Defending the LAVs

by Maj Ronald J. Brown, USMCR

* After reading Maj Gritz’s article “Light Armored Vehicle or Light Armored Victim?” (Aug82) I feel I must respond. The author’s thesis is that the Marine Corps should not adopt a light armored vehicle (LAV) because it cannot defeat Soviet armor on the modern battlefield. This thesis is wrong for two reasons. First, the LAV-equipped light armored assault battalions (LAABs) will be better able to defeat threat force armor than a rifle battalion. Second, the development of the LAV does not preclude the upgrading of Marine antiarmor capability as the author suggests; in fact, it enhances Marine antiarmor capabilities. The two programs are complementary, not conflicting.

The author destroys much of his own argument on p.41: “Unsupported infantry will fold under armor assault. An infantryman must have cover and be placed or moved to destroy armor. . . . ” He implies the infantryman must be protected, mobile, flexible, and part of a combined arms team. THESE ARE PRECISELY THE CAPABILITIES THE LAV BRINGS TO THE MARINE CORPS. The LAV will increase, not decrease, the MCATF commander’s tactical options.

The LAV provides the perfect tool for maneuver warfare; it doubles the firepower of a rifle battalion, moves at 10 times the speed, and protects it from 90 percent of the weapons in the threat forces inventory; yet, it is light enough to go anywhere the infantry can go. The LAV must be used as a scalpel, however, not like a sledge-hammer; it must fire and maneuver, finding the enemy’s weak points and destroying his cohesion prior to annihilation of his forces. The author of “Light Armored Victims” failed to realize the LAVs mission and concept of employment, which will increase the Marine Corps’ ability to conduct maneuver warfare anytime, anyplace, in any weather or climate.