Skip to comments.Marines do it their own way
Posted on 09/30/2001 2:28:55 PM PDT by kattracks
A different approach to special forces A Marine awaits orders during urban war training exercises last week at Camp Pendleton, California. By Sue Lackey
Sept. 30 For the average Marine, it is both amusing and a bit galling to hear all the talk about special forces and their capabilities. For while the Army, Navy and Air Force have created Special Operations Commands with a unique structure, the Marine Corps has taken its basic forward deployed unit the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and trained every one in special operations tactics.
THE FAMED Delta Force is often celebrated as the nations most elite special operations team, but its position as a member of the the Armys Joint Special Operations Command gives it a narrow focus restricted to counterterrorism and hostage rescue. In contrast, each MEU must be qualified in 18 separate mission areas, including counter terrorism. This broad focus in training and qualifications makes the Marine unit more versatile than any other services special operations forces.
Gen. Alfred M. Gray, who served as Commandant of the Marine Corps in the early 1980s, helped create the Joint Special Operations Command. But while the command often requests Marines to flesh out its capability, the Corps is the only service which has refused to join the command at an organizational level. It goes against the reason the Marine Corps was developed, says a Marine officer who is a special operations specialist. It would have forced the Corps to focus on one mission, when the nation needed an amphibious force for forcible entry, with much broader capabilities.
Under a recent reform of the system, traditional special operations forces forces are assigned to specific theater Commanders in Chief for instance, the Commander in Chief, Europe or the Commander in Chief, Southern Command, which handles Latin America. East of these commands have units with specific specialties, and depend on that regional commander for support. MEUs, however, an amphibious force that can be deployed at will to any theater. Their floating base of operations gives them the ability to sustain a mission longer than other special operations forces, which are traditionally used for short term insertions, or in the case of the Green Berets, specific insurgency training missions.
The true strength of the MEUs lie in their ability to augment their forces with air and ground combat elements and combat service support. This means any given unit can call in tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, and fixed wing aircraft all of which are part of standard MEU order of battle. Other special operations forces must rely on conventional service support when additional forces are needed.
A perfect example of this versatility was in the 1983 Grenada invasion, where Army special forces were inserted to extract U.S. Embassy staff. The team was able to reach their target, but were then bottled up inside the embassy and unable to get out through enemy troops. The JSOC team then called for Marine support. An MEU which had been diverted to Grenada broke through with tanks and armored vehicles to extract their colleagues and the embassy personnel they had rescued.
The way in which special operations training has been integrated into the basic structure of the Corps has changed the capabilities of the Corps as a whole. The other military services are large enough to allow their SF units to function in some degree of separation. Because the Marine Corps is so small in numbers, its SOC qualified personnel rotate on duty throughout the Corps, which has enhanced the overall quality of training and identification with special operations forces. Most of these men have now percolated to the top of the command structure. Its been in place so long now that a lot of the flag officers grew up with this-theyre Al Grays boys, said one Marine special operations veteran. Thats what you do not get in the other special forces, because they tend to stay in their own areas. When they do go into other units to further their careers, they have problems integrating within the conventional forces and its military bureaucracy. They dont do well as staff officers; they want to go back to their unit.
That lack of experienced special forces officers at high levels to give special forces a voice allows other branches of the conventional forces to marginalize the effectiveness of special operations in budget battles and mission planning a situation the Marine Corps has managed to avoid.
Gray was Commandant from July 1987 through June of 1991.
The Marines who rescued Scott O'Grady in June of 1995 were run of the mill grunts and wingers doing what they've all been trained to do and practice on a regular basis. America gets the most bang for it's defense dollar with the Corps. A hearty Semper Fi to all my fellow Devil Dogs past and present around the globe.
Perhaps the Marine Medal of Honor recipient I admire most is General Merritt "Red Mike" Edson, his Medal of Honor won at Edson's Ridge on Guadalcanal. "Red Mike" Edson was on track to be Commandant of the Corps but left active duty to achieve two things - the independence of the Corps and that Second Amendment powerhouse and defender of our liberties, the modern National Rifle Association of America. Before Past President Merritt Edson the National Rifle Association was only an association of shooting clubs.
America can always count on the Marines.
Thanks for this post!
But it's time to drop it. We're all in the same boat, and we have a common mission to eradicate the threat to our nation and its people. It's going to take the skills and capabilities of everyone, from the cop on the beat and the firefighter on the truck, to the FBI and intelligence services, to every single member of our armed forces, regular and reserve.
I don't think we really, truly understand the scope of what we are facing. The terrorists' numbers might be small in absolute terms, but they are spread out and dug in across two-thirds of the northern hemisphere.
We're going to need all the tools we have at our disposal, both on the frontlines and on the homefront, to get through this thing.
God Bless President George W. Bush, and God Save the United States of America.
Hogwash. It's long past time that America knows that one branch of the military didn't succumb to that Commie Clinton and his gang of fellow lefties on the Hill who have attempted and in some cases succeeded in weakening the United States and it's ability to defend itself. America doesn't need a Marine Corps. America wants a Marine Corps. Because of this trust the taxpayer deserves to know that there are 170,000+ warriors who take the extraordinary and make it ordinary. Our sister services as well as the average citizen would be well served to follow the Corps' lead, although history has shown that they have been reluctant and unwilling to do so in the past.
|Symbol of Marine Corps Resolve|
| A Marine Corps flag stands watch as a silent sentinel of the recent destruction at the Pentagon.
Submitted by: 13th MEU
13th MEU Deployment
Aboard the USS Tarawa (LHA-1), a 21-gun salute is fired in
honor of the Marines and Sailors who paid the ultimate sacrifice during
the assault on Tarawa in November 1943. The ceremony was one of two
conducted Aug. 29, by 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations
Capable) and ships of Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group, and the force
steamed past the Tarawa Atoll. The 13th MEU(SOC) is currently on a
six-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf.
If you have a kid wanting to enlist - go Marine Corp. the level of seriousness they have for their craft is remarkable and it starts with their education in warfare - my husband is a mini-expert on nearly every battle because of the Marines and their determination never to "reinvent" the wheel but go forward with their objective. They might be "jarheads" but the jar is full of intellect.
Two weeks ago we attended the MCRD graduation in San Diego and I am happy to report that those boys have become men.
Calling in a few friends..:))
Nobody is going to do that to America and live.
Oh, I see. So in this time of trouble and turmoil, when Americans of every political persuasion are coming together for the common good, YOUR primary concern is that "eveyone in America" knows that Clinton was a Commie.
Oh, and that would be the America that voted for him twice, and nearly voted for him a third time, by proxy, in the person of Algore.
IOW, you think that after 8 1/2 years, Americans are finally gonna "get it" because some of the Marines' boosters (that would be yourself) want to continue a pointless p*ssing contest with the other branches of the service.
If you're haven't yet reached adulthood, please forgive what I'm about to say. But you are an adolescent moron.
We have far more at stake here than your endorphin levels. We happen to be at war, and it will take every man-jack of us--even a hyper-extenuated teenager like yourself--to pull through this thing.
And if you're trying to convince ME that our other SpecOps assets are without any merit, and ONLY the USMC can save the day, then you've failed. I happen to respect and admire ALL of our highly-trained and highly-motivated fighting men, the Marines not least of all.
Go back to your comic books. The adults have work to do.
I have to agree with you. I'll never forget when Clinton's female Deputy SECDEF got on national television, and called the Marine Corps "an extremist organization." She confirmed the idiocy of their whole mindset.
The people in this country who need to grow up are the ones who think we can have Congress mandate handicapped access battlefields or that calling the nearest female a "naval aviator" makes her one.
And if SMEDLEYBUTLER will accept the salute from a cousin ... Semper Fi.
Junior, we Gyrenes don't give an airborne sex act what you believe!
People like you couldn't last the first day of boot, much less a firefight.
There are some real heroes on this forum, and a lot of them are my fellow Marines.
When you step on one of their toes you step on mine and all the rest of us, and I assure you, you don't want to do that!
There has always been a rivalry between the services and there always will be. It's part of the life of being military.
Try a hitch in the Corps before you start evaluating any part of our psyche.
