Archive for the 'Marine Corps' Category



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

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 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
2 years, 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
2 years, 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
2 years, 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
3 years, 2 months 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
3 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
3 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.

U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault On America

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From Breitbart:

With beach landings, 25 naval ships and an air assault, the United States and eight other countries are staging a major amphibious exercise on the US East Coast this week, fighting a fictional enemy that bears more than a passing resemblance to Iran.

After a decade dominated by ground wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the drill dubbed Bold Alligator is “the largest amphibious exercise conducted by the fleet in the last 10 years,” said Admiral John Harvey, head of US Fleet Forces Command.

About 20,000 US forces, plus hundreds of British, Dutch and French troops as well as liaison officers from Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Australia are taking part in the exercise along the Atlantic coast off Virginia and North Carolina.

An American aircraft carrier, amphibious assault ships including France’s Mistral, Canadian mine sweepers and dozens of aircraft have been deployed for the drill, which began on January 30 and runs through mid-February.

Monday was “D-day” for Bold Alligator, with US Marines stepping on to the beach from hovercraft, near the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina.

The American military, mindful that Marines have spent most of their time in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan since 2001, said the goal was “to revitalize, refine, and strengthen fundamental amphibious capabilities and reinforce the Navy and Marine Corps role as ‘fighters from the sea.'”

With defense spending coming under pressure after years of unlimited growth, the Marines — which devoted a brigade to the exercise — also are anxious to protect funding for their traditional role as an amphibious force.

The exercise scenario takes place in a mythical region known as “Treasure Coast,” with a country called Garnet, a theocracy, invading its neighbor to the north, Amberland, which calls for international help to repel the attack.

Garnet has mined several harbors and deployed anti-ship missiles along the coast.

The threat of mines, anti-ship missiles and small boats in coastal waters conjure up Iran’s naval forces, but the commanders overseeing the drill, Admiral Harvey and Marine Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, say the scenario is not based on any particular country.

Good grief.  Just to be clear for the thousandth time on the future of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based, amphibious assault and forcible entry to Iran.  It would be ridiculous to believe so.  In fact, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based amphibious assault and forcible entry anywhere else, ever.  Marine Corps strategic thinking that prepares them for such an exigency is geriatric.

All the while, SOCOM is planning to park themselves in the Persian Gulf region using a Marine Corps amphibious assault dock, to conduct anti-piracy operations, air-based forcible entry and other missions and operations, conduct hostage rescue, and other assignments as the President decides.

Thus they have taken up the mantle of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps is in the process of signing, sealing and delivering its irrelevancy to the twenty first century.  Apparently the Marine Corps doesn’t care any more.

Free The Final Haditha Marine

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

There is disposition of the cases against all of the Haditha Marines, except for one.

The former Marine officer who gave Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich the order to “clear” an Iraqi house near the site of an explosion that had just killed a Marine testified Friday that he expected Wuterich and his squad to “kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”

William Kallop, who was a lieutenant in 2005 and is now a stockbroker in New York, said he believed insurgents inside the house were firing