Inter-service Relations: Imperatives for Jointness (Part 2)

History of Joint operations (Military)

What can we learn from history?   The table below is a summary of selected classic examples of joint and combined warfare in history.

Ancient and Classical Era and the Middle Ages
OperationOutcomeComment
In 490 B.C., the Persians launched an amphibious assault against the Greeks at MarathonUnsuccessful.  Poorly coordinated
Joint amphibious warfare at Salamis, 480 B.C.Athens defeated the Persians 
Joint amphibious warfare at Pylos in 425 BC during the Peloponnesian WarAthens defeated Sparta 
Joint amphibious warfare at Syracuse in 415 B.C.Athens was defeated by Syracuse and SpartaThis was the turning point in the Peloponnesian War. Athens was finally destroyed as a naval power at the Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)
Roman amphibious landings in Britain 55 and 54 B.C. and in 43 A.D.After initial successes, the Romans (under Caesar) pulled back in 55 BC and 54 BC.  Claudius returned in 43 AD resulting in Roman colonial rule over Britain for 500 years. 
8th-11th centuryThe Vikings launched multiple joint amphibious operations eventually establishing Norman colonies all over EuropeIn that era, the Vikings were the masters of Joint warfare.
In 1066, William the Conqueror crossed the  channelBritain was conquered 
In 1274 and 1291, the Mongols attempted sea-borne landings in Japan.Unsuccessful.Poorly coordinated
In 1592, Japanese launched an amphibious assault across the Strait of TsushimaKorea was defeated and conquered 
In 1745, England launched the Cartagena expeditionUnsuccessfulFailed mainly because of Army Navy rivalry
In 1759, British amphibious landing at Quebec  Quebec captured from the FrenchSucceeded notably because of inter-service cooperation between General Wolfe and Admiral Saunders
Ancestors of British Royal Marine regiment founded in 1739 during the “War of Jenkins’ Ear”Successful 
In 1799, a British force of 10,000 men under Sir Ralph Abercromby, later reinforced by Russians, landed in Holland.Initially successful, it eventually failed due to lack of follow-through. 
In 1801, British amphibious assault landing at Aboukir Bay, Egypt, under Sir Ralph AbercrombySuccessful 
In 1815, the British attacked American positions in New OrleansUnsuccessful.  Attack was repelled by US Maj. Gen. Andrew JacksonFailed mainly because of British Army Navy rivalry
Colonial Wars of Conquest in Nigeria
In 1897, an amphibious British Army-Navy assault under Rear Admiral Rawson and Lt. Col. Hamilton, supported by local “armed Hausa constabulary”, was launched against the Benin Kingdom under the pretext of a punitive expedition.Successful.Benin fell on February 18, 1897, and became a British colony, later subsumed under modern Nigeria. (capital of Edo State)
World War 1 (Western Europe)
As far back as 1911 (prior to WWI), bombs were dropped on enemy positions using Military balloons. However, the use of aircraft for tactical, retribution and strategic purposes in war began with the bombing raid, on August 14, 1914, ofGerman Zeppelin hangers at Metz-Frascat by the French “Voisin” biplane.  Other nations, namely, the Germans, Russians, English, and Italians soon followed suit.  After entering the war, the US conducted numerous US combined arms (Army-Marine) operations.Successful evolution of combined arms tactics. However, there were some major disasters.  The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 is a classic study in the failure of jointness.Advent of “close air support” and “battle field air interdiction” after introduction of aircraft into warfare.  Lessons learnt from the projection of power across the Atlantic legitimized the inter-dependence of land, sea and air power.  In the US, World War 1 experience led to National Defense Act of 1920, establishing a Joint Army-Navy Board 
World War 1 (African Theater)
In support of British and French colonial governments, West African colonial troops took part in joint/combined Army-Naval amphibious assaults on Lome in Togo (August 1914) and Douala in Cameroun (September 1914).  Similarly, South African troops landed at Luderichbucht (September 1914), Walvis Bay (December 1914), and Swakopmund (January 1915), all in Namibia.SuccessfulGerman territories in Africa were shared as protectorates between Britain and France.
World War 2
Operation Watchtower: US Army, Navy, Marine joint invasion of Guadalcanal in August 1942Successful 
Operation Torch:  Allied combined invasion of North Africa in November 1942SuccessfulProvided many useful lessons for future operations
Operation Husky:  Allied combined invasion of Sicily in July 1943Successful 
Operation Overlord:  Allied combined invasion of France on June 6, 1944Successful 
Operation Iceburg: US Joint invasion of Okinawa in 1945.Successful 
Operations ‘Plunder’ , ‘Widgeon’ and ‘Varsity’:  US and British Joint/combined Tri-service crossing of the River Rhine on March 23/24 1945SuccessfulResulted in the collapse Germany’s western front.
Cold War
Operation Chromite:  US Joint landings at Inchon on August 12, 1950, during the Korean war.Successful.Outstanding example of a well led modern Joint operation.
US Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Operations in Vietnam – 1965 – 1973Ultimately unsuccessful. South Vietnam surrendered and came under unified communist rule with North Vietnam. Many examples of problems associated with modern Joint operations. Also illustrates how factors beyond “jointness” can result in Military failure.
US Joint operation to rescue crew of SS Mayaguez on May 15, 1975 in CambodiaSuccessful, at high cost.Good example of problems associated with modern Joint operations
Operation Eagle Claw: Joint attempt, in April 1980, to rescue US Hostages in Iran.  UnsuccessfulAnother good example of problems associated with modern Joint operations
