War Instructions United States Navy 1944


Chapter 14. Amphibious Operations

Section I. Definition, Purpose and Scope

1400. An amphibious operation is an over water assault by armed forces to effect a landing on a hostile shore. It includes the operations of naval, air, and ground components in over water movement, support, and assault, together with the logistics required to attain the objective. The term "amphibious operation" is synonymous with the term "joint overseas expedition" when the armed forces involved consist of Army and Navy components.

1401. An amphibious operation is undertaken in order to accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

  1. To secure a beachhead from which to project large scale operations.

  2. To seize and secure an area for use as a base from which to support further operations of a fleet or components thereof.

  3. To seize and secure an area in order to deny the use of that area to the enemy.

  4. To destroy by raiding enemy installations, to obtain information, or to draw enemy forces away from another area.

1402. An appropriate Task Force maintains control of the sea and adjoining air necessary to the accomplishment of an amphibious operation. The Task Force commander commands all forces engaged in the operation including the naval covering force, the striking force and the joint expeditionary of attack force.

1403. A major amphibious operation can be expected to involve the use of all types of naval vessels and aircraft, and the tactics appropriate to their employment. The remainder of this chapter is limited to the discussion of those forces and their functions which are peculiar to amphibious operations.

Section II. Organization

1404. An amphibious force is a permanent naval administrative organization established for the purpose of planning, training for, and conducting landing operations. It consists normally of:

  1. Headquarters.

  2. Transports.

  3. Cargo Vessels.

  4. Landing, control, and close support ships and craft.

  5. Amphibious training command.

  6. Amphibious operating, repair, and training bases.

1405. For landing operations, an amphibious force is augmented, as the situation demands, by appropriate naval combatant vessels, aircraft, and troop units, for an operational organization known as an attack force.

1406. The composition of task subdivisions of an attack force varies with the strategical, tactical, hydrographical, and geographical factors underlying the operation. Generally the force is made up to fit the situation to be encountered. The major required components of an attack force are:

  1. Flagship:
      Headquarters of naval commander of Attack Force; headquarters of Commander Landing Force; headquarters of Commander Support Aircraft.

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  1. Transport Group:

    1. Transports.
    2. Cargo Ships.
    3. Landing Ships and Craft.
    4. Control and Salvage Vessels.
    5. Transports Screen.

  2. Expeditionary Troops:

    1. Landing forces.

      1. Assigned troops and equipment.

    2. Garrison forces.

      1. Assigned troops and equipment.

  3. Fire Support Group:

      1. Assigned combatant vessels.

  4. Support Aircraft Groups:

      1. Assigned carriers with their aircraft and screen..

  5. Minesweeping, net and minelaying groups:

      1. Assigned minesweepers, net and minelayers.

  6. Service group:

    1. Oilers.

    2. Tugs.

    3. Fire Fighting and Salvage Ships.

    4. Other auxiliary vessels.

For some operations, the required air support may be provided by air groups not carrier based. Also, for certain operations, it is not necessary to land garrison or advance base forces for services as such, as their normal tasks are accomplished by designated units of the landing force.

Section III. Command Relationship

1407. A joint expeditionary force, or attack force, is under naval command until the troops are established ashore at the objective. Command of the expeditionary troops, or landing force, is exercised through the commander expeditionary troops, or landing force, during this period. When the troops are established ashore at the objective, the commander expeditionary troops, or landing force, assumes command of the forces ashore.

1408. Initially the commander joint expeditionary force commands all task organizations employed in the amphibious operation at all objectives through interrelated attack force commanders. Since the employment of troops, including the reserve troops engaged in the seizure of objectives, is subject to the capabilities of the surface units to land and support them, directive issued by the commander expeditionary troops as to major landings or as to major changes in tactical plans require approval of the commander joint expeditionary force prior to being issued.

1409. At each objective, the related commander attack force commands the landing force through the related commander landing force until the latter assumes command of the landing force ashore.

