Archive for the 'Marine Corps' Category



Marine Corps Updates Firearms Policy After Fort Hood Shooting

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 2 weeks ago

The Marine Corps issued a new MARADMIN concerning firearms after the recent Fort Hood shooting.  The summary is taken from Marines.mil:

Local directives will contain provisions that:

    • Prohibit privately-owned firearms in all federal facilities, to include government-leased spaces and government vehicles.
    • Prohibit carrying privately-owned firearms as concealed weapons aboard Marine Corps installations.
    • Ensure all privately-owned firearms stored aboard Marine Corps installations are registered and on file with the provost marshal’s office and the Marine Corps police department.
    • Prohibit storage of privately-owned firearms and ammunition in bachelor enlisted quarters for noncommissioned officers and below. Storage within bachelor officer or staff noncommissioned officer quarters is at the discretion of the installation commander.
    • Reemphasize compliance regarding storage of privately-owned firearms and ammunition in government family housing.
    • In all cases, privately-owned firearms will be stored in a fully-encased container that is capable of completely enclosing the firearm and must be locked with a key or combination lock. All firearms will be fitted with a trigger lock.
    • Ammunition must be stored separately from firearms and in a container capable of being locked with a key or combination lock.
    • Privately-owned firearms will not be stored in privately-owned vehicles.
    • All personnel will continue to comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws for the purchase, registration, transportation and storage of privately-owned firearms and ammunition.
    • Transporting privately-owned firearms is authorized in POVs to and from an authorized storage area or to an off-base location consistent with federal, state and local laws.

If I am not mistaken NCOs could never have personal weapons on reservation property, and officers could only with base commander approval.  But what this MARADMIN appears to do is expand the stipulations even farther.  Take note of the requirement for “government family housing … privately-owned firearms will be stored in a fully-encased container that is capable of completely enclosing the firearm and must be locked with a key or combination lock.  All firearms will be fitted with a trigger lock.”

This expands the rules to property off of the federal reservation, and if you live in housing that is in any way subsidized by the government for families, your personal weapons must not only be in a container large enough to contain the whole of the weapon, and locked, but it (or they) must also have a trigger lock(s) on it (them), even while inside the container.

Damn.  Heads of households had better hope they aren’t the victims of crime.  Their families are completely unprotected and unsecured.  This, from a Marine Corps Commandant who is alleged to be trying to secure his Marines from harm.  Oh well.  This is also from a Commandant who was allegedly involved in illegal command influence in investigations under his charge.  Readers already know what I think of airman Amos.  When Daniel graduated from Boot Camp I presented him with a present.  It included several things signed by Marine Corps Commandant Alfred Gray, with personalized notes to him.  I’ll never request anything like that from Amos.

The Navy And Marines Need Adult Supervision

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Jean sends this along to show why the Navy needs Marine supervision.

Meanwhile, the officials also said that a Russian electronic intelligence-gathering vessel was granted safe harbor in the commercial port of Jacksonville, Fla., within listening range of Kings Bay.

But the Marines have their own problems.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SABIT QADAM, Afghanistan – As full integration of the Infantry Automatic Rifle into the Marine Corps’ arsenal becomes complete, the M249 Light Machine Gun, formerly the Squad Automatic Weapon, slowly fades into the history of the Corps.

The SAW has seen action since 1984 and has protected Marines since. Replaced by an automatic rifle of similar size and weight of the M16A4 service rifle already issued to rank and file Marines, the familiarity with the new weapon is almost instant.

“The IAR has fewer moving parts than the SAW does making it a lot more ‘grunt friendly,’” said Lance Cpl. Tyler Shaulis, an IAR gunner with 4th Platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7. “It has a direct piston system, so there are fewer jams. It stays cleaner, longer with less carbon build up after it’s been fired. The muscle memory stays the same with it as it would an M16. If an IAR gunner goes down, any Marine could grab the weapon and lay down accurate suppressive fire without thinking twice.”

[ ... ]

“We’re going back to what we had in WWII with the Browning Automatic Rifle,” Henderson said. “Since the 1980s, we gave the infantry squad the light machine gun, and now we’re having another shift in the Marine Corps to get back to what we were doing right the first time.”

I asked Daniel, my former Marine, what he thought about this.

This is sad. The reason we went with the SAW was because the BAR and its associated concept were inadequate.  At times in combat in Iraq, we had all nine SAW gunners firing during engagements, and I’m glad that we did.  We needed the fire power.  In the thousands of rounds I put down range stateside and Iraq, I never had a single problem … never … had … a … single … problem, with my SAW.  I kept it clean.  This change to the IAR is a testimony to laziness.  What do Marines want to do – take someone out on a date?  What else do they have to do when they’re deployed?  What’s the problem with cleaning weapons?  Mine worked because I maintained it right.  All this has done is make the Marines weaker.  It may be that this IAR could be used for select circumstances like room clearing, but the death of the SAW will bring nothing good.

Additionally, in spite of this, the Marines are still hell bent on bringing women into the infantry officer training at Quantico.

