MarSOC Aviation: The capability already exists

Ravage

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http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/article/marsoc-aviation-capability-already-exists




Author:
LtCol A. Che Bolden
I will congratulate the Gazette editorial staff on the January 2011 issue. I cannot recall if I have ever read a complete issue from cover to cover, but this one had me riveted. While I have opinions on almost every article, there was one in particular that I feel compelled to respond to; therefore, “MarSOC Aviation” by LtCol Glen Butler will bear the brunt of my perspectives. I applaud the author’s forward thinking and emphasis on advancing the capabilities of Marine Special Operations Command (MarSOC) and its contributions to U.S. military diversity and prowess. However, I am not convinced of the “vitality” of providing MarSOC with its own aviation combat element (ACE).

Ten years ago, when I was the Operations Officer, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, the Commandant of the Marine Corps tasked Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies, and Operations (PP&O), to develop viable courses of action for the provision of Marine forces to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCom). Due to the unique capabilities and specialized skill sets resident in the reconnaissance community, many within the ranks were brought into the discussion in order to best develop ideas and concepts in support of this request. As a result, the discussion began to frame itself. On one side, there were those who wanted to contribute a force that was capable of direct action (DA) and foreign internal defense (FID), thus further augmenting the number of teams available to USSOCom. The other proposed that the Marine Corps make a distinctive contribution to the special operations world by providing a uniquely organic capability that leveraged our specialized expertise in deep reconnaissance/surveillance and amphi-
bious reconnaissance, areas that are still lacking both within the Marine Corps and within the joint world.

Unfortunately, USSOCom wasn’t really asking the Marine Corps to provide a unique capability. It merely wanted more bodies, and after laborious and contentious discussions, the PP&O action officer presented a five-phase course of action that culminated with the creation of a special operations MAGTF with it’s own ground combat element, logistics combat element, and ACE. Many in the crowd, myself included, deduced that this capability was already in existence—the MEU (special operations capable).

Regardless of the machinations that gave way to present-day MarSOC, I was (and still am) in violent agreement with its creation—but as a unique force capable of contributing to the overall potential of the MAGTF and, as part of a MAGTF, fully integrated in order to produce effects across the range of military operations unlike any other force in the world.

The effect of aviation with respect to DA and FID is a means to an end and involves simple coordination rather than integration. I recently returned from Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where I was the Future Operations Officer, 3d MAW (Forward), which was the MAGTF ACE. There were numerous occasions where the ACE provided aviation support to MarSOC as part of a special operations task force. The preponderance of ACE support in each of those instances came from Marine assault support and served as an infil/exfil platform. Assault support is one function of Marine aviation (out of six) that the ACE provides to the MAGTF. Based on this admittedly small sampling, provision of an ACE to MarSOC would be very one dimensional and does not adhere to a basic tenet of a MAGTF, integration and coordination of elements across warfighting functions.

MarSOC is not a MAGTF. If MarSOC wants an ACE, maybe it should look to increase the capabilities of an existing, proven MAGTF and provide forces to the MEU or initiate the creation of a special purpose MAGTF. It bears mentioning that we deal in a zero-sum game. In order to step outside current structure, it’s going to cost the Marine Corps, somewhere. Mother Corps does not have the personnel (table of organization), assets (table of equipment), or acquisitions acumen to carve out a new MAGTF only to chop it away to USSOCom.

While this rebuttal is by no means an indictment of the author’s overall knowledge of the Marine Corps, or its doctrine, I can’t help but question the basic understanding of what the MAGTF means to us as a Service and to the country as a whole. I agree that open dialogue that draws upon the expertise from across the MAGTF is in order. However, this dialogue must be a two-way discussion that asks what MarSOC can provide to the Marine Corps, not just what the Marine Corps can provide to USSOCom. While it bothers me to say, I do not believe the author’s second recommendation is physically, or fiscally, tenable at this time. Were we to take a hard look at some of our current aviation programs and future platforms to evaluate their worth to the MAGTF, I would gladly change my tune; that’s a different discussion for a different time. Consider the conversation started and the discussion open.
 

DA SWO

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Speachless; he doesn't understand SOF Aviation and is happy to let the Army and AF provide support for the high end missions.
 

Hitman2/3

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Speachless; he doesn't understand SOF Aviation and is happy to let the Army and AF provide support for the high end missions.

No he dosen't. I don't think he understands SOF at all, as I suppose many don't anyway. There is definetly a big difference between conventional air and SOF air. Nothing wrong with conventional air they do a hell of a job but they just can't or won't, in some cases, do what the other guys can and will. He no doubt has never been along with the SOF side to see how they plan and execute. So just like the Sgt who wrote about the infantry squad he assumes that they aren't that different.

