The United States Navy is going to create a United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion. The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion will execute commando raid operations, maritime interdiction operations, and other combat operations. The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion will also provide the United States Navy with a ground force for small scale and remote operations not large enough for the United States Marine Corps. The battalion would be made up of about 600 United States Navy Sailors and is to be operational by 2007. At the same time, the United States Navy is unclear as to who will train the United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion in combat tactics and how they would be manned.
The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion is one of many new capabilities the United States Navy will develop in a few years to contribute more to the War on Terrorism and increase the relevance of the United States Navy. The United States Navy has to fight more and more for money and influence during a period in which the United States Navy is supreme on the seas and the War on Terrorism does not require a great deal out of the United States Navy in relation to the needs and operations of the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force.
The United States Navy also has deployed certain amphibious units without any United States Marine Corps Expeditionary Units, all United States Marine Corps Expeditionary Units have been fully deployed in Iraq. United States Navy also views the United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion as a way to ease the strain on the United States Marine Corps.
The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion, a civil affairs battalion attached to construction forces by 2006, a reserve civil affairs battalion by 2007, an active reserve integrated structure for two helicopter combat support special squadrons by 2005, and a team that would exploit intelligence gathered from maritime interdictions by 2007, such actions and proposals by the United States Navy has been and are still questioned by United States Security and Strategic professionals and academics.
Proposals that are not afraid to experiment and challenge conventional wisdom is a healthily part of any effective and productive organization. However, the proposals and actions must reflect the knowing and understanding of the direction of change and the challenges to come.
The United States Navy and the rest of the United States Armed Forces know and understand that the United States will be involved in a variety of small scale conflicts at any given time, given the nature and structure of the War on Terrorism. United States Special Operation is not able to and cannot produce enough persons given operational reasons and given operations. There must be a middle ground between United States Special Operation and United States Conventional Forces.
The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion will not relieve the United States Marine Corps. However, United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Battalion will add increased capability and credibility to small scale forces elsewhere while the majority of the United States Armed Forces is tied down in Iraq. Even so, the precedent these proposals and actions set is a difficult one. One of the major elements in training, developing, and promoting the current generation of military officers is jointness. The War on Terrorism requires integrated operations. Institutional self interest might and will challenge this change in an attempt to keep as many assets and influences in house, will increase operational difficulties on the War on Terrorism by bloated and fraudulent equipment and support contracts, duplication of operations, counterproductive and differing doctrines and training structures, and operational security nightmares.
If the United States Navy wants to become more relevant on the War on Terrorism, improve abilities to hit high value targets on land from the sea, develop a viable theatre ballistic missile defense system that operates from the sea, and improve intelligence gathering and sharing capability from the sea.