The Marine Corps’ effort to evaluate whether more combat jobs should open to women marked another milestone last week when the second of two female volunteers washed out of infantry officer training.

A second lieutenant, she was dropped from the program Friday after failing to complete required training due to unspecified medical reasons, a Marine official told Marine Corps Times. It’s unclear whether she was injured or if she became ill.

[ ... ]

At Quantico, those overseeing the IOC experiment have said that it will involve up to 100 female officers and take at least a year to complete. The Marine official, speaking on condition of anonymity, reaffirmed the Corps’ intent to recruit female volunteers for subsequent iterations of the course.

“This was just the first shot,” the official said.

The Navy is out to lunch, but the Marines have joined them at that lunch.  If they aren’t attempting to force women through training at Quantico, they are worrying over large scale, heavily armored amphibious assault landings on near peer states, something that will never occur again.  Meanwhile, SOCOM continues to use up the money and be the nation’s first responders.  There are no adults left in the room, and the Marines are left without mission, leadership or vision.

Marine Double Amputee Taunted In Charlotte Grill

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

From The Charlotte Observer (via WCNC):

The owner of a south Charlotte restaurant says he is “heartbroken” over an incident Sunday in which bantering between football fans got out of control, resulting in a U.S. Marine who lost both legs in Afghanistan being forced to leave the eatery with his wife, parents and friends.

Chris Neilsen, owner of the Moosehead Grill on Montford Drive, has been in contact with family members of Marine Garrett Carnes, of Mooresville, following the incident that Neilsen says “was awful.”

“I want to somehow make it right by them,” Neilsen says.

During a verbal altercation that some witnesses said almost came to blows, one patron allegedly told Carnes he was using his wheelchair “as an excuse.”

In an interview with The Observer, however, the fan said Carnes and members of his party were equally abusive. And he denied making a remark about the Marine’s wheelchair.

The incident happened after Carnes, his wife Courtney, their parents, and friends Brett and Nicole Coburn stopped at the restaurant for dinner after attending the Carolina Panthers’ game against Dallas. Several members of the party, including Garrett Carnes, were wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys.

“Courtney was the first one out of the vehicle, and while she was getting Garrett’s wheelchair, one guy immediately started yelling at her,” said Brett Coburn, who described the man’s comments as “taunts.”

Coburn said that when the group reached the front door, the fan was waiting for them.

“He was standing at the door, and he started harassing us because of the Cowboys jerseys,” Coburn said.

He said the fan told Garrett Carnes, “Don’t use your wheelchair as a crutch.”

The fan, who did not want to give his name, gave a different account.

“Moosehead is a Panthers’ bar,” he said. “When they came, wearing the Cowboys’ jerseys, I started up on them. I asked them if they were Cowboys fans who lived in North Carolina.”

“I’m not going to fight someone in a wheelchair,” the fan said. “I said to him, ‘I’m not fighting you. Get four of your boys, and I’ll fight them.’ “

According to multiple accounts of the incident, Carnes told the patron – and others who were ridiculing the group for being Cowboys’ fans – that he was a veteran and had lost his legs in Afghanistan.

Members of the Carnes-Coburn party tried to “defend ourselves verbally,” Brett Coburn said.

“We were going back and forth,” the fan said. “Yes, it got out of control.”

The fan said one woman in the Carnes-Coburn party swore at him.

He said the fan walked toward Carnes in a threatening way, and some other patrons stepped in to break it up.

Neilsen said his employees are trained to separate possible combatants, in an effort to defuse such situations. On Sunday, staff members asked Garrett Carnes and his party to leave, while they took the fan to another area of the restaurant.

“It spiraled out of control,” Coburn says.

Courtney Carnes called police, but no charges were filed.

Neilsen said he arrived at the restaurant after the group had left and was in the parking lot, talking to police.

“I didn’t want them to leave,” he said of the Carnes-Coburn party, “but I understand why they left. I’m miserable. My heart hurts for them.”

He said the trouble was caused by people who “are not regulars” at the restaurant and added that the fan was not welcome to return.

Carnes, who is still undergoing treatment for his wounds at a Washington-area hospital, is trying to stay out of the dispute, Coburn said. Carnes’ mother, Rhonda, addressed a note to restaurant patrons on Facebook, saying, “Why didn’t any of you stand up for my son and daughter? And to think my son almost died for every single person in that bar, by defending all your freedom.”

The fan told the Observer, “He (Carnes) is a veteran, and I appreciate what he did for this country. But I don’t appreciate how abusive they were.”

Cedar Posts Blog has identified the culprit by name.  I won’t follow suit, but I will note that the original issue of the Charlotte Observer story identified the individual responsible as “Tank.”  They have since removed this from the report.

To learn more about Marine Corporal Garrett Carnes, read this earlier Charlotte Observer report.  My initial inclination was to inform “Tank” that I would like to meet him at a place and time of his choosing, and I would be happy to wear a Dallas Cowboys shirt (not that I am particularly a fan of the Cowboys) to see just what he thinks about it. You see, Tank doesn’t intimidate me.

