The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit moves through the Gulf of
Aden during an amphibious assault rehearsal.

Breaking Defense:
‘If It Floats, It Fights:’ Navy’s New Small Ship

Existing amphibious ships might be the “Swiss Army Knife of the
fleet,” but the Navy and Marines want an enemy who “jumps on it in
the opening gambit…they’re gonna have the shock of their

WASHINGTON: We’re getting the first glimpses of the Navy’s new
force structure plan, as officials begin dropping clues about the
Pentagon’s months-long effort to war game new plans for
modernizing the Navy and Marine Corps.

Previous comments from the reform-minded Marine Commandant have
suggested that those plans will include moving Marines from large,
big-deck amphibious ships to smaller, faster and harder to track
ships that can move Marines around contested areas in the western
Pacific or the crowded Baltic Sea quickly.

And it’s become clear that one way to do that is to buy dozens of
what’s being dubbed the light amphibious warship, or LAW.

“I think we’re late to need with building the Light Amphibious
Warship, which is why we’re trying to go so quickly,” Marine
Maj. Gen. Tracy King told the virtual Surface Navy conference
Thursday. The Navy is looking to replicate what it did with the
recent frigate award, which moved quickly to identify and buy an
existing design to start building as soon as possible.

The small amphibs are being considered primarily for moving troops
around faster than the big decks can, while providing presence in
the littorals and operating among archipelagos while offering
Chinese missiles and aircraft a smaller target. The Marines also
want to make sure that the ships can defend themselves.

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WNU Editor: It looks like the US Navy and Marine Corps have
embraced the light amphibious warship program.