Battlefield Mobility and Survivability of the MAGTF

by Maj James A. Marapoti

The ability of MAGTF units to conduct maneuver warfare tactics in both mechanized and nonmechanized environments must be improved. We must identify requirements for improving mobility and survival systems and include them in training and procurement plans. Only then will the Marine Corps achieve the balance required to fight a maneuver style of warfare.

Of all the challenges facing the Marine Corps as it strives to improve its capabilities to fight on the modern battlefield over the next 5-20 years, none is greater than the need to improve battlefield mobility and survivability. Although in recent years the Marine Corps has acquired new mechanized/vehicular systems, improved firepower systems, and better aviation capabilities-all of which contribute to better ground mobility-no corresponding improvements have been made, nor are adequately planned, for the ancillary equipment needed to make any mobility improvement a reality. Consequently, the Marine Corps does not possess the proper balance of equipment and operational capabilities required for a credible amphibious force projection capability. This weakness will be especially harmful during subsequent operations ashore when a maneuver style of warfare must be waged.

Numerous Marine Corps publications, plans, and studies describe the way the Marine Corps must be prepared to fight. The mid- and longrange plans are particularly well written and provide guidelines for necessary changes or improvements in the tactics and techniques of fighting and in equipment. Further, dozens of articles have been written about a maneuver style of warfare toward which we are evolving. But, as necessary and important as these intellectual efforts are, they have yet to be translated into the organizational changes, tactics, fighting techniques, training, and equipment procurements necessary for the Marine Corps to fulfill the espoused concept of employment once ashore.

Many Marines still have not grasped the intellectual evolution that must occur before the Corps can incorporate more maneuver in its style of warfare. Whatever we ultimately call the way we fight future battles, be it “maneuver” or “Marine” style, the Marine Corps’ battlefield mobility and survivability need dramatic improvement. The improvement of our battlefield mobility, especially our mobility enhancement capabilities, is a prerequisite for a Corps-wide attainment of its long-range plans.

Battlefield mobility and mobility enhancement can be discussed in many ways. I have chosen to focus on the following topics, which should allow the reader to draw appropriate conclusions:

* Tactical ground mobility-assessing and planning.

* Obstacles and battlefield mobility.

* Current mobility and survivability enhancement capabilities of the Marine Corps.

* Reorganization of combat engineer battalions.

* Inadequacy of current tactical training.


Tactical ground mobility is generally perceived within the Marine Corps as a function of ground mechanized/armor systems, and the availablity of adequate firepower systems and tactical aviation assets. Unfortunately, this is not a comprehensive assessment of all of the factors involved nor does it prompt Marines to undertake the necessary procurement planning or the required revisions. The major items missing in this assessment are the supporting systems needed to enhance mobility and survivability as well as the critical logistic support systems. Mobility systems are being pursued as an end in themselves with minimal commitment to current and future mobility enhancement requirements. For example, the Corps is gearing up for procurement of LVTP7A1, LAV, and possibly M1 tank systems, which will achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. Currently, however, it can travel at only a fraction of that speed because it lacks the assets needed to overcome natural and manmade battlefield obstacles. Survivability enhancement capabilities are crucial to tactical ground mobility of amphibious forces because of the lethality of threat weapons, the necessity to rapidly dig in for protection from conventional or nuclear blast damage, and the difficulty in replacing casualties and destroyed equipment. Logistic support systems are also key to any assessment of tactical mobility. If lacking in equipment to deliver ammunition, fuel, and water, even the best mobility system will be less than effective.

If Marines are to view battlefield ground mobility realistically, they must look not only to mechanized/armor assets supported by firepower and tactical aviation, but also to the mobility enhancement systems, survivability enhancement systems, and logistic support systems that are absolutely indispensable on the modern battlefield.

Despite the preeminence of weaponry in this firepower dominated era, mobility enhancement as well as force survivability capabilities must be improved. A bold and dramatic commitment will be required to improve adequate capabilities in the mid- to long-range period. Changing how Marines perceive and analyze tactical ground mobility is the first step.



