Home » News & Analysis » Navy, Marines Developing New CONOPS For Contested Littoral Operations


Navy, Marines Developing New CONOPS For Contested Littoral Operations

The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), front, and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21), conduct an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO-196) while operating in the Mediterranean Sea in January 2015. US Navy photo.

The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43), front, and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD-21), conduct an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO-196) while operating in the Mediterranean Sea in January 2015. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navy and Marine Corps are developing concepts of operations for littoral operations in contested environments, including near Syria with Russian anti-access weapons deployed, officials told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee this week.

After Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) asked about the effect of Russian weapons like the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system and P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missile on operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh said that the chief of naval operations and commandant of the Marine Corps had tasked the Naval Board with looking at that type of scenario.

The Naval Board, which Walsh co-chairs, is working with the Naval Development Warfare Center and the Marines’ Combat Development “to write a concept for littoral operations in a contested environment … across all the places we look at,” Walsh said.
“One of the areas is Syria.”

The study also includes a range of military operations, including noncombatant evacuation operations up to high-end conflict.

“What we’re definitely seeing is those threats impact us, and we’re going to have to work much closer and integrate with the rest of the battle force,” he said.
“The Amphibious Ready Group is certainly not going to have all the capabilities to be able to operate independently, and it’s going to need the rest of the battle force to integrate and operate closely and work together with the high-end threats that the cruisers and destroyers bring, the carriers bring, along with the submarine force.”

Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, agreed that the combination of platforms in the region would be important to dealing with advanced threats.

“If you have an E-2D, the Advanced Hawkeye airplane, that has a good link up with our cruisers with (Aegis) Block 9 – if that’s the force you have, you can be closer” to the shore, Mulloy said.
“Other times you have to be farther away. So it’s a combination [of concepts of operations], the ability to operate, and then the equipment you bring.”

Mulloy added that operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea now present as much of a threat to naval forces as operations near China, due to the introduction of advanced electronics and weapons.

Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told the subcommittee that the Navy had been particularly focused on fielding rapid capabilities to keep the four Mediterranean-based guided missile destroyers safe from the evolving threats in the region. Two years ago the Navy developed and fielded a “transportable electronic warfare module to specifically deal with the threat” Ayotte described from Russian anti-ship and anti-plane systems. And last year the Navy engineered, tested and fielded a way to combine the SeaRAM Anti-Ship Missile Defense System – in production to be installed on Littoral Combat Ships – with the destroyers’ Aegis Combat System. Both efforts were accomplished within a year, Stackley said, and “this type of turnaround as the threat emerges is frankly what we need to be doing every day.”

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    More attempts at trying to salvage archaic & out-dated CONOPS of “Hitting the Beach,” in a non-permissive environment.

    Newsflash Sports Fans…It cannot be done. All that will be accomplished is adding to said country’s artificial reef program.

    The future starts at 100 NM from shore, sending in advanced SOF or Marine Reconnaissance teams in to establish semi-secure Beach Landing Sites.

    Once accomplished, an Amphibious Raid Force will be dispatched, via RIBs to land at the pre-designated BLS, get a brief from the SOF or Recon TL, then set out to accomplish their designated mission requiring a well-armed raid force.

    Only after a sector of the desired landing area, whether beach or inland, has been secured, will follow-on forces be able to land & execute additional missions.

    Naval forces will still be required to remain at a position well out to sea IOT avoid being attacked by shore-based, or small craft attacks. The Littoral area, up to 100 NM will become a No Mans Area!

    Time to start think out-of-the box & put away all of those visions of WWII island hopping grandeur…

    • draeger24

      A couple of points:
      1. Hitting the beach in a non-permissive environment….first, define “non-permissive” – it is far too broad-brushed. Had we not neglected the mine warfare community before DESERT SHIEID/STORM, we would have been doing a beach landing assault. The MANTA mine threat made it more feasible to make an end sweep. The USMC was not happy, and, we built an entire fleet of Mine Warfare ships and a Mine Warfare School of Excellence at Ingleside which took priority in mission for the next five years – been there, done that. Money was spent on “stealth zodiacs” and all kinds of non-magnetic gear. All that, is once again, now in the boneyard – Ingleside, with all it’s new buildings, has been sold to an oil company. We had the ridiculous axiom for Boorda of “From the Sea”…..ah, yeah, is that any different from what we were doing for 200 years????? Well, someone needed a FITREP bullit – akin to the constant changing of uniforms buffoonery.
      2. The classic UDT/SEAL mission should still be done. Taking out missile sites, which was a priority up to DESERT STORM, should still be.
      3. Why 100nm? There are these things called “airplanes” and drones that can launch EXOCETs, et alia; hence, distance is not much of a factor. The enemy has been allowed to acquire submersibles and submarines, so we are back to WWII in coming parities.
      4. Never say never again. The advent of the machine gun in WWII had critics saying that we have no more need for infantry; WWII proved that wrong. The advent of massed air power in DESERT STORM then had critics advocating getting rid of whole Arrny Divisions because “air power uber alles”. Along comes Bosnia, which we thought we could do all by the air; not so fast – we spent a few billion dollars firing cruise missiles onto fake targets – outhouses with phony “radar” dishes – because we had no boots on the ground, including the CIA being drastically cut in Clinton’s time – missile hits Chinese Embassy-1999. Roll in the tanks and boots on the ground.
      I remember one of the original members of SEAL Team SIX telling me that “we will never do that hostage rescue mission again” – this was in 1990 when I was TAD to that staff. Guess that didn’t hold water as well.
      Studies like JV 2020 are wastes of money – no one predicted 9-11 – not a single person in or out of government, and our military was in a shambles because of Clinton. Stop funding these “think tanks” because they don’t do much thinking – none of them could figure out a counter-insurgency strategy for IZ – we reverted back to the latter part of Vietnam and the Small Wars manual.
      What is needed is balance – we need to stop responding to the “flavor of the year” club, and concentrate on balance in all warfare fields, with our industrial base then able to respond to whatever “surge” capability we need – such as rapidly building armor vehicles instead of even “rapid acquisition” taking two years. One still needs landing craft and beach landing capability for either forced entry, NEO, JLOTS, or disaster capability. History repeats itself…
      We must have mission flexibility, and not rule out possible capabilities.

      • Ed L

        You are so right

    • Secundius

      What’s the Point of Fighting 100nmi. Inland, if you DON’T have a SECURE Beach Head with Supplies to Reach the Fight…

  • Ed L

    Out of the box, like a pocket battleship with AAW, ASUW, Ship to shore strike. Equip it with guns, missiles, drones, etc. as a real littoral fighing ship. 400 feet long, 60 feet wide. Super sonic missiles. couple 5 inch and couple of 3 inch guns. many 25mm remote chain guns. many. 7.62 vulcan guns. 5 rib boats. Crew trained to do hostile boarding and the ability to repeal boarders.