STATEMENT BY BRIGADIER GENERAL ROBERT M. FLANAGAN
On 1 Oct 1998, VMAQ-2 assumed the status of the EA-6B squadron under the Prepare to Deploy Order (PTDO) in support of USCINCEUR. VMAQ-2 received the JCS deployment order on 17 February 1999 and arrived at Aviano AB, Italy on 21 February 1999 fully combat ready. Arriving ahead of the JCS's 96 hour requirement, VMAQ-2 demonstrated once again, the Marine Corps' rapid response to crises.
Flying 464 combat sorties with an average of 8 EA-6B aircraft, the
Prowlers were an integral part of all phases of the operation. Marine Prowlers were the
only tactical electronic warfare aircraft participating for the first two days of the
EA-6Bs were incorporated into operations with low observable aircraft. Due to the Marine Prowlers presence during the build-up phase, they were briefed in and allowed to participate in these sensitive missions. As a result, every low observable aircraft mission conducted during OAF had dedicated Marine Prowler support.
Dedicated suppression of the Serbian air defenses was never completely accomplished. When the air campaign began, there was limited targeting of the Serbian Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS). This lack of a Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) rollback campaign created an environment of concurrent SEAD with every mission, vice sequential SEAD at the campaign's outset. The Marine Corps doctrine of SEAD rollback in order to provide better Close Air Support (CAS) could not have easily been implemented in this situation. At the close of the campaign, only a handful of Serbian surface to air missile (SAM) sites and early warning radar networks had been destroyed. Consequently, bombing missions on day 70 were potentially as dangerous as missions on day one. Its effect on the low-density, high-demand (LDHD) Prowlers meant no decrease in electronic attack requirements throughout the 78 day air campaign. With the high operational tempo experienced in the EA-6B community, dedicated SEAD rollback would have allowed for a somewhat reduced EA-6B requirement during the latter phases of the conflict and allowed for more expeditious
EA-6B recovery efforts.
A significant Prowler capability that the Marine Corps needs to continue to exploit is communication jamming. The USQ-113 communication jammer system has been in development over the last several years, but only five USMC Prowlers were retrofitted with this system and of those, only two were available at the outset of OAF. Of the two systems initially available, only one was fully operational and it soon became inoperable due to lack of spare parts. VMAQ-1, which reinforced VMAQ-2 for the first two weeks of the conflict, had the only other working system in the Marine Corps, but needed to retain their USQ-113 system when ordered back to support Operation Northern Watch. We believe the USQ-113 will be fielded in all USMC EA-6Bs; however, delivery dates are presently unknown.
With most of the air campaign being fought at night, a shortfall identified to the overall operation was the EA-6B's lack of Night Vision Device (NVD) capability. The Prowler became a limiting factor in target prosecution for night missions. The lack of NVDs rendered the aircrew incapable of performing precise aircraft positioning through visual means at night and in some cases reduced their offensive effectiveness. I wish to thank you for the $31M in supplemental funding provided in the FY-00 Authorization Bill which corrects this deficiency.
Another issue of concern was the Prowler crew's loss of situational awareness. Because of the nature of its mission and emissions profile, the Prowler is sometimes out of contact with AWACS aircraft when conducting operations deep in enemy territory. This can also be attributed to aircraft systems that are dated and unable to perform reliably on today's high tech battlefield. The loss of situational awareness often placed the crews in high risk situations. Programs such as the new jam resistant LINK 16 Battlefield Management System, ARC-210 radios and air-to-air radar would have prevented these occurrences. With these systems installed, the Prowler crew will have increased situational awareness that will enhance their survivability in the chaos of air warfare. The Congressional plus-up of $30M in FY-00 for Link-16 RDT&E will allow us to immediately begin development of this important capability.
Aircrew survivability, in the event of a shoot-down, was also a concern for our Prowler crews. VMAQ-2 aircrews were not issued the latest survival radios (PRC-112) prior to arriving in theater due to a DOD wide shortage. The PRC-112 is a GPS equipped radio that can be directly attributed to the successful rescue of two downed aircrew during OAF. VMAQ-2 arranged for a temporary loan and the required training on these radios to ensure that aircrew were prepared for this contingency. We need to accelerate the fielding of the PRC-112 throughout DOD. We are working hard to overcome this shortfall and hope to have an adequate supply of the PRC-112 survival radio in the near future.
Aviation parts and re-supply were also issues from OAF. Marine Prowlers flew 464 combat missions, taking a toll on an already strained EA-6B airframe. During the 78-day air campaign, each Marine airframe averaged 95 hours per month with one aircraft flying 123 hours in one month. These numbers become significant when you consider that planned aircraft utilization rates during sustained operations are 36 hours per month and a much higher, wartime surge rate. This increase in aircraft flight hours directly impacts future EA-6B utilization, maintenance schedules, spare parts, and overall life cycle. Despite this high utilization rate, Marine Prowlers maintained a remarkable 100% mission completion rate.
