Home » Nonfiction » Major Joel P. Kane USMC » Transport Helicopters: The Achilles Heel Of Maneuver Warfare

May 23 , 2010

Transport Helicopters: The Achilles Heel Of Maneuver Warfare


Marine Corps' publication FMFM 1 describes Marine Corps doctrine on warfighting. In very broad terms, chapter 4 of Warfighting attempts to identify the challenges and realities of the modern battlefield. Marine Corps' doctrine attempts to exploit “the time-competitive rhythm of war, generating and exploiting superior tempo and velocity in an uncertain, chaotic, fluid environment.” The Marine Corps employs a combined arms team to generate the combat power needed to succeed in this environment. This combined arms team is the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).The largest deployable MAGTF is the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). The MEF is normally employed as a maneuver element for a larger Joint Task Force (JTF).
Like the U.S. Army, the Marine Corps selected maneuver warfare as its warfighting philosophy. In theory, the MEF Commander could be a JTF Commander and could conduct operational level maneuver with his MEF and any other assigned forces. Unfortunately, the MEF cannot effectively conduct operational maneuver against a medium to high intensity threat with its current mix of assault transport helicopters. Simply stated, the Marine Corps transport helicopter fleet is not capable of supporting maneuver warfare as envisioned in FMFM 1 or Forward... From the Sea. Based upon the current Five Year Defense Plan (FYDP) and the current Marine Aviation Plan, our transport helicopters will remain the Achilles Heel of maneuver warfare in the 21st Century.
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