Imagine a scenario in the not-too-distant future:
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a Marine Corps infantry company offloads from amphibious ships onto a fleet of small combatants. Under cover of darkness, the assault force begins its 300 nautical mile (nm) over-the-horizon transit, at maximum speed and dispersed for protection. The objective is a once-insignificant cluster of islands in the South China Sea now teeming with enemy antiaccess/area-denial (A2/AD) weapons. This specialized infantry is the joint force commander’s best option to counter an aggressive competitor while remaining below the threshold of major combat operations.
1. CAPT Walker Mills, USMC, “Small Boats: Marines and the Future of Littoral Warfare,” Marine Corps Gazette, December 2019, 24.
2. Bryan Clark and Jesse Sloman, Advancing Beyond the Beach: Amphibious Operations in an Era of Precision Weapons (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2016), 33.
3. Clark and Sloman, Advancing Beyond the Beach, 3.
4. Bradley Martin, Amphibious Operations in Contested Environments: Insights for Analytical Work (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2017), 3.
5. “Amphibious Combat Vehicle,” baesystems.com, September 2019.
6. Martin, Amphibious Operations in Contested Environments, 4.
7. Department of Defense, Amphibious Operations, Joint Publication 3-02 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2019), IV-17.
8. Kevin Rowlands, “Riverine Warfare,” Naval War College Review 71, no. 1 (2018): 3.
9. Matthew Noland, “The Global Necessity of a Riverine Force,” Small Wars Journal, smallwarsjournal.com.
10. Rowlands, “Riverine Warfare,” 57.
11. Noland, “The Global Necessity of a Riverine Force.”
12. Maria A. McMillen, “Rethinking Amphibious Operations,” Marine Corps Gazette, April 2010.
13. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (Washington, DC: Headquarters U.S. Navy, 2017), 12.
14. “U.S. Navy Fact File—Mk V Special Operations Craft,” www.navy.mil.
15. “Naval Technology: Combat Boat 90,” naval-technology.com.
16. “U.S. Navy Fact File—Mk VI Patrol Boat,” www.navy.mil.
17. Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific, 2020 Course Catalog (San Diego, CA: Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific, 2019), 124.
18. John R. Shafer, “What the Heck Is ‘Small Craft Company’ Anyway?” Marine Corps Gazette, March 2001.
19. Navy and Marine Corps, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment, 8.
20. Schafer, “What the Heck is ‘Small Craft Company’ Anyway?”
21. GEN David H. Berger, USMC, Commandant’s Planning Guidance: 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps (Washington, DC: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, July 2019), 2.
22. MAJ P. B. Byrne, USMC, “No Time for Boats” (capstone thesis, Marine Corps University, 2006), 4.
23. Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific, 2020 Course Catalog, 124
24. Navy and Marine Corps, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment, 8.