As surely as enemy forces will fire smoke, chemical, and high-explosive ordnance, so too will they employ elaborate obstacles to slow, channelize, or stop opposing forces. The heaviest equipment losses will occur at natural and manmade obstacles. This is because delays in a force’s momentum will occur while efforts are made to breach or bypass obstacles. Marine forces will also encounter obstacles in the surf and on the beach. Since likely breaching and bypassing points will be covered by preregistered indirect fire as well as direct fire weapons, forces stacked up at obstacles invite destruction. Unfortunately, obstacles as a major issue affecting battlefield mobility are largely being ignored in training exercises and in equipment acquisitions. Let’s look at what the Marine Corps needs to overcome for each class of obstacle:

Minefields. During the last three wars, mines accounted for a significant percentage of all vehicular and personnel casualties (see Figure 1).

These startling figures suggest the tactical significance of mine and countermine operations to a force commander. Minefields generally are made up of antitank and antipersonnel mines and can be categorized as hasty or deliberate. Antitank mines are fuzed principally by either pressure or magnetic signature. The Soviet and other modern armies can deliver antitank and antipersonnel mines through a multiple of methods, such as rocket, helicopter and dedicated minelayer vehicles. The United States is presently fielding artillery, fixed-wing, and ground-delivery systems.

Three different systems are needed to provide a reasonable capability for hasty breaching of minefields and creating lanes for combat vehicles. These are linear demolition charges, mechanical systems, such as plows and rollers, and magnetic signature duplicators to defeat magnetically fused mines.

Gaps. Gaps refer to terrain features that preclude or hinder tactical ground mobility. They can be categorized as natural or manmade, wet or dry. Natural gaps include streams, rivers, fiords, and wadies. Manmade gaps include excavated ditches and canals. In addition, escarpments (mounds of soil) can be created by piling up ditch excavation spoil (usually on the side of the ditch being defended). Escarpments can also be created by nature. Gaps pose challenges similar to minefield, and breaching them requires more than one solution.

Gaps more than 3 meters wide, with slopes more than 45 percent (24°) and vertical steps more than a meter high are sufficient to preclude movement by combat vehicles. Such gaps usually require gap-crossing equipment, especially under assault conditions.

For breaching natural gaps and replacing damaged or destroyed bridges in the forward tactical zone, a tank-launched or battleworthy trailer-launched birdge system is required. Planning analysts and bridge designers generally agree that such bridging should be capable of breaching gaps at least 20-23 meters wide. This would enable forces to cross approximately 60-80 percent of the tactically significantly gaps likely to be encountered worldwide.

For manmade ditches 3 to 8 meters wide and accompanying escarpments, which are often part of a Soviet style hasty or deliberate defense, a relatively short (about 10 meters) military load class 70 (MLC70) tank-launched or towed bridge is required for assault breaches. The longer bridges are neither designed for, nor effective at, breaching the short gaps and escarpments. Further, an assault bridge for ditches and escarpments must have significantly more survivability and battleworthiness than the longer assault bridging required for natural gaps. This is because minefields normally accompany the manmade ditches. Thus, the bridge must be able to withstand a high degree of damage from blast and fragmentation because of mines and indirect or direct fire.

For wet gaps in the forward tactical zone that are wider than the distance assault bridging can span or deeper than combat vehicles can ford, MLC70 hasty ferries and combat support floating bridging are required. For gaps wider than assault bridging can span, MLC70 mechanical bridging is required. Ideally, hasty ferries, composed of components of a multipurpose bridging system and capable of carrying one or two tanks, can be erected in less than five minutes.

If it is to be effective, all bridging used for gaps must be capable of being rapidly assembled without use of numerous dedicated engineer personnel, equipment, and numerous bridge components. It must also have a high degree of survivability and repairability.

