I keep hearing the Marines talk about landings to enable landings – that the Marines recognize that an assault can’t be successfully conducted unless Marines first land and secure the area, both sea and land, around the intended landing site. I continue to be amazed by the fact that no one seems to recognize the Catch-22 nature of that concept. You can’t land until you’ve landed and secured a landing area???? If you can’t land successfully, how do you land to secure a landing area?
Well, you can rule out a conventional assault, as evidenced by Commandant Neller’s comment, as reported in a USNI News website article:
“…Neller said the Marine Corps wouldn’t launch an amphibious assault with lines of Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) swimming ashore …” (1)
That immediately begs the question, why are we pursuing replacement AAVs and ACVs? But, I digress …
Okay …….. So how are Marines going to land to secure a landing area? Maybe this is where the aviation (read MV-22) component of the Corps comes in? But, MV-22s and sufficient manpower to secure an operating area can only come from big deck amphibious ships which the concept says can’t successfully operate in an enemy area until the area has been secured – Catch-22 again.
Somehow, in some magical, undefined way, the Marines will land in sufficient force to secure land and sea control over a large enough are to enable the actual landing.
“…focus on securing an advance land base that can then allow ground units to establish sea control …” (1)
One more point of logic – if you’ve managed, in some magic way, to secure the land and establish sea control, why do you need a subsequent landing?
I further note that while the very concept assumes the Navy is not capable of establishing sea control, the Marines will, somehow, land a (presumably small?) force and establish sea control from the land! If small forces of infantry can establish sea control, why do we need a Navy?
This concept, landing to enable a landing, may work at the very low end of the warfare spectrum but I can’t see it working in a peer war. Of course, at the very low end of the warfare spectrum, we probably already have sea control and don’t need to execute this concept!
I’m also dismayed by the apparent ignorance of amphibious operations being displayed by Marine leadership. Consider this statement from Neller.
“…we have operated amphibious ships by themselves as opposed to part of the fleet. This Bold Alligator, I think the last one had a carrier strike group …” (1)
A carrier supporting an amphibious operation seems to be an entirely novel concept to Marine leadership (just as escorts were new to the Navy) and yet this was how amphibious operations have always been conducted. This is not new. I also don’t think Neller grasps how a carrier operates – to be fair, I don’t think the Navy grasps how a carrier operates, either! Carriers don’t sail with amphibious groups – they sail in support of amphibious groups but operate well away from the group. A rudimentary study of WWII amphibious operations makes that clear.
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. I keep hearing this landing to enable landings being repeated and no one is questioning it. Well, that’s why this blog exists – to examine, analyze, and question. Right now, I have major questions and reservations about this concept.
(1)USNI News website, “Neller: Marines Must Prepare to ‘Fight to Get to the Fight’ In High-End Littoral Warfare”, Megan Eckstein,