Expeditionary Warrior 2010 is a joint, multinational wargame designed to test the concepts of seabasing. Refer to: https://www.mcwl.quantico.usmc.mil/ew.cfm
Sitting through the obligatory classes prior to the seabasing wargame. To save you the few hours and the line to the head during breaks, here are a few nuggets:
-Seabasing is a national capability. The Corps gets is feathers ruffled when we hear this, but the fact is the Army has significant equipment already pre-positioned and they are buying some Joint High Speed vehicles, to connect MPF ships and ports.
-The current 30-yr shipbuilding plan just released with the QDR will realize an amphibious fleet of 29 – 33 ships as the years go by. Both the Navy and Marine Corps agree that it takes 38 ships to lift 2.0 Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEB). To further complicate matters, current USMC units have more vehicles than the tables of organizations of 10-years ago; it won’t all fit on the ships, even if we did have 38.
-USMC (and Army) equipment has gotten much heavier and larger in the past 10 years, and will continue to do so. This will make amphibious ships too heavy, and with the larger vehicles needing to be in the upper vehicle stowage areas just to fit, the ships are too top-heavy. As a telling illustration:
Old Vehicle: M151 Jeep: 3,000 lbs.
Currents ships designed around: M998 Soft-door HMMWV: 5,000 lbs
Currently used on the ground: Up-Armored HMMWV: 7,600 lbs
Future vehicle, Joint Light? Tactical Vehicle: 22,000 lbs
Current Helo ships are designed around: CH-46: 13,000 lbs
Future Helo: MV-22: 47,000 lbs
Current V/STOL attack aircraft: AV-8b: 25,000 lbs
Future V/STOL attack aircraft: JSF (F-35): 46,000 lbs
This is a huge problem that we haven’t really been faced with in combat operations yet. How to fit current Marine forces on a ship? There are a few smart guys crunching the numbers to examine the Gear Left On the Pier (GLOP).
The first move of the game comes this afternoon, we’ll see how this seabasing thing works
Move 1: Steady State Operations from a Sea Base
For background material on Expeditionary Warrior 2010, refer to https://www.mcwl.quantico.usmc.mil/ew.cfm
To answer a question from an earlier blog about “What is a seabase?” and “How does this work with MPF?”
A seabase is a collection of ships and capabilities at sea. It basically provides an airfield, a port and a logistics base through the collection of ships and other tools. So in real terms, you put some MPF ships together with a carrier and LHA/LHD, add some well deck capability with LPD/LSD’s and there you have a seabase. Now anyone who has been a part of a Navy surface combatant group knows that at times it is easier to swim to another ship than it is to get a ride there, or have a phone call with anyone on another ship. So you can see quickly, that a key element of a successful seabase is ship to ship, and ship to shore connectors. In addition to that, you will need to surgically extract the cargo you want from the densely packed MPF ship. So when the MPF ship goes to support a humanitarian assistance operation, you will want to leave the armored vehicles, but take out all the tents, generators and water purification units. It is projected that in 2020, the time for Move 1 of the wargame, the U.S. will have a selective cargo offload capability, as well as improved connector capabilities.
So in Move 1 of the wargame, the U.S. and its coalition partners are supporting a nation like many in the world. There is little to no infrastructure, the national government has little or no ability to improve the lives of its people or provide basic services, and laws mean very little. The reason the seabase was deployed to the area was to support the government to rebuild infrastructure and prevent disease following an unusually severe rainy season.
A seabase is good for humanitarian assistance because it reduces the footprint ashore and the amount of support you need to bring ashore for yourself. That’s great, and it was proven in the aid provided to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
For the seabase capabilities we envision for 2020, we are planning on the ability to pull the bulldozer and generator out of the hold on the MPF ship, and deliver them with an LCU or LCAC. We don’t have that capability yet, but we’re working on it. Currently, when you unload the MPF ship, you need to unload it all until you see the equipment you want, then you need to put all the stuff back in the same order.
The seabase is not a great answer to everything however. In Move 1, we want to provide a persistent presence ashore to assist rebuilding and disease prevention. A seabase is not really great for that, you can’t really build situational awareness or relationships while you are 40 miles or more off shore. A seabase was seen as being a good platform to deliver heavy equipment, and some logistics capabilities not provided in the host nation, like refined fuels, medical supplies, etc.
Move 2 and 3 tomorrow: send your questions.
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