The rise of near-peer and regional state adversaries foreshadows the possibility that the Navy and Marine Corps will have to plan not just for a large-scale assault against a hostile shore but for an amphibious campaign to seize/liberate multiple strategic land objectives. Not only would the scale and intensity of this mission dwarf any amphibious operations the Sea Services have conducted in more than two decades, but it is likely that the contested littorals would be better defended than any that U.S. amphibious forces have faced since the end of World War Two. Whatever specific operational concepts, tactics or technologies are proposed to enhance the Navy and Marine Corps’ ability to operate and prevail in the contested littorals, none are likely to prove effective if the number of amphibious warfare ships is not substantially increased. The faster the Navy begins construction of the advanced LR(X) to replace its aging Landing Ship Dock, the sooner new tactics can be developed and means deployed to defeat the A2/AD threat. I have written more on the challenges of future amphibious operations for RealClearDefense here.
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