Thursday, March 30, 2017

What Do The Marines Bring To The Table?

The Marine Corps has been renowned for being a tough fighting force with certain skill sets that make it unique.  Individual Marines have traditionally been considered tougher, more formidable fighters than Army soldiers – at least, if you ask a Marine.  The Corps has mastered (and now forgotten) skills such as amphibious assaults that the Army can’t perform.  However, times have changed.  The effects of social experimentation (women in service), technological emphasis (digital and electronic capabilities over close combat), and doctrinal changes (aviation combat emphasis and tactical mobility have trumped brute force combat) have significantly altered the characteristics of the “ideal” individual Marine or, at least, the perceived requirements.  Similarly, the Corps as a whole has changed.

For example, in WWII, women could not have passed the Marine Corps training program and, even if they could, would have been an absolute detriment in the field being unable to perform the basic activities such as climbing over the side of an attack transport in full gear, humping a battlefield load of equipment, carrying injured comrades to safety, etc.  Now, though, with the “gentling” of the Marine training program, gender norming, and the previously mentioned trends, women are deemed capable of serving, including front line combat.  This is not a post about women in service/combat.  I’m merely illustrating one of the ways in which the Corps has changed over time.  The Marines are no longer the Few, the Proud, the Marines.  They are now an equal opportunity, social organization that is the farthest thing from exclusive or unique.

As a whole, the Corps has moved away from the concept of frontal beach assaults in favor of inland, airborne assaults.  That’s fine (well, no it isn’t – a word or two on that, below) except for the fact that we have another group that does that and, at the moment, does it better – the Army.  In fact, the Army is aggressively moving to conduct operations from Navy ships and is aligning their future platform acquisitions with naval requirements.

The Corps is also moving away from the heavy end of the combat spectrum with recent announcements that tanks and artillery will be cut along with personnel. 

The Corps lacks a modern, effective amphibious battle vehicle and has spent many years dithering over the AAV replacement.  They’re no closer to an answer now than they were when they began the ill-fated EFV program.

We’re left with a Marine Corps that is currently only capable of short duration, small, light infantry operations.  The entire aviation assault concept that the Corps seems to be moving towards has some potentially serious weak points such as the survivability of the MV-22 and helos in an inland, opposed scenario and the questionable ability to adequately resupply an inland assault.

Further, the Corps’ apparent movement towards an expeditionary air force role is logistically and tactically suspect, at best.  They seem to want to take part in the high end, aerial combat, distributed lethality type of war that so many of our professional warriors seem to believe, incorrectly, will be the future of combat.  The problem with this, aside from the incorrect nature of the very concept, is that that is not the Corps’ fight.  That is not their job.  That is not their war.  We have a very high tech Air Force whose job it is to do that.  We have a Navy whose job, partially, is to do that.  The Marines have another job, though they seem to have forgotten what it is.

Finally, the Marine’s main unique attribute, their ability to execute an amphibious assault is highly suspect, now, from both a doctrinal and strategic point of view.

Doctrinally, the Marines cannot execute an amphibious assault.  They lack the landing craft to transport troops from 25-50 miles offshore to the beach in fighting condition.   They lack the ability to put heavy firepower ashore with the initial wave, when it is most needed.  In short, the Marines have no ability to execute an opposed landing against a peer.  They have no ability to execute their own doctrine.

Strategically, the need for amphibious assaults against foreseeable enemies over the foreseeable future is highly suspect.  Consider the likely cases:

China – We are not going to invade mainland China (at least, I hope we’re not that stupid).  The first island chain islands and bases are too small to justify an assault.  They are pinpoint, concentrated targets that will be destroyed by cruise missiles.  So, there is no reasonable need for amphibious assaults.

Russia – War with Russia will be a land and air war with minor naval contributions.  The war will be supplied and conducted through Europe and fought around the periphery of Russia.  There will be no need for amphibious assaults.

North Korea – War with NKorea will, as with Russia, be supplied and fought from South Korea in a south to north movement.  This will be the closest thing to a WWII type conflict.  There could be a use for a small, diversionary amphibious assault along the coast of NKorea although, given the threat of mines and the Navy’s almost complete lack of mine countermeasure capability, the likelihood of an amphibious assault is very small.

Iran – This offers the greatest possibility of an amphibious assault although the bulk of supply and fighting would still pass through Iran’s land borders.  An amphibious assault, if it happened, would only be lightly opposed.  Iran simply does not have the capability to offer serious resistance.

The overall strategic likelihood of amphibious assaults is very low for the foreseeable future.  Combined with the inability to actually conduct an assault, I see very little need for such a capability.

So, given the preceding, what is it that the Marines bring to the table that the Army and Air Force don’t already have?  The unfortunate answer is less and less, bordering on nothing.

Having posed the question and acknowledged the disappointing answer, let’s turn our attention to what the answer ought to be.

The Marines have two primary missions: 

  • Conduct short duration, high intensity, inland actions (raids, rescues, diversions, disruptions, first response, etc.).

  • Seize entry points into enemy territory for follow on forces.  This includes port seizure and landing points (beach or near-shore airfields).

It’s that simple.  It’s that simple and yet the Marine’s have lost their focus.  It’s that simple and yet the Marines are floundering.

Everything the Marines do and buy should be run through the filter of “will it support or enhance the primary missions”?  If so, do it.  If not, don’t.  It’s that simple.

Now let’s look a bit closer at the primary missions and what’s needed to accomplish them.

First response, almost by definition, will be a crisis that was unanticipated to some extent and likely be a situation where we are overmatched locally.  Responding to such a situation will require the Marines to fight above their weight.  They’ll have to hit hard and be able to survive on a battlefield that is not ideal and probably under unfriendly skies.  What will a Marine force need to accomplish this?  They’ll need as much transportable heavy firepower as possible (an M! Abrams provides firepower and survivability but currently presents a transport challenge).  A medium weight, heavy gun vehicle may be needed.  Possibly something along the lines of the M551 Sheridan or M50 Ontos.  Of course, the preferred solution would be to figure out how to transport M1 Abrams tanks!  In addition to tanks of whatever sort, they’ll need artillery and as much of it as they can get along with mortars of all sizes, including, ideally, vehicle mounted, heavy mortars (there’s that transport issue again).

Hand in hand with firepower is survivability.  It does no good to show up on the battlefield and be wiped out in short order.  Survivability requires armor and self-defense weapons.  The current fascination with, and trend towards, light “jeeps” for mobility is a surefire recipe for defeat especially if one has to fight under unfriendly skies.   

Fighting under unfriendly skies requires a robust anti-air (AAW) capability which the Marines (and Army, to be fair) have all but abandoned under the decades long belief that the US would always rule the skies.  We desperately need mobile AAW platforms, both missile and gun (along the lines of the ubiquitous Soviet ZSU).

Entry point seizure is the other key Marine mission.  The Marines have one unique feature that mobile Army units lack and that is ships – large, amphibious ships loaded with many tons of heavy equipment, munitions, and general supplies.  The amphibious ships represent the kind of equipment supply and reserves that Army airborne units just can’t match.  The ships are also mobile and are capable of bringing those supplies to the point of action.  The ships allow the Marines to operate aviation assets in close proximity to the point of battle unlike Air Force assets that must return to distant bases between missions thus drastically reducing sortie rates.

Thus, the distinguishing feature of the Marines is the ability to bring large amounts of heavy equipment to bear on far distant battlefields via ship based transport. 

The ability to bring large amounts of tanks, combat engineer vehicles, artillery, and other heavy equipment to a battle from nearby ships gives the Marines a decisive, hard-hitting capability that the Army-Air Force combination can’t match.  Unfortunately, that advantage is being squandered by ill-advised changes in direction and doctrine (expeditionary air force, for example, or divestiture of tanks and artillery) and failure to develop and procure the requisite supporting equipment (armored, heavy transport connectors, for example, or LSTs, or armored combat/amphibious vehicles).

Port seizure is a special skill set that will be urgently required and has been utterly neglected.  It is quite likely impossible to sustain an invasion without access to a port facility for unloading, especially given our lack of large connectors and the elimination of LSTs.  Port seizure will be critical.  However, the doctrine, operations, and tactics required for port seizure and defense are radically different from a beach assault.  Port seizure will require heavy C-RAM defenses, in-port AAW defenses, new means to actually get ashore (an AAV can't climb a pier, for example), new tactics for port defense since most ports are integrated with large urban cities (urban warfare raises its ugly head), among other unique challenges and needs.  Only the Marines can do this.