Operation Azul (blue): Joint Argentine invasion of the Falklands, on April 1st, 1982. SuccessfulAlthough initially successful, the Argentines were later evicted by a Joint British Force in June 1982.
Joint British Naval Task Force invaded Argentine held Falklands from May 1st to June 14, 1982.Successful. This conflict illustrated many lessons in joint warfare 8000 miles away from home.
Operation Urgent Fury:  Joint and combined invasion of Grenada by US and Caribbean nations (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent) in October 1983.Successful overthrow of Marxist GovernmentExcellent example of failures of joint inter-operability. Ultimately led to passage of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act which has enhanced “jointness” in the US Military.
Operation Just Cause:  U.S. Southern Command joint invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989Successful overthrow of Manuel Noriega regime.This was the first US joint operation after the Goldwater-Nichols Act.
Nigerian Civil War
Amphibious Army-Navy assault at Bonny on July 26, 1967.SuccessfulThis opposed beach landing operation also involved the use of merchant ships from the Nigerian National Shipping Line.  It was the first joint Army-Navy combat operation in post-colonial Nigeria.
Joint amphibious Army-Navy operations at Escravos, Koko, Youngtown, Sapele and Warri during operations to clear the Midwest. (August  and September 1967)SuccessfulThese landings were mostly unopposed.
Operation Tiger-Claw:  Joint amphibious Army-Navy assault on Calabar on October 18, 1967.Successful 
Joint amphibious assault on Oron, March 1968.SuccessfulThis was the first full coordinated tri-service joint operation, involving the NA, NN and NAF.
Post Cold War
Operation Desert Storm (a.k.a. Operation Granby, “Harb Tahrir al-Kuwait” – war of Kuwait liberation, or “Um M’aārak”, the “Mother of All Battles”) Joint and combined invasion of Kuwait by US and 33 allies on January 17, 1991.SuccessfulAlthough a vast improvement in jointness over previous Military campaigns, service rivalry still reared its ugly head in the form of incidents of “friendly fire”
Operation Proven Force:  US European Command Joint/combined Army, Air Force and Special Ops operation from Turkey during Operation Desert Storm:  It targeted  radar, command and control, airfields, and Military production facilities in northern Iraq.Successful 
Operation Provide Comfort: US Joint operation in defence of Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq; July 24, 1991.Successful 
Operation Southern Watch: Under control of the US Central Command, this was a joint/combined operation carried out by the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA).  Units were drawn from the US, UK, France, and Saudi Arabia.  It began on August 27, 1992.Enforcement of “No-Fly zone”.  Successful control of Iraqi airspace south of the 33rd Parallel, up until the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.Op Southern watch showed that US inter-service communications, tactics and operations have continued to be problematic, although much less so than in the past.  Just prior to Op Iraqi Freedom, Op Southern Watch became Op Southern Focus, a secret operation to disrupt Iraqi Command and Communications.
Operation Provide Relief: US Central Command Joint Humanitarian Task Force in August 1992 in support of support of multinational UN relief effort during Somalia civil war and famine.Impaired by widespread theft, it was initially unsuccessful. The problems of Operation Provide Relief led to authorization of Operation Restore Hope.
Operation Restore Hope: US component of combined UN operation (UNOSOM II).  From March 1993 to March 1995, it was authorized to use “all necessary means” to “establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia”        Credited with saving an estimated 200,000 lives from famine, although strategically unsuccessful.See Operation Gothic Serpent
Operation Gothic Serpent: This joint US Op was aimed at capturing General Aidid’s Habr Gidr clan leaders on Oct 3 – 4, 1993 during Op Restore Hope.  Also known as the Battle of Mogadishu.Clan leaders were captured, but the operation, which resulted in many casualties, was strategically unsuccessful. One lesson from this experience was that the US (and other) Armed Forces need joint combined arms urban warfare training.  Inter-service rivalry was partly to blame for what transpired. The Army commander had requested Army tanks two months prior (and did not get them); even though Marine Corps Tanks were onboard ships only four sailing days away. Rather than ask for the Marine Tanks, service pride took hold to avoid the perception of Marines going to the rescue of the Army. This debacle also illustrated, once again, how factors beyond “jointness” can result in Military failure. It led to the withdrawal of US Military participation in Somalia and the resignation of the US Defense Secretary.  It also led to US reluctance to deploy its Military for direct combat in subsequent African conflict situations.
Operation Joint Endeavor: US and NATO joint/combined peace operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina; December 1995 Successful 
Operation Iraqi Freedom (a.k.a. Operation Telic (UK) and Operation Falconer (Australia)):  US and allied invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003.    Successful overthrow of the regime of Saddam HusseinAlthough later marred by poor post-invasion contingency planning for stability, this is a widely recognized and hailed model of modern joint operations. 

The table illustrates the potency of joint operations as a means of winning wars.  The challenge, therefore, is to be able to conduct joint operations efficiently.  A country needs to decide how joint its armed forces need to be to successfully prosecute joint operations cost-effectively.   How have other countries addressed the matter?  We shall take that up with a select group of countries in the next section.

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