Prioritizing logistics at sea in the Pacific theatre was a bold and urgent request made this week by the commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Yet, it’s alarming that the rest of the US Military has neglected the now-skeletal remains of the US Merchant Navy while placing an excessive focus on air logistics. It’s time to evaluate our Pacific logistics capabilities realistically and to look for new prospects. This piece examines military logistics in depth and in its entirety, highlighting steps that the US Secretary of Defense and US Secretary of Transportation may implement right away to improve seaborne logistical capabilities in the Pacific, as reported by GCaptain.
Logistics wins wars
“Infantry wins battles, logistics wins wars.” Army General John J. Pershing,
by Captain John Konrad (gCaptain) Last year, in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted a large-scale exercise demonstrating their plans to use fast civilian ferries for an invasion of Taiwan. A cost-effective yet highly capable ship that can support ally forces in times of need must be developed by the US Navy using lessons learned from Ukraine and the Marine Corps Force Design 2030 in light of this prospective danger. The US Navy can build a ship that combines the benefits of quick civilian ferries with the knowledge gained from previous battles with the appropriate approach, but there are many difficulties surrounding the issue, therefore we need to delve deeply into the topic of sealift and war.
Join us as we explore the significance of logistics and innovation in shipbuilding for national security and global stability. Don’t be caught off guard. Its success could determine the future of shipping and the billions of lives it affects.
The US Military Loves RoRos
Roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) car carriers have numerous strategic advantages, which have long been recognised by sealift analysts. These enormous ships have a hydraulic ramp that can be lowered onto any pier, making it possible to carry wheeled cargo—from heavy-duty tanks to crucial supply trucks—quickly and easily into the middle of a conflict. The cost of transferring massive, heavy objects like tanks is relatively low per unit thanks to the size, capacity, and convenience of loading the largest RoRo ships, and the military, contrary to popular belief, enjoys making savings.
Massive RoRos are affordable and efficient in times of peace, but how would they fare in a major conflict with a naval force of equal standing, such as China?
The military prefers these ships to conventional container ships because they can be quickly offloaded without the need for large container handling cranes, which can be attacked by hostile forces.
They do, however, have significant drawbacks.
Another big obstacle is the adverse weather.
Due to the near impossibility of removing vital cargo in the event that a RoRo ship has problems, these ships are also infamous for being difficult to recover or lighten.
Huge RoRo ships may have been successful in the past in some conditions, but they are insufficient for the difficulties the Pacific presents.
China is a strong adversary with cutting-edge skills and a comprehensive grasp of ocean logistics.
The Navy effectively overcame a number of difficulties with moving heavy equipment while designing LHAs and LPDs, but these amphibious assault ships also have their own set of limitations due to some of them being nearly the size of aircraft carriers.
Watertight compartments on the lower decks increase stability and durability, but the Bonhomme Richard fire shows how difficult it may be to put out a fire on the top levels.
Marines and gigantic engines, which are required to move these enormous ships at great speeds, are also housed in large quantities of space.
Large amphibious ships used by the Navy take a long time and cost a lot of money to build.
The Marine Corps is forced to “place a lot of eggs in one basket” because of the size of these boats (including civilian RoRos).
These issues are well known, and as part of Force Design 2030, the Corps proposed a new ship type, the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW), which is smaller, faster, and less expensive to produce than big deck amphibs. However, delays and cost overruns in the production of the US Navy’s light, fast, and “cheap” Littoral Combat Ship make many officers doubt the LAW can be built this decade. They will compete with other necessary ships including destroyers, Military Sealift Command tankers, and US Coast Guard Cutters due to the paucity of shipyard capacity in the United States.
The US Marine Corps Got Rid Of Tanks
However, even if the LAW is constructed on schedule, it will not have close to the cargo capacity of a large RoRo or an amphibious assault ship. As a result, the Marines took dramatic action to solve the issue.
They completely abandoned tanks and withdrew from other heavy artillery and prepositioning plans.
The USMC’s decision to sell its tanks and strategically placed ships was controversial, with many in the national security community (including powerful retired Marine Generals) publicly expressing their worries.
He has worked together to create new logistics capabilities for contested battle zones as part of this initiative with offshore construction firms like Hornbeck Marine.
Due to these relationships, the Marine Corps is more prepared and more effective to operate in a world that is changing quickly in terms of force projection and strategic goals.
In addition to financial and logistical considerations, the decision to sell off major RoRos also reflects the evolving nature of contemporary warfare.
Asymmetric warfare, which pits smaller, more nimble forces against more powerful, conventional forces utilising improvised weaponry and guerilla tactics, has grown in popularity recently.
Heavy machinery like tanks performs less well in these conditions because of their restricted mobility and higher susceptibility to IEDs and other improvised weaponry.
The Corps needs more lightweight, nimble forces to accomplish this, and alternative vehicles like amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs), helicopters, and unmanned aerial systems can deliver these forces (UAS).
Due to this change in emphasis, heavy machinery like tanks and strategically placed ships are no longer as effective against contemporary threats and operational conditions. Also, the cost of upkeep and modernization of the USMC’s tank and preposition fleets was becoming unaffordable. The USMC has been able to reallocate resources to more useful and effective capabilities for its present and future missions by selling its heavy tanks and large ships. This change has allowed the USMC to place a higher priority on training as well as the development and acquisition of new technologies, such as unmanned systems, man-portable weapons systems, and advanced communication systems that can coordinate troop movement in the event that satellite communication is compromised by the enemy. As a result, the USMC is now better positioned to respond quickly to new threats and use its limited resources as effectively as possible.
Read the full article here.
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