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y that any uneducated soldier from Poorest of countries can learn to e a surface-to-air missile with disas-
uct amphibious air operations at Tactical thinking in our Gator
’ers often launch these assaults
JQ!ors need new tactics . . .
ne amphibious Navy faces some seri- vUs challenges brought about by ad- i^ces in helicopter technology and fJcs. In Vietnam we discovered pain- ,°us results. In response, first the j, rrrjy and then the Marines replaced l(.e ‘fly-high-or-die” mentality with .'v-level flying techniques. Today,
J^y and Marine Corps pilots use ght-vision enhancement devices and /fain-following techniques for special Rations, and we drill into our pilots tlntense awareness of antiaircraft sys- t^rris7—and how to avoid them—from first day they arrive at replacement groups. Yet in spite of these re- her able advances in the way we fly (j| lc°pters ashore, we employ inflexi-
and outdated methods when we c°ndi
^munity is stagnant. f0r °r example, we launch helicopters If dawn L- (landing assault) hours as 6 Were con<Juct'ng daylight air op- carr°ns ^rom any a'rfield. Helicopter
they are on the hook, little more than two miles from the hostile beach. If the weather is bad enough for Case- Ill departure procedures to be used, aircraft are subjected to inordinate delays, and they must make standard instrument departures up to unrealistic altitudes. We place these procedures under the umbrella of “aviation safety,” ducking beneath an outdated and inflexible NATOPS (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization).
The time has come to free ourselves from our complacent practices. When we assault an enemy’s shore, we must use our mobility for surprise. At sea, we must launch aircraft quickly, then marshal them and send them shoreward with minimum delay and maximum secrecy, possibly under electromagnetic radiation control (EmCon)—quite often at night. We have the talent and technology to start practicing this now. If hostilities started today, we would suffer unnecessary losses until we began employing the lessons we have already learned—in Grenada, for example. We must not allow documents written before the modem threat was even conceived to immobilize us.
The Gator Navy, working closely with Marine Corps helicopter pilots, could develop new doctrine for our embarked aviation assets. We should devise new procedures to expedite efficient—but safe—launches and recoveries, and incorporate them into our NATOPS. We could relax the strict interpretations of our governing publications in areas where we foresee growth, so we can implement it smoothly when it does arrive. But above all, we should place the management of this program in the hands of those who are adept and willing to use it—the Gator Navy.
The first step in incorporating advanced helicopter tactics and technology into Gator flight operation procedures would be to reassign the NATOPS model manager for helicopter carriers to a fleet billet—logically, in one of the East Coast amphibious squadrons, which have the most experience with underway flight operations.
The world picture is evolving rapidly. becoming more dangerous each day, but the principles of warfare remain the same: mobility and surprise will often succeed where massed troops and costly frontal assaults fail. In amphibious operations, technology and tactics offer us the tools we need to succeed in the future.
Major Leavis has served as an operations officer in the USS Guadacanal (LPH-7).
e<Hngs / July 1988