Accomplishing OMFTS will require assault platforms of high speed and range that can be launched from Navy platforms at least 25 nautical miles from hostile shores. The Marine Corps has invested heavily in two platforms—the advanced amphibious assault vehicle (AAAV) with high mobility on both sea and land and the vertical take-off and landing V-22 aircraft—to meet some of these requirements, and the Navy is investing in weapons such as the 5-in. gun-fired extended-range guided munition (ERGM) and the land-attack standard missile (LASM), a variant of the missile used in the Navy Aegis air defense system, to provide long-range fire support to maneuvering Marine Corps elements, thereby reducing some of the logistics burden of bringing armor and artillery pieces ashore.

However, completion of the transition to OMFTS will require meeting many other challenges, including the provision of the following:

  • Complete and accurate situational awareness to permit light Marine forces to avoid concentrated enemy forces and mined transit lanes,

  • In-stride clearance of mines and obstacles to avoid giving the enemy time to mass defensive forces,

  • Capabilities for initial assaults over great distances by forces of significant size and power,

  • Long-range fire to deliver effective munitions from ship stand-off distances to inland objective areas,

  • Equipment and procedures to target this long-range fire,

  • Logistics capacity and flexibility to resupply maneuvering forces, and

  • Capabilities to defend assault and logistics vehicles from unavoidable enemy fire.

Meeting these challenges will likely require S&T investment.

On the other hand, although OMFTS attempts to avoid major firefights between large forces, these confrontations may occur in the future, particularly when situational awareness is incomplete. The Marine Corps must be prepared for these encounters during and beyond the period of transition to OMFTS and will continue to invest to some extent in the equipment for attrition warfare. The challenges for the S&T community are as follows:

  • Balance its investment to enhance the capacity to engage in the old and the new styles of warfare, and

  • Coordinate investments in ground warfare with the Army and in air warfare with the Navy and the Air Force.

The Three-Block War

Although the Marine Corps must remain ready to achieve forcible entries in major conflicts between nation states, military operations in support of U.S. national interests will more frequently involve the challenging mix of armed confrontations with irregular forces, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations that has been dubbed the three-block war.

Many of these operations will take place in areas with dense civilian populations. Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) were undertaken by the Marines in heavy combat at Seoul, Korea, in 1950 and Hue, Vietnam, in 1968 and more recently in the evacuation of Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1997.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement