America has the most powerful military in the world, but the world is an awfully big place. Even with our sprawling Navy protecting most of the world’s largest bodies of water and military installations in more than seventy countries; there are vast swabs of the planet that we may be able to scramble aircraft to fairly quickly, but couldn’t possibly relocate thousands of troops and their equipment to in a short period of time.
That’s where the American military’s Prepositioning Program comes in.
The United States currently employs twenty-seven prepositioning ships in support of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Defense Logistics Agency. These huge ships don’t look like aircraft carriers or missile cruisers, though, they look like the container ships you would usually see transporting commercial goods from China or the like.
Maritime Prepositioning Force Ships are used to house all of the equipment, supplies, and ammunition a force of 16,000 Marines and Sailors would need for thirty-days’ worth of independent combat operations. They carry everything from heavy vehicles like tanks and armored personnel carriers, to rations, to the petroleum products needed to fuel and maintain the fleet of vehicles contained within. For all intents and purposes, each MPFS ship could equip and sustain the entirety of Lithuania’s national military – and the Marine Corps keeps ten of them afloat at all times in various places all over the world, just in case we need them.