In order to capture the promise of the F-35B’s capabilities, the Marine Corps is going to have to view its tactical air arm much differently than it currently does. Simply put, the afloat F-35B’s should belong to the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (rather than to the Marine Expeditionary Unit commander) to be employed in accomplishing the JFMCC’s objectives. These will invariably include offensive sea control and integrated air and missile defense, missions that have not been featured prominently in the training syllabi of Marine Corps Harrier pilots, but which MUST become part of the program for F-35B pilots. The capabilities of the APG-81 AESA radar demand that this aircraft contribute to both the surface battle and the outer air battle as part of integrated fire control networks. This is essentially what the Navy’s F-35C pilots will be doing, and it seems obvious that harnessing the power of an additional squadron of fifth generation fighters from the amphibious group adds necessary combat power to the broader force. In fact, the Navy should consider organizing for combat in a return to the “Expeditionary Strike Force” concept of its past, one built around a nucleus of a large, nuclear powered aircraft carrier and an amphibious assault ship, each of which would be capable of networked IAMD, SUW, Strike, and Close Air Support (CAS) missions enabled by other elements of the Strike Force.Then this...
The concept of “losing” the Marine Air Wing to the JFMCC rubs some Marines the wrong way, as the historical (and proven) concept of a combined arms fighting force has served the Marine Corps well. There is a reasonable argument to be made for depriving the JFMCC of this capability (or at best, loaning it to the JFMCC on a “not to interfere basis” with planned or ongoing ground force operations), but that argument is one of the primary hindrances to closer integration of the Sea Services. What I am arguing for here is a new way to look at the “payloads vs. platforms” approach taken by the recently replaced CNO, ADM Jonathan Greenert. In essence, the “platform” for maritime dominance becomes the sea itself, and all elements of the Navy and Marine Corps become “payloads”; payloads to be employed against the appropriate target, at the appropriate time. In some cases it will be Marine infantry operating ashore. In others, it will be a stealthy attack submarine. In still others, it will be F-35B neutralizing adversary surface units.But this is the part that has me punching walls...
For those Marines asking “Hey, what do we get out of this?”, my answer is this: command of expeditionary strike forces and numbered fleets would be available to Marine Corps officers in competition with Navy Aviators, Submariners, and Surface Warriors, and those staffs would be truly naval in nature.He dangles command slots as a fair return on giving up Marine Air to the Navy? Forget proven combat capability! He's using the promise to have more attractive boxes to check on the way to a star as a reason to do this?
McGrath knows better.
Someone asked him to write a fluff piece on the F-35 and he complied. Why? I have no idea but this whole thing is so full of shit that it makes my head spin.
Quite honestly I don't doubt for one minute that the current hand picked Marine Corps leadership will pounce on this. But make no mistake. This isn't about enhancing USMC combat power. Its about billets, its about pork, its about propaganda for the F-35 and its about the Wing's leadership not wanting to be Marines anymore.
If that's the case then fine. Fuck it. Dump the fast movers and lets get our AH-1Z's in numbers so we can fight as a real combined arms team...not with some jet pilots looking longingly at USAF and USN mission sets.