Thursday, June 11, 2015
US Army is wrong in its approach to participation in Air-Sea Battle.
Everytime you turn around you see Army helicopters landing on Navy ships. Not the cargo carrying CH-47's but instead the AH-64's. What's even more amazing is that they're not attempting to utilize "non" standard platforms but are instead trying to crowd aboard Navy Amphibious Ships.
The Army is dazed, confused and wrong in their approach to playing a part in Air-Sea Battle.
Why do I say that?
Easy. Flight deck space is limited. Army helicopters aren't optimized to operate aboard ship, and if Army Apache's are included in the manifest then that means more capable attack helicopters (AH-1Z) will be left on the beach.
Ok, then why is the Army taking this approach?
I blame it on the British! Hear me out before you call me a madman. The Royal Marines have a very small air wing. Quite honestly its almost non-existant. They supplement this lack by including British Army helicopters aboard ship. I believe that the US Army saw that example and is doing its best to copy it.
But that's not what I believe we'll need in the future.
The Marine Corps (in my opinion) will have EXCESS airpower....add in Navy assets (the Navy MH-60's are getting real good with that EFSS system and they're hanging hellfires, cannons and extra fuel like its cool) and providing heliborne firepower, transport and cargo carrying is just not a need.
Ideally what the US Army would provide is the traditional heavy punch to landing operations. Taking it a step further they should consider either modifying Strykers for Pacific ops to float, or to buy an allotment of Amphibious Combat Vehicles. Additionally deep fording kits for M1 Abrams, and other non-floating Army vehicles that are assigned to the Pacific theater should be purchased.
Finally instead of pushing Army aviation aboard ship they should push Stryker Brigades and Airborne units out to participate in exercises with the Marine Corps. Send liaison teams (much like SOCOM is doing) so that these units can plug into a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) with minimum fuss.
And then the Army must be willing to experiment.
Can they fire MLRS from Army landing craft? How about tying in a Patriot battery to an Aegis Destroyer operating in the area? What about using info sent from an E-2D and becoming a part of the defense of a carrier or even taking that Senator's advice and buying land based, long range anti-ship missiles to do a modern day "Defense Battalion" setup with integrated Patriot and Anti-ship missiles instead of anti-air artillery pieces of old?
The Army has a role to play in the Pacific, but its not by duplicating strengths and capabilities the USMC already has...Its by making up deficiencies.