The Corps needs to take a step back, refocus on its core missions, re-acknowledge its strengths, and redirect its development, training, doctrine, and procurement efforts towards those strengths. 

Unfortunately, the Marines have all but officially abandoned one of their core missons, entry point seizure, and have seriously jeopardized their other core mission, first response, by downgrading their hitting power from their traditional middle weight status to light weight.  This is not just my opinion.   Here’s what Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, deputy commandant for programs and resources, had to say to a Congressional panel.

“We are a light general purpose force. One of the things that gives the Marine Corps an advantage on the battlefield is its mobility and its fires. Much of that comes from aviation.” 

Well, there it is.  I’ve been saying for years that the Marines have abandoned their core and now top Marine leadership is confirming that, on the record, to Congress.

A light general purpose force is fine for peacekeeping and low end skirmishes but utterly useless for executing the Marine’s core missions.  A light general purpose force, by definition, is not specialized for anything and, therefore, not highly capable at any given task.  This is utterly wrong.  They are supposed to be medium weight, striving to be as heavy as they can be given transport constraints, specialists in first response and entry point seizure.  They should not be flitting around the battlefield in ultra lightweight jeeps (what is an airburst munition going to do to the troops packed on an open jeep?) or soaring over the battlefield in $150M aircraft that have a 50% readiness rate on a good day and require exquisite maintenance and care from highly trained factory technicians dressed in surgical garb.

In summary, what do the Marines bring to the table that we don’t already have?  Little or nothing.

I know the Corps has a strong Congressional lobby but if they don’t wake up soon, the Army is going to push them right out of a job.

The Marines need to get back to being the toughest, nastiest fighting force on the planet (yes, that means completely dumping women from the Corps and getting rid of the guys who don’t even outweigh their packs).  A Marine carries his rifle in one hand and fires a mortar in the other without bothering to set it on the ground like some Army puke. 

The Marines need to focus on their two core missions.  The days of Hollywood practice landings for the sake of public relations photo ops need to disappear.  The Marines need to focus on brutal raids, desperate defenses, and entry point seizure.  If Marines aren’t getting hurt during exercises then they aren’t training the right way.

The Marines need to bring something unique and valuable to the table or fold up and go away.  There is no middle ground.  Hey, Marine Corps, that sound you hear behind you is the Army sniffing at your butt.  Time to wake up!


(1)USNI News website, “Lawmaker Worries Marine Corps Investing Too Heavily In Aviation Over Ground Vehicles”, Megan Eckstein, 10-Mar-2017,


  1. Quote "As a whole, the Corps has moved away from the concept of frontal beach assaults in favor of inland, airborne assaults"

    So your saying the Marines are now deliberately cutting themselves off from resupply after their aviation assets are either shot up or neutralized.

    That will leave just a few beyond the landing beach

    1. We've demonstrated in previous posts that the entire concept of inland, aviation assaults against a peer is badly flawed.

  2. Basically the USMC is the 911 first response to any crisis and kicks in the door for follow on forces from the US Army to clean up

  3. Our Marines have become colonial constables, like the British Army in the 1930s. Good for chasing down rebels and moving quickly to minor hotspots, but will (like the Brits in 1940) be unprepared to face a real army. There are simple things the Corps can do, like get LCUs modified to serve as M-1 tank gunboats, as this guy explains.

    But the Corps has no interest except becoming a second high end Air Force.

    1. They will need more than 40 rounds or so they carry if that's the case, but yeah I agree with the idea.

    2. Disagree with the idea.

      If we need a gunboat, then build a gunboat.

      The dogged adherence to direct fire systems is troubling, *indirect fire systems are more lethal, more efficient (propellant/payload), and can be fired in direct lay if needed.


  4. There have been multiple attempts to disband the marine corps or have them absorbed by the Army. There is merit in this, as there always has been. There is seriously nothing the marines provide that the army can not also do or don't already do.

    1. You may have missed the point of the post which is that there are two things the Marines should be uniquely qualified for which completely justify their existence. Unfortunately, the Corps has moved away from those two things and that is why I call their existence into question.