Non-Explosive Obstacles. Marine forces also require the ability to breach nonexplosive obstacles, such as log and steel posts, abatis, dragon’s teeth, wire, and nuclear or conventional blast rubble. An amphibious combat vehicle is required to breach surf and beach area obstacles, and an armored combat vehicle is required to breach obstacles during subsequent operations ashore. Commercial engineer-type equipment is not suitable for this work because it cannot keep up with the maneuver force and because of its vulnerability. The “ideal” vehicle would be tracked, armored, and highly mobile, mounting hinged blades and working arms. The hinged blade could be used in a wedge or bulldozer configuration, depending on the mission, terrain, and soil conditions. The working arm could remove debris built up in front of the blade or remove individual obstacles requiring a pulling or lifting effort. Such vehicles could plow through many nonexplosive obstacles that would slow or stop mechanized forces. Combat engineer teams riding in these or other combat vehicles would perform necessary demolition tasks.

The Marine Corps has never been challenged by major countermobility networks of the type that Soviets and Soviet-supported forces plan to employ. No force in the world has devoted as much effort or attention to rapidly creating obstacles for the enemy while overcoming those confronting its own forces. Between 20-25 percent of each Soviet division’s organic equipment is dedicated to obstacle reduction or survivability enhancement. A Soviet tank division has nearly 100 minefield breaching devices, 70 items of combat support bridging, and 20 combat evacuators/trenchers. The lesson of today’s battlefield is clear. The ground commander who cannot rapidly overcome battlefield obstacles has lost his maneuver options and the ability to concentrate forces in support of a main effort. He is also in danger of seeing his forces trapped or stalled in a killing zone preplanned by his enemy.


A quick glance at current Marine Corps mobility and survivability enhancement equipment (Figure 2) will confirm that the Marine Corps repertoire lacks any capabilities usable in the forward tactical zone. Today’s Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) commander would not have the kinds of mobility and survivability enhancements equipment he needs. Although there are approximately 70 tanks, 208 combat vehicles and nearly 100 artillery pieces in each Marine division, the equipment needed to enhance mobility and survivability is virtually nonexistent. It does little good to have modern vehicles, firepower, and tactical air systems without the means of achieving necessary rates of advance or of providing them essential protection.

For the Marine Corps to achieve its concept of employment in the mid- to long-range period, a major commitment must soon be made for procurements to rectify the existing deficiencies in mobility and survivability enhancement systems. Figure 2 contains descriptions of the items needed and the status of their acquisition. These capabilities are discussed further in the paragraphs below:

Minefield Breaching Systems. Mines will confront amphibious units in the surf, beach, and during subsequent operations ashore. As mentioned earlier, three types of countermine systems are required-mechanical, explosive, and magnetic.

Mechanical Systems. Though we possess no mechanical breaching system, a tank-mounted track-width mine plow is planned for fielding during FY-86. This will provide a lane breaching and proofing capability. A tank-mounted mine roller system will be evaluated during FY-84 as a highspeed mechanized mine detection system.

Explosive Systems. Currently, the M58 explosive line charge can create a lane 16 meters wide x 100 meters long. It is fired from a standoff distance (distance breaching systems are from the minefield edge) of about 60 meters. It can be emplaced from a stationary position or launched from a dump truck. To breach mines in the surf and beach zone, a LVT-launched mine clearance system kit (MCSK) for the M58 is planned to be fielded by FY-86. For subsequent operations ashore, a trailer-launched version of the M58 is scheduled to be fielded by FY-85.

Recognizing the importance of the capability and the limitations of the M58 system, a new explosive mine breaching system is currently under development. Called the catapult launched fuel air explosive (CATFAE), it will offer improvements in explosive overpressure and lane width and will fire FAE rounds individually to breach a small area. This system will be mounted in an LVT and will create a lane 240 meters long and 20 meters wide from a standoff distance of approximately 100 meters. The CATFAE is planned for fielding in FY-91 and will be particularly advantageous for the breaching of mines in the surf and beach zone.

Magnetic Systems. A system to neutralize magnetically fuzed mines, under development by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, is planned to be fielded in FY-89. Called the vehicle magnetic signature duplicator (VEMASID), this system will project the magnetic signature of a tank-in front of the vehicle mounting the system. This way, the mines will be harmlessly detonated in front of the host vehicle as it moves through the minefield.

