In my previous blog on Japan Fears Chinese Invasion I wrote about the near impossibility of invading island-nations like Australia and Japan unless the invader has a powerful amphibious capability.
An anonymous reader suggested that “military forces don't really need that HUGE amphibious support. They just need a few ship to transport about 100 000 men and station them there and there you have it.. an invasion.”
He or she then went on to provide an example with Iwo Jima, presumably during WWII. He/she stated “you can see that there's when the land invasion begun. Nobody really needed any big amphibious support.”
Well, war is a bit more complex than that, and particularly so with an amphibious operations. Iwo Jima had 10 weeks of preparatory air bombings and 3 days of naval bombardment to enable the marines to land on the beach. Even then, the battle was so ferocious that more than one-third of the 70,000 marines were killed, injured or suffered from battle exhaustion.
That provides a picture of what will be involved and required in any amphibious invasion. Air invasion is not sustainable because it cannot transport as many troops as a seaborne fleet and is difficult to resupply. Also, large scale air transportation of paratroopers are highly vulnerable.
What I am going to write will be largely off my cuff. If necessary, I’ll do the research later to back up my arguments when I have settled my personal immediate plans. Though I am not an expert on amphibious operations, I am not entirely without some basic knowedge. I won't be dealing with the history of amphibious operations as well. The following provides a brief sketch of what would be involved.
To invade, say a nation like Japan, one needs an amphibious fleet (or even several) to transport say, 500,000 to a million troops and their equipment, such as tanks, artillery, transportation, the usual military stuff like bridging gear, radio equipment, ammunition, food, water, medicine, hospital stuff, shoes, clothing, shelters, etc.
To ensure all these would evenrually land on the Japan beaches, the whole convoy has to be escorted there safely. The enemy sure isn’t going to sit still and welcome the invaders. They’ll be sending aeroplanes, warships and submarines to destroy the amphibious fleet. Therefore the invader needs an armada to protect the troop carriers and their equipment.
One would have attack submarines to destroy enemy submarines and warships. One would have aircraft carriers to provide air cover for the convoy, and eventually the offensive air power to prepare and protect the beach landings. One would require numerous warships to protect the aircraft carriers and to conduct the preparatory naval bombardment before the beach landing.
Once the troops have established the landing after severe assaults (remember the successful Normandy and the disastrous Gallipoli) they have to be resupplied – food, ammunition, fuel, fresh troops to replace those killed or injured, shelter, you name it, they need it. The logistics are quite complex and frighteningly demanding.
Then airfields have to be prepared on shore to accept tactical fighter bombers and their equipment, bombs and ammunition, and fuel. These require army engineers and earth moving equipment such as tractors, bulldozers, cranes, etc.
We haven’t even touched on medical evacuation, disposal of the dead, imprisonment of POWs and feeding/interrogating them, policing of occupied regions, maintenance of occupied infrastructure, and the list goes on and on.
Think the Chinese and Indonesian have the above capability?
Now, which one nation on planet Earth has all the above?