    2. I haven't missed your point at all, anything that has made the marines "special" has slowly eroded.
      where we differ is you are trying to outline, I believe, a way for them to be relevant again.

      I just don't see a need to have a second land army anymore. We could decrease logistical burdens, decrease the amount of generals and staff, increase are ranger battalions in number to deal with entry point seizure (which I do believe is in their realm as well.)

    3. The Marines are not a second land army or, at least, they SHOULD NOT be.

      If you eliminate them, how do you conduct entry point seizure without an amphibious element?

    4. Considering the largest amphibious operation of all time was done without a single US marine and performed mostly with the army i would say that the MARINES are not required. The army could be tasked with the same mission and then dedicate one or two divisions for this task. The same way that there is air assault or armoured units.

      Observe that I'm not saying that should be this way, just that it could be solved that way.

      Overhead would go down but one must safeguard that some aspects of the missions are not forgotten as it can be when something else gets prio or is the new hot thing.

      One thing that should be done is removing the MARINE fast air, gives nothing to the mission and steals money from everything else.

      In conclusion, MARINES are not required for amphibious operations but its always better with a specialized(trained) unit. Forgetting that they could just as well be absorbed by the army.


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  6. The USMC is best From the Sea no doubt that is their niche. But any large scale army division equivalent deployment will never again be a forcible amphibious entry. Even the deployments for Iraq and Gulf War1 came in mainly by airlift, just like the Army. Yes, the ARG provided diversion only for that war...

    They need to understand their role and continue to be the best at it like they already are. Don't take this opportunity a new administration and Mattis/Kelly to grow your box...

    The Gator Navy has what, 30-33 ships? I say live within your means with the very expensive aviation toys you have and prove yourselves right. Move beyond trying to cleverly maneuver the US Navy in order to compete with a diminished Army.... The squid non-confrontational attitude emboldens them and they perceive weakness.

    We love you but we need a USMC that fulfills its primary role first.

    Did you ever notice that despite all the big chunks of US navy butt the USMC bites off in those presentations, the US Navy leadership- never bites back? They let lowly foot soldiers like us make their case...


  7. Way back, when my cousin was in the Corps, they were talking about every person being a rifleman. What happened to that? Is everyone now an aviation tech?

    So, we have 1 America class, with 2 building and 11 planned...
    8 Wasp class...

    How many do we really need? And if its port seizure, what sort of equipment do they need that the Wasps and America's don't have?

    How many planes for a CVN could be bought if you retired a couple 'phibs?

    Conversely, (and admittedly this is going a bit far afield) if you could develop an aircraft or modify the 'phibs to fly a light, prop, ground attack plane, could the Corps 'phibs act as a low grade, peace time force for when we want to bomb an isis camp in Libya?

    1. I think 11 America will never be completed. I really have no idea why America class is nearly as expensive as Nimitz carriers. In fact America class is conventional and weight less than half of a nimitz.

    2. What boggles my mind is they essentially set up America to be a "mini" carrier with no well deck and increased hangar space. Then they didn't allow it to have Cats, Traps, or even just a bloody ski jump that would increase payload.

      Lots of money on a compromise.

    3. "What boggles my mind is they essentially set up America to be a "mini" carrier with no well deck and increased hangar space. Then they didn't allow it to have Cats, Traps, or even just a bloody ski jump that would increase payload.

      Lots of money on a compromise."

      As ever, follow the money and you'll discern the rationale. The purpose of the America's without well decks wasn't to emphasize aviation assault. It was to position the Marines, who want desperately to become an air force but will settle for becoming an expeditionary air force, to be able to participate in the future aviation centric combat that will be the staple of the Pacific conflict with China. Why do the Marines want to be part of aerial combat when that's not really their job? They don't, actually, but they see themselves being nudged out of a position of relevance in a future air/naval conflict and they fear the corresponding reduction in budget. Thus, they create a Marine Corps mini-carrier loaded with ONLY F-35Bs (now you understand why no cats/traps because then the Navy could take over with their F-35Cs). This positions the Marines to then go back to Congress and say, hey, we've got space on this big expensive carrier for more airplanes (you want to maximize the carrier, right?) so why don't you buy us some more F-35Bs? And, since the America can ONLY operate the F-35B which ONLY the Marines fly, then ONLY the Marines can get more budget for that. Game, set, match! Well done, Marines!

