What the US Marines can be taught from a French Army ‘sister unit’

US. Marines from the 2nd Marine Division (2ndMARDIV) throughout a coaching mission. The 2ndMARDIV and French Army forces are in discussions about future coaching alternatives. (US Marine Corps/ Angel D. Travis)

WASHINGTON: With the Ukraine invasion now into its third month, the concept of French and US forces working collectively in Europe appears actual in a means it has not because the finish of the Chilly Struggle. With the US Marine Corps east coast forces having seen cuts of their capabilities and numbers, the chance to reinforce capabilities by working with succesful like-minded allies is seen as essential in shaping a more practical means forward in European protection.

A current go to by the pinnacle of France’s sixth Gentle Armored Brigade (LAB) to the American 2nd Marine Division (2ndMarDiv) presents a touch into how the 2 nations are attempting to be taught to function collectively, significantly because the US Marines are attempting to make a brand new means of struggle work.

“We all the time educated very onerous following the motto ‘onerous coaching, straightforward struggle,’ however what we’re presently doing is retraining ourselves to face an enemy with the identical capacities as we now have,” French Army Brig. Gen. Eric Ozanne, the LAB commander, instructed Breaking Protection after the journey. “And the very first thing we have to be taught is how to deal with huge losses in males and tools. That’s the place forging a collective ethical power embodied within the esprit de corps on the regiment stage is completely and actually important.”

Ozanne was hosted early March by US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Francis F. Donovan, the 2ndMarDiv head, for a four-day go to of varied army installations alongside the East Coast, from USMC Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to the USS Kearsarge at Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. The pairing of a Marine unit and a French Army unit, relatively than two Army items, could seem odd at first look. Either side additionally are likely to maneuver, use help, digitalize, and command forces a bit in a different way.

However Ozanne identified a “similitude of our modus operandi in addition to our amphibious attribute which constitutes the cornerstone of our relationship… Past the truth that we’re each embarked army forces and forcible entry capabilities, I discover that a number of similarities exist amongst ourselves, beginning with our measurement.”

Which is to say, classes may be discovered on either side, significantly as counter-insurgency operations dominated each US and French embarked forces for the final twenty years, throughout which amphibious expertise dropped off.

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Regaining a few of these capabilities is a spotlight for US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, whose idea of Stand-In Forces (SIF) and the current creation of three Marine Littoral Regiments (MLRs) may benefit from working with the LAB.

The Marines at the moment are underway with the Part III Service-Stage Infantry Battalion Experiment Marketing campaign Plan — known as IBX30 — which is supposed to evaluate the performance of Berger’s Infantry battalion design. On this month’s problem of Proceedings, USMC Gen. Eric Smith describes this idea as follows:

“Stand-in forces are items which might be task-organized, educated, and outfitted to disrupt an adversary’s plans at each level on the competitors continuum. They’re strategically positioned the place they’ll acquire focusing on knowledge, strike to shut choke factors, or herd adversaries into areas the place US naval and joint forces can convey extra weapons to bear. These mild, extremely cellular forces have capabilities that can power an adversary to cope with a unit that beforehand would have been too small to care about. They will persist independently for days if wanted and might reposition with natural mobility belongings to keep away from being focused. Their bodily and electromagnetic signatures are so low they aren’t simply detected, and if detected, they possess the lethality to battle.”

The mobility half is a key problem each US and French forces are specializing in for 3 causes:

  • the flexibility of a peer enemy to strike in depth and the top of the air superiority loved in earlier theaters;
  • the flexibility of the enemy to make use of counter-mobility means and the need to re-train a number of the ways that at present’s commanding officers final practiced when in army faculties on the finish of the Chilly struggle, together with maneuvering in a NRBC [nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical] setting;
  • the expertise push of recent tools revolutionizing the order of battle.

The 6th LAB has been on the forefront of digital transformation Notably, the 6th would be the first brigade to be totally modernized with new-generation Scorpion tools in 2023.