To achieve this success, our parts supply system was drawn down to critically low levels. In addition to struggling for parts in Aviano, the lone Marine Corps CONUS based Prowler squadron was brought to a virtual standstill. The lack of spare parts dramatically reduced their ability to train and maintain aircrew proficiency. The supply system does not currently possess the necessary aviation parts nor manpower to support full time contingency operations and simultaneously support CONUS based units at normal rates. This affects our ability to execute simultaneous operations in two theaters.
Maintenance successes were only possible due to overwhelming support provided by the Navy and Marine Expanded Mission Mobile Maintenance Facility (EMMMF) and civilian technical representatives. Because of the aging airframes and diminishing experienced maintenance personnel available for Marine EA-6B squadrons, the use of civilian technical representatives was a necessity. These extremely knowledgeable technicians (some with 30 or more years experience) were indispensable during the operation to ensure that only full mission capable jets departed for combat. Annually, we must fight for funding for these individuals. This operation clearly proved their value to the warfighting effort.
Intelligence was another area of concern during OAF. The myriad Electronic Data
Collection Agencies that exist today proved to be overwhelming and often confusing. The
importance of real-time, accurate Electronic Battle Damage Assessment (EBDA) is vital to
mission success, but is unavailable in a timely manner. The cumbersome, slow EBDA process
made it difficult for Prowler aircrews to determine real time and accurate location of
enemy air defense systems and inhibited crews from determining the success of HARM shots.
The result was often redundancy in HARM attacks. We need to fund research for a common
real time EBAA, DOD ELINT capability.
Greater emphasis must be placed on maintaining the readiness of our aircraft. We must sustain our investment in spare parts in order to support unexpected, highly intensive contingencies, as well as normal training requirements for these always in demand LDHD assets. We must also continue to fund and support the concept of civilian technical representatives and the EMMF.
Marine Prowlers are an essential combat-proven part of the joint force. They clearly demonstrated that electronic warfare and a dominance of the electro-magnetic spectrum are essential to successful air power projection. But our EA-6Bs are getting old, with the average age of our aircraft being 22 years old. With the improvements discussed above, we can operate this aircraft safely and effectively in today's battle space, but must consider a replacement platform for this vital mission. We learned from all phases of OAF. Now we must continue to rebuild and improve our capabilities to be prepared for our next call.
Operation Allied Force saw participation by AV-8B Harrier II+ STOVL attack jets from the 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units operating from amphibious ships; USS Nassau and USS Kearsarge. The introduction of Marine Corps AV-8Bs was marked by several firsts: it was the first-ever pre-planned combat employment of MEU(SOC) embarked AV-8s, and was the first time AV-8Bs used Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs) in combat, although the capability has been resident in the airframe since its introduction. Laser designation for AV-8B LGBs was provided by U.S. Air Force F-16s, marking the first time that "buddy lasing" by another fixed wing aircraft was employed for AV-8s. Operation Allied Force also marked the first combat use of CBU-99, cluster advanced munitions by the AV-8B aircraft. Additionally, the AV-8Bs embarked with the 24 MEU(SOC) and 26 MEU(SOC) were able to equal any of the other allied strike aircraft's "time on station." These aircraft were embarked aboard amphibious shipping in close proximity to Kosovo and did not require airborne refuelers to strike pre-planned targets - - again, validating the merits of forward deployed Naval forces and Operational Maneuver from the Sea.
Due to the organic expeditionary maintenance and supply capabilities provided aboard amphibious shipping, the 24 MEU(SOC) AV-8Bs lost no sorties for maintenance availability; had no weapons release failures; no Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (DECM) failures, and no failures of its expendable countermeasures systems. During the 6-month deployment, 24 MEU(SOC) AV-8B aircraft readiness rates averaged 91.8% mission capable (MC), and 88% full mission capable (FMC), well above established DON standards.
The need for Laser Self-designation Capability (a "Targeting Pod") on the AV-8B was a recognized "lesson learned" following Desert Storm. Yet, the AV-8B remains the only TACAIR asset in the U.S. inventory without such a capability. The lack of this capability contributed to the delayed entry of the AV-8B into Operation Allied Force -- strike assets within minutes of Kosovo airspace but unable to participate because of Air Tasking Order (ATO) Special Instructions (SPIN) requirements for a self-designation capability. The Kosovo Supplemental Appropriation has provided limited funding for an initial buy ($16M for nine LITENING Pods), but additional funding is needed to field a capability sufficient for training and deployment across the entire fleet, $76M for an additional 47 systems.
