Marine seek anti-ship missiles as a ground component to help defend the Navy from attack
The Marine Corps wants to select and field a long-range anti-ship missile “as fast as possible” to support the Navy in a fight for sea control, the commandant told USNI News.This looks like part of a "go long" strategy in dealing with threats posed by China and others. It sounds like it would be used in the South China Sea among other areas. Traditionally the Marines relied on naval gunfire to support its operations. Now it likes like they are planning a complimentary force.
The Marine Corps has been refreshing its doctrine and concepts for naval warfare, and the Expeditionary Advance Base Operations (EABO) concept in particular is already informing wargames, exercises and acquisition. Fielding a long-range anti-ship missile is an important part of this concept, which calls for the Marines to spread out over islands or pockets of beaches and using that temporary base to secure air and sea space.
“There’s a ground component to the maritime fight. We’re a naval force in a naval campaign; you have to help the ships control sea space. And you can do that from the land,” Neller told USNI News on Feb. 15 at the WEST 2019 conference, cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.
“We’ve done it with airplanes historically in World War II. Marines’ traditional mission is the seizure and securing of advance naval bases for the prosecution of the naval campaign. But if the air space is more contested and you want to be able to keep ships away at some distance because they’ve got long-range strike, you’ve got to be able to strike them. So you need to have a capability to control the maritime space. So I think we’re in a good place to control the air space – we need more air defense, we need more counter-missiles capability – but we’ve got to be able to attack surface platforms at range, and so that’s what the capability requirement is.”
Asked why the Marines feel such an urgency to acquire a long-range anti-ship missile, Neller said that “the urgency is just the situation security-wise we find ourselves in the world. So there’s a lot of geographical chokepoints, and you know what they are, and the potential adversaries know what they are. So if you get there first and you can control that space, then you have an operational advantage. So we’re going to test, there’s a couple capabilities out there and we’re going to test them – working with the Navy, because this is the same type of stuff you’d want to put on a ship.”