Combination System. To provide both mechanical and explosive means of breaching mines and partially relieve armor assets of this role, an armored engineer vehicle is being developed by the U.S. Army. To be mounted on either M88 tank retreiver chassis or M60 tank chassis and called the counterobstacle vehicle (COV), it will possess one or two independently working arms and be capable of mounting the mine plow or roller as well as towing the M58 trailer-launched line charge. The Marine Corps is monitoring this vehicle’s development. The COV could be fielded by the end of the decade.

Gap Crossing. The gap-crossing picture is as potentially bright as the planned acquisition of countermine equipment. If fully implemented, it could provide the Marine Corps with a balanced mix of needed equipment for natural gaps, damaged bridges, and manmade gaps and escarpments for the next 20 years. The program includes assault, hasty ferry, and truck-launched combat support bridging as well as fixed, floating, mechanical, and ferry combat service support bridging.

Assault Bridging. Focusing on assault combat support bridging, there would be two bridges for breaching natural gaps and damaged bridges and one bridge for breaching manmade ditches and escarpments.

For natural gaps and damaged bridges, the MLC60 18-meter armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) is planned for fielding in FY-87, 1 launcher per tank company. However, additional assault bridging is required to meet Marine Corps requirements. To complement the AVLB, an air transportable, battleworthy MLC70, 24-meter trailer-launched bridge (TLB) is under development. The increased load class and length of the TLB will enable it to carry the escalating loads of future combat vehicles and obstacle breaching equipment over more gaps than the AVLB can breach. Further, damaged or destroyed AVLBs could be replaced by air-delivered TLBs. The TLB would be emplaced in forward tactical areas by the tank and, under nonassault conditions and in rearward tactical zones, by the logistic vehicle system (LVS) MK48/I4. The bridge could be fielded by around FY-90. Also the U.S. Army plans to replace the AVLB around FY-93 with the 32-meter heavy assault bridge (HAB), which will be mounted on a Ml or M60 turretless tank.

To breach manmade ditches and escarpments, which are part of an obstacle system including mines, a short (10-12 meter) damage absorbing assault bridge is required. Such a bridge could be wheel/trailer mounted and push-emplaced by tanks. Another way would be to mount two or three such bridges on the AVLB or HAB tank launcher bridge system. The Marine Corps is currently testing and evaluating a 12-meter, highly battleworthy, relatively cheap towed assault bridge (TAB). Tests indicate this item is capable of losing half its main supports and its entire wheel system from blast damage yet still fulfill its MCL70 mission. The TAB accomplishes what tank-launched bridges, like the AVLB and HAB, cannot because of their vulnerability, length, and cost. The TAB can be fielded around FY-88/89.

Wet-Gap Bridging. In hopes of acquiring a multipurpose wet gap bridging system (WGBS) and replace the 40-year-old M4-T6 Floating Bridge, the Marine Corps is testing and evaluating the Army ribbon bridge raft for a hasty river-crossing capability as well as testing a method to employ the medium girder bridge (MGB), normally a fixed highway bridge, as a floating bridge. Ideally, the WGBS system recommended for procurement will require only minimum personnel and equipment support. The system should be fielded by FY-88/89.

Truck-Launched Fixed Bridging. Lastly, to provide follow-on bridging to replace assault bridging, a truck-mounted mechanical bridging system is being developed by the U.S. Army. The Marine Corps is monitoring this project. This system will also replace the manpower- and equipment-intensive and time-consuming service support medium girder bridge (MGB). The truck system employed would probably be the same nondedicated truck used to carry the WGBS bridging. Each truck will carry a folded 20-meter MLC70 span of bridge, which 2 men can launch in 10 minutes. Three trucks of bridge and 8 personnel could emplace an MLC70 60-meter bridge within 40 minutes. For comparison, a 45-meter MLC60 span of MGB requires approximately 30-35 erection personnel about 3-4 hours to erect. The truck-launched system can be fielded around FY-93.

