A Time of Change for U.S. Naval Forces
New Concepts for Warfighting and Logistics
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the national security threats to the United States changed dramatically. For 45 years, the Cold War had presented a constant possibility of worldwide conflict, probably centered in central Europe. The ensuing environment has been characterized by varying degrees of regional confrontation and instability, with great uncertainty about the future development of more formidable and direct threats to U.S. security. As the United States has adjusted its national security strategy to the new environment, the Navy and Marine Corps have been adjusting their priorities and concepts of operation to deal with current and potentially new military threats. In 1992, without abandoning any traditional naval warfare areas, the Navy and Marine Corps, in a white paper entitled ". . . From the Sea," announced a shift of strategy away from open-ocean warfighting toward expeditionary operations conducted from the sea: "The new direction of the Navy and Marine Corps team, both active and reserve, is to provide the nation naval expeditionary forces shaped for joint operations operating forward from the sea, tailored for national needs."1 Two years later, the Navy and Marine Corps expanded on the concepts with a second white paper, "Forward . . . From the Sea," which emphasized ". . . the unique contributions of naval expeditionary forces in peacetime operations, responding to crises, and in regional conflicts."2
BOX 1.1 Marine Corps Implementing Concepts for OMFTS
"Maritime Prepositioning Force 2010 and Beyond," February 1997*
"A Concept for Future Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain," October 1997*
"A Concept for Ship-to-Objective Maneuver," November 1997*
"Casualty Care Concept for Marine Corps Operational Maneuver From the Sea (Working Draft)," January 1998**
"MAGTF Sustained Operations Ashore," October 1998*
"A Concept for Advanced Expeditionary Fire Support—The System After Next," April 1998*
"Sea Based Logistics: A 21st Century Warfighting Concept," May 1998*
Building on the foundation set by the concepts in these two white papers, the Marine Corps began developing its vision of a new capability that would enable amphibious operations to exploit the sea as maneuver space and focus directly on operational objectives, rather than first seizing and securing a base of support ashore, and then pushing out to objectives. This vision, Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS),3 is the cornerstone of the Marine Corps efforts to shape its fighting doctrine, forces, and weapon systems of the future. More recently, the Marine Corps has published several implementing concepts supporting OMFTS (see Box 1.1). Collectively, the OMFTS vision and set of supporting concepts serve to stimulate thinking, focus debate, and shape ideas. They represent the first steps in an evolutionary, iterative process of defining the future doctrine, tactics, and capabilities of the Marine Corps.
Shaping the logistics capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps to meet the needs of the evolving OMFTS conceptual framework is an enormously complex undertaking. It entails examining, in an integrated strategic planning process, how well and at what costs various combinations of force structure, equipment, and operating practices—both combat and logistics—might meet future needs for naval expeditionary forces. In such a process, combat and logistics capability are inseparable, for while the needs of combat set logistics requirements, the limits of logistics constrain combat. As always, the importance of desired combat capabilities must be weighed against their logistics implications and costs.
At this stage in the evolution of OMFTS concepts, OMFTS still leaves
much to interpretation. How the concepts are interpreted, however, can dramatically influence the set of logistics capabilities needed.
This report helps to set the stage for addressing some of the tough choices affecting logistics. It explores the major features of the emerging OMFTS framework and their broad implications for logistics. It calls attention to those aspects of OMFTS that need more definition before logistics needs can be determined. It examines each of the major nodes of logistics activity, highlighting why change will be needed. Throughout the report, the committee also highlights the options that are available—in terms of combat service support structure, operating practices, or technology—for satisfying future requirements. The committee's goal is to provide useful insights that will assist senior Navy and Marine Corps leaders in setting the future direction of our nation's expeditionary warfare capabilities.
Naval expeditionary logistics is about moving naval forces and sustaining their operations in a broad array of environments (including political and military)—from benign environments with relatively well developed infrastructures to more stressful situations involving forcible entry and limited infrastructures. An enormously broad topic, naval expeditionary logistics reaches from the national, and sometimes international, industrial base to our maritime forces afloat and ashore throughout the world. In keeping with the committee's charter, however, the report is limited to the new features of OMFTS as they relate to deployment of Marines and their logistical support in the theater of operations. Moreover, since the purpose of the study is to help determine the set of capabilities that future naval forces should have, one assumes that the Navy and Marine Corps must be able to logistically support their own tactical operations, drawing help only from such national assets as strategic lift, strategic intelligence, global command and control, and global navigation aids.
Most of the initial thinking about and experimenting with OMFTS concepts by the Marine Corps have focused on small units. In addition, a recent study, complementary to this report, by the Naval Research and Advisory Committee addressed how technology can help meet the resupply requirements of small units—dismounted infantry teams, squad to company size (6 to 250 Marines).4 Given the logistics focus of this study, the committee believed that concentrating on small units had the potential to mask conditions that become problems with larger forces. For that reason, and to provide needed insights on the unique
challenges associated with managing and moving large quantities of equipment and supplies during amphibious operations, most of the committee's effort focuses on logistically supporting a Marine expeditionary force (forward) a much larger task force composed of about 19,000 Marines.
In the next chapter, OMFTS is outlined and described in general terms along with the major logistics implications. Also highlighted are those key features of OMFTS that are open to interpretation and that illustrate why much of the discussion in later chapters must be conditioned on how the Navy and Marine Corps eventually decide to implement the new concepts.
Chapters 3 through 5 focus on major logistics activities that will be affected by OMFTS, i.e., deploying forces, sustaining the forces ashore with supplies and maintenance, and providing medical care to combat casualties. In each, the committee concentrates on those aspects of future logistics operations that warrant near-term planning and analysis priority. Chapter 3 deals primarily with the concepts described in "Maritime Prepositioning Force 2010 and Beyond":7 the types and uses of ships and landing craft used to deploy and close the force, and the role an intermediate staging base could play in the operation. In Chapter 4, the implications of sea basing the logistical support for forces ashore and supporting them over very long distances from the sea base are explored. In Chapter 5, the radical changes in medical care motivated by the concepts of OMFTS are discussed. Closing comments are given in Chapter 6. Supplemental information is provided in the appendixes.