      Does that make sense to you?

    4. For the cats and traps, yes. But why not a ski jump? From what I've read that increases the payload.

      I'm not against a smaller carrier. But this thing is bigger than an Essex and flies a ridiculously expensive airwing (which, as you point out, is the point).

    5. "why not a ski jump?"

      Just speculation on my part but a ski jump actually takes up a pretty large chunk of deck space. The America is, on a relative basis, pretty narrow and lacking in deck space.

      Consider the carriers that have had ski jumps. They've generally been pretty wide in the deck and could afford a large chunk of real estate at the bow.

      Again, just speculation.

  8. Just thinking out loud at the moment. Would this be an option?

    Taking ashore the first wave(s) in armoured LSTs, which have a beefy short range anti-aircraft suite and maybe some tank style turrets and MGs/auto-cannons for support on the beach. Longer range air defense should be provided by dedicated escorts further out to sea. With the LST providing initial air defense, additional units such as CRAM can be brought in with follow up waves, allowing the LST to return to open water, acting as a heavy transport to bring supplies in from more vulnerable cargo ships (again, sat with the escorts during the initial assault).

    The LST could also be equipped with some form of deck level heavy ramp, allowing vehicles to disembark directly onto a port. This provides a direct port-attack option for the initial assault; later relieved by more generic cargo ships.

    Infantry and follow up waves could be brought in via helicopters and landing craft from LHD type platforms hanging around with the escorts.

    Marine tanks could follow the Russian ethos, being low profile, auto loading, etc. This could shave at least 1/3 of the weight off a NATO style MBT, making them easier to transport (and/or in larger numbers) as well as being harder to hit.

    To my mind, this kind of setup would allow a Marine force (I'm from the UK, so thinking in general terms) to have a 'kick the door in' capability that keeps it a unique force.

    I was coming up with some of this as I wrote, so bound to be some flaws.


    1. You're thinking critically about the overall issue. That's good! The major drawback to an LST as the initial landing craft is that it is very large and very slow which makes it an excellent target. It's survivability would be highly suspect in an unsecured beach scenario. Given its large load of troops/equipment, if you lose one, you're losing a LOT! That's why initial waves are disbursed among much, much smaller craft - risk is distributed and the loss of individual craft doesn't hurt as much.

      Still, good thoughts. Keep thinking through the details. For example, how would an LST "reload" for a second run to the beach? We have no mechanism for this, currently.

      Good thoughts, good contribution!

    2. Agreed. An LST is big, slow and looks like a bullseye.

      Which is why I was saying give it a beefy AAW and fire support suite. Go overboard. Line its side with Kashtan/Pantsir type platforms. A couple of Phalanx is OK (debatable) when you're surrounded by escorts but this ship needs to be capable of local defense on the beach.

      Also agreed is the point about distributed risk. However, small landing craft need to be housed. This takes space and weight that could be used to store equipment and defensive armament. It also means you need a lot of well decks to put ashore anything meaningful.

      With regards to the "unsecured beach scenario". Could we escort the LSTs with ASS (couldn't help myself) vessels whose concept you put forward a few months ago? This could justify removing the 'tank turrets' and possibly a reduction in the AAW armament (although I'd still go heavier than a typical defensive suite).

      Finally: I've not done much reading about it but I believe the seabasing ships have shown the ability to transfer equipment. Could my 'generic cargo ships' use this capability to transfer 'reloads' to the LST?

      I'm glad you appreciate my general ideas. I'm never sure how realistic they are.


    3. "small landing craft need to be housed."

      Interestingly, the WWII attack transports (PA/APA) carried around 12-20 landing craft without greatly impacting the function of the ship. Maybe we can learn something from them!

      I'm not aware that an MLP can transfer cargo to an LST. Of course, since we have no more LSTs, the Navy doesn't really care! If we bring back LSTs, as you suggest (and I agree), we'll need to work out operational schemes for them.

      The challenge/danger with loading up an LST with AAW point defenses is that they require ship's space (magazines, if nothing else), utilities, and some degree of manning, maintenance, all of which take away from the primary transport function. They also push the price up and you've seen what happens to cost when scope creep occurs! Still, it's worth considering.

