In a Pinch, Marines Can Launch Assaults From Aircraft Carriers
Jarheads train to use all sorts of ships
Back in July, U.S. Marines boarded the Navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington for a training mission off the coast of Okinawa. The exercise— called Adiutrix Spear—was supposed to help the jarheads prepare to use different kinds of ships during a crisis.
The Marines from the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team in Japan trained alongside Navy explosive ordnance disposal personnel. Army soldiers and Air Force airmen also participated.
For two days, the sailing Navy’s MH-60S helicopters—like the one depicted in the official picture below—shuttled the troops to shore for mock operations. Adiutrix Spear also tested whether choppers could ferry enough supplies to the fighting force.
“Having Marines deploy from carriers, cruisers, destroyers … is currently not the norm,” Navy Lt. Daniel NeSmith explained in a military news video. But the Pentagon has become very interested in a concept called “seabasing.”
Seabasing centers on ships rather than bases on land as the jumping off point for operations. The idea isn’t entirely new—the Navy deployed ad hoc floating outposts during World War II.
In 2001, American commandos launched their invasion of Afghanistan from the flight deck of the Navy flattop USS Kitty Hawk. Of course, Marines have their own purpose-built amphibious ships, as well.
Adiutrix Spear shows that the armed services are investing more in this type of warfare. The Marines definitely could benefit from being able to use any vessel on a regular basis, especially as budgets shrink.
The Corps also took the opportunity to experiment with smaller task forces. The FAST Marines and the Navy’s bomb techs formed an impromptu Company Landing Team—or CLT—with around 50 people.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s basic design for the new CLT is at least three times as big, with between 150 and 200 people.
By contrast, the traditional landing team is battalion-size, with hundreds of personnel. The CLT concept helps commanders launch smaller, cheaper operations—or send more units into more places, simultaneously.
The Marines developed the FAST companies in order to bulk up American military and diplomatic posts around the world during emergencies. The Navy’s bomb squads spot and defuse mines and improvised bombs.
Blend them together, and the resulting force is just the kind of unit you might want for a dangerous mission on short notice in a quickly-evolving crisis. Adiutrix Spear mimics the kinds of missions that are the Corps’ new bread and butter.
In just the last 12 months, jarheads have raced to rescue Americans or reinforce other troops in South Sudan, Iraq and Libya. The exercise planners probably did not choose the Latin word adiutrix—which means assistant, helper, or rescuer—at random.
At top—Navy bomb-squad personnel drop from a helicopter during a separate training exercise in Spain. Navy photo.