DVIDS – News – Marine Littoral Regiments and Intermediate Force: New Capabilities for Pacific Leaders
Nowhere is this clearer than in the Pacific Rim, where U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leaders attended the 9th Annual Pacific Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) in Bali, Indonesia, July 9-14, 2023.
“It is crucial that we adapt our strategies and capabilities to effectively respond to the challenges at hand,” said Maj. Gen. Nur Alamsyah, Indonesian Marine Corps Commandant and co-host of this year’s symposium.
The Shifting Strategic Environment
In the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) area of operations, the U.S. competes with a potential adversary that is able to employ force options that range from highly-kinetic weapons platforms to various less-than-lethal options.
Speaking at PALS, in 2021, then-U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger recently described the shifting strategic environment in a public forum. “The Chinese and Russians have largely been able to meet their strategic goals by employing force below the level of traditional conflict,” the Marine Corps Commandant said. “Unfortunately, we have not the met the challenge, and we’re playing catch up today.”
The Department of Defense Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office manages the U.S.’ portfolio of non-lethal weapons and intermediate force capabilities, systems that provide U.S. tactical commanders with additional ways of solving problems they may encounter in competition and in conflict. Integrating these capabilities alongside multilateral amphibious operations, rotational deployments and in support of Stand-in Forces will help accomplish U.S. strategic goals in the INDOPACOM area of operations. This is especially important in the non-linear challenges faced in strategic competition.
Intermediate Force Capabilities, or IFCs, integrated with multilateral amphibious operations, including Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (EABO), Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and the development of Marine Littoral Regiments (MLR) will help accomplish U.S. strategic goals in the INDOPACOM area of operations.
Speaking at PALS, in 2021, then-U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger recently described the shifting strategic environment in a public forum. “The Chinese and Russians have largely been able to meet their strategic goals by employing force below the level of traditional conflict,” the Marine Corps Commandant said. “Unfortunately, we have not the met the challenge, and we’re playing catch up today.” He further described the Pacific maritime threat:
Our presence alone is not enough to compete with countries like China, which uses its Coast Guard, its maritime militia, its entire fishing fleet, and offshore energy companies – in concert – to seize the territory of neighbors, plunder resources in their economic exclusion zones, exploit resources in the commons, and otherwise bully, harass, and threaten everybody in the region into submission.
We need new capabilities that are tailor-made for competition, and we need new employment concepts that are consistent with our values, and that complement the competencies of our allies and partners.
Non-Lethal Weapon-Intermediate Force Capabilities (NLW-IFC) are emergent technologies, tools, and activities that, as the Commandant describes above, allow forces to engage beyond a binary response option of lethality or avoidance. The DoD Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office (JIFCO) is well positioned to support Services and INDOPACOM staff to provide options for countering nonlinear threats outside the scope of traditional armed conflict throughout the Pacific Rim.
Marine Littoral Regiments and IFC
Through its work managing the DoD’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program, the JIFCO sees great potential in expanding the tactical options available to Marine Littoral Regiments and other Stand-in Forces. In the event of a near-peer conflict in the Indo-Pacific, these capabilities could shape or even define the attributes of 21st century conflict. The relationship between IFC and the emerging Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) concept could emerge as a crucial step in defining how these transformational systems can shape 21st century conflict. The MLR is a “self-deployable, multi-domain force” designed to “persistently operate across the competition continuum to support the Joint Force’s role in assuring allies and partners and deterring adversaries.”
Advancements in directed energy, vehicle/vessel stopping technologies, and non-lethal counter personnel capabilities are key opportunities that, if seized, will expand decision space and time for the MLR commander to address real or perceived threats. In so doing, this will enable more effective actions against adversaries across the competition continuum by providing active and proportional measures designed to achieve victory in the space between presence and lethal effects.
Failure to compete with intermediate force risks restricted freedom of navigation, communication disruption, energy supply threats, global commerce interruptions, port access denial, coastal security, and hazards to personnel safety. These dangers threaten the Nation’s well-being, and policymakers and senior leaders cannot afford to ignore them.
Consider a scenario where an MLR faces a peer maritime adversary while forward deployed as an Expeditionary Advance Base Operations (EABO) stand-in force. Rather than confront the MLR in direct combat, the adversary uses unmanned aerial systems supported by artificial intelligence, and civilian fishing vessels, including other nation’s fleets, to conduct reconnaissance, project presence, and disrupt operations.
If available, the MLR commander could employ IFC such as dazzling lasers, acoustic hailing devices, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and active denial systems to determine intent, disrupt reconnaissance, and preserve MLR capabilities. By disrupting the adversary’s tracking and targeting capacity, IFC would enable the MLR to avoid, mitigate, or withstand adversary actions, yielding tremendous operational impact.
IFC offer discriminate and reversible effects without causing unnecessary destruction or loss of life. This represents more than just new technology, but rather a new way of solving complex problems. As the prospect of disruptive change remains throughout the Pacific, IFC can enable regional amphibious warfare leaders to deter and defeat the expanded spectrum of threats inherent to these challenges. These capabilities are well worth long-term investment.
|Date Posted:||10.24.2023 13:24|
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