The Amphibious Forces of the us navy




НазваниеThe Amphibious Forces of the us navy
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Adapted from U.S. Navy. Naval History Division. Riverine Warfare: The U.S. Navy's Operations on Inland Waters. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969.


DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060


uss topeka (clg-8) landing party school, dam neck, va, circa 1960. photo by ken fox, courtesy of patrick roth.

USS Topeka (CLG-8) landing party school, Dam Neck, VA, circa 1960.




Sailors as Infantry
in the US Navy

Patrick H. Roth (Captain, US Navy, Ret.)
Burke, Virginia

October 2005



Related Resource: Sailors Operating Ashore as Artillerymen in the US Navy


Summary
Introduction
The Early Navy: Late 18th-19th Century
Reform At the End of the 19th Century and the New Navy
Practical Drills and Training
The Intellectual Debate: Organization and Tactics
What Should the Navy Infantryman Train For?
What Are the Limitations of Sailors As Infantry?
Who Does Naval Landings? Should Marines Be Embarked On Ships?
Tactical Doctrine Is Promulgated
An Era of Sailors Performing As Infantry
Ship Organization and Tasking for Operations Ashore
Tactical Doctrine Parallels Army Doctrine
The Marines Take the Lead: 1930s and World War II
The Cold War: Fading of a Mission
Landing Party Manual 1960 (OPNAV P 34-03)
A Word About the Scope of This Paper
Appendix A. Illustrative Examples of the Use of Sailors as Infantry
Appendix B. Landing Party Manual United States Navy 1960, Table of Contents
Appendix C. Landing-Force Manual United States Navy, 1927 Table of Contents
Appendix D. The Landing Force and Small-Arms Instructions of the United States Navy, 1907, Table of Contents




Summary

· Up until the 1970s, competency as naval infantry—sailors performing as infantry, and sometimes providing land based artillery support—was an integral part of the Navy’s operations and mission.

· The use of sailors as infantry (and as artillerymen ashore) was common during the 19th century. At sea boarding was a recognized tactic. Likewise, landings and operations ashore were normal. Marines were a minority and landings were generally a ships company evolution, i.e., involving both marines and sailors.

· Use of sailors as infantry was part of the late 19th century great debate by naval reformers over the direction of the Navy. The debate centered on how to best use “our officers and men as efficient infantry and artillerymen,” not around the desirability or utility of use of sailors as infantry. Everyone in the Navy accepted that the use of sailors as infantry was a required Navy’s competency.

· Sailors performed as infantry a lot: at least 66 landings and operations ashore on distant stations during the 19th century; 136 instances in the Caribbean and Central America during the first three decades of the 20th century; numerous times on China Station and elsewhere. Using sailors as infantry ashore was what the Navy’s primarily did during the Seminole Wars and the War with Mexico. It was the Navy’s most valuable contribution during the Philippine Insurrection. Operations ranged from election security, pacification, peacekeeping, land convoy escort, protection of roads and railroads, occupation, and guard duty to large-scale major combat operations against regular Army forces.

· The Navy promulgated infantry tactical doctrine in 1891and continuously refined and updated it until 1965. During the Cold War period naval infantry schools existed. Navy infantry tactics followed U.S. Army, not Marine, tactical doctrine during its formative period reflecting a desire for inter-service interoperability. All fleet units were required to maintain, and train, landing parties.

· It was not until establishment of the Fleet Marine Force in 1933 that the use of Navy landing parties declined. Even then, organized infantry capabilities continued to be required both afloat and ashore until the 1970s.

· During the Cold War practical emphasis shifted to infantry defense of shore installations, although fleet units still maintained infantry capabilities.

· Sustainability has been the Achilles heel of the use of Navy forces as infantry. Logistics and support poor, naval infantry could not sustain itself very long. Future consideration of sailors as infantry must consider combat support services.


Introduction

On June 7 2005 Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, directed development of a “Navy Expeditionary Sailor Battalion Concept” with the goal of standing up a combat battalion in fiscal year 2007.1 This is return to the past. Up through the 1970s, competency as naval infantry—sailors performing as infantry, and sometimes providing land based artillery support—has been an integral part of the Navy’s operations.2 While this competency has been gone from the fleet for a generation, its return can be facilitated by an examination of a rich history.