    4. I consider the WWII LSM as the ideal size. Here is a great link with info.

      Amtracks are far too small to move in theater and too easy to destroy with a single tank round, AAA stray, rocket hit, or missile hit. The cheap bare LSM would be for a one-way mission to hit the beach after taking several hits. I'd trade all our LPDs and for 100 of these.

    5. If my history servers me right weren't the LST ships only good for a few beach landing before they were considered not fit for service?. I seem to remember that there was close to a 20% attrition rate for that class after a beach landing due to damage from beach impacts and hull damage.

      Again considering the logistics involved is that one of the reasons we dropped the LST class ships for today's mix of non beach landing ships.

    6. ^Howdy. Good comment, I didn't know that, makes you wonder if that wasn't another factor for going away from "hitting the beach". Everybody is aware of the high causality rates but maybe it was also the high attrition rate of material that really has made USMC shy away from beach assaults, can you imagine losing 20% of what ever hits the beach today?!?

    7. I've never heard that. Do you have a reference before we accept it as fact?

    8. I think it's in the war damage report but I'm not able to pull it up at the moment. It's on an archive somewhere but I only have the reference number so here it is. I saw a summary years ago so please forgive me if I have the percentages wrong.

      BUSHIPS Subject:. War Damage Rep #46 - LST

    9. I found the war damage report #46 and read most of it. It's 100 pages or so, so I didn't literally read every single word but I read large sections that seemed relevant and closely skimmed the remaining. The report cites 24 cases of war damage out of 300 vessels. All damage cases were due to direct enemy action (torpedo, bomb, artillery, etc.). None were due to beaching/unbeaching. The gist of the report was that the LST, as a class, was remarkably resilient, especially as regards torpedo damage.

      It appears that this was not the reference you're thinking of.

      Here's a link to report #46: LST

      For the moment, I'm going to discount your claim pending some type of documentation. I've never heard the claim and what I've read about their damage resilience does not support such a claim. I have an open mind, however, and am perfectly willing to reconsider if you can find the reference you're trying to recall.

    10. "maybe it was also the high attrition rate of material that really has made USMC shy away from beach assaults"

      The 20% attrition claim is unsupported, at the moment (see my comments). However, setting that aside, I don't think beaching damage is a factor. If it was, the Navy would have stopped building LSTs after WWII but they didn't. The continued right up through the Newport class LSTs which were built in the late '60's and early '70's. Those ships were beached regularly in exercises and, to the best of my knowledge, none were ever lost or even significantly damaged.

      I think the abandonment of the beach assault was more of a [misguided] desire on the part of Marine leadership to become a third air force.

    11. Since I can't find the reference I'll have to discount it also

    12. No problem. If you find the reference later, let me know.

      It's not that I don't believe you, it's that I receive so many claims from people that they sincerely believe to be true but upon checking turn out to be incorrect. Our memories are funny things - something we're absolutely sure we remember may be completely wrong. A policeman once told me that the only thing worse than no witness was an eyewitness because, invariably, their stories and recollections are wrong and the police spend a lot of time going off on wild goose chases as a result.

  9. I've got no opinion other than the USMC still maintains some of a special esprit de corps, even if under attack from the feminists. It should be fought for. Like airborne in the Army, it's 10% about preserving a capability, 90% screening for aggressive volunteers willing to undergo tough training, danger and hardship to be part of a perceived elite.

    It's remarkable how marine corps in Asia have replicated the style, symbols and uniforms of the USMC. Thailand, Korea, the Philippines at least. So if imitation is flattery . .

  10. USMC history did not start with WWII - too much focus in on WWII.

    The decision to maintain a huge USMC (180 thousand give or take) is a modern phenomenon.
    - Prior to WWI, the Corps was about 15 thousand. During WWI max end strength was 75 thousand.
    - Prior to WWII the USMC returned to a very small force 20-30 thousand. During WWII the Corps peaked at half a million men.
    - It is a lot easier to maintain a small force at high degree of readiness and expand it in size during wartime, than to maintain a much large force during peacetime and expect it to perform miracles in war. If you doubt this look no further than the German armed forces in the early 1930s – the max end strength for army/navy/air force was 100 thousand up until 1936.

