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Closing the Convoy Security Gap

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Master's thesis

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Adhering to a Cold War-era ideal of the administrative convoy, and failing to realize the lessons of Korea and Vietnam, the Marine Corps never structured unit tables of organization or tailored MOSs and tactics to meet the realities of convoy security. In case studies of the Korean War, the French War in Indochina and the Vietnam War, units were caught completely unprepared and vulnerable to brutal attacks that threatened the mission at a strategic level. In each case, units struggled to radically change their operations and equipment to catch up to an enemy who was well within our OODA loop. In the past as now, there is a wide gap in Marine Corps structure and doctrine convoy security is a mission formally assigned to no unit. This gap has resulted in work-arounds such as co-opting Military police and creating ad hoc security units of mixed MOSs. In addition, Cold War-era convoy doctrine emphasized convoys escorted by armored vehicles or infantry, resulting in the retention of tactics created for armored troop carriers or reconnaissance vehicles that do not make sense for gun trucks, Case studies of historic convoy operations bear out the conclusion that attacks on supply lines are not unique to current war and that convoy security is and has been an enduring requirement. As the Marine Corps looks to the future, and decides how to preserve the lessons of OIF and OEF, we face a security environment of increasing irregular threats from state and nonstate actors that transition between conventional and irregular warfare. The 2010 Marine Corps Operating Concept found that Conventional warfare and irregular warfare are subsets of war that exist simultaneously, to one extent or another, on every battlefield. The Marine Corps as an institution must ensure that the allure of imagined strictly conventional war does not cause us to ignore the stark realities of numerous wars since World War II.

Subject Categories:

  • Defense Systems
  • Unconventional Warfare

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