But it appears from Facebook posts that there are enough people who want to meet Tank, so I thought I would focus on more important things.  Take careful note, Tank, of your reaction when you saw a double-amputee, and heard that he was a Marine.  You waxed idiotic concerning a shirt he was wearing.  You poked your belly out to defend a sports team that, frankly, doesn’t know you and doesn’t care anything about you.

Let’s be more specific.  I cannot stand quarterback Cam Newton.  I think that ridiculous head scarf he wears on the sidelines looks childish.  It sets him apart rather than marks him as a leader.  He will never be in the same class as say, Joe Montana, not if he lives 200 years.  And his silly superman act in the endzone makes him out to be a superstar wannabe.  I hate superstars, and I love team players.  The Marines are team players.  The Panthers are horrible in just about every other way, at least right now.

So, you spent your moral capital defending guys who do poorly at what they do, don’t know you, wouldn’t care anything about you if they did, and wouldn’t give you the time of day if they passed you on the street.  Losers, you and the Panthers.

Contrast that with the fellow you verbally abused.  He deployed to one of the worst places on earth to take down al Qaeda, al Qaeda sympathizers and their enablers.  He trained in deadly conditions (e.g., squad rushes with live fire) in order to do this, and will forever live with the consequences of his sacrifice for you.

If I had met him, I would have asked him permission to discuss his experiences in warfare.  You see, I owe him that respect, and some men don’t like to talk about it.  If he agreed, I have a whole host of questions for him.  What happened?  How did it happen?  When did it happen?  Where were you – Now Zad, Garmsir, Sangin?  What is your unit?  What about IEDs and have dogs been beneficial to you?  Are you set for at least a while, and is there anything I can do for you?

You see, Tank, some of us have respect for our warriors.  We worry over things like Hezbollah crossing the Southern border, how quickly al Qaeda will re-group when we leave N2K, what the Pech River Valley and the Hindu Kush will look like with the ANA and ANP in charge, how quickly the Taliban will move from Helmand to Kandahar and then on to Kabul, why we didn’t send forces to repel the Islamist attack at Benghazi, Libya, and so on and so forth.

I understand that you apparently can’t handle that sort of stuff.  So you just wear your shirt, cheer for your sports teams, and look stupid in those photographs.  You laugh, and laugh, and bow your belly out as if you’re really something.  But measure the cost.  Somewhere there is a terrorist planning to take down our electrical grid.  When that happens, your sports team will be the last thing on your mind, and you might just remember that Marine you abused.

Goodbye To The Army And Marines: Political Correctness Has Taken Over

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

As precursors to my analysis, take note of the following inconsistencies and contradictions.  First, Dr. Steve Metz, Professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in response to Sharia is coming, left this comment: “Should we worry about the creeping influence of the Boy Scout laws? More people follow that in the United States than sharia.” Note well.  Steve is comparing Boy Scout law with Sharia law.  This Boy Scout law – compared to this sharia law.

On the other hand, because of political correctness, in the Spring of this year, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley was condemned by the Joints Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and relieved of teaching duties at Joint Forces Staff College for teaching a course judged to be offensive to Islam.  The course he taught, Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism, was an elective course that Lt. Col. Dooley’s superiors judged as presenting Islam in a negative way. His superiors were persuaded to come to this conclusion after receiving an October 2011 letter in which 57 Muslim organizations claimed to be offended by the course.  The fact that Lt. Col. Dooley is a highly decorated combat veteran with  nearly 20 years of service under his belt apparently held little or no sway with the JCS.  As a matter of fact, JCS Chairman General Martin Dempsey “personally attacked” Lt. Col. Dooley on C-Span on May 10, 2012, during a Pentagon News Conference.

Next, take note of the fact that females are now matriculating at infantry officer training at Quantico.  This is certainly in line with Andrew Exum’s counsel concerning his own branch of the service: “I see no compelling reason why women should not be allowed to attend Ranger School. As far as I am concerned, if a woman really wants to run around a sawdust pit at two in the morning screaming “Ranger!” while periodically stopping to low-crawl for 50 meters, we have a constitutional — nay God-given — responsibility to allow her to do so.”

But now consider what Former Spook observes concerning women in combat MOS.

Almost 20 years ago, columnist Fred Reed published results of an Army study, comparing fitness levels among male and female soldiers. The data reaffirms that most women simply lack the upper body strength and endurance required by an Army infantryman, a Marine rifleman, or most special forces MOS’s.

The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

Finally, take note of the undercurrents in the suicide prevention department of the DoD.  We can trust our men with the most lethal weapons known to mankind, but the desire now is to give commanding officers authority over personally owned weapons.  As one commenter has noted, the concept of “at risk” is subjective, which is the same reason that such medical assessments cannot ever be allowed to preclude the right to own firearms in the civilian community.