“The Griffon [new infantry armored vehicle – SICS [new Scorpion Information and C2 System] is a real success and supplies our tactical command posts an unprecedented agility which revolutionizes the tempo of maneuver,” Ozanne stated. “We now get pleasure from a fluidity and permanence in command we by no means had earlier than.”

However to make the most of the brand new ideas and expertise, coaching is required to “do away with dangerous habits adopted throughout counter-insurgency operations when command posts have been mounted and commanding was for that motive a lot simpler,” he harassed.

A return to a extra infantry-centric strategy is one other place the place US Marines and the French Army meets as properly, however with barely totally different emphasis. Whereas the USMC below the present commandant bets on footprint lightness, agility and excessive tech (even eliminating lots of of tanks and of two of its 5 helicopter squadrons) to distinguish itself from the US Army, the French Army differentiates itself by placing an finish to the multi-role attribute of brigades which till now have been devoted to counter-insurgency.

“The Marines and the French Army got here up with the identical conclusion, i.e. that we can’t “do all of it” within the new menace setting,” Ozanne stated. For the French Army, brigades are going to be specialised once more into the normal three segments, i.e. armored (with VBCI and Leclerc), medium (with Griffon and the brand new Jaguar to be included in cavalry items for the primary time this 12 months) and light-weight brigades (with Serval and Jaguar as properly).

Eric Ozanne

French Army Brig. Gen. Eric Ozanne, the commanding common (CG) of sixth Gentle Armored Battalion (LAB), is greeted by U.S. Marines with 2nd Marine Division on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 28, 2022. (US Marine Corps/Megan Ozaki)

“Excessive depth requires such a return to differentiation. Rerolling just isn’t possible anymore and you may truly already see it on some theaters of operations corresponding to in Estonia, the place VBCI-Leclerc teams, as an illustration, self-rotate regularly to contribute to NATO’s Enhanced Ahead presence with the Lynx mission,” Ozanne stated.

If the present partnership between the Franco-American amphibious sister items works properly, each Ozanne and Donovan wish to enhance it to a better command stage, a prospect made potential because of huge investments on either side in new distributed simulation capabilities. Certainly, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) IBX30 evaluation plan does rely closely on Wargaming and Modeling and Simulation research. “These new capabilities are particularly helpful to develop excessive depth warfare ways, particularly when simulating giant losses, however can solely be used as a complement to stay coaching,” stresses Bgen Ozanne.

Brian D. Beaudreault, who retired final July a the three-star heard of the II MEF and who beforehand commanded the 2nd MarDiv, agrees with such a necessity for deeper integration and interdependence. Having been a powerful proponent of the bilateral rapprochement, he considers such a mixed power functionality an crucial.

“After I was the CG of II MEF, I felt that we wanted to purpose for extra than simply interoperability however relatively interdependence. That required a higher diploma of belief than interoperability, however belief is the glue that holds relationships collectively,” Beaudreault stated.

“Past including higher capability within the power which can yield higher resiliency in instances of excessive casualties, the sixth LAB would convey extremely necessary capabilities to the battle that the Div didn’t possess corresponding to armor. There was the multiplicative facets of redundant capabilities which will increase a commander’s flexibility in maneuvering forces but additionally expands his choices when an ally is bringing in a functionality that could be a true hole filler that additionally may be self-sustaining, execute its personal impartial C2, have its personal natural fires, and so on…”

“I’m thrilled to see the connection persevering with to mature, and I consider there’s motive for excellent optimism on additional enhancing upon our interoperability (and interdependence) objectives,” he instructed Breaking Protection. “The long run outlook of this mixed power functionality is certainly brilliant and will definitely show to be a powerful deterrent power. Ought to deterrence fail, sixth LAB and 2nd MARDIV combating below a consolidated C2 assemble is a power that’s extremely able to battle and win whereas working facet by facet.”

The approaching weeks, months and years might present a complete transformation in how the US and its NATO allies strategy protection and deterrence in Europe. Getting the hyperlinks between the French Army and US Marines in a workable place might show important, and the work is now underway.