If you remember my post on the grim future of Marine Tanks (here) then you'll understand my reason for concern. A tidbit from the Defense Media Review article...
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.”What I didn't outline or emphasize was LtCol Bodisch's justified concern about the loss of institutional knowledge.
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.
If you accept my contention that its necessary to preserve our armored capability then the next question becomes how? I believe we have our answer in the form of the Combat Assault Battalion in Okinawa along with a reorganization that might rankle some but I believe is the best way to keep our mech knowledge alive.
The reorganization that will rankle is that I propose combining the officer pipeline with the AAV and M1A1 Abrams. We would have amphibious armor officers that would flow between the two (and then three vehicles once the ACV enters service). Schooling would be a bit longer but the benefit would be that we infuse "armor from the sea" with new vitality.
Additionally, while I'm a proponent of moving toward an Armored Gun System based on the ACV, we would have a cadre of in house experts that could properly assess the benefits and drawbacks of such a move, recommend whether or not we should follow the Army in procuring M1A2s and determine better ways of integrating and utilizing the AAV/M1A1/ACV with the MEU or even the Company Landing Team.
This is a rough sketch of the proposal and holes can be poked I'm sure but think beyond the negative into the possible.
Considering the number of vehicles that a full strength combined tank/AAV battalion would include, I also propose that it be declared a reinforced Battalion and with the new LSD's coming online we should seek to bump up the number of tanks carried to a more practical and useful 8 M1s and 20 AAVs. With the size of the new ships coming online and the fact that the LHDs are going aviation centric, the extra ground punch carried by the LPD/LSD will be welcome in case more is done than providing perimeter security for SOCOM or a show the flag operation.
Let me know what you think, but I believe this is the minimum necessary to keep Marine Corps armor as the subject matter experts in armored assault from the sea....if we don't then we might as well read the US Army's "The Armored Division as an assault landing force" just before we case the colors.