My son routinely hauled 120 pound(+) kit off the line as a fleet Marine, including his time in Fallujah, Iraq, between body armor (including SAPI plates), backpack, weapon, SAW drums plus ammunition, hydration system, and so on and so forth.  Recall this picture from the assault into Helmand in the summer of 2009?

This Marine is carrying his kit plus a mortar plate.  He is probably crossing the line at greater than 150 pounds.

My son trained as a fleet Marine before the age of political correctness.  Strong, male Marines – not reserve Marines, but hard core regular duty infantry Marines – would need to take several shots of whiskey and 1000 mg of Ibuprofen to kill the pain prior to their twenty miles humps with full kit on 100 degree F (+) days at Camp Lejeune.  Negligent discharges brought a season in the so-called “room of pain.”  Laying back on the humps brought time in the room of pain.  Failing to qualify well on the range brought time in the room of pain.

Fun time involved laying down to sleep in the swamp overnight at Camp Lejeune (as ordered) and having to strip naked the next morning so that your buddies could burn the leeches off with cigarettes.  Or, how about that extended time at Fort A.P. Hill when the NCOs gradually removed everything the Marines had, from tent, to sleeping bag, to food, to winter clothing.  Then, it was time to sleep one winter night on that outing, and there was no way to stay alive unless Marines huddled, hugged, laid down together, shivered and threw leaves over themselves for the night.

You get the picture.  But my son left the U.S. Marine Corps because, in his own words, “the Corps is changing.”  He couldn’t train his boot Marines the same way he was trained.  He wasn’t allowed.  He had initially intended to extend so that he could go to Afghanistan with his boot Marines because he felt responsible for them.  But he believed that a lot of good men would perish in Afghanistan, and that he couldn’t make a difference in that.  So he left, along with all of the other Marines who had experience from Iraq.

If you have some sort of androgynous, genderless vision for the armed forces – if you believe that Navy Corpsmen should be able to treat the field diseases of both men and women and understand what mud and parasites in the various different cracks and crevasses and holes of men and women do, if you believe that men and women are on equal footing pertaining to physical abilities, if you believe that machines like the ridiculous Army future combat systems robotics and the silly machines like the big dog can ever replace mules and the backs of infantry Marines, if you believe that men and women will be able to interact socially as a cohesive fighting unit without the behavior that attends the opposite sexes – I think you’re weird and creepy.  Not that we can’t be friends, but just that you’re weird and creepy, at least to me.  Machines cannot replace strong men, and even the Russians found out in Afghanistan that women had a higher number of lower extremity injuries than men, causing severe under-manning of forces.  Exum believes that we have a constitutional and God-given duty to allow women in Ranger school.  I’m a constitutional aficionado with seminary training, and I don’t think Exum can prove either of those assertions.

As for Steve Metz, he isn’t stupid, he has just let his political and religious bigotry cloud his scholarship, leading to the stupid things he said about Sharia law.  But it’s okay to have Steve Metz saying those things as long as we don’t let contrary positions be taught.  We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

As for the personal possession of guns by Soldiers and Marines, how about this proposition.  We remove the ridiculous rules of engagement under which they operate and give them a coherent strategy, and see how our fighting men respond.  If not well, then I would be willing to spend some extra dollars to help assess PTSD.  But I’m betting I won’t have to spend a dime of that money.

As for the Army, I kind of expect this sort of thing.  But the Marines were supposed to be different.  They’re not, and political correctness proves it.  It’s a sad thing to watch the diminishing of the U.S. Marine Corps, once the greatest fighting and strike force on earth, to political hackery.  I hold the Commandant of the Marine Corps responsible, at least in part.  I also hold responsible a public who allows this kind of thing without pulling the plug on the absurdity of the use of our armed forces for every social engineering experiment that appeals to the self-professed intellectual elites.  And finally, it’s a shame that I have to mention the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the nations “intellectual elite” in the same breath.  How very sad is all of this?

Sudan Rejects U.S. Request To Send Marines To Guard Embassy

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

Remember when you read this report that you’re not reading The Onion.

Sudan has rejected a U.S. request to send a platoon of Marines to bolster security at the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum, the state news agency SUNA said on Saturday.

On Friday, around 5,000 people protested against a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad, storming the German embassy before breaking into the U.S. mission.

They also attacked the British embassy. At least two people were killed in clashes with police, according to state media.

A U.S. official told Reuters on Friday that Washington would send Marines to Sudan to improve security at the embassy, which is located outside Khartoum for security reasons.

“Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told SUNA.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment.

Sudan beefed up security at some missions on Saturday. A riot police truck was parked in front of the deserted German embassy, which protesters had set on fire on Friday. An Islamic flag raised by the crowd was still flying. Three officers manned the main gate.

More than 20 police officers were sitting in front of the U.S. embassy.

One commenter noted regarding the Marines guarding the Egyptian embassy not being allowed to have ammunition that “The USMC commander should have identified this order as unlawful and taken immediate action to have it superseded. In fact, he should have disobeyed the order. The Marine commander of the embassy detachment is as culpable for this outrage as the ambassador and Hillary Clinton.”

