Ro-Ro Ferries and the Expansion of the PLA’s Landing Ship Fleet

CIMSEC – The role of civilian roll-on/roll-off (RO-RO) ferries in a PLA invasion of Taiwan deserves its growing notoriety. With port access secured or coupled with developing logistics over the shore capabilities, RO-RO ferries could deliver significant volumes of forces across the Taiwan Strait, offsetting shortfalls in the PLA’s organic sea lift. Some analysts have even described mobilized civilian assets like RO-ROs as a “central feature of [the PLA’s] preferred approach” to a cross-strait invasion.

But the PLA appears intent on assigning RO-RO ferries to another mission: launching amphibious combat forces directly onto beaches from offshore. The PLA has long lacked sufficient landing ships to deliver its full complement of amphibious assault forces, from both army and Navy Marine Corps forces, in the initial assault landing on Taiwan. Rather than building numerous grey-hulled traditional landing ships, the addition of RO-RO ferries into a combined landing ship fleet could quickly close this gap. 

Using 1202 Authorities to Counter China’s Maritime Militia

War on the Rocks – As the People’s Republic of China expands claims within the South China Sea, the United States should work with partners to find a way to deter further expansion while avoiding escalatory actions that could spark conflict. To do so, the United States government should leverage Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act. This section allows for the United States military to create, develop, train, and maintain partner relationships with irregular maritime forces from across the region. By working with partners, the United States empowers regional nations to defend their respective interests against the encroachment of China while reducing the need for American naval forces to be the sole ever-present bulwarks in the region.

This Ugly Dispute Over Amphibious Warships Didn’t Have to Happen

Defense One – Last week, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps got into a rare public dispute. The disagreement revolves around the Navy’s decision to drop a planned purchase of a San Antonio-class amphibious warship from its 2024 budget. While this is about a warship, the impasse arises from a major problem: the Pentagon’s political leaders have thus far failed to articulate a workable long-term vision for naval shipbuilding.  

See North Korea’s alleged ‘radioactive tsunami’ weapon test at sea

Defense News – North Korea claimed Friday to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone designed to generate a gigantic “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy naval strike groups and ports. Analysts were skeptical that the device presents a major new threat, but the test underlines the North’s commitment to raising nuclear threats.

Distributed Maritime Operations – A Salvo Equation Analysis

CIMSEC – The first step in this analysis will be to analyze a traditional concentrated force versus another concentrated force using the salvo equations. The second step will be to look at a distributed force that is able to mass fires against a concentrated force. The final step will be to look at a concentrated force that engages part of a distributed force. We will also look at what “firing effectively first” means in practice, and what happens if the enemy force distributes.

The Marine Corps Needs to Modernize its Targeting Cycle – Here’s How

Modern War Institute – When the Marine Corps maximizes SIGINT and EW’s support to targeting, codifying these capabilities’ role in operations, innovating new procedures, and teaching electromagnetic-enabled targeting even at entry-level artillery courses—it will demonstrate that it has learned a vital lesson from the wars in Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine.

Joint Concept For Competing: The Best Way For The Pentagon To ‘Compete’ With China?

1945 – Last month the Joint Chiefs of Staff published a directive entitled Joint Concept for Competing, aimed at defining strategic competition and explaining how the U.S. armed forces will go about it. But because the concept’s framers define it as “adversary agnostic,” it’s hard to judge how commanders and their political masters will put it into effect at particular places and times.

For the Sake of Ceremony: Should the US Navy Continue Its Airborne Forward Air Controller Program?

War on the Rocks – The current trajectory of the forward air control program indicates declining relevance due to neglect, changing operational paradigms, and preservation for the sake of tradition. Naval aviation’s commitment to this mission and alignment with previous tenets are atrophying, and the program’s future is at a crossroads. 

Fighting DMO, Part 5: Missile Salvo Patterns and Maximizing Volume of Fire

CIMSEC – There is more to the lethality of a volume of fire than sheer numbers. Missile salvos can take on different patterns, both in how the missiles are arranged within a single salvo, and how multiple salvos can be arranged together into a combined volume of fire. These patterns reflect how the aspects of concentration and distribution apply to the weapons themselves, and how these configurations apply within salvos and between salvos. Different patterns will affect how a volume of fire takes shape and can multiply the threat it poses. Commanders and autonomous missiles can leverage these patterns to increase tactical advantage by changing how salvos are maneuvered throughout key elements of the fight. These patterns have considerable tactical implications for defending against missiles and maximizing offensive volume of fire.