- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The U.S. Army may take over some Marine duties and start certifying its own attack helicopters to conduct missions straight off of Navy ships — chopper operations that are normally conducted by the Corps.

The Army says it’s considering the move as a means of branching out its responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific region, the Army Times reported.

Taking off from ships at sea “seems to be a growth capability, and we do sense that there is increasing demand out there,” in the area of South Korea and in the region overseen by the U.S. Central Command, said Col. John Lindsay, the director of aviation for the Army, at a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

In preparation, the Army’s been practicing landing AH-64 Apache helicopters aboard Navy ships over the past few months, the Army Times reported.

“[But] we’ve got to make sure that we have the appropriate demand signal coming in from the combatant commanders … [to learn] how much maritime capability does the Army need to invest in,” Mr. Lindsay said, in the Army Times.

The Marines, for its part, seem open to the mission-share.

“I’ve never been on a crowded battlefield,” said Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the III Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Japan, during a presentation to the Defense Writers Group this week. “I’ve never been anywhere where I said … ‘There’s too many guys here.’ “

At the same time, he cautioned, the costs of failure could be significant.

“[Marine Corps] helicopters are different than [Army] helicopters,” he said, the Army Times reported. “The maritimization of an aviation platform is a very extensive, technical thing. If you don’t do it, you suffer significant challenges.”

Lt. Gen. Wissler also added in the report: “If the Army has a capability to bring in an amphibious environment, a capability that we need as a joint war-fighting team, good on them. I just think there are challenges to it. I say that because I know they know there are challenges to it.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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