Nonexplosive Obstacle Breaching. As with explosive obstacles (mines), amphibious units must breach nonexplosive obstacles in the surf, on the beach, and during subsequent operations ashore. Such obstacles include tetrahedrons, dragon’s teeth, abatis, and blast rubble. The only items currently available for such operations are commercial engineer equipment or perhaps the tank dozer. The engineer equipment is too slow and vulnerable. The tank dozer has very limited earthmoving capabilities, is not designed to remove obstacles, and cannot function during early stages of an amphibious assault.

A companion vehicle to the LVT (capable of breaching obstacles) is absolutely essential for accompanying and supporting assaulting amphibians in the surf and on the beach. The Marine Corps had such a vehicle, the LVTE1, until 1972, when the LVT7 family was introduced. An LVTE7A1 is currently under consideration by the Marine Corps. Called the mobility enhancement vehicle (MEV), it would ideally possess a multipurpose hinged blade and grabber arm and would work in concert with LVTs carrying the MCSK to breach lanes for combat vehicles. The hinged blade should be able to assume a wedge or bulldozer configuration depending on the nature and size of the debris to be removed. The grabber arm will remove debris clogging the hinged blade as it clears the beach area and routes of egress from the beach. The LVTE7A1 can be fielded by around FY-87.

During subsequent operations ashore, an armored engineer vehicle is required to overcome nonexplosive and explosive obstacles. The COV vehicle mentioned earlier should be considered for procurement. Its power, mobility, and multipurpose capabilities would enable it to keep a maneuvering force moving while relieving tanks of some obstacle breaching tasks during assaults.

Survivability Enhancement. Survivability enhancement is the development of protective positions for personnel and equipment. As can be seen in Figure 2, MAGTF units possess no such capability for the forward tactical zone. To provide this combat support function today, combat engineers would have to rely on commercial bulldozers, scrapers, and cranes. As with nonexplosive obstacle breaching, such equipment is too slow and vulnerable to provide effective and timely support. Currently being considered for procurement to provide basic hasty excavation support to forward maneuver units is the U.S. Army’s armored combat earthmover (ACE). The ACE is a bulldozer/scraper, which can provide rapid hull-defilade positions by completing shallow excavations and using the dirt (spoil) to make berms. The ACE could replace virtually all of the bulldozers and scrapers currently located in combat engineer battalions and could be fielded by the Marine Corps around FY-87.

To provide deliberate excavation capabilities to the entire MAGTF force, a rapid combat excavator is being developed by the U.S. Army and being monitored by the Marine Corps. The rapid combat excavator would be capable of excavating 300 to 400 cubic meters of soil per hour. It could be placed within all engineer organizations of a Marine amphibious force (MAF) and could provide rapid protection for ground and air personnel and equipment within a few hours. It, like the ACE, would replace many items of commercial engineer equipment and would give the MAGTF the ability to protect itself and its tactical gains. This vehicle could be fielded around FY-93.

Flank Mining. For gaining a rapid flank mining capability, the Marine Corps is procuring antitank mine systems that dispense magnetically fuzed scatterable mines. Remote antiarmor mine (RAAM) and area denial artillery munitions (ADAM) are artillery delivered while Gator is delivered by fixed-wing aircraft. Since these delivery systems are area weapons that lack point accuracy and may not be available due to other missions, a ground-dispensing system is needed. Under development is the suitcase sized Flipper that can be mounted in the back of any LVT or motor vehicle. It will “flip” or launch individual antitank and antipersonnel scatterable mines. It is lightweight, versatile, and its ease of employment will mesh nicely with Marine Corps desires to be light and mobile.

It should be apparent that the deficiencies and proposed solutions discussed above require urgent attention if the Marine Corps is to function effectively and carry out the concept of employment envisioned for the remainer of this century. If we do not procure sufficient types and amounts of this equipment, we will have vehicles and fire-power assets sufficient to provide some battlefield mobility but will be able to exploit them only in benign environments. Our amphibious forces would continue to be imbalanced. We simply cannot afford to move into the future faced with a basic deficiency of this magnitude.