Which Marine commander should be held accountable is the question, but probably from the lowest level field grade officer (or NCO) in responsible charge of the mission up to the Marine Corps Commandant.  They are all responsible.

Under-resourcing a mission is both immoral and despicable.  It should be criminal, but apparently it is not.  Either way, the first degree of culpability for such an outrage lies with the criminally belligerent State Department.  The second degree of culpability lies with the Marine Corps for allowing themselves to be used as pawns in political gamesmanship rather than strike troops with an honorable and storied tradition.

Embassies are sovereign territory.  For us to be requesting to defend our territory is another sad sign of the state of our nation.  The administration has let our nation down yet again, but ultimately the people put this administration in charge.  Look upon what we have wrought, and don’t turn your eyes away from it.

Marines At American Embassy In Egypt Not Permitted Live Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

I am sorry and sad to say that we must cease the celebratory mood over this day being the remembrance of the federal assault weapons ban sunset provision in order to deal with something else.  While we’re debating whether a gunship should have been with the Marines who attempted to defend the Libyan embassy, or whether they should have had a FAST or fleet infantry Marine mindset, whether they should have used massive fire to close with and destroy the enemy, and so on and so forth, there is this sad, sad report from Egypt.

U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition, limiting their ability to respond to attacks like those this week on the U.S. consulate in Cairo.

Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”

U.S. officials have yet to confirm or comment on the reports. Time magazine’s Battleland blog reported Thursday “Senior U.S. officials late Wednesday declined to discuss in detail the security at either Cairo or Benghazi, so answers may be slow in coming.”

If true, the reports indicate that Patterson shirked her obligation to protect U.S. interests, Nightwatch states.

“She did not defend U.S. sovereign territory and betrayed her oath of office,” the report states. “She neutered the Marines posted to defend the embassy, trusting the Egyptians over the Marines.”

While Marines are typically relied on to defend U.S. territory abroad, such as embassies, these reports indicate that the Obama administration was relying on Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-backed government to ensure American security, a move observers are questioning as violence in Cairo continues to rage.

Marc Toner, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, did not respond to a request for comment from the Free Beacon. White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor also did not respond to a request for comment.

Failing to respond to requests for information is a sure sign of sin and misdeed by the State Department.  It’s too easy simply to reply to requests.  Therefore, we may only assume the accuracy of this report, and remark how sad, immoral and asinine it is for the U.S. Marines to be subject in any way to some idiotic State Department employee.

Marines Headed To Libya To Reinforce Security

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

From the AP:

U.S. officials say some 50 Marines are being sent to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities in the aftermath of an attack in the eastern city of Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three American members of his staff.

The Marines are members of an elite group known as a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, whose role is to respond on short notice to terrorism threats and to reinforce security at U.S. embassies. They operate worldwide.

The officials who disclosed the plan to send the Marines spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

There’s that word I don’t like again: “elite.”  You can disagree if you wish, but I think this is wrongheaded.  We don’t need “elite” forces, any more than we need “elite” SWAT team members when there’s a call for help in the typical American city, any more than we need “elite” law enforcement officers to come and rescue us in the case of threats rather than defend ourselves.

We need firepower.  We need an infantry mentality.  My son observed one day to me that with a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner laying down area suppressive fire, the leader with M203 40mm grenade launcher under his M4, and two other Marines with M4s or M16s providing defense of the SAW and leader, the typical Marine Corps infantry fire team can lay down an awful lot of effective fire, especially when conducting squad rushes or room clearing.  Given three fire teams in a squad, I would think that a few squads of Marine infantry would be very capable of providing the necessary security.

With our anemic and effeminate foreign policy, we’ve ceded both Egypt and Libya to the Islamists, so it’s better to bring the Americans home.  It’s done.  Our Middle East policy has been a failure, top to bottom, side to side, front to back.  But if you must keep a staff there, the next time Islamists try to suffocate an American diplomat, let the infantry lay down enough fire to kill them all as quickly as possible.  It matters not how many there are at the gate.  If they’re there, they are a threat.  Marine infantry tactics to deal with a threat is to kill the threat with extreme violence.  They’ll think before trying that one again.

We don’t need precise elitism.  We need firepower if we’re going to place diplomats in foreign countries that we intend to cede to the Islamists.

UPDATE #1: John Jay has some thoughts.

UPDATE #2: DirtyMick, who is a former employee of the DoD, brings us this report from Reuters-Africa:

Accounts of the mayhem at the U.S. consulate, where the ambassador and a fourth American died after a chaotic protest over a film insulting to Islam, remain patchy. But two Libyan officials, including the commander of a security force which escorted the U.S. rescuers, said a later assault on a supposedly safe refuge for the diplomats appeared professionally executed.

Miscommunication which understated the number of American survivors awaiting rescue – there were 37, nearly four times as many as the Libyan commander expected – also meant survivors and rescuers found themselves short of transport to escape this second battle, delaying an eventual dawn break for the airport.

Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya’s authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.

