The Navy and Marine Corps are proposing radical changes to their force structures in line with new concepts for maritime and expeditionary operations. All eyes are on what is new, such as the Navy’s desire for fleets of unmanned surface and subsurface vessels and, with respect to amphibious warfare, at least two new proposed ship classes. What has gotten relatively less attention is the growing importance of air power to the Sea Services’ ability to conduct agile, distributed operations across the vast distances of the Indo-Pacific theater. Platforms such as the F-35, V-22 and CH-53 will be more, not less, important in an era of distributed operations. Therefore, proposals to reduce the number of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and aircraft-capable amphibious warships in favor of proliferating smaller, less capable vessels are extremely short-sighted. I have written about the force multiplier provided by aircraft-capable amphibs here.
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