The days when the three ships of an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the elements of the mbarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)
would stay together for an entire deployment apparently
For much of the last decade, nearly every ARG/MEU
has had to split up on deployment, with one or more
of the ships and some of the Marines and their aircraft
operating separately, sometimes in different oceans or
on different continents and under different geographic
combatant commanders (CoComs).
Although the ARG/MEUs historically were organized, trained and equipped to operate as an integral
force, “when you get out there, the CoCom can order
you to do different things,” said Marine MajGen Robert
S. Walsh, director of Expeditionary Operations in the
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
RADM Peter Fanta, director of
Surface Warfare, said when he was
an expeditionary strike group
commander in the Middle East,
“we routinely split amphibious
forces into multiple areas.”
At one point, he said, one
ARG/MEU had half of its ships
operating in European Command,
half in Central Command and half
in Pacific Command.
“I recognize that’s three halves,
but it illustrates the demand,”
Fanta said at a Pentagon briefing.
The new operational pattern has
become known as “split” or “
Split means the ships and Marine
units are operating “within the
same CoCom boundary, but split
into two different areas,” Walsh told
Disaggregated means some of the ships or units
have transited into a different CoCom’s area of responsibility and, because of the distance, are no longer
under control of their parent command, Walsh said.
“What we were seeing is, the ARG/MEUs were
going out and they were getting told to do one thing,
but they weren’t necessarily manned to do it, or
trained,” he said.
Addressing the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus
in June, Marine Corps Commandant Gen Joseph F.
Dunford Jr. made the same point. Although he said he
was “proud of the way the Marines are adapting to the
current operating environment … we are not optimized for that, and that’s something we’ll be looking at
in the future.
Navy, Marine Corps officials develop doctrine
for splitting amphibious forces into multiple areas
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
Swiss Army Knife’
After years of resisting the Combatant Commanders’ (CoComs’)
requirements for split and disaggregated operations, Navy and
Marine Corps leaders decided that “supporting CoComs is all
about service relevancy,” according to Marine MajGen Robert S.
Walsh, director of Expeditionary Operations in the Office of the
Chief of Naval Operations.
; A concept of operations was developed to provide “the
right capability to go forward to do this” and address the
issues of what kinds of equipment and manning are needed to
; The need to split the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) highlighted the sharp differences in capabilities of the three types of
ships in the ARG.
; The limitations of the dock landing ship (LSD) have influenced
the decisions on what capabilities to build into the LX(R) amphibious ship that will replace it.