Not only must needed amounts of obstacle reduction and survivability enhancement equipment be procured, but also provisions must be made to include these assets in assault shipping. This equipment cannot be boxed and placed in the bowels of a container ship. Just as tanks, artillery and LVTs are needed in the earliest phase of the landing, so also is the equipment under discussion here. Without it, tanks, artillery, and LVTs would lack critical mobility and survivability.

Since funding the acquisition of virtually all of the above equipment would be “new initiatives” and would have to compete for scarce procurement dollars, some tough tradeoff decisions must be made. Any acquisition plan for mobility and survivability enhancement equipment must become part of a Marine Corps commitment to “get well” in these key areas of tactical ground mobility. Further, such procurement should amount to a comprehensive procurement plan to complement the long-range plan. These systems must be considered in competition with all other new equipment proposed for procurement. Each new system must be evaluated on the basis of its ability to contribute to the achievement of a balanced and capable force that can operate in hostile environments worldwide. A priority list for mobility and survivability enhancement equipment acquisitions over the next 10-plus years might be as follows:

1. AVLB.

2. Mechanical and explosive minefield breaching systems.

3. Wet-gap bridging system (to include a hasty ferry capability).

4. Mobility enhancement vehicle (LVTE7A1).

5. Armored combat earthmover (ACE).

6. Minelaying equipment (for rapid flank mining during offensive operations.)

7. Towed assault bridging (for antitank ditches/ escarpments).

8. Counter obstacle vehicle.

9. Trailer-launched bridging.

10. Rapid combat excavators.

11. Magnetic minefield breaching systems.

12. Truck-launched bridging.


Some changes are in order,-in fact, overdue-for the division combat engineers. First, staff cognizance for employment of engineers must move to the G-3. This will facilitate the most effective use of combat engineers, especially in the fulfillment of their primary mission-mobility enhancement of the Marine division.

Second, the combat engineer battalion must be reorganized as part of a Corps-wide reorganization of the combat engineer field. Acquisition of much of the above mentioned equipment to replace many items of existing combat engineer equipment is key to such a reorganization. Perhaps a brigade engineer company should be established while the combat engineer battalion would possess sufficient equipment to provide responsive general support to the division.

A third matter requiring attention is the combat arms issue. Combat engineers are a ground combat element; they provide close combat support to the division. We should recognize this, call them a combat arm, and employ them as such.

Finally, the division engineers require mobility and survivability equal to the force they are supporting. Space available in LVTs and trucks will not suffice in battle, so why train that way? Ideally, the LAV will be assigned to the combat engineer battalion or at least be available to engineers attached to maneuver units. This will enable timely route/obstacle reconnaissance by the obstacle reducers and enable the engineers to rapidly accomplish their missions of mobility enhancement, mobility reduction, and survivability enhancement.


With regard to mobility and survivability enhancement training, Marines are not training the way they will have to fight. Minefields, gaps, ditches, and other nonexplosive obstacles are included in field exercises, at best, as tokens to be touted at critiques. Often they are not included at all. We have never conducted enough realistic training to accurately measure the worth or inadequacy of these crucial capabilities. The standard explanations for this are insufficient time, old equipment, ecological restraints, and inexperience of personnel and commanders. But these have become trite excuses.

The time problem is the easiest to overcome. We should make more time, even if it costs more money and upsets the desired timetable for the exercise. Old equipment? Why not push the equipment we have to the limit? We should properly employ the M58 linear charge, M4-T6 bridging, and the tank and commercial dozers. We should develop battle drills using what we have today so that we better understand the tasks ahead. Concerning ecological restrictions, if fleet commands aggressively work with base commands, they could find legal ways to conduct realistic training. The key is to plan needs beforehand and cooperate with the base commander. This will enable him to gain variances in the laws (where feasible) or to budget for construction of needed training facilities. The base commander is personally liable for enforcement of the environmental laws. The task is not easy, but it can be done. Finally, inexperienced commanders, staffs, and units will continue being inexperienced until they are subjected to realistic events. Absence of such events gives everyone a false sense of accomplishment, capability, and security. To help, the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation System will have to be updated with realistic obstacle reduction and survivability enhancement events. These must be viewed and executed as combined arms events not as separate, independent combat engineer events.

