Marine Corps Gazette

January 2014

Marine Corps Gazette provides the forum for debate among Marines. Written by Marines and for Marines, this is the professional journal of the United States Marine Corps. It is extremely informative on issues affecting the Corps.

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Digital EDition (FirEs) let." It can rapidly provide a powerful but expendable miniature fying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) package on a beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) target within minutes.4 With effective UASs and video feed targeting systems (such as the ROVER V) making their way down to the company level and below, each company will be able to act more responsively to enemy targets of opportunity. Collectively, two or three companies operating semi-independently with this increased capability will be able to infuence a much larger battlespace, denying the enemy freedom of movement, and severely disrupting their operations. However, in order to effectively manage and integrate the increased use of these UAS assets and exploit the information they provide, the company will need both a fully staffed CLIC and a company-level operations center (CLOC). The issues of airspace deconfiction, asset management (ensuring the UAS is being employed where and when it is most needed), and information processing and exploitation alone require the CLIC/CLOC, both of which require the presence of a joint terminal air controller (JTAC) to provide the requisite knowledge needed to manage these assets effectively. Nunnink reinforces this view in his paper: [. . .] [The] duty of the small unit leader is to task organize in such a way so as to create an intelligence-operations cell that supports effective intelligence and information operations.5 The CLIC/CLOC hybrid needs to have the capability to collect, process, and exploit (act on) the vast amount of data that company-level UAS assets can provide, and be able to do so independent of battalion or higher levels of intelligence/ operations support. Mobility The main advantages of DO are that company- and platoon-sized units dispersed over a wide area of operations will gain psychological, temporal, positional, and spatial advantages over the enemy by being able to sense and infuence an expanded battlespace in breadth and depth. DE2 www.mca-marines.org/gazette Collectively these small units allow the battalion to keep the enemy off balance as to its true composition, capabilities, and intentions, and enable a more effective disruption of the enemy's operations and their access to key terrain.6 However, in order to realize these advantages, [. . .] individual units must move rapidly to maintain positional advantage relative to the enemy, or to enhance force protection measures. Further, units will require the ability to re-aggregate, in order to temporarily mass for missions requiring larger physical concentrations of combat power.7 The aspects of Marine aviation that apply to meeting ECO's requirement for mobility are combat assault support, air evacuation, and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, all of which fall under the primary function of assault support. Combat assault support is [. . .] used to rapidly deploy forces, bypass obstacles or redeploy forces to meet the enemy threat [. . .]. [It] allows the MAGTF commander to effect a rapid force buildup at a specifc time and location of his choosing.8 (Emphasis author's own.) The aviation combat element (ACE) has met this requirement for decades, but traditionally only in the context of moving a unit from point A to point B or inserting/extracting a unit to/from a specifc location in support of an overall mission after deliberate planning or as part of a preplanned contingency (i.e., Sparrow Hawk/Bald Eagle).9 The advantages gained by employing small units in a disaggregated manner come at the expense of mass, which, even after the obstacles of technology, personnel, and training limitations are overcome, is the DO concept's main weakness.10 DO depends on [. . .] the capacity for coordinated action by dispersed units, throughout the breadth and depth of the battlespace [. . .].11 (Emphasis author's own.) That coordinated action will inevitably require the ability to quickly reinforce isolated units or to otherwise reconstitute mass at a critical time and place. Small units will require the ability to "rapidly re-aggregate, in order to exploit feeting opportunities and to reinforce or support another unit in need" in order to "temporarily mass for missions requiring larger physical concentrations of combat power."12 13 (Emphasis author's own.) "The ability to re-aggregate will be enabled by [. . .] an increase in the number of tactical mobility assets available for small units," requiring "[. . .] both air mobility and organic vehicles for ground mobility [. . .]."14 15 (Emphasis author's own.) The Corps must develop capabilities that will facilitate the rapid reconstitution of mass at the decisive point in time and space. Supporting ECO adds a higher level of complexity to the ACE's combat assault support responsibilities. With the advent of the MV–22 and UH–1Y, a modern MEU will have the appropriate assets, but we lack the doctrine and infrastructure to allow for the responsiveness that the dispersed units require to rapidly reaggregate, reinforce (such as with a dedicated quick reaction force, which is a critical component needed to protect vulnerable "enhanced" companies), or exploit time-sensitive targets or opportunities. The delay is inherent in the fact that ACE aircraft are typically centrally located and controlled at the MEU level, requiring a company operating a great distance from its battalion headquarters to submit a request for a specifc combat assault support capability to the MEU through the battalion air offcer. The time it takes for the appropriate aircraft to reach the requesting company depends on many factors such as the distance the company is from the airfeld, the alert status of the aircrew/ aircraft, type of aircraft available, and so on. Nevertheless, too much time is lost using this centralized process, and opportunities to exploit the enemy are lost as a result. Further, this wasted time could be the difference between the life and death of a friendly casualty; in the event of a requirement for a casualty evacuation, widely disbursed units will often fnd themselves well outside of the "golden hour" from an adequate treatment facility.16 ACE Minidetachment One solution to this problem would Marine Corps Gazette • January 2014

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