A major challenge in this resupply is the transportation of bulk liquids: fuel and water. In the absence of pipelines and ground transport, these commodities would be delivered in 500-gallon pods slung under the delivery aircraft (a V-22 could carry two such pods; a CH-53E could carry three). In the simple scenario hypothesized, 40 pods per day might be needed to support a battalion (minus) landing team having 700 Marines and a Forward Arming and Refueling Position (FARP) for their supporting helicopters. The bulk liquids would make up more than 65 percent of the daily sustainment tonnage needed for a battalion with a six-gun artillery battery. For a unit with no artillery, the liquids would make up nearly 90 percent of its daily tonnage requirement.
The artillery constitutes the greatest part of the heavy lift load. More than 20 CH-53E sorties would be needed to transport six guns with their trucks and trailers to the landing zone for this hypothetical landing team, and the artillery ammunition load would constitute about 80 percent of its daily resupply tonnage. (The committee estimates that the total daily resupply tonnage [excluding bulk liquids] for this battalion [minus] would be about 37 short tons, compared with 7 tons for the team without artillery.)
Calculations of the number of lift sorties required show that, accounting for aircraft availability and other essential uses for the airlift in an MEF during these complex landing operations, the available vertical lift force could support two battalion (minus) landing teams with artillery, at the distances being considered, or possibly three if the lift is stretched to its probable limit. Without the artillery, the same lift could support four landing teams comfortably, and possibly five. Thus, a substantially larger and more capable force could be landed forward in the first assault echelon if the force were to rely wholly on long-range fire support from the fleet to deliver heavy firepower on the enemy.
Building the commanders' confidence that the long-range fire support will be ready and available when needed and called for, with the same reliability and responsiveness as their organic artillery, will require all the force and system changes described previously, as well as much experience in exercises and even some operations. The acceptance of reliability by commanders is essential if the logistic constraints inherent in the new OMFTS concept are to be extended to more useful boundaries. For this reason the limiting case of “no artillery forward with the first assault echelon” proves to be the most interesting one to consider for planning purposes.
The initial landings against opposition will place the first assault echelons in hostile territory. The entering and supporting airlift will need continuous protection from enemy fire. Of special concern will be the shoulder-fired, IR-guided SAMs discussed earlier (pp. 33, 57-58). If not appropriately countered they can devastate the new OMFTS concept. However, several approaches can be taken to counter them, involving tactics, defense suppression, and countermeasures.