I've wondered where the Marine Corps was going with regard to its Tanks Battalions and the future is grim. A tidbit from Defense Media Review (here)...
......our tank battalions upgraded to the M1A1 in 1991, replacing Cold-War era M60A1 tanks. Prior to adopting the M1A1, USMC tank platoons were each assigned five M60A1 tanks. Moving to the M1A1, at four vehicles per platoon, effectively cut the equivalent of a platoon (four tanks) from each tank company, Bodisch explained.This is madness.
“Years later, after a 2010 force structure review, it became apparent the Corps began looking to reduce tank numbers, so when cuts were made in 2012 they targeted the Marine Corps Ground Combat Element [GCE], unfortunately this trickled down, it was 2nd Tanks that took some of the reductions.” An artillery battery was also eliminated as were two companies from 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, and the 8th Marine Regiment was disbanded, then recomposed, a move Bodisch said remains “an ongoing effort.”
Outlining the progression of decline in USMC tank inventories, Bodisch remarked “overall since Desert Storm we had a 54% reduction in tanks and 88% for TOW anti-tank missile systems, it’s pretty significant, if you break it down, in every major conflict since Desert Storm, the Marine Corps has averaged a 25% cut in tanks and HMMVW mounted TOW systems.”
Next February, 2nd Tanks will likely deactivate another of its line companies, “this time Charlie Company, and it will happen about four months before I relinquish command of 2nd Tanks,” he added.
We are cutting combat power. At a time when the USMC is picking up ADDITIONAL missions in Europe with an eye toward deterring Russia, we are destroying the direct fire capability of the Ground Combat Element.
My gut instinct is that "risk" is being accepted and the thought is that the Aviation Combat Element will pick up the slack.
I don't believe that's sound planning.
I've wondered if we should move tanks over to a mobile gun system version of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, but its obvious that even if that's the plan it won't happen till after 2035 at the earliest.
So what does this mean? It means that not only are we on a glide path of not being able to staff MEU's with Tank Platoons but it also means that if we deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade into harms way, it will lack organic firepower.
The F-35 must live so the Ground Combat Element must die?
That's my take. Read the article and let me know if you're as shocked as I am.