Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Modest Proposal. Time to let Force Recon/Recon go...


Its time.

I am beyond tired of listening to a particular Marine General pump his chest out, brag and act as if the rest of the Marine Corps doesn't matter.  This is what he told AOL Defense...
Hejlik stressed the importance of integrating special operations forces into Marine operations during a breakfast in Washington last week. The three-star general said getting those two groups to work closer together was a key goal for Bold Alligator planners. Increasing the ranks within MARSOC is a key part of the Marines post-Afghanistan force structure, especially as the service's total force drops to 181,000 troops. But current budget pressures may hinder that growth, Hejlik said at the time. The Marines "will not get the plus-up we expected" for their special forces cadre in the upcoming fiscal 2013 defense bill, Hejlik said. He did not go into specifics on how low that potential MARSOC troop increase could go. But the three-star general did note his lowered expectations for the Corps' special operations force was tied to the service's pending troop drawdown.

Its time to let Recon and Force Recon go their merry way to MARSOC and be done with the foolishness.

Its apparent that they don't want to be a part of the MEU and don't want to deal with the greater Marine Corps.

Good riddance.

My modest proposal is to pump up our Scout Sniper Platoons, give them proper funding and training and develop this outstanding asset.  They already have it right without the door kicking.

You want eyes on target?  They can do it.

You want stealth?  They have it in spades.

You want direct action?  Yeah, a Sniper Platoon can do it but surgically...besides, they'll be 100% in house so we can just attach an air or boat company to them and get that mission done too.

Bye bye Force/Recon...Helloooooo to the newly formed Scout Sniper Recon Platoon!

SEAL overload blowback?

I've noted that SEAL's recent missions have been so publicized that they've practically given the bad guys a playbook into SOCOM mission planning.

The guys at KitUp! have started a new blog called SOFREP.com that portends to be all things Special Operations.  One of the authors recently wrote this...
The Special Air Service gets about as much press as the Navy SEALs here in the US. I’m not sure exactly why that is. Maybe the Army’s SF and Air Force PJs need better publicists; perhaps it’s just the natural evolution of things, could be everyone wants to rock an SAS smock or Denison smock just ‘cuz they look cool.
Maybe (probably) some of the SOF units just don’t care one way or the other.
 I’m guessing a lot of it just has to do with the ‘gun porn’ nature of how lay folk (and many military personnel) view SOF  matters, and I know a lot of my friends in that line of work would just as soon no one knew they were involved in anything ‘special’ at all (which is the whole point of the gray man and quiet professional concept after all).
There have been a number of books about 22 Air Service Regiment over the years (far more than the SBS or the Paras, though the’re out there obviously), pretty much since the Iranian Embassy siege put them in front of every television in the world. One of these was Soldier I, SAS, by Pete Winner. I first read the book when it was first released many years ago, back before the magic of the interwebz and Bravo Two Zero and the like. That’s when I first read about the SAS at Mirbat. I’d never seen these videos before, thought you might find them interesting. The book is certainly worth reading, if you get a chance to pick it up. You can buy it off Amazon or maybe pick up an old paperback at a used book store, and you should.
Anyway, watch these. You gotta love some operators that take the fight to the bad guys with a WWII cannon along with all their modern kit.
Hmmm.

Lay folk and gun porn nature?

If you've followed KitUp! (and I'm a regular reader) then you would know that the most popular article for the past month had to do with a guest post on whether or not the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle was a worthwhile addition to the Marine Infantry Squad.  The second most popular article dealt with the M4.

Not exactly SOF specific topics huh?

But more to the point is the comments section on this particular article.  Check out what one commenter stated....

you can't be this blasé about how the SEALs are in the spotlight and say it's the media or society,
the SEALs like to say they are SEALs, go to the clubs in UAE, Middlebury language courses, UCSD.
They like to write books and do interviews and be in Hollywood movies, hell who's idea was this site?

There is a culture of being in the spotlight with SEALs not present amongst SFs. there should be a study
on why this is. It is obviously paying off in DoD, more SEALs are getting promotions, and I'm sure this
publicity push has something to do with why only SEAL officers and not SF officers are getting the high
promotions within DoD, write an article about this Brandon.
and then this...

Not waving off current American society's love for SOF porn, rather pointing why there is a focus towards SEALs, namely SEALs tend to put themselves out there.

Question: Are the popular missions tasked to SEALs because SEAL officers sit on spots that task these missions? I think this would be a good article for SOFREP, instead of SOF-porn let's get a good discussion about SEALs vs. SF relationship at the higher levels.
That's a pretty strong reaction.

What I do know is this.  MARSOC had a pretty rough reception into SOCOM.  I won't call it resentment.  I won't call it jealousy but I can tell you that the Marines of Special Operations Battalion had to prove to the rest of SOCOM that they were team players.

I think they have.

Let's hope that SEALs don't find themselves in the position of being outside the circle of the quiet professionals.


NOTE*
But wait.  theres more!  Check out the comments at the end of the story here.   This is the passage that has the commenters ready to punch walls.  I found it funny. 
Other US Special Forces will often compare themselves to SEALs, but in the quiet of the night when they reflect personally, they admit to themselves that their selection is no comparison. Any that argue so just have to look at the length of training and attrition rate to realize that it is like comparing a London Business school MBA to one earned online.  Enough said.
I revise my previous.  Something is seriously wrong in SEAL land.  These guys need an intervention.

