by the Marine Corps in 1997 as a result of the changing world environment and a coincident change in Marine Corps operational doctrine. This doctrine supposes that land bases in-theater may be more difficult to obtain. The Marine Corps changed doctrine to minimize the amount of shore-based support required for a Marine expeditionary brigade, and to call for operations from the sea whenever possible. The Marine Corps need is driving the new MPF(F) system, even before the current MPF system is set to retire.

The MPF(F) mission needs statement envisioned these ships as providing combatant and joint force commanders a highly flexible, operational and logistics support capability to meet a spectrum of expeditionary missions. In addition to performing the missions of the current mari-time prepositioning ships, MPF(F) will be capable of exploiting the sea as maneuver space from over the horizon for "Ship To Objective Maneuver" of Marine expeditionary brigade forces. MPF(F) will not, however, have a forcible entry capability.

The statement also outlined a concept called sea basing in which MPF(F) will contribute to future forward presence and power projection through the key mission capabilities of force closure, amphibious task force interoperability, sustainment, and reconstitution and redeployment.

Force closure is a concept providing for at-sea, enroute arrival and assembly of Marine expeditionary brigade forces and supporting operational maneuver from the sea. Amphibious task force interoperability is a planned MPF(F) capability to directly reinforce the assault echelon of amphibious task force, potentially providing maintenance support for task force aircraft, surface assault craft, advanced amphibious assault vehicles, and the cargo handling systems for selective offload of equipment and supplies. Sustainment allows MPF(F) to serve as a conduit for Marine expeditionary brigade logistics support-receiving, storing, maintaining, managing, and delivering the equipment and supplies to sustain the logistics effort for expeditionary forces indefinitely, whether they are sea-based or shore-based. Reconstitution and redeployment is planned for MPF(F) to provide in-theater, at sea, reconstitution and redeployment of Marine expeditionary brigade forces for immediate follow-on missions.

The AoA guidance also directed examination of modules for joint command and control, mine countermeasures support, level three afloat medical care, and afloat forward staging for special operations forces.

At its conclusion, the MPF(F) analysis will select one of three possible alternatives outlined in OSD guidance. The first of these options is to replace current MPF and aviation logistics support ships in kind-without any of the sea basing capability outlined in the approved mission needs statement and little improvement in overall capability. The second alternative is to modify existing MPF ships to better achieve MPF(F) missions. The third option is to replace the existing maritime prepositioning force with new ships designed to meet the outlined mission needs of aviation support for rotary wing/STOVL aircraft, sea basing, and operational maneuver from the sea.

The Navy and Marine Corps have evaluated potential ships and configurations for MPF(F). The Mission Needs Statement for MPF(F) has been approved and initial design efforts have begun. Alternatives to accomplish these tasks range from a large strategic sealift ship similar to the current medium speed Roll On/Roll Off (RO/RO), to a Mobile Offshore Base capable of landing large transport aircraft.

OSD guidance for the AoA called on the Navy to consider a wide range of alternatives and compare their strengths and weaknesses, particularly with respect to responsiveness to the new defense strategy. The guidance also cited the MPF(F) mission needs statement as a beginning point for evaluating alternatives, identifying mission deficiencies, and establishing measures of effectiveness.

The AoA guidance also directed examination of modules for joint command and control, mine countermeasures support, level three afloat medical care, and afloat forward staging for special operations forces.

The AoA examined how much command and control the ship should be configured to perform now that the Joint Maritime Command and Control Capability (JCC(X)) ships has deferred. The MPF(F) ships could perform some of the JCC(X) tasks. Larger duties such as handling the Air Tasking Order would be too large for an MPF(F) if it is to remain modestly priced.

An MPF(F) aviation variant would have a flight deck for aviation operations, supporting helicopters and VSTOL-variant F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A logistics and housing variant could have a special well-deck that would ease moving personnel and supplies. The study will further recommend the number of ships needed, with five to six for each of the three MPF(F) squadrons expected. The goal is to have the initial operational capability of the first MPF(F) ship in 2011.

At its conclusion, the MPF(F) analysis would select one of three possible alternatives outlined in OSD guidance. The first of these options is to replace current MPF and aviation logistics support ships in kind - without any of the sea basing capability outlined in the approved mission needs statement and little improvement in overall capability. The second alternative is to modify existing MPF ships to better achieve MPF(F) missions. The third option is to replace the existing maritime prepositioning force with new ships designed to meet the outlined mission needs of aviation support for rotary wing/STOVL aircraft, sea basing, and operational maneuver from the sea.

In July 2004 two dozen top Navy officials met to try to contain the ever-expanding capabilities and costs of MPF(F). Changes included deleting JSF runways from the squadron; removing the ability of MPF(F) ships to arm or disarm helicopters; limiting the ships' ability to withstand damage by building them to enhanced commercial rather than military combatant standards; and lowering the sea state in which the ships could externally load and unload cargo from sea state 4 to sea state 3.

By 2004 the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) was defined as replacing the platforms in current MPF squadrons with "operationalized" platforms capable of conducting sea-based Joint Forcible Entry Operations. An MPF(F) squadron of ships will contain enough equipment for a Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Element, and an Expeditionary Medical Facility.

Among the assumptions are that the MPF(F) ships will be of commercial construction, built to American Bureau of Shipbuilding hull structure standards and without Panamax (Panama Canal) restrictions. MPF(F) will be manned by a civilian Military Sealift Command crew, and feature only passive survivability measures. MPF(F) may include heavy underway replenishment systems, commercial electric drive, I-Level vehicle and aircraft maintenance capabilities, and support for sea basing and ship to objective maneuver with a 2015 Marine expeditionary brigade.

USMC service lift requirement is the assault echelon of three amphibious MEBs (2.5 fiscally constrained) and three prepositioned MEBs. Their respective capabilities are complementary, not redundant. Amphibious forces constitute forcible entry capability. MPF(F) augments that capability and provides additional capabilities to the Joint Force Commander. Consequently, forward present amphibs are quickly reinforced by the MPF(F). This combination of forward present amphibious forces and future prepositioned operational platforms allows America to close forces faster and sustain them in a more secured area, the Sea Base. The Analysis of Alternatives for MPF(F) was completed in late 2004. Guidance required MPF(F) to provide the combatant commander highly flexible operational and logistics support for missions projecting power ashore from a sea base, or during independent operations. Unlike current pre-positioning ships, MPF(F) will greatly improve forces' flexibility by allowing operations that are fully interoperable with Naval and joint forces. MPF(F) represents the link between forward deployed forces and their reach-back bases both in CONUS and overseas, and will be a crucial element to Enhanced Networked Seabasing both for Naval and joint forces.

The analysis of alternatives suggested that total procurement costs for the MPF(F) program could range from $9 billion to $30 billion.

Unlike any other prepositioning ship, the MPF(F) will not be reliant on a port facility, greatly reducing dependence on international support. The ability to rapidly close and employ a large force dramatically increase the flexibility and utility of the seabased force and present the Combatant Commander with more response options than ever before.

A formal report of the results was presented in Spring 2005.




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