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Epilogue

While the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps never had the opportunity to put the resources sought in The Maritime Strategy to direct use against the Soviets, in 1991 the services played a significant role in achieving victory in the Gulf War. However, the Marines' contributions to victory in 1991 took the forms of a well executed land based assault, participation in an air campaign, and merely providing the threat of an amphibious assault. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf's use of amphibious forces as a decoy, while effective in keeping Iraqi attention split between multiple fronts, fell far short of the vision of amphibious operations offered by the Marines in the "Amphibious Warfare Strategy!' Indeed, the damage to the Tripoli and Princeton, the threat of PGM strikes close to shore, coupled with the inability to successfully conduct rehearsals involving LCACs suggested that the desire to reconstitute an ability to engage in the types of operations that had propelled the Marine Corps to its greatest renown was out of step with the passage of time.23 i*-

Chuck Steele is an assistant professor of history at the United States Air Force Academy and a member of the Australian Naval Institute. Heisagraduateofthe University of California, Berkeley (BA, history 1987), King's College, the University of London (MA, War Studies 1990), and West Virginia University (PhD, history 2000).

(Endnotes)

  1. General P.X. Kelley and Major Hugh K. O'Donnell Jr., USMC, in The Maritime Strategy, (Annapolis 1986), 20.

  2. Ibid.

  3. J. Robert Mosldn, The U.S. Marine Corps Story, (San Francisco 1982), 224. See also Jeter A. Isley and Philip A. Crowl, The U.S. Marines and Amphibious Warfare, (Princeton 1951), 4.

  4. Kelley and O'Donnell, 26.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. James O. Jackson, "The Secret Plan for World War III," Time (international edition). 4 July 1994,22.

  8. Martin Binldn and Jeffrey Record, Where Does the Marine Corps go from Here? (Washington 1976), 31.

  9. Peter A. Wilson, The Marine Corps in 1955," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1985,54.




  1. Norman Polmar, The Naval Institute Guide to the Soviet Navy edS, (Annapolis 1991). 391.

  2. Polmar, 388.

  3. Admiral I. Kapitantes, cited in Major Ralph N. Bruner USA, "Soviet Military Science and the Falldands Conflict Part I," US. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1985,93.




  1. Captain Richard S. Moore USMC, "Is the Doctrine Viable?" U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1985, 34.

  2. Allan C. Bevilacqua, Major USMC (Ret.), "Reinventing Amphibious Operations," Marine Corps Gazette, December 1989, 16-17.

  3. Lieutenant R.L. Wood and Lieutenant A.E. Haggerty, USN, "The New Faces," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1985, 37.

  4. Captain Richard Sharpe, OBE R.N. Edl, Jane's Fighting Ships 1989-1990, (Alexandria 1989), 749.

  5. Marvin Pokrant, Desert Shield at Sea, (Westport 1999), 150, 200.

  6. For details on the lack of accommodation for LCACs within the Navy, see Wood and Haggerty, 37 and Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC, "Amphibious Warfare: What Sort of Future?" In Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett, USMC (Retired), Assault from the Sea: Essays on the History of the Amphibious Warfare, (Annapolis 1983), 422.

  7. Wood and Haggerty, 37.

  8. Alexander, 420.

  9. Kelley and O'Donnell, 29.




  1. Colonel F.J. Graves comments appear between pages 1424-1426 of The Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, (London 1901).

  2. For a more comprehensive examination of the difficulties attendant on staging amphibious operations in the run-up to the Gulf War see Pokrant, 150,151,155,156,197, and 200.

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute



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Issue 131

37

Maintaining Flexibility: Multi Role Vessels & Mission Based Modular Payloads

ar wivuviAiwctOitvvMrtTuuimE

"The tempo of operations is not expected to decrease significantly in the future. Flexible, versatile and rapidly deployable forces will be required" -Plan Blue 2006

"Wefirst survey the plot, then draw the model; then must we rate the cost of erection; which if we find outweighs ability, what do we then but draw again the model" - Shakespeare King Henry IV Act 2


M


aritime Forces are sensitive to technological change and quick to exploit the opportunities it offers. Although platforms represent a progressively smaller part of the costs of acquisition, their useful lives have been increasing progressively over the past fifty years.1 This has meant that ships acquired within one strategic context have been utilised under completely different circumstances, often carrying different weapon and sensor packages than those with which they were first commissioned.2 While there is a need for contemporary capability to ensure preparedness, often this is at odds with the requirement to acquire sufficient future capability. Multi role vessels, utilising mission based modular payloads, may go some way to providing a contemporary capability while providing a reasonably easy method to address system obsolescence issues, therefore protecting future needs. Arguably, the minor warship fleet could best accommodate this new concept and with further development, applicability to the major fleet could be realised over time.

