Naval Infantry - Assault OperationsWith the Navy playing the dominant role, units of all branches of the armed forces may provide support for amphibious landings. The navy transports the naval infantry to the enemy-heldshore; providesgunfire; sweeps offshore minefields; protects the landing with missile ships, gunboats, and anti-submarine warfare ships; and provides logistic support. Naval aviation and the Air Force provide air support on the beach. They also attack enemy ships hindering the advance of the amphihious assault force, arid conduct aerial reconnaissance. Air defense units protect the amphibious force against air attack during embarkation, sea passage, debaration, and shore combat operations. Missile and artillery units strike beach defense forces and weapon systems.
Ground Forces motorized rifle troops are potential participants in amphibious operations. Ground forces will probably conduct an amphibiousoperation with naval infantry troops. The naval infantry's special skills are utilized to the maximum to insure success of the assault landing. Naval infantry landing teams probably lead the assault. They have responsibility for breaching anti-landing obstacles in the water and on the shore, for seizing a beach head, and for securing the approach of the main force to the landing are. The main body, consisting largely of motorized rifle troops, follows. Naval infantry personnel may be attached to motorized rifle subunits to assist in overcoming the special problems of an assault landing.
Amphihious assaults can be conducted both day and night, in inclement weather, and under radio silence until successful landing. Airborne, heliborne, air, ground, and naval forces have practiced jointly in such landings.
The five phases in a Soviet amphibious assault are:
- Preparing of equipment and amphibious units.
- Loading of personnel and equipment on ships and transports.
- Moving by sea to the objective area and debarkation
- Battle for the beachhead by the amphibious units. vLanding of ground forces and withdrawal of the naval infantry.
The amphibious landing may take place in conjunc-tion with a ground force battle underway near the sea-coast. In this case, the supported ground force usually sends a reconnaissance party of up to a motorized rifle company with engineers attached to reconnoiter the landing area. The information from this reconnaissance party is passed to the amphibious force and supporting air forces. The enemy defenses them may be fired upon by aircraft, naval gunships, and ground force artillery.
A battalion assault force (BAF) commander usually is assigned an immediate mission, a direction of attack, and the overall landing objective. Normally the immediate mission is to destroy personnel and weapons in the enemy'sfirst line of defense and to capture shore terrain for the landing and deployment of follow-on ground forces. The depth of the BAF's immediate mission depends upon the strength and disposition of the enemy defenses.
A company landing as part of a BAF is given an immediate mission, normally to seize a strongpoint in the enemy's defenses and to protect the landing and deployment of follow-on forces. The company also is given a direction for further advance. A platoon is assigned an attack objective and a direction for further advance.
The battle for the beachhead begins with naval gunfire on coastal targets. Fires are concentrated on enemy artillery, obstacles, and troop concentrations. An airborne or heliborne assault inland to block enemy reserves heading to the beachhead may support the amphibious assault forces. Naval infantry units may conduct this type of airborne or heliborne operation. While naval gunfire and air strikes suppress enemy fire, minesweepers clear paths through offshore mine-fields for passage of the landing ships. Destroyers and other antisubmarine warfare (ASW) ships protect the amphibious force from attacks by submarines and other warships. When approach lanes are cleared, the first wave of amphibious tanks disembarks and swims toward the shore. The amphibious tanks commence firing with their main guns at targets of opportunity while in the surf.
The following wave is made up of BTR-60s. Amphibious exercises in the Baltic have employed air cushion vehicles to carry a portion of the assault forces to the shore. Troops do not dismount from their BTR-60s after reaching the shore unless the beach is defended. Normally, in the absence of defenses or in the face of lightly defended positions, combat vehicles continue forward to seize the objectives. They fire while on the move, maintaining the momentum of the attack, and pushing on to link up with an airborne or heliborne force or ground force to secure the beachhead for the follow-on forces.
In the face of determined resistance, the naval infantry troops dismount to seize their objectives, to secure the beachhead, and to provide cover for the main force landing on the beachhead behind them. The follow-on ground force units disembar, move to shore, and continue the battle inland while the naval infantry unit is withdrawn. Withdrawal of the naval infantry terminates the amphibious assault phase of the operations.
The formation of the battalion assault force is variable. A first wave force may contain an amphibious tank platoon as the lead element with one or two of the naval infantry companies, supporting engineers, and a chemical defense platoon. A second wave may consist of the remaining naval infantry company or companies, led by a platoon of amphibious tanks. The entire naval infantry battalion could deploy in column, line, wedge, or other variation in a single wave. Ground force units such as a motorized rifle battalion deploy as a second wave.
Amphibious landing ships launch the APCs and amphibious tanks. Tank fire is directed at antitank weapons, artillery, troop strongpoints, bunkers and troop concentrations. The Soviets trained to fire their weapons while afloat.
For a regimental operation, a naval infantry battalion attacking in line formation could constitute the first wave. The remaining battalions are held back for the second and possibly third waves or echelons. If offshore obstacles are present, the combat engineers clear three to six lanes for the battalion. On wide frontages with few or no obstacles, the battalion may adopt a line formation. Narrow frontages may call for company-sized assaults either on line or in column formation.
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