    Much of modern USMC lore of elite forces owes itself to WWII manpower decisions: the armed forces classified (ranked) every inductee and ensured that the USMC started with much better draftees than the Army at large. Todays AVF is just that, any volunteer can apply to any of the armed services.

    The Corps fought tooth and nail against the establishment of SOCOM, and only reluctantly provided forces.
    - SOCOM was established largely because the services failed (dramatically and predictably!) in a series of high profile missions (Operation Eagle Claw and Operation Credible Sport being the most well-known) prompting Congress to act.
    - SOCOM has absorbed many of the mission sets that the USMC claimed.

    The real question going forward is one of need:
    - Do we need Marines to guard embassies, or to guard Navy and Marine Corps installations at large?
    - Do we want the Corps to focus on Counter Terrorism, Foreign Internal Defense, high end warfare, low-end warfare, Washington parades, or interstellar assault?


    1. I vote for interstellar assault!

      " It is a lot easier to maintain a small force at high degree of readiness and expand it in size during wartime"

      This was true and still contains a degree of truth but is becoming less true. I'll explain. In the days of WWI/II, a fully functioning Marine could be trained from a recruit in a matter of weeks/months. Today, however, with the proliferation of technology, a fully functioning Marine has to master skills that are not trainable in weeks/months but, instead, require years. Jobs like pilots, computer techs, electronic warfare specialists, etc. require advanced skills that require much longer to master. Even "simple" jobs like an AAV maintenance tech require knowledge of computers, computer diagnostics, hydraulics, electronics, etc. that far surpass what was required to maintain/repair a Sherman tank or Amtrac. Aviation maintenance techs could be trained in weeks/months to maintain Hellcat/Corsairs but today's aircraft are far more complex.

      So, trying to quickly ramp up the size of a force is not as valid an option as it once was. Yes, there are still the jobs like the average rifleman that can be ramped up fairly quickly but more and more jobs require extended training.

    2. CNO,

      History supports my assertion small organizations are more agile and able to adapt new strategies, operational methods, and technology.

      Re-training troops is always harder and bureaucracy is always influenced by the desire to hang onto or make incremental improvements to legacy systems, even when new systems are dominant.

      Look at the fight Jackie Fisher had to introduce HMS Dreadnaught. The British Admiralty did not fully adapt all of the supporting methods and technology to fully utilize the capitol ship and paid for it dearly at Jutland. See ADMIRAL SIR PERCY SCOTT's book: "Fifty Years in the Royal Navy."

      The development of armored formations in post WWI France and England are a case in point. The Germans, starting with a clean slate, were able to leap frog the western allies precisely because they were freed from legacy doctrine and acquisitions and even adapted allied concepts rejected by British and French generals.

      Major General J. F. C. Fuller, the developer combined arms warfare, wrote extensively about military innovation in "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure: A Study of the Personal Factor in Command" - still "bleeding edge" after almost 100-years.

      BTW, you can make a "good" infantryman quickly, but a superior infantryman takes 8-9 years to develop - longer than a pilot.


    3. "History supports my assertion small organizations are more agile and able to adapt new strategies, operational methods, and technology."

      Oh, I don't dispute that at all. My contention is simply that certain modern skill sets are not able to be quickly ramped up in size. For example, we don't have enough qualified Aegis techs right now. They require years of instruction and experience. If we were to downsize, it would be impossible to ramp up in a useful time frame.

  11. In the event of naval landings I came across this quite from admiral Ernest king

    The value of having naval vessels in support of landings has been fully confirmed. The renewed importance of battleships is one of the interesting features of the Pacific war. The concentrated power of heavy naval guns is very great by standards of land warfare, and the artillery support they have given in landing operations has been a material factor in getting our troops ashore with minimum loss of life. Battleships and cruisers, as well as smaller ships, have proved their worth for this purpose.

    1. Source

    2. All the after action reports on all landings emphasized the importance of heavy naval gunfire support. Sadly, we, in our "wisdom", have decided we know better and no longer need naval gun support. This combination of arrogance and idiocy will get many of our troops killed as we relearn the hard lessons of combat.

  12. CNOPS-

    Required reading for this post was the "Marine Aviation (dream) Plan" article you linked. Here is an interesting T&E report (in link) released on 1 April- 1 April is ironically, very fitting:



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