“I really believe that this attack was planned,” he said, adding to suggestions by other Libyan officials that at least some of the hostility towards the Americans was the work of experienced combatants. “The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries.”

[ ... ]

Of the eight American troops who had come from Tripoli, one was killed and two were wounded, Obeidi said. A Libyan deputy interior minister said a second American was also killed in the attack on the safe house. It was not clear if this was a diplomat or one of the consulate’s original security detail.

“It began to rain down on us,” Obeidi told Reuters, describing the moment the attack began – just as the Libyan security force was starting up the 10 pickup trucks and sedans they had brought to ferry the Americans to the airport.

“About six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa,” he said. “During this firing, one of the marines whom I had brought with me was wounded and fell to the ground.

“As I was dragging the wounded marine to safety, some marines who were located on the roof of the villa as snipers shouted and the rest of the marines all hit the ground.

“A mortar hit the side of the house. One of the marines from the roof went flying and fell on top of us.”

Read the entire report.  Consider the things I said above in light of the facts that we can glean from this Reuters report.  First, this was a complex, well-coordinated attack.  Second, it involved machine guns, RPGs and mortars.  Third, only a squad was included in the QRF that responded to the event.  Fourth, they clearly weren’t prepared for either the initial assault or the evacuation.  Fifth, more men toting M4s wouldn’t have been an adequate reponse, and clearly aren’t adequate for future consulate security if we intend to be in this part of the world.  A well-placed mortar or RPG beats an M4 every time.  Finally, the Marines had shooters (probably designated marksmen, or guys who have been through DM training), and this wasn’t adequate.  There is only so much that good shooters can do.

Lessons To Draw From Afghanistan (Or, How Obama Really Lost The Campaign)

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, writing for The Washington Post, excerpts his book, beginning his article with the following indictment.

The day after he arrived in Kabul in June 2009, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, gathered his senior officers to discuss the state of the war. They barraged him with PowerPoint slides — the frequency of Taliban attacks and their impact; the number of local security forces; and an evaluation of the Afghan government’s effectiveness in each province. The metrics were grim, the conclusion obvious: The Americans and their NATO allies were losing.

The part of the country that concerned McChrystal most was the city of Kandahar and the eponymous province that encompasses it. Founded by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., Kandahar city has long been the symbolic homeland of ethnic Pashtuns. In the 1990s, just as every other band of conquerors had done for the past thousand years, the Taliban used it as a springboard from which they captured Kabul and much of the rest of the nation. If the Americans were going to retake Afghanistan, they needed to start with Kandahar.

But the Pentagon had not sent most of the new U.S. forces that had arrived in Afghanistan to Kandahar. The first wave — a Marine brigade comprising more than half of the 17,000 additional troops President Obama authorized in February 2009 — had been dispatched to neighboring Helmand province, which McChrystal and his top advisers considered of far lower strategic significance.

“Can someone tell me why the Marines were sent to Helmand?” the incredulous McChrystal asked his officers.

The answer — not fully known at the time to McChrystal and his officers — would reveal the dysfunction of the U.S. war effort: a reliance on understaffed NATO partners for crucial intelligence, a misjudgment of Helmand’s importance to Afghanistan’s security, and tribal politics within the Pentagon that led the Marines to insist on confining themselves to a far less important patch of desert.

The consequences were profound: By devoting so many troops to Helmand instead of Kandahar, the U.S. military squandered more than a year of the war. Had the initial contingent of Marines been sent to Kandahar, it could have obviated the need for a full 30,000-troop surge later that year, or it could have granted commanders the flexibility to combat insurgent havens in eastern Afghanistan much sooner, allowing them to meet Obama’s eventual withdrawal deadlines without objection.

Instead, U.S. forces will begin heading home this summer with much of the east in disarray and security improvements in Kandahar still tenuous. Helmand is faring considerably better, but the gains there are having only a modest impact on Afghanistan’s overall stability.

Without the diversion into Helmand, U.S. troops could have pushed into more critical areas of the country before a clear majority of Americans concluded that the war was no longer worth fighting.

Analysis & Commentary

This is horse shit.  Obama and McChrystal have culpability, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  But the tale being spun here makes it sound like a few more sprinkles of magic counterinsurgency pixie dust and the whole thing would have gone much easier.  Perhaps unknown to many who didn’t follow the warp and woof of the campaign, this issue about why the U.S. Marines went to the Helmand Province is not a new debate.  Neither is the story that McChrystal was presented with the decision to send most of the Marines to Helmand as a fait accompli.  Logistical and institutional inertia made it impossible to change things.  Or at least, that’s the story.

Rajiv is telling a tall tale, and the issue was much more complicated than he hints.  I discussed this almost three years ago, and the same thing is true today that was true when I penned the defense of Marines in the Helmand Province.  McChrystal and the Pentagon were under the influence, even control, of the advocates of population-centric counterinsurgency.