At the onset of OAF, the Amphibious Ready Group supporting 24 MEU(SOC) held only 27 LGBs. In a high intensity conflict, the total numbers of PGMs available were insufficient to sustain combat operations. Although the AV-8B was one of only two platforms in the operation allowed to drop "iron" bombs on GPS coordinates, integration of the next generation PGMs, the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) needs to be incorporated in the AV-8. This weapon provides precision accuracy in virtually all weather conditions, and will preclude many of the weather cancellations that were a factor during combat operations in Kosovo. Additionally, this operation only reinforced sensitivities to collateral damage - - damage that is far more likely in urban environments, particularly when aircraft are primarily dropping large munitions from high altitude. We feel there is a requirement to invest in smaller precision and non-precision weapons (250-500 pound class) that have dual utility in both battlefield and urban environments, with less probability of collateral damage.
Our experience during OAF was that strike capability against time-critical or fleeting targets in a dynamic environment remains modest. We only scratched the surface of the sensor-to-shooter equation. As the military forges ahead to expand this capability, all USMC strike aircraft must have communications and datalink capabilities in order to be fully interoperable with Joint and Combined operations.
During OAF the ATO SPINs required all TACAIR assets to carry an electronic
countermeasure capability against certain radar-guided surface-to-air missile threats.
Aircraft without this capability were not authorized to participate "feet dry"
over land. The AV-8B met this requirement with the ALQ-164 defensive Electronic
Countermeasure (ECM) pod. However, this pod must be upgraded to meet emerging threats to
include a self-protection countermeasure capability, and a capability against modern
threats that we see delivered around the world today. The lack of an upgrade to the AV-8B
ECM system can potentially limit its use in future combat, or jeopardize its survivability
if committed in the scenarios we are likely to face in the next century.
The contributions of our aging KC-130 fleet cannot be overstated. II MEF forward deployed two KC-130s to Bari, Italy on 28 March 99 and redeployed them on 28 July 99. While deployed, they performed numerous air refueling missions in support of U.S. EA-6Bs, Spanish F/A-18s, Italian AV-8s, French Mirages, Jaguar aircraft, and U.K. Tornados- -refueling 196 aircraft and providing over million pounds of fuel. Additionally, they flew 578 flight hours and 230 sorties while delivering over 800,000 pounds of cargo and transporting 708 passengers. Further, Italian-based USMC KC-130s assisted in the deployment and redeployment of VMAQ-1 from Incirlik, Turkey to Aviano, Italy while CONUS-based KC-130s provided deployment and redeployment support to our EA-6Bs and F/A-18Ds as lead and trail maintenance, flights in support of deployed units providing replacement support for personnel, equipment, and aviation parts.
We are most grateful for the committee's support in replacing our aging KC-130 fleet with the newer and much more capable, KC-130J. The KC-130F/R aircraft currently in service are approaching 40 years of age and are the oldest aircraft in the Marine Corps' inventory. KC-130J aircraft are needed to replace aging KC-130F/R aircraft in the fleet to minimize a loss in tanker capability as these aging assets reach fatigue life. Additionally, replacement of these aircraft will avoid expensive modernization and service life extension programs.
New KC-130J aircraft are equipped with significant technological enhancements that will represent a dramatic increase in the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Marine KC-130 operations and reshape our thinking toward training, manning, and employment. In terms of warfighting, the potential to go faster (21% speed increase), farther (40% range increase), with more payload and with less external support, will directly benefit the combatant commander's flexibility and capability. They are faster, carry a greater payload, have upgraded communications and navigation systems and will be more reliable and easier to maintain.
The deployment of MAG-31 (fwd) validated the criticality of this task-organized Special Purpose MAGTF to rapidly deploy into an austere, expeditionary environment. Our organic capabilities within the Marine Wing Support Squadron provided an ability to quickly establish and sustain airbase/ airfield operations and force protection; thereby, maximizing sortie generation.
The communications architecture and air traffic control to command and control Marine Air was provided from our Marine Air Control Group. This is a unique capability within the Marine Corps that makes Marine Aviation expeditionary and is not duplicated anywhere in DoD, in allied forces or potential adversaries. On 14 May 99, MAG-31 received the official deployment order for twenty-four F/A-18D aircraft to conduct combat operations from Taszar, Hungary against Serbian Forces. On the 20th of May, the Hornets launched from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina toward their deployed site. Two days later, the aircraft began arriving in Taszar. Four days after their arrival, MAG-31 (fwd) began required familiarization flights within Hungarian airspace, and fourteen days after initial notification to deploy, MAG-31(fwd) commenced combat operations in accordance with the Joint Task Force Noble Anvil, ATO. Their mission included Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, Defensive Counter Air, Reconnaissance and Armed Reconnaissance.
