SEA-AIR-SPACE NEWS: Marine Corps sees progress in transition to sea operations
Light Amphibious Warfare Ship Concept
Shipping solutions concept
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland— Marine Corps leaders are refining the capabilities they need for distributed operations in everything from lighter ships to more reliable communications.
Since 2020, the service has undertaken a transformation effort known as Force Design 2030 to prepare the service for the possibility of conflict in the Indo-Pacific region. The strategy’s ambitious plan called for divestments from legacy systems and investments in new technologies.
An important part of the transformation is pivoting the Marine Corps away from how it operated in the Middle East in the post-9/11 wars and a return to sea-based distributed operations, Lt. Gen. Karsten said. Heckl, deputy commander. for development and combat integration.
“Our heads were buried in the sands of the Middle East for all the right reasons… but we kind of lost the sense of who we were. Our stuff grew in size and weight, and we were a little less concerned about being ship compatible and certainly expeditionary,” he said April 5 during a panel at the annual Sea- Navy League Air-Space in National Harbor, Maryland.
To return to the waters, one of Commander General David Berger’s top procurement priorities for FY2023 is the Light Amphibious Warfare Ship, also known as LAW.
The new class of warships would be smaller and allow greater flexibility during maritime operations. With a target procurement cost per unit of $100 million to $150 million, the Marine Corps plans to acquire a fleet of 30 to 50 warships, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Brig. Gen. David Odom, director of expeditionary warfare, N95, said the Marine Corps is pushing to keep LAW development moving.
“We know the sense of urgency there to move this forward,” he said during another roundtable on April 5. He added that LAWS will contribute to the transformation of the Corps’ Force Design 2030 and future distributed maritime operations “to give that organic mobility, maneuverability, range capability and durability to our seashore regiment.
However, some critics still say that the ship’s design might not survive Marine Corps operations, which would increase production costs later on. Deputy Commander Gen. Eric Smith acknowledged these criticisms, but argued that the LOI was a requirement for the Marine Corps and Navy to act as an expeditionary, forward force.
The act also provides capabilities that can be more effective than if performed by the Marine Corps’ large and medium amphibious ships, Smith said.
“If you don’t have those ships that come preloaded with small units [and] that are beachable… then an L-Class can do that,” he said. “But it’s not very effective against a pear opponent with hypersonics.”
The Navy has been conducting a Marine Corps Amphibious Fleet Requirements Study for the past six months, Odom said. Once completed, the study will help inform both the service’s future fleet structure and budgets going forward.
Odom also highlighted the integration of the Marine Corps into sea and air operations aboard the USS Tripoli, a large-deck amphibious assault ship. This week, the service is working with its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to prepare the ship for deployment later this year, he said.
“We’re trying to work across our LHD and LHA fleet to enable a joint strike fighter capability and F-35 operations to pass that capability to our combatant commanders,” Odom said.
Additionally, as the Corps continues to operate in more distributed environments, the service and industry seek to improve communications between units. Jamie Barnett, vice president of global communications solutions at Viasat, said the Marine Corps needs to take advantage of technologies available in the commercial sector to increase connectivity.
“You have dispersed forces – they have to have some level of connectivity,” he said. “Even though they probably have to have a weak signature, you have to be able to have that connectivity in all of these things. Otherwise, they become isolated and even more disadvantaged and at risk.
As the Marine Corps continues to focus on the capabilities and platforms it wants for future operations, Smith acknowledged he will likely have disagreements with the Navy over funding and development priorities. .
For example, the Navy is asking to end production of the San Antonio-class amphibious warfare vessel with the LPD-32 in its 2023 budget proposal while the Corps is seeking advanced procurement funding for another, the LPD- 33.
Despite the differences, Smith said both maritime services believe in the importance of a strong amphibious force for the future.
“We will disagree on some dollars and some priorities. We do not disagree with the concept of a robust, forward-deployed, expeditionary crisis-response force that can respond at the upper end and the lower end,” Smith said.
Topics: Marine Security, Navy News, Marine Corps News