The Future Maritime Operating Concept (FMOC 2025) is the Australian Defence Force capability

guide pinpointing future requirements for the maritime environment. It identifies drivers in the Future Security Environment (FSE) as being political/ diplomatic, economic, environmental, societal, technological and military.3 These drivers are subsumed into the Maritime Mission Space, reflecting the complexity for the future warfighter with the boundaries blurred between assistance and diplomatic operations, law enforcement operations, combat operations and security operations. All identify a level of uncertainty and pressure in the future. The prospective maritime force must have the capability to continue with the traditional requirement to protect the nation's borders and sea lines of communications. This role has (and will again) be expanded to include assistance to civilian authorities in environmentally driven security and humanitarian events, involvement with forces domestically, regionally and internationally and participation in law enforcement operations.

The primary role will remain that of warfighting, with the challenging threat posed by the developing increase in capacity, complexity, applicability and availability of technology.4 Till, in his work Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty First Century, highlights the need for, "a new mentality and way of thinking that goes beyond traditional warfighting and its professional skills".5 Flexibility in approach will not only protect the warfighter from his opponent2s use of technology but may also hedge against their own capability shortfalls, be it due to economic or visionary deficiencies. As Australia becomes more a partner in the international community, the likelihood of involvement in UN, regional or US led coalitions will increase. This will often involve joining

at short notice, needing a flexibility to deploy quickly, multi task in theatre and switch rapidly between these tasks.6 Till's use of the UK Ministry of Defence definition of expeditionary operations better symbolises this: "Military operations, which can be initiated at short notice, consisting of forward deployed or rapidly deployable self sustaining forces tailored to achieve a clearly stated objective in a foreign country"7 The RAN is a key stakeholder in future ADF maritime forces and has a key responsibility to maintain a capability in meeting these complex needs.

Can the traditional specialist ship, whether acting individually or in concert with a larger force, meet these complexities or is the ship of the future multi-roled with the identified threat determining the mission payload? Plan Blue 2006, the Chief of Navy's strategic guidance for the evolution of the Royal Australian Navy and transition to the Future Navy, states that naval platforms must continue to be flexible and multi mission capable. Within this context, autonomous vehicles and the associated technology has a recognised increasing role to play such that, "they will act as force multipliers by varying and better matching ship capability to assigned missions".8 The littoral environment, arguably the purview of the future modular vessel, will increasingly become the focus for future operations. With this, there is a need to be able to manoeuvre and force project into this challenging environment. The successful attack on the Israeli corvette by the Hezbollah militia using a radar guided missile from a shore installation shows how dangerous the littoral zone has become. For large forces there may be the need to maintain an over the horizon

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

38

ivL±intaining Flexibility: Multi Role Vessels & Mission Based Modular Payloads




presence but still project a military force in the littoral zone.9 Unmanned vehicles may fill this need. Rear Admiral Ulrich, in his previous role as USN Director of Surface Warfare, envisages the use of modularity and unmanned vehicles as revolutionary and transformational concepts for the future US Navy.10 He further expounds the mantra of'Get Connected, Get Modular, and Get Unmanned,' highlighting important determiners in reshaping the surface Navy.

Plan Blue has the Future Navy adopting a strategy of layered and multi-dimensional defence to operate in the littoral environment. The US Navy in coming years will invest a huge amount of resources into three key areas of advanced computer networks, modular design and unmanned vehicles.11 New classes of ships will support this future influx of technology and the associated evolving capability. The USS Independence, the first of class of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), was launched in 2007 to meet this need. The LCS embraces the modular concept and will embark and integrate differing mission configurations. The USN approach, to modularise systems for rapid re-role in theatre, is still some years off, maturing when both the LCS platforms and their modular mission systems are fully delivered into service. Admiral Ulrich moves some way from the traditional concept of the naval warship, whereby the warship of the future is purely seen as a hull to carry capability into the battle zone. In the case of the LCS, it will contain a collection of the latest warfighting tools packaged into a toolbox, or module, for employment in littoral zones. This modular framework is designed to give greater flexibility and support to the envisaged primary mission requirements of mine, surface and antisubmarine warfare. There is also scope to develop intelligence,

surveillance and reconnaissance systems and equipment specific to Special Forces operations.

