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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Amphibious Warfare

Richard Fernandez, at his excellent Belmont Club blog, asks Is Amphibious Warfare Obsolete? I pointed out in comments:

Amphibious warfare was already declared dead, after the Gallipoli debacle in WWI.

In the 1930s, the Commandant of the Marine Corps realized that a war with Japan would require amphibious operations. But there was no “book” on amphibious operations, no doctrine. Also, like I said, Gallipoli had convinced many that it wasn’t practical.

There were no think tanks in those days, and the Marine Corps had no budget for such things. So what happened was, a bunch of Marine officers arrived at Quantico to go to school, lieutenants expecting to learn how to become captains, majors to become colonels, etc. Instead they were told their job was, one, to determine if Gallipoli really had closed the book on amphibious warfare, and two, if not, to write it.

They concluded “No” to the question, and wrote the “Tentative Landing Operations Manual,” which became the basis of Marine and US Army doctrine used in WWII, and still used today.

So if history is a guide, a fundamental rewrite of doctrine may be what’s needed to keep the amphibious option alive.

The Marines have long recognized the problems with amphibious landings against modern weapons. That's why they've continued to push for the V-22 Osprey, despite its well-publicized problems. But a technological fix like the V-22 may not be enough.

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