I agree with him that as it stands now without an increase in numbers specificaly for an additional aviation unit its just not realy doable. Although I would say there are quit a few MOS's that could and probably should get cut that would free up quit a few slots.

I'm just tired of hearing the "WHAT'S MARSOC DOING FOR THE CORPS" argument. Besides all the expierence and training that support personel and officers are getting to take back to the Fleet, in the future I see it bringing in quit a few recruits. Most won't make it to a team but even the ones that do will have to do a minimum of two years in the Fleet and most more like four. All the Marine Corps would have to do is capitalize on it with a few TV adds to get the word out there. Yeah the Mairne Corps isn't hurting on recurits but it would give them access to an audience that may want to join a SOF unit and don't even know MARSOC exist. But never mind we have better commercials to make. Excuse me while I go climb a mountain and fight a lava monster on a rope bridge, after I win I think I may just throw on my blues and twirl my rifle. :thumbsup:
 

Teufel

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How did a pilot become the ops o at 1st Force? I have been refused medevac by conventional Marine aviation so I don't pretend to believe that our pilots are just as good as SOF air (or as committed). Additionally, our aviators can't compete with warrant officers with 10x as much stick time. That being said, the Marine Corps isn't big enough to give up aviation assets to MARSOC. The Marine Corps really isn't big enough to support manning and staffing a MARSOC regiment but that is another story all together.
 

AWP

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Author:
LtCol A. Che Bolden
The other proposed that the Marine Corps make a distinctive contribution to the special operations world by providing a uniquely organic capability that leveraged our specialized expertise in deep reconnaissance/surveillance and amphi-bious reconnaissance, areas that are still lacking both within the Marine Corps and within the joint world.

Unfortunately, USSOCom wasn’t really asking the Marine Corps to provide a unique capability. It merely wanted more bodies, and after laborious and contentious discussions, the PP&O action officer presented a five-phase course of action that culminated with the creation of a special operations MAGTF with it’s own ground combat element, logistics combat element, and ACE. Many in the crowd, myself included, deduced that this capability was already in existence—the MEU (special operations capable).
Consider the conversation started and the discussion open.

As a non-Marine, I offer the following thoughts:
1) How do you trust a guy named "Che?"
2) I do agree with him in the paragraphs above: I question why MARSOC's contribution wasn't in the form of reconnaisance assets and it does about to be more of a "boots on the ground" mentality by SOCOM to this outsider. It isn't that Marines aren't capable of FID or DA, but given the building blocks of Marine SOF, the 0321 MOS, and the fact that Marine Recon units will continue to exists....why couldn't the Marines' contributio be in the form of SR/ DA assets which is more in line with a skill set they would not only bring fromt he Fleet, but could return to the Fleet? I guess I'm missing something.
3) I don't even know what to make of the last sentence other than the guy still sounds butt hurt over it all. What and odd manner of phrasing.....
4) I agree with the posts above, especially Teufel's.
 

Vat_69

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Maybe he is just irritated that his Marine F-18s don't fly in their assigned airspace. I know I am.
ROZ? What ROZ?
 

Hitman2/3

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As a non-Marine, I offer the following thoughts:
1) How do you trust a guy named "Che?"
2) I do agree with him in the paragraphs above: I question why MARSOC's contribution wasn't in the form of reconnaisance assets and it does about to be more of a "boots on the ground" mentality by SOCOM to this outsider. It isn't that Marines aren't capable of FID or DA, but given the building blocks of Marine SOF, the 0321 MOS, and the fact that Marine Recon units will continue to exists....why couldn't the Marines' contributio be in the form of SR/ DA assets which is more in line with a skill set they would not only bring fromt he Fleet, but could return to the Fleet? I guess I'm missing something.
3) I don't even know what to make of the last sentence other than the guy still sounds butt hurt over it all. What and odd manner of phrasing.....
4) I agree with the posts above, especially Teufel's.

Yeah, not really sure where the big push for FID came from, above my pay grade, but that seems to be the focus. I mean we can do it but DA and SR are still really our bread and butter at least at 1st and 2nd with a focus on DA. I would say that you hit the nail on the head with the boots on the ground. And yes that is an interesting name, hope its a callsign.
 

Marauder06

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In terms of mission and skillset, MARSOC is perhaps closest to SF, the writer of the article should ask SF what it's like to not have their own dedicated aviation... (it sucks).

Anytime you can have stuff organic, why would you not jump at the opportunity?
 

Hitman2/3

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It would be nice to have dedicated air, or even a squadron that we work with on the regular. We had some Marine air during our work up to do a hit and the pilot just circled above the LZ/target for about a good 5 minutes. The LZ was at leas 150 x 300 yards and the pilots had a full brief from us on how we needed them to land complete with imagery. Had it been real world anybody inside or in the area would have either been long gone or ready for us.
 
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