I am a political economist studying innovation, industry, and international security. Since September 2001, I have been advising industries and ministries on their issues of strategy, planning, and policy. My work aims to inform investors, industrialists, technologists, and policy-makers on how to effect, economically, a secure future.

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01 April 2013

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just a simple question: what is the purpose of a "combat" amphibious landing today? for "peacekeeping" you get invited in country, and for a combat invasion you don't want to risk a ship, a battalion... even the last amphibious action (falkland) was from the backdoor, and i iraq us didn't used marines because it was too risky (saw a comment i some video made by a us general or like..). even chinese aren't going to invade taiwan, essentially why risk domestic peace for some questionable gains. so why build special ships and marine infantry if no one is willing to use them?

You actually ask three questions: why have assault ships, why have marine infantry, and why have armored amphibious tractors? I think that the ease of justification for these is strongest at the front.

The most recent combat assault from the sea was actually in November 2001, when troops of the 15th MEU seized a position outside Kandahar, flying 400 miles from the helicopter carrier Peleliu. These ships get used a lot in lower-intensity activities as well, and plenty of navies around the world want them. So there's a strong demand signal, which may mean something. As for the risk, I don't understand why you'd presume that "no one is willing" to hazard such ships. The casualty aversion myth has been thoroughly debunked. I recommend the work of Peter Feaver at Duke on this subject.

It's a reasonable question whether generalist troops from an army could serve as marines when needed. The US and British Armies, after all, undertook a lot of landings in the Second World War. As Brute Krulak observed several decades ago, the United States (as perhaps other countries) does not so much need marines as want them. Is that duplicative? I call it risk-reducing.

The amphibious tractor, however, has not a single competitor, but several. In some ways, it's quite adaptable: note how the AAV7s were very successfully used in 2003 for river crossings. In this context, I do see your point about the Falklands: I would always try to land a bit further away on an undefended beach if I could. But I can't always. So balancing the mix amongst amtracks, hovercraft, displacement craft, and rotorcraft has much to do with how and where one might want to land.

nice to see a answer. thanks. but still. also you hit my thoughts probably better than me: it is nice to have amphibious force. but it seems to me that other units can do the job too or better (in ww2 us army did more/most amph-landing than marines). why fly troops 400miles in helicopters from a ship when same can be done in c130 or c17 (as done in northern iraq 2003 iirc), and sorry for being corrective but to me this was an air assault. river crossing, well lav can do it too, most ifv can do it. swimming across a river shouldn't call for a specialist vehicle. and swimming from ship to shore either (bmp-3).

on the point of risk, well i`ll leave it. casualty aversion is probably more a political question than a military. but then again...

so, i still dont understand why should usa have a force of 180`000 doing what navy, air force and army is doing? why have so many amph.ships of different classes. and even then when your invasion is done the army would come in and take over and marines would play along. same applies to others navy.

to come to the point: if i was an admiral, why would i by an amph.ship probably worth more than anything i could put in it to and go around the world whit it? also, those ships hardly can haul a battalion worth of men&tanks. and i still didn't mentioned the logistics for combat operations.

ps: i like those mistrals & pacscat but the ivan rogov is probably more practical for a ww2 style landing. cant understand the efv. and why not just carpet bomb the shore and come whit queen marry 2 & some car ferry?

thanks again for sharing your thoughts whit me.

I definitely can address the question of fixed versus rotary wing assault aircraft. When one is air-dropping troops, there's no extraction plan. It's a one-way mission that had better work out, or the best for which one can hope is that XXX Corps is driving up from Eindhoven. And that is to say, don't count on it.

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