The difference between the Corps under Al 'Fireplug' Gray, and under P.X. Kelley his predecesor, was a very stark contrast.
Immediately following Boot Camp, I was one of the first of six SOI (School of Infantry) platoons that was selected for an experiment at Camp Geiger called 'MCT' (Marine Combat Training). They stretched us to the breaking point, then calibrated the training down a pip and instituted it in regular Basic Training called 'The Crucible'.
In USMC Basic, the 'Crucible' lasts two days. For us, it went on for eight weeks. Sleep deprivation, poor living conditions, scarce food, MOUT training, and a 21-mile road march (no roads that I saw, BTW) came at us with no warning when we thought we were going to hit the rack one evening. Two days later, we humped 21 miles back -- again with no warning. Lots of head games, physical fitness regimens, mixed with some outstanding training in weapons that even the old lifer sergeants hadn't even seen yet.
Toughest time of my life. School of Infantry training was actually a few steps down in pain, by comparison. That was when the fun came in: Amphibious assaults by LCAC (hovercrafts) and Amtracs, doing 'Jacob's Ladder' drills from Gator Navy ships, etc. All the MEU and BLT exercises.
General Gray was a son-of-a-bitch, let me tell you. I only appreciated it after MCT was over. Everyone was taken to the limits, even the instructors. I was only 20 years old then.
I'm sure I'd die if I tried to do it again at my age. :)
Unless they've been military, Tonkin, they won't understand that.
The closest I can come to your experience are the bar fights we used to have with the swabbies in San Diego who were our best buddies the next night.
There is not many a finer sight than a Marine in his dress uniform.
There are many things that you don't understand illbay, with the inter-service rivalry being just one. For a panty-waist like yourself to be calling Smedleybutter an "adolescent moron" is laughable. Why don't you tell us about your service record, illbay?
I couldn't help but think about my Dad when I read that. He was a USMC lifer who survived WWII and Korea while all of his best friends didn't. As a boy I wondered why he was such a tough SOB, but of course that was what allowed him to survive and why he demanded the best efforts from others.
BTW, he is still going strong.
I think you misunderstood MY statement. At this point, this is about as apropos as arguing who's going to win the Army-Navy game.
It ain't about the winner of the p*ssing contest these days. The only contest is with the enemy.
And I, in turn, don't care what you think about the folks paying your salary, so long as you get the job done.
I understand inter-service rivalry perfectly well. Go back and read my post (let me know if you need help with the long words).
What I said was, there is a time and a place for everything, and NOW is not the time, and the MIDDLE EAST is not the place, for a stupid-*ss teenage p*ssing contest.
Every one of us says the same thing - it is so..:)))
I'll tell you what, hotshot - if they don't "get the job done" why don't you fire 'em and do it yourself?
The army has soliders, the air force has airmen, the navy has sailors, and the Marines have Marines. Please get it right!
I still have nightmares about this one event: A 5-mile hauling-butt run over gravel that was the consistency of greasy marbles carrying a full combat load: Flak jacket, full load of blank ammo, weapons (I carried an M2 receiver with the bolt inside plus my rifle), helmet, ALICE pack, and two MREs in my cargo pockets.
It was just horrible. Running too fast to drink water, and I was dying for just a drop. When we were through, just about everyone was flipping around on the deck like a fish out of water. I think I drank two gallons of hot water from one of those plastic salmon-colored jerry cans that had been baking in the sunlight all day. It was the second to the last day of MCT, and as a 'reward' for graduating, we got three whole days leave before we reported to SOI (restricted to immediate area), except for time to pack our trash. I spent the entire first day of leave in Mainside Camp LeJeune at the Navy hospital. After the Doc looked my legs over for shin splints, a nurse just gave me a bottle of Motrin and told me to rest in the straggler's area watching TV. They know you're messed up if you're a sick-bay commando with a 72-hour pass.
I came back to Camp Geiger on the bus later that night, and everyone -- I mean everyone -- was asleep in their racks. Not one person requested an off-base pass. Our new troophandler just threw me my bedding, and told me to find a rack and not wake anyone. Some officer came by and told him 'All these Marines are on a three-day leave. No duty for them. Just leave them alone.'