The Early Navy: Late 18th-19th Century

The use of sailors as infantry (and as artillerymen ashore) was common during the 19th century. At sea, boarding was a recognized tactic. Likewise, landings and operations ashore were normal. Marines assigned to ships were small in numbers and their primary duty was as ship’s guard, accordingly navy infantry assault operations, be it boarding or operations ashore, were largely ships company evolutions.3 Only when a small number of landing personnel were required might the marines carry them out without assistance of the ships crew.4 During the 19th century, marines were not permanently organized into tactical maneuver organization such as battalions and regiments. They rarely operated as an independent organized force.5

Naval infantry operated ashore regularly during the Quasi War with France, the War of 1812, Seminole Wars, the War with Mexico, the American Civil War, and the Spanish-American War.6 The Seminole Wars and the War with Mexico are particularly illustrative. Operations ashore were what the Navy did during these wars. The Seminoles, of course, had no navy. Mexico also had no navy to speak of. Almost all naval operations in both wars involved the use of sailors ashore in traditional Army roles. During the War with Mexico, sailors operated ashore in the capture of California and Mexican coastal cities and towns. Sailors famously landed Home Squadron heavy guns and operated them ashore during the siege of Vera Cruz. In fact, throughout the nineteenth century, the Navy provided, and sailors provided artillery/crew serviced light artillery and machine guns supporting landing operations by the naval services.

Exercising naval infantry (small-arms capability) was enshrined in Navy Regulations. Commanding officers were required “frequently to exercise the ships company in the use of…small arms.” Specific numbers of men (“exclusive of marines”) were required to be exercised and trained: 44 gun ships, 75 men; 36 gun ships, 60 men; 32 gun ships, 45 men; 24 gun ships, 40 men; 18 gun ships, 30 men; all smaller vessels, 20 men.7 US Navy Ordnance Instructions mandated that “the whole crew are to be exercised by divisions in the use of the musket, carbine, pistol and sword, and in firing at a target with small arms…boat’s crews [are] to be exercised in all preparations for attacking the enemy, either by land or water…”8

Following the Naval Academy’s founding in 1845, infantry tactics were an integral part of the curriculum being required in both the First and Second Class years.9 The Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography published a manual of exercises for small arms and field artillery in 1852 that was used at the Academy.10 Specialized landing party ordnance was developed. Commander John Dahlgren’s 1850 model 12-pounder boat howitzer, which was capable of being rigged on a field carriage, “was considered the best boat gun of its day in the world.”11 Dahlgren later, while commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War, ordered that boat artillery and sailor infantry be “landed occasionally for practice.”12

When not engaged in war the 19th century Navy operated on distant stations with a mission to support commerce.13 With regularity, this involved operations ashore in order to maintain order and protect property. During the years before 1900, exclusive of wartime operations, sailors operated ashore as infantry at least 66 times while on distant stations. Operations might involve ensuing order, capturing pirates, punitive operations, or any number of reasons.

Reform At the End of the 19th Century and the New Navy

During the 1880s, a strong current of reform began to take hold in the Navy. This reform involved great advances in all aspects of naval endeavor: education, training, tactics, and the introduction of the steel steam Navy. The reformers did not neglect operation by sailors ashore as infantry, and as artillerymen.

Practical Drills and Training

On the waterfront, unlike earlier years when formal coordinated infantry training was rare, the Navy began to conduct landing drills and maneuver ashore. The North Atlantic Squadron conducted a large-scale landing at Key West in March 1874. In this exercise involving 2,700 men, a naval brigade consisting of five battalions of sailors as infantry and one of artillery maneuvered ashore.14 Navy training and education reformer Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce conducted the first ever “no notice” amphibious landing while temporarily commanding the North Atlantic Squadron during August 1884. A brigade consisting of two infantry battalions (one composed of sailors) artillery and supporting elements landed at Gardiner’s Island, New York.15

Luce was not alone in applying formal training to landing tactics. Reproduced below is the North Atlantic Squadron training program for the winter of 1885-1886. Points 4 thru 6 involve infantry operations.

