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The Navy and Marine Corps in Regional Conflict in the 21st Century
While the Marines need the ability to deal with populations in their operations, the Army has extensive capabilities in this area, from psychological operations to establishing civil governments and keeping civic order. The Marines will therefore need the capability to bring appropriate Army units along and integrate them into Marine operations.
Tactically, the Marines must be able to operate with indigenous forces. They may not have had the chance to practice with those forces before the onset of the crisis precipitating military action, so that advance preparation, along the lines sketched above, will be essential. One step that can help all these preparations would be the establishment and continual updating of area databases for cities and countries where it is anticipated that military action may take place—recognizing that the areas assigned highest priority may not be the ones demanding attention first. The problem is akin to that of preparing up-to-date maps, and demands the same kind of joint attention.
Combat in areas with buildings and streets produces extensive casualties in attacking forces, as well as casualties and destruction among civilians trapped as bystanders. To engage in such combat while minimizing both casualties in their own forces and collateral casualties and destruction, the Marines will need many technical capabilities, some of which are in some phase of R&D but not yet fully available for use in the forces. These capabilities include, among others, periscopes and robots for scouting around corners and along streets; radar and IR sensors that can “see” through walls and clothing; lightweight, short-range radio communications that do not depend on line-of-sight transmission in areas that have tall buildings, and that do not occupy a soldier 's hands while in action; and non-destructive (or minimally destructive) weaponry to isolate and overcome armed resistance.
An important part of operations in populated areas is the ability to organize, maintain order among, and feed and provide shelter and medical care to neutral or friendly populations disturbed or displaced by the military operations. It may also be necessary to subdue or control hostile populations in relatively benign ways. This calls for non-lethal or less-than-lethal means to make them immobile and/or passive. These means might include foams, slimes, and sticky substances making movement difficult; nausea generators to deflect people from hostile purposes; and others of similar character. “Instant barriers ” to movement, such as foams that expand and then harden in place on exposure to air, would enable partitioning of built-up areas and interdiction or canalization of vehicular movement. Specially tailored and focused information techniques can also deflect or control mob action, and can counter incitement to such action.
The ability to rapidly establish holding, feeding, and screening areas for prisoners and civilian detainees, using indigenous materials and facilities where available, and applying some of the “instant barrier” techniques noted above