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Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) MPF(F) Doctrine

Much of the discussion involving the Sea Base and expeditionary operations revolves around a 10/30/30 construct and a brigade-size force. The 10/30/30 construct calls for expeditionary forces to seize the initiative within ten days of a deployment order; achieve the ir expeditionary objectives within 30 days, and then reconstitute and redeploy within the next 30 days. Seizing the initiative is defined as the employment of ground forces to the initial objectives. In order to accomplish this, the expeditionary forces must rapidly transit to the Sea Base in the Area of Operations (AO) (Close) and marry up with prepositioned equipment (Assemble) through a Forward Logistics Site (FLS). Seizing the initiative also involves delivering three Battalion Landing Teams (BLT), two surface and one vertical, from the Sea Base to the objective ashore (Employ) in one 10-hour time period. The expeditionary forces are then supported for up to 30 days (Sustain) as they establish control of hostilities and achieve their objectives.

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.

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 MPF(F) will have the ability to unload its cargo in an improved port or over the beach in a joint logistics over-the-shore (JLOTS) operation. JLOTS is extremely important since most of the world's improved ports that are deep enough in draft to receive MPF (F) ships are located in industrialized countries, but most threats to the United States will occur in unimproved areas with no developed fixed-port system.

Under Sea Basing logistics concepts, the MPF(F) will support MAGTFs that are ashore executing the Marine Corps' STOM concept. Maintenance, repair, medical treatment, and supply operations will be conducted primarily from sea-based platforms. The MPF(F) will become, in essence, a floating warehouse for the forces deployed and operating afloat and ashore. The logistics infrastructure, supported by the MPF (F), will be maintained afloat and replenished in-stride from ships arriving on station from the continental United States (CONUS) or from support bases located nearer the operation. In effect, the MPF (F) will become a synonym for Sea Basing.

The MPF (F) must be a part of the total force package and contribute to joint mission accomplishment in four areas: force closure, JTF interoperability, sustainment, and reconstitution and redeployment. Force closure is the process of joining Marine or joint forces deployed from CONUS with their equipment loaded onboard the ships of the MPF(F). JTF interoperability is the ability to reinforce the assault force of an MAGTF already committed to combat. The MPF (F) will not be a combatant, and it will not have a forcible entry capability.

Sustainment of the assault force ashore requires the judicious use of combat service support resources. The MPF(F) must carry provisions to support an MEB ashore for 30 days and provide maintenance for all wheeled, tracked, and aviation assets supporting the Marine force. Reconstitution and redeployment of the force in the theater while at sea is required so that equipment stored aboard the MPF(F) can be employed in follow-on missions.

MPF(F) will combine the capacity and endurance of sealift with enhanced speed and flexibility of airlift, to marry-up forces and equipment in a forward area. With onboard cargo handling systems compatible with existing MPF ships and commercial systems, Marines can increase the speed and efficiency with which they reinforce assault echelons ashore.

The MPF MAGTF Aviation Combat Element (ACE) is composed of a fixed wing and a rotary wing component. The Marine Corps aviation plan would substitute 5 squadrons (60 aircraft) of VSTOL Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) for the two F/A-18A/B (12 plane), one F/A-18D (12 plane), and one AV-8B (20 plane) squadrons. The KC-130 and EA-6B aircraft remain as in today's ACE. Similarly three squadrons (36 total aircraft) of MV-22 aircraft are substituted for the two CH-46 (12 plane) and one CH-53D (8 plane) helicopter squadrons. The CH-53E heavy lift helicopter squadron and the attack and utility helicopters remain. The AH-1W and UH-1N helicopters are upgraded to 4 bladed rotors, increasing range and payload.

Research and development would be required to develop and integrate some new technologies to support the requirements of the MPF(F). MPF-F was conceived as a logistics platform, not an operational platform. It did not have amphibious capability, since it was not a forcible entry platform, but rather was complementary to the Amphibious Task Force, not a substitute or replacement.

The MPF(F) must be able to perform its offload mission in conditions up to sea state 3 [waves 1.4 to 2.9 feet high and winds 12 to 16 knots], perform essential ship functions up to sea state 5 [waves 6.4 to 9.6 feet high and waves 22 to 26 knots], and survive up to sea state 8 [waves 31 to 40 feet high and winds 42 to 46 knots]. It must also meet level I survivability requirements as defined in OPNAV [Office of the Chief of Naval Operations] Instruction 9070.1, Survivability Policy for Surface Ships of the U.S. Navy. Level I is the basic level of survivability for surface ships.

Investment is being made in the High Capacity Alongside Sea Base Sustainment (HiCASS) product line to enable the transfer of 20-foot International Organization for Standardization (ISO) containers, or other packaging that can be handled as a 20 foot ISO container (or Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, TEU), from non-self-unloading containerships to the logistics ships. HiCASS is also investing in technologies to improve the Navy's ability to conduct UNREP safely. As part of naval distribution supporting Fleet and joint operations, the initial transition target is MPF(F), but it will be possible to provide this increased volume handling capability on other CLF ships as well.

The focus for at-sea transfer of actual TEUs will be the MPF(F) ships with the other platforms within the sea base (CSG, ESG and CLF) capable of 12,000 pound intermodal container (similar to current Quad-Cons) transfer. Current breakbulk/palletized transfer capabilities will be maintained to sustain the legacy and coalition forces. The ExLog FNC is making investments in shipboard automation, robotics, packaging, and elevator technologies to enable rapid selective offload with minimal manpower and high stowage densities in MPF(F)

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