This has so far been a very interesting series to write, we have looked at case studies from WWII to only a few years ago, examined the UK’s and US capabilities and had a dabble with doctrine and potential future solutions.
In the final half of the series I am going to be looking at a wide variety of systems and capabilities but a couple of questions need asking first.
Why; Perhaps the most important question to address. As the US looks to the Pacific relying on the US can no longer be assured. Instability continues throughout the Mediterranean and Africa and populations inexorably move to coastal areas. It might have been trendy a couple of years but operating in littoral areas with poor infrastructure does seem increasingly likely. Being able to move vehicles, stores and personnel is an obvious need.
Scale; Our current capabilities and doctrine don’t particularly well match. Most of our non US allies, save one or two odd bits, are far less capable than the UK so scale becomes linked to the next question. Scale or throughput can be measured in so many way so it is actually quite difficult to quantify. Sub brigade, brigade or divisional scale?
Ports, Shore or Both; two of the case studies were utilising existing damaged ports and two were over an unprepared beach. So much of the cost, complexity and resultant capacity will depend on whether any emergent capability must cater for port augmentation, port repair or over the shore. If we choose all of the above the shore must also be defined, rocks, beach or combinations. We also need to think about construction and operation sea states and whether it should cater for RORO, containerised, break bulk or all three.
Who; Finally, should this be a UK only capability or one that is shared, NATO, the EU, some other group of nations?
Other Posts in the Series