1410. Landing forces, after their respective commanders have assumed command ashore, are under command of the commander expeditionary troops. The commander expeditionary troops retains command of all forces established at each objective until it is determined that the mission is complete at which time command of all forces established at each objective passes to the garrison or other designated commander.

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Section IV. Major Group Tasks

1411. The tasks assigned may include operations to be accomplished in advance of the landing operation such as:

  1. Bombing and bombarding targets other than the objective in order to neutralize or destroy enemy forces and positions.

  2. Bombing and bombarding the objective to neutralize positions and harass the enemy.

  3. Beach reconnaissance and underwater demolition.

1412. The general tasks of the major groups of an attack force after reaching the objective are:

  1. The flagship provides necessary command facilities for the attack force commander, the commander support aircraft, and the commander expeditionary troops or landing force until the latter goes ashore.

  2. The transport group functions and its transportation facilities are designed to put the landing force, with its equipment and supplies, ashore over beaches against opposition.

  3. The expeditionary troops or landing force, consisting of embarked troops, equipment, and supplies, lands in assault and proceeds to accomplish its objectives.

  4. The fire support group furnishes naval gunfire support, screens, and protects the attack force in the landing area.

  5. The support aircraft groups attack enemy installations and shipping, strafe and bomb enemy positions in support of our troop movement and, in addition, furnish as required aircraft for the following missions.

    1. Combat air patrols.
    2. Antisubmarine patrols.
    3. Troop support aircraft when called for.
    4. Liaison plane (air coordinator) (air observer).
    5. Photographic.
    6. Smoke.
    7. Aerology.
    8. Mine searching.

The term "support aircraft," as applied, includes carrier task group aircraft of the attack force and all other aircraft while operating in the landing area on support missions.

  1. Minesweeping group, clears all mineable waters necessary to the conduct of the operation. Maintains these waters clear by additional sweeping as required. Net and minelayers are employed to provide security for ships in the landing area.

  2. Service group furnishes necessary logistic support to the vessels of the attack force including supply, repair, salvage, and fire fighting.

Section V. Plans

1413. All amphibious operations possess the following general characteristics:

  1. The location of the landing is determined in advance.

  2. Because of (a), detailed intelligence is available concerning enemy strength and dispositions, geographical and meteorological conditions, etc.

  3. The attack force consists of a large number of various types of naval, air, and ground units. The size and complexity of the attack force does not permit a high degree of tactical flexibility.

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1414. The inherent characteristics of an amphibious operation, as outlined in the preceding paragraph, make the preparation of a detailed and specific operation plan possible, and mandatory if the maximum results are to be attained.

1415. The operation plan may include any or all of the following in the body of the plan or as annexes:

  1. Landing plan.
  2. Bombardment plan.
  3. Fire-support plan.
  4. Movement plan.
  5. Air-support plan.
  6. Air-sea rescue plan.
  7. Logistic plan.
  8. Communication plan.
  9. Intelligence plan.
  10. Medical plan.
  11. Storm plan.
  12. Smoke plan.
  13. Loading plan.
  14. Salvage plan.
  15. Major action plan.
  16. Screening plan.
  17. Defense and development plan.
  18. Aerological plan.
  19. Mine-sweeping plan.
  20. Demolition plan.
  21. Special plan--such as pontoon causeway plans, etc.

Section VI. Training

1416. Careful and detailed rehearsals of the landing plan are a most important feature of the preparations of assault forces for amphibious operations. A very high degree of coordination is necessary for a successful assault. A commander strives by training and rehearsals to attain perfection prior to actual landing. As feasible the other task groups of an attack force take part in training exercises, particularly the air support group. Amphibious operations demand perfect teamwork and coordination for their success by the participating task subdivisions.

Section VII. General

1417. Joint Action of the Army and Navy delineates information governing joint action policies, agreements, instructions, and agencies. Detailed information concerning amphibious equipment and the tactics and techniques of conducting landing operations is found in other publications.

1418. Marine forces organized as landing forces perform the same tasks as stated for the Army in Joint Action of the Army and Navy, whether operating with the Navy alone or in conjunction with the Army and Navy in an amphibious operation.

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