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The Navy and Marine Corps in Regional Conflict in the 21st Century Appendix A Terms of Reference BACKGROUND The new National Security Strategy concentrates on potential regional conflicts that will often have the following characteristics: Sudden onset of crisis requiring rapid deployment of significant and effective forces, possibly over very long distances, with little warning Joint and combined military operations involving more than one U.S. Service and involving the United States in coalitions with other nations Likelihood that available bases for deployment and initiation of operations ashore will be austere The need to be prepared for military opposition to entry of U.S. and allied forces. Increased emphasis on expeditionary warfare in the “From the Sea” strategy; constitution of battlegroups integrating amphibious and mine countermeasures ships in addition to carriers; surface combatants and submarines; the Marine air-ground task forces, embarked and ashore; and the Maritime Preposition Force, are all designed to fill these national security needs of the future. These forces can meet the need for rapid response and entry into austere bases, but under current plans they are not expected to provide the sustaining capability to rapidly overcome potentially large and capable enemy forces with minimal U.S. and allied casualties. Heavier forces furnished by the other Services, and perhaps other nations, are currently expected to provide the sustaining force and added combat power that may be needed. A major problem in deploying sustaining forces is their weight and volume. Their heavy weapons (including armor and artillery) and associated equipment will require surface movement, potentially over long distances, to bring substantial and decisive forces into place. A first alternative to the current deployment plan is through research and development, focused on reducing the bulk of these forces. However, it may be two or more decades before significant reductions are achieved.
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The Navy and Marine Corps in Regional Conflict in the 21st Century Prepositioning is another major alternative to solving the deployment time problem for sustaining forces. However, maintenance of a large, prepositioned sustaining force capability will be expensive as long as the locations where the capability may be needed on short notice remain uncertain. If only one or a very few prepositioned concentrations are feasible, deployment time of sustaining forces will remain unacceptably long. A third alternative would be to substantially increase the firepower of the forces that deploy early, if that can be achieved without a corresponding increase in the weight or logistics burden of these forces. In support of this alternative, near-term technological enhancements might make it possible to deploy and sustain more forces by air and to store more powerful forces on a given number of prepositioning ships. More potential crisis areas might then be covered in an affordable way by available airlift and by a less concentrated MPF configured to deploy multiservice forces that may be called upon in a crisis. Of the many areas requiring attention, one of the more important is increased dependence on precision-guided weapons. Many technologies have grown and converged over the years since World War II to create the revolution in precision-guided weaponry that is rapidly enhancing the effectiveness of U.S. air and ground warfare forces today. These include sensors, guidance, and control for the weapons themselves; advanced sensors and position location systems and platforms, including space systems, to find, identify, and specify precisely targets and their location; improvements in battle damage assessment capability; and advanced computing, communication, command, and control systems to better plan and prosecute attacks against the targets. Experience in Desert Storm and subsequent strikes has shown that application of the resulting “smart” weapon systems to regional conflicts can help end such conflicts decisively and in less time than could have been the case before the increased availability of such systems to U.S. forces. In addition, the ability of these systems to strike targets selectively with little or no collateral damage enables precisely focused military actions that could not have been undertaken earlier. The full importance of the greater availability of these systems has, however, not yet been realized either in force structure or in force planning and operations. Extensive use of such weapon systems in all feasible applications would imply more rapid destruction of major groups of targets in a conflict. This, in turn, has implications for reducing the length of military campaigns. That would mean reduced casualties and equipment losses, savings in logistic support required for operating the forces over the shorter time, and reduced fuel and ammunition storage at bases and aboard carriers and replenishment ships. It would consequently affect all other aspects of prosecuting a conflict. The overall cost implications of much more widespread use of “smart” weapon systems, including the cost exchange between longer campaigns mainly using cheaper, traditional weapons and shorter campaigns mainly using more
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The Navy and Marine Corps in Regional Conflict in the 21st Century expensive precision weapons, are not yet thoroughly understood. The potential for reducing costs of the precision weapons in mass production, as their numbers increase by large amounts, also remains to be fully explored. CHARGE TO THE NAVAL STUDIES BOARD The Naval Studies Board was requested to undertake a study to fully explore those technologies which hold promise of a near-term improvement in the firepower of first-deployed Navy and Marine Corps forces without a corresponding increase in their weight and which reduce the logistics burden in support of these forces. Specifically, the following questions should be examined: Near-term, affordable technological possibilities for increasing the firepower of air-ground combat forces without a corresponding increase in their weight; all aspects of the combat power of the forces, including armored combat vehicles and artillery, air mobility, precision missilery, tactical air support, advanced targeting and C4I capabilities, and the logistics implications must be considered. Impact of the potential changes in force technology in strategic mobility of the air and surface forces, with special attention to the time for them to deploy to potential crisis areas, the cost of reconfiguring forces, and the compatibility among the forces of the different services. Compatibility and interoperability among U.S. and potential allied forces, including necessary anticipatory steps to establish effective and timely military cooperation with potential allies in advance of the need for crisis deployment. The applicability of precision-guided weapons and foreseeable derivatives to various kinds, densities, and quantities of targets; fixed, movable, and mobile targets in numbers typical of a theater of warfare should be considered, including those that might be designated both “strategic ” and “tactical” in the theater context. The implications of large-scale use of the systems for the methods and duration of military campaigns, in comparison with use of the more traditional systems.
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The Navy and Marine Corps in Regional Conflict in the 21st Century The implications of reduced campaign times for the cost of campaigns, considering the differences in costs of the traditional and the “smart” systems. The prospects for significantly reducing the costs of the “smart” weapon systems, and the implications of potential achievements in this direction for the other issues noted above. From analysis of the above areas, recommend technological developments, innovations, and changes which hold promise of significantly improving the Navy and Marine Corps' ability to carry out their missions as described in the “From the Sea” strategy.
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