1. “Sight enemy cruisings, engage—fleet tactics, target practice, torpedo practice
2. Repairing damage after action. Sail and spar drill
3. Enemy located at Tampa, under guns of fort, guns and fort silenced, enemy attacked by torpedo boats of squadron
4. Capture of fort—land under guns of squadron, seize fort—land naval brigade
5. Seize enemy town (upriver). Boats equipped for distant service, 2 or 3 days away from squadron
6. Occupation of enemy’s position on shore
7. Rumors of torpedoes and fire rafts. Squadron at anchor. Protect from torpedo and fire rafts”16


Following his tour as first President of the Naval War College, Luce, again in command of the North Atlantic Squadron, conducted a major training exercise that included naval infantry landings and mock battles on Coddington Point at Newport. The attacking force consisted of ten companies of sailors. Additional fleet practical landing party training occurred in 1888, 1894, and 1895.

When compared to today’s standards of training the frequency of landing exercises might seem to indicate that this facet of naval expertise was undervalued. In fact the whole idea of organized fleet training was in its’ infancy. Landing exercises involving sailors as the primary source of infantry were in the latter part of the 19th century conducted on a schedule comparable to exercises involving fleet tactics. Infantry skills were considered very important and the consensus was that they, like fleet tactics, improved with practical exercise.

The Intellectual Debate: Organization and Tactics

Practical training was a manifestation of an ongoing intellectual debate. A long running discussion among the navy reformers occurred in the pages of the Naval Institute Proceedings.17 It begins in 1879 with a paper by Lieutenant T.B M. Mason entitled “On the Employment of Boat Guns as Light Artillery for Landing Parties.” Mason’s, and subsequent arguments over then next decade or so, revolved around how to make “our officers and men efficient infantry and artillerymen.”18 The debate would revolve around this question not the desirability or utility of use of sailors as infantry. No article, or critical commentary, questioned the use of infantry operations ashore by sailors as a navy mission. All articles and comment sought to improve naval infantry organization, equipage and tactics.

A year after Mason’s article, Lieutenant John C. Soley submitted a paper that in part was a history of landing parties and in part a landing party manual. Significantly, he called for the development of efficient landing craft.19 The Naval Brigade was the subject of the Naval Institute prize essay contest in 1887. Lieutenant C.T. Hutchins won the gold metal with an essay entitled “The Naval Brigade: Its Organization, Equipment, and Tactics.”20 His essay was a proposed organization, organizational manual, operations manual and practical guide rolled into one. It foreshadowed the Navy’s Landing Party Manuals of the 20th century.

There was unanimous agreement among naval reformers about the need for regular infantry drill. The debate revolved around organization and tactics, i.e., whether to use current organizational tactics developed by Army training guru Emory Upton or a new organization proposal by Alfred Mahan’s reformist brother, Lieutenant Dennis Hart Mahan. The younger Mahan argued for closely tying ships’ divisional organization to landing party requirements. His proposed system also placed greater responsibility of petty officer leadership, as opposed Upton’s more central tactical control.21

D.H. Mahan appears to have been more or less isolated in his argument. Accompanying commentary was negative to a greater or lesser degree. In any event, the organizational and tactics question was settled in 1891 when the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation issued “Instructions for Infantry and Artillery, United States Navy” which largely adopted Upton’s recommended organization and tactics.22 Mahan’s detractors wrote that pocket-sized manual—the first ever issued by the Navy.23

What Should the Navy Infantryman Train For?

A sub-theme in the 1880s debate was the question of what kind of warfare should Navy infantrymen train for? Perhaps influenced by Civil War experience, a majority agreed with Ensign William Ledyard Rogers that history shows that “...in almost every war the Navy is called upon to take a more or less active part against the best troops of the enemy.”24 Accordingly, training and tactics should acknowledge this. Lieutenant William F. Fullam argued differently. He asserted, “…mob or street fighting, or service in the streets of cities, is that which naval battalions are most likely to perform, and therefore more attention should be paid to it.”25 Accordingly, Fullam argued for a simple landing party manual and drills optimized to the street fighting/mob control mission. His line of argument would theoretically degrade the usefulness of sailors as infantry. As it turned out, the Navy’s first infantry manual was a relatively simple one that did not emphasize street fighting. During ensuing decades, Navy infantrymen would face the enemies “best” as well as mobs in streets, and an assortment of everything in between.
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