This deployment demonstrated the true measure of our expeditionary MAGTF capabilities. Units from the Second Marine Aircraft Wing deployed and performed quickly and professionally to establish USMC combat power in theater.
Their accomplishments included:
Additionally, it was evident Serb forces were caught off guard by our air strikes originating from the North. Unlike the heavy concentration of integrated air defenses (IAD) located in the South, the enemy surface-to-air threat against northerly attacks was virtually non-existent. Serb focus was clearly oriented toward the established southern and southwestern attack corridors NATO had been using prior to MAG-31(fwd)'s arrival into theater. Targets sets included POL storage, ammo supply installations, military barracks, military headquarters buildings, communications centers, and bridges. The ordnance expended consisted mostly of GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-16, a small number of Maverick missiles (laser guided), and some general-purpose bombs.
Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) was excellent due to the ability to provide surveillance
of the target with the Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (ATARS); very few
re-attacks were required. This system was introduced into this operation to support its
Operational Testing. ATARS provides a manned tactical reconnaissance system that permits
collection of near real time multi-spectral (infrared, electro-optics, radar) imagery of
targets actually under attack by the F/A-18 or reconnaissance of potential targets. Unlike
wet film based products, this imagery can be enhanced and manipulated to fit the
requirements of decision makers at all levels of the MAGTF. The high degree of system
integration into the F/A-18D allows the aircrew to perform the critical manned
reconnaissance mission while simultaneously supporting the MAGTF in other mission areas.
Battle tested and combat proven, ATARS is a true force multiplier. In addition to the
capabilities inherent in an F/A-18D squadron, an ATARS equipped unit provides the MAGTF
Commander with the ability to see the area of operations, disseminate crucial imagery to
decision makers, maintain the ability to rapidly respond to changing situation, and
ultimately -- win! ATARS was requested and installed on two F/A-18Ds prior to deployment
and proved extremely reliable. ATARS was used primarily during strikes for BDA assessment
purposes. It was also used to hunt down known targets using known lat/long coordinates to
procure imagery for use by the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC). The MEU(SOC)s used
the ATARS imagery extensively. However, ATARS imagery was not utilized to its fullest
extent due to the large data requirements needed to place imagery on the SIPRNET; LOCI was
the system in use and could not handle the large volume of imagery data.
The multi-tasking capability of the F/A-18D enabled a broad range of mission options for the JTF commander. Because the F/A-18Ds had to be prepared for multiple missions, it was challenging to match ordnance flow into theater for the first stages of combat. The time-phased flow of aviation support capability and ordnance was successful in supporting mission diversity until a suitable depth of ammo stores was achieved. However, we need to place continued emphasis on procuring additional precision weapons that can meet the JTF commanders guidance on reducing collateral damage. This justifies the need for a variety of PGMs, improved targeting systems, computers, GPS, and an adequate number of PGM training ranges within reach of our CONUS based units.
The current Non Combat Expenditure Allowance (NCEA) does not support modern day training requirements. For example, nine tenths of MAG-31(fwd)'s combat expenditure in Kosovo were PGMS, as directed by the JTF Commander, while the peacetime PGM allowances for FY99 was less than one half of one percent of the entire ordnance allowance.
Finally, this deployment again confirmed and demonstrated the utility of the Special Purpose MAGTF. The importance of time-phased anti-terrorism and force protection assets as early deployers, ensured that high value war-fighting assets had adequate protection prior to arrival in theater. The ability to quickly place combat power in the right place, at the right time, where the enemy least expected it, created a window of opportunity that allowed for successful engagement of enemy targets with reduced opposition.
Adequacy of the Kosovo Supplemental
The $45.5 million in supplemental funding for contingency operations in Kosovo and Northern Iraq was sufficient to cover all associated costs and provided the means for II MEF and 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) to adequately fund the FY99 flight hour program. 2d MAW aircraft flew in excess of 6,000 flight hours in support of the Kosovo operations - - $26M of the supplemental was applied to fund the additional flight hours above the OP-20 baseline flight hours and related costs. Additionally, $19.5M was spent to replace on-hand stock shortages and refurbish the Fly-In-Support-Packages for the EA-6B and F/A-18D aircraft. Of the total $45.5M provided, over 90 percent of this funding was required to recoup expenses incurred in support of Kosovo contingency operations and the remaining 10 percent covered Operation Northern Watch requirements.
Your Marines of II MEF are highly motivated and superbly trained; through your continued support, the Marines and Sailors assigned to our Marine Air Ground Task Forces will remain ready and capable of meeting the challenges they will face throughout this uncertain world. I want to thank each of you for allowing me this opportunity to provide you an insight on Marine Corps experiences in Kosovo. I am prepared to answer any questions the committee may have.