Commentary on Amphibious Operations

by Maj F. G. Hoffman, USMCR

. . . Much of the Navy’s ignorance of, or seeming indifference to, amphibious issues, which was noted by Col Batcheller, may stem from more than its preoccupation with the now outdated maritime strategy or its traditional interest in carriers and nuclear submarines. In fact, the Marine Corps itself may be partly to blame.

Over the past decade, Marines have focused a lot of attention on the merits of new and innovative approaches to warfare. Their exploration of boldness, speed, tempo, and all the other tenets of maneuver warfare have also contributed to the present pessimistic state of amphibious capability in the Navy. It may have been an oversight, or it may have been done in ignorance, but FMFM 1. Warfighting mentions amphibious operations only twice. In fact, the Navy is mentioned only once and only as an aside. Other key words, such as “naval,” “seapower,” “maritime,” and “littoral,” are inexplicably absent.

I find this bizarre, given the Corps’ mandated role for service with the fleet. As the “authoritative basis for how we fight and how we prepare to fight,” FMFM 1 is deficient in its regard to our naval character and our relationship to the Navy. I would recommend that this be corrected by the development of new naval doctrine, as suggested in the implementing actions of ” . . . From the Sea.” The first product of the new Naval Doctrine Center should be a rewrite of FMFM 1 that properly reflects the roles of each of the Naval Services in preparing for and conducting war.