A portion of the AAVs will undergo a service life extension program
focused on survivability, he said.
Survivability translates to more
armor and weight, and that will
mean strengthening the vehicles’ suspension and power train.
But what really has the Marines
worried is the impact a planned
government-wide budget reduction will have on programs they
With critics equating Marine
Corps amphibious operations to
Iwo Jima or the landings at Inchon
during the Korean War, the Marines
have to show that their capabilities
as an expeditionary crisis-response
force at a high state of readiness are
in sync with Defense Department
The answer, Amos says, is “
amphibiousness,” the ability to go
rapidly from the sea over the beach
via helicopter or landing craft to
the objective and sustain a sizable
force without creating a logistical
“iron mountain” of supplies and
equipment on the landing beach.
The Marine Corps has statistics
to support its contention that
forcible entry from the sea will be
needed in future years and the Marines have that skill
tucked away in their tool box.
Amos and other speakers at the conference, citing
such documents as the commandant’s Planning
Guidance and “The Marine Corps Vision and Strategy
2025,” pointed out that by 2025, 60 percent of the
world’s population will be living in cities and 19 of the
largest cities are located in littoral regions. Additionally,
they note, 95 percent of the world’s commerce travels by
boat and nearly 50 percent of the oil travels through
maritime choke points like the Strait of Malacca.
It is in those areas, the Marines say, conflicts are
most likely to occur. There also will be a need for
humanitarian assistance, especially in areas hit by natural disasters such as flooding and famine, or man-made crises, such as disputes over oil or water.
Amos told the IDGA conference that the Marine
Corps has conducted 120 waterborne operations since
the Cold War ended, and not just earthquake relief in
Haiti or helicopter rescue missions in Pakistan’s flooded valleys. Amphibious forces were in Somalia in 1993,
and helicopters from the amphibious assault ship USS
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer transits the Gulf of Aden June 20
while supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation
efforts in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility. A shortage of amphibious
ships is among the concerns Marine Corps leaders face at a time when budget
belts are sure to be tightened.
It takes 17 amphibious vessels to deliver an MEB to
a flashpoint, get personnel ashore and keep them supplied, said Capt. Walter Towns, director of the Navy’s
Amphibious Warfare section (OPNAV N853).
He noted that since 2007, requests for amphibious
naval forces by the Defense Department’s regional combatant commanders has grown 86 percent.
The Marines also are worried about getting from the
sea, across the beach and into action. The Pentagon
canceled the $30 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle
(EFV) program because of cost overruns and delays.
“It wasn’t canceled because of flaws,” Brian Detter,
deputy assistant Navy secretary for Expeditionary
Warfare, told the IDGA gathering. “It was canceled
because of the budget.”
The replacement for the EFV — whatever form it
takes — is not expected to be fully operational until
“To put it simply,” said Chris Yunker, Mobility Sector
head of the Marine Corps’ Fires and Maneuver
Integration Division, “we have to make the current AAVs
last another six to eight years. We think we can do that.”