Bring stability operations to the population centers, and good governance, goods, services, participation in government on the local level, redress of grievances, and so on, and it will render the outlier Provinces and lower population centers irrelevant, with insurgents unable to topple the central government from those far flung places.

But recall, this is the same Stanley McChrystal that allowed David Rodriguez to micromanage the Marines on their way through Marjah.  “Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marja, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.”

Killing the enemy wasn’t a priority.  Rajiv even says so later in the article, exclaiming “the military’s counterinsurgency strategy was supposed to place troops near civilian population centers to protect residents from insurgents, not chase bad guys in the desert or remote valleys.”  But arguing for doing just that, I observed that the insurgents who destabilized Kandahar and other areas of Afghanistan came from Helmand, Kunar, Nuristan and other far flung places where we needed to chase and kill them.

In fact, the larger scale Marine Corps operations in Helmand were predated by intensive fights by the 24th MEU in Garmsir where they killed some 400+ Taliban fighters.  The hue and cry of the people at that time had nothing to do with wells, schooling, governance or anything of the sort.  “We are grateful for the security.  We don’t need your help, just security.”  Similar words were spoken at a meeting in Ghazni with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan: ““We don’t want food, we don’t want schools, we want security!” said one woman council member.”

Corporal William Ash, a squad leader from 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), along with a stray dog lead a patrol through a city in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. When the platoon moved into the area, they found two stray dogs, and each time the Marines head out on patrol the dogs are right at the Marines’ side.

In fact, I remarked at one point how ironic it was that McChrystal, who was so concerned about inadvertent casualties that his ROE wouldn’t even allow illumination rounds for night time combat, and who wanted separation of the insurgents from the population in order to engage, was so unpersuaded by the Taliban invitation to join them in a fair fight in Now Zad, where they had completely run off the population and were using the place as an R&R haven.

So did the Marines have enough men to engage Kandahar and Helmand at the same time in order to prevent having to play whack-a-mole counterinsurgency?  Recall that while I was the only blogger at the time covering and commenting on Now Zad that while the men there were losing legs, arms and their lives, living in hobbit holes two or three Marines to a hole, I could not recall any time in the last four years driving across Camp Lejeune when there were so many barracks being built, so many Marines in the states, and so many units living in multiple different locations on the base because there wasn’t enough housing for them in the same barracks.

Recall that I also said that there were Marines who had finished entire periods of enlistment who, while spending time on wasteful MEUs floating across the seas and stopping in every port to become drunk, had neither been to either Iraq nor Afghanistan in the entire four years.

Yes, there were enough Marines to have pulled this off.  A Regimental Combat Team or two could have locked down Kandahar like they did in Fallujah in 2007, conducted census operations, and found and killed the Taliban fighters.  Kandahar could have been essentially cleared with enough focus and effort.

But McChrystal’s strategy not only abandoned far flung Provinces to focus on population centers … leaving the roads to the insurgents just like the Russians did … it abandoned the Pech River Valley in Kunar and Nuristan, along with the entire Hindu Kush mountains.  Every military strategist now acknowledges that this was an error, and we are back into Nuristan.

But only for a while.  After all, we have given a date for withdrawal.  With obfuscation like Rajiv’s article, it’s easy to forget that the administration which began its tenure with a commitment to “the good war” saw that commitment evaporate in the face of hard questions.  What was an effective campaign slogan soon became a byline, and rather than meet the military needs for a full scale surge, we saw a half-ass surge that gave them only some of what had been requested.

At the same time, an end date was set, with the enemy now knowing just how long it would take to run out the clock.  Puerile national security advisers turned Afghanistan into the WTF? war, and men who gave so much in this awful region of the world now see no reason for the loss, and are simply happy to have brought their men home.

There were many mistakes in the campaign: a half-ass surge, a childish national security adviser, McChrystal having surrounded himself with juveniles, overbearing rules of engagement, under-resourcing, strategy that could have been created with a random number generator any given day, poor communication to the American people as to the reasons for the campaign, failure to hold Pakistan accountable for harboring the enemy, loving up on corrupt politicians like Hamid Karzai and his brother Wali Karzai, sending billions of dollars to enlarge and ensure the corruption, and on and on the list goes.

But pointing a finger at the hard work of the U.S. Marines in Now Zad, Musa Qala, Sangin, Garmsir and other places in Helmand isn’t just unfair.  It’s scurrilous and dishonest.   The administration bears the responsibility for the failure.  Campaign slogans aren’t just word games, they are promises to be kept by men in authority and power.  The Soldiers and Marines who have perished demand better of our leaders.

Marines In Afghanistan Told To Disarm Prior To Panetta Speech

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

From MSNBC:

In an unusual move, around 200 U.S. Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent where U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was set to speak during his trip to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Although the military said the order was not given in response to the Sunday’s shooting of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by an American soldier, it possibly underlined how high tensions were running after the incident.

Major General Mark Gurganus told reporters at Camp Leatherneck that he had given the order because the two dozen Afghan soldiers also there were unarmed and he did not want to treat them differently.

“You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,” he told reporters, dismissing concerns related to the shooting. “This is not a big deal.”