This training must be included in all combined arms exercises just as it is for fire support. If it is not included, the training and evaluation are hollow and, in effect, misrepresentations of what movement and survivability on the battlefield will really be like. Let’s make mistakes in training, not on the battlefield.


Through major planning documents, the Marine Corps has articulated quite well how it plans to fulfill its missions on future battlefields. At the heart of how it will have to fight is a clear commitment to, and improvements in, its ability to conduct a maneuver style of warfare. Assumed in the plans is the Corps’ ability to achieve needed force projection and high rates of advance. To make this assumption a reality requires improvements in our battlefield mobility and survivability. The major intellectual planning efforts regarding how we will conduct a maneuver style of warfare in both mechanized and nonmechanized environments have not been sufficiently embraced by the Marine Corps as a whole. Moreover, these efforts require further translation into the necessary improvements in the major areas of tactics, techniques, and equipment. Key among the critical areas of improvement are the dramatic increases required in battlefield mobility and survivability. To “get well” in these areas, the Marine Corps must seriously consider the following:

* Recognize the imbalance between battlefield mobility and survivability and firepower capabilities.

* Assess mobility, mobility enhancement, and survivability enhancement requirements worldwide. Key to any such assessment is a realistic appreciation of the natural obstacles that will inevitably be present on any future battlefield.

* Change its perception of tactical ground mobility to include obstacle reduction systems. There must also be a change in the perception that these are just items of equipment that engineers want. This equipment is absolutely essential to the MAGTF commander.

* Formulate a well defined long-range procurement plan for mobility and survivability enhancement systems required to support planned acquisitions of major combat vehicle and firepower systems. A major commitment is needed in new start procurement over the next 5- to 10-year period to overcome the deficiencies.

* Realize that battle tanks will have to become the principal means by which assault breaches are conducted through explosive and nonexplosive obstacles. An armored engineer vehcile is required to relieve tank assets of some breaching tasks.

* Undertake demanding training that measures a commander and his unit’s ability to achieve necessary rates of advance and ensure survivability under simulated battlefield conditions.

* Recognize combat engineers as a combined arms asset in the division with crucial mobility and survivability enhancement missions; employ this combat support asset principally as an operational vice logistical support asset; and teach this philosophy in our formal schools.

To enable the Marine Corps to fulfill its espoused concept of employment, its planning, training, tactics, techniques of fighting, and equipment acquisition will have to go through a major evolution. In order to possess a balanced, credible force projection capability, it will have to evolve into an amphibious force with significantly more battlefield mobility and survivability. The challenges posed by such an evolution are similar to those that led to the formulation, testing and validation of amphibious doctrine and to the creation of close air support and vertical envelopment concepts.

Much of the criticism regarding maneuver warfare has centered on the claim that “That’s what we’ve been doing for years” or “That’s what we can already do as an amphibious force.” On the other hand, many challenge the idea of an amphibious force conducting a maneuver style of warfare in a mechanized or even a nonmechanized environment and see such capabilities as being illusionary without more capabilities in battlefield mobility and survivability. If we are to possess the capabilities envisioned in the Marine Corps’ longrange plans, we must overcome the current illusions regarding these matters and reckon with reality.

Quote to Ponder:

Low-Intensity Warfare

“It is not because of any deep-seated cultural defect in the nation as a whole, nor because of a lack of dedication, talent, or expertise in the armed forces that the Vietnam War was lost. . . . It was rather the uniquely inappropriate organizational structure of multiservice armed forces structurally dedicated to the conduct of ‘real’ war in the attrition style that condemned so many good men to perform so very badly.”

-Dr. Edward N. Luttwak