Mercantile vs. Combat standards.


Bryaxis sent me this link to a Defense News article regarding the Mistral at Bold Alligator.  Here it is...
At a time when the U.S. Navy is trying to enlarge its fleet on a tight budget, a series of foreign ships offer thoughtful ideas about how that can be done.
France’s Mistral amphibious assault and command ship is a good example. Now participating in the massive Bold Alligator amphibious exercise off America’s East Coast Jan. 30-Feb. 13, she combines the commercial construction and automation to pack enormous capability into a relatively small and affordable package.
Able to carry up to 650 troops, up to 90 vehicles and between 16 heavy and 35 light helicopters, she has a crew of just 170 and costs about $600 million.
It’s hard to compare her to any U.S. vessel. She carries slightly fewer troops than an LPD-17-class amphibious ship at a third the cost and half the crew, but has a flight deck and aviation capabilities more akin to a Wasp-class assault ship at a sixth the cost and crew size.
Every vessel is the result of tradeoffs. Time will tell whether France made the right choices in a ship that compromises robustness for capacity and efficiency.
What is clear, however, is Mistral has spent most of the past four years at sea on real world missions, most recently off Libya more efficiently and at less cost than older warship designs.
Overall, Mistral is an attractive package that U.S. officials should check out more closely.
Wow.

The age old argument between combat and mercantile standards.

Its really not even an argument in my mind.  Remember the USS Stark? I wasn't there so I don't know but what was reported is that the ship was hit with two Exocet missiles and survived.

That's was a ship built to combat standards.

In the meantime we've had ships hit by mines...and expect our ships to go into harms way.  Unless we lessen our desire to protect our men and women who crew these ships then we will continue to build them to combat standards.  If we decide that saving money in the short term is more important then we need to make our people aware of that fact ---- and lower the Servicemen's Life Group Insurance payouts.

I know that high tech at sea combat is not expected but if it ever comes then the loss of life over the ten years in Iraq/Afghanistan can be equaled on one bad day. 

5k or more people on an aircraft carrier.

3k or more people on an LHD or LHA.

Yeah, we need combat standards.  Defense News is wrong.

Bold Alligator so far.

A couple of things...

1.  Despite political issues between the people of Europe and the USA doesn't appear to extend to the military.  Participation by our European allies, even the French has been impressive.

2.  With the exception of the French it appears that our allies use their Marines in a mostly Commando type role.  That will be a serious thing to consider in future operations.

3.  As much as they've talked about the sea base, I haven't seen any coverage of it.  I'm of the opinion that the sea base is going to cost the Marine Corps amphibious shipping for a limited return on the investment...and even if realized will mostly benefit other services...especially the Army (not a bad thing but a consideration in times of tight budgets).  One team one fight is an awesome saying...except when it comes to budget battles!

4.  Speaking of the Army, I just gotta repeat myself!  It would have been so awesome to see a Stryker Brigade participate as an opposing force in this exercise.  Both the Army and Marine Corps could have benefited.  The Army could test out its concepts and the Marine Corps could gain insights into fighting a highly mechanized peer opponent.

5.  I was surprised to learn (according to AOL) that the US Navy has committed a Carrier Battle Group to the exercise.  I have mixed feelings on that.  The idea that an amphibious assault can only take place with a carrier around is something I don't quite agree on.  History teaches that these high value weapons of war will not be risked so the Marine Corps and the Gator Navy should become proficient at going it alone if necessary.

6.  Which brings me to the next service.  A wing of F-15's, 16's and A-10's sure would make a nice complement to these proceedings.  Like having a Stryker Brigade come out to play, it would have been nice (especially with the Carrier Navy out and about) to see how the allies dealt with the possibility of opposing air creeping into the picture and playing havoc with mobility and supply lines....

Just my thoughts.

A fantastic image of the L-Cat...the French assault Bold Alligator.

A landing craft from the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral (L9013) hits the beach during the amphibious assault phase of Bold Alligator 2012. Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years, represents the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations. The exercise focuses on today's fight with today's forces, while showcasing the advantages of seabasing. The exercise takes place Jan. 12 - Feb. 12, 2012 afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tom Gagnier)
French Marines approach the beach to deliver vehicles using an amphibious craft from the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral (L9013) during the amphibious assault phase of Bold Alligator 2012. Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years, represents the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations. The exercise focuses on today's fight with today's forces, while showcasing the advantages of seabasing. The exercise takes place Jan. 30 - Feb. 12, 2012, afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tom Gagnier)
French Marines approach the beach to delivery vehicles using an amphibious craft from the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral (L9013) during the amphibious assault phase of Bold Alligator 2012. Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years, represents the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations. The exercise focuses on today's fight with today's forces, while showcasing the advantages of seabasing. The exercise takes place Jan. 30 - Feb. 12, 2012, afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tom Gagnier)
French Marines lead a convoy during the amphibious assault phase of Bold Alligator 2012. Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years, represents the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations. The exercise focuses on today's fight with today's forces, while showcasing the advantages of seabasing. The exercise takes place Jan. 30 - Feb. 12, 2012, afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tom Gagnier)