The ability to deploy various mission modules onboard a fast, shallow-draft ship is the cornerstone of the LCS concept.12 The LCS will be a fast, stealthy, shallow draught core vessel with an open combat systems computing architecture. A platform of similar design would meet the challenges posed by our vast, often uninhabited coastline. Using a "system of systems" approach, it will include networked sensors, modular mission payloads, a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles and an innovative hull design.13 Modular mission capability sets it apart from every other class of US surface combatant. As a focused mission ship, the LCS will complement other multi mission members of the surface combatant Family of Ships as an integral element of a carrier strike group or expeditionary strike group.14 In an Australian context, one or more of these modules could be embarked in a multi role platform to support Advance Force operations before the arrival of the Amphibious Task Force,

much in the same vain as the LCS is conceptually about sustaining access to the littoral zone for US operations. The Royal Danish Navy (RDN) employs a modern force of Multi Role Vessels (MRVs) capable of performing patrol, limited anti-surface, anti-air and mine countermeasures (MCM) operations in regional and coastal waters.15 From the late 1980s, the RDN took delivery of fourteen Flyvefisken class MRVs. Purpose built as versatile ships capable of deploying specific mission packages, the concept (also known as Standard Flex) grew out of the necessity of replacing large numbers of smaller mission specific ships during a fleet reduction period, with the view to accessing through life cost savings. An open architecture C4ISR-system is the hub, connecting all permanently fitted and containerised systems.16 The mission specific modules are interchangeable on a common platform to induce an element of individual flexibility in missions and capabilities. During the process, the RDN reduced a fleet of 24 units (eight Fast Attack Craft, eight patrol boats and eight mine countermeasures vessels) with a force

Austal Independence ship under build

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

Issue 131

39





of fourteen MRVs adaptable for specific missions.17

Diverse modules were developed providing differing capabilities ranging from anti-air defence (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti­submarine warfare (ASW), electronic warfare (EW), mine countermeasures (MCM) as well as a myriad of other roles, including patrol and surveillance, oil pollution control and hydrographic/ oceanographic survey18 The core premise of the concept hinges on the use of technology, and in this case the modules can be updated in order to adapt newer systems in the coming decades rather than replace a large number of ship fitted systems or indeed the whole platform. Sensors and systems common to all roles are permanently fitted on each platform. Mission based payloads, transportable either over land by trucks or be ferried by sea, can be changed out in less than eight hours and require only cranage.19 Following an operational review of the class, the concept of changing the role of the platforms via mission based modules has been re-examined and has been put on hold, with the platforms taking on a more permanent fit.20

Similarly to the RDN, Australia is a small-medium navy constrained by budgetary allocations and the problem of choosing military capability against a predicted need, which sometimes lies well into the future. Recognising these drivers, Plan Blue asserts that the, "Future Navy will employ a multi dimensional manoeuvre approach for the conduct of operations... (requiring) Maritime force elements, that are inherently adaptable and flexible, are required to conduct combat missions and are able to adapt to concurrently support other activities such as law enforcement missions".21 The Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) 26 minor fleet units (two Leeuwin Class Hydrographic Ships, four Paluma Class

Survey Motor Launches, 14 Armidale Class Patrol Boats and six Huon Class Mine Hunter Coastal) could well be amalgamated to fulfil this role. This will support the Plan Blue mantra of remaining flexible and multi-mission capable. It is also in line with the desire to maximise affordability of the platform. This capability requirement is important also in the minor war vessel context, noting the recognition that the Future Fleet will have/need a greater capability to project power into the littoral region.22 Further guidance is provided later in the document detailing the need to reduce costs, identifying likely savings in reducing numbers of personnel, automation and commonality of systems and platforms.23 Employment of unmanned air, surface and subsurface vehicles will further extend sensor coverage and power projection with the expectation that in the relatively near future, task force members will launch and link to a number of unmanned vehicles, carrying sensors and weapons over and under sea and land.24 These platforms may be employed in a threat environment, but whereas in the past they have been highly specialised, with its specific role limiting commonality

and in some instances flexibility, the multi role vessel of the future will be mission capable through the modular payload embarked.

Project Venator, an in house study by BMT Defence Services, examines how a minor warship platform, sized and powered for global deployment, can be reconfigurable for differing operational taskings, including mine countermeasures (MCM), MCM support, hydrographic survey, maritime security operations (MSO) and offshore patrol missions.25 While the platform concept has design enablers developed from projected employment its true flexibility lies in the modularity and interchangeability of the mission based payload. No doubt the proposal hinges on technology employed in these payloads. For example, the MCM suite is largely based on unmanned systems such as minesweeping unmanned surface vessels (USV), reconnaissance automated unmanned vehicles (AUVs), one shot mine disposal vehicles and a self defence fit (search radars, gun, obstacle avoidance sonar). To elucidate the reconfiguration modular concept further, compare this with a possible Patrol Boat suite of rigid inflatable

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