“All I know is I was told to get the weapons out,” Sergeant Major Brandon Hall told The New York Times. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.”

Panetta’s visit comes after Sunday’s shooting that left 16 Afghan civilians dead, including nine children. Some of the bodies were reportedly burned. The suspect, who hasn’t been named, is in U.S. custody.

According to the newspaper, the Marines, who were waiting to hear Panetta’s speech, were abruptly told by their commander to get up, leave their weapons, including M16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9 mm pistols, outside and return unarmed. Hall said he was acting on orders from superiors, the Times reported.

Disarming in this way was noteworthy, according to NBC News’ chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.

He told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the move was “highly unusual” and that Marines in a combat zone are always supposed to have weapons within their reach.

Without going into too much detail, what the Marines were told to do violates everything about Marine Corps doctrine, from top to bottom, concerning not only self protection but protection and security that Marines provide to other Marines.  It runs counter to what they are taught in Boot Camp, School of Infantry, and as a fleet Marine.  And to have 200 Marines completely disarmed in a combat zone is worse than just stolid or ignorant.  It is immoral.

But as for Panetta, let’s be clear.  If his plane were to crash on the way back to the states, requiring us to find a new Secretary of Defense, the world would not come to an end.  Time moves on, as does daily events and decisions.  This is true of me, readers, and even “one of the most important people (sic) in the world.”  But doctrine is for little people. While the Marines were armed Panetta was in one of the safest places on earth – i.e., around 200 armed Marines.  With the Marines disarmed, Panetta unwittingly placed himself and his entourage in mortal danger.

The only analogue I can think of is new gun owners.  If they cannot bring themselves to become trained and practice and trust in their muzzle and trigger discipline, then perhaps they shouldn’t own guns.  If the Secretary of Defense is nervous about being around firearms, perhaps he should have just stayed home and avoided this photo-event.  It would have been better for him and the Marines.

Marine MEDEVAC

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

In Michael Yon Gets What’s Coming To Him, I discussed Yon’s latest concerning the issue of MEDEVAC in Afghanistan and whether airborne vehicles should be required to both (a) carry a red cross, and (b) be unarmed.  The reader can review what I said concerning this issue, but I pointed out that “The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way.”

Now comes Matthew Burden at Blackfive to respond to Michael (and I guess, me too).  I won’t rehearse what he says about the issue, and if he feels like it, Michael Yon can respond to Matt’s problems with the issue.  But of me, Matt says the following.

The Army is the only Service that is dedicated to this essential mission. In fact, other uninformed bloggers claim that the Marines don’t do Medevac.  That part is correct.  However, to assume that’s because “The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way” is incorrect.  That is because the Army provides that service for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force.  Just like the Marines don’t do CSAR – because the USAF has the lead on that.  Not because they don’t do business that way (bold his).

Well, goodness.  So now I don’t warrant a note (and Matt has my e-mail address), and my name doesn’t even deserve honorable mention.  I am now just an “uninformed blogger.”  This is extremely bad form.  I expect such things from some of the bloggers at Blackfive, but I had not expected this of Matt.

I never made the claim that the Marines don’t do MEDEVAC.  I just made the claim that they didn’t do it that way.  Matt has conflated two issues, i.e., MEDEVAC in Afghanistan with MEDEVAC generally.  I also never made the claim that the Marines do MEDEVAC in Afghanistan.  But the Marines did in fact do MEDEVAC in Iraq.

Let’s rehearse just a bit.  These are some of the things I already know.  I am just linking and pointing them out so that you do too.  Here is a Marine Corps CH-46 (Sea Knight) performing MEDEVAC in Fallujah, Iraq.

Did you see any red crosses?  Here is another MEDEVAC.

And as for my own personal knowledge of this issue?  Do you recall this picture?


This was when my own son had to be MEDEVAC’d out of Fallujah in 2007 (this turned out to be a leg injury that didn’t require his return to the States, and after a week or two of light duty, he was with his fire team again).  He is being carried out, the Marine on the far left is carrying his SAW.

The bird he caught out of there?  Why, it was a CH-46, Sea Knight.  By the way, I have strongly recommended delay in retirement of this magnificent aircraft, since it is the only platform from which the Marines can fast rope (the V-22 cannot fulfill that function).  But then, that may be beside the point, and oh well, I guess I am just being an “informed blogger” again.  Sorry to bore you with the facts.

This helicopter – you know – the one which evacuated my own son – didn’t have a red cross, and was armed.  But just to make sure that my memory doesn’t fail me and to remind you that I did my fact checking, I called this Marine yesterday to make sure.  He said, “All Marine MEDEVAC was done with armed helicopters, and none of them had red crosses on the side.  Of course, it isn’t that way Stateside, but that’s not what you’re asking.”

So there.  I guess that closes the case for me – again.  The Marine Corps and Army do MEDEVAC differently.  Like I said, I expected better of Matt than this.  But then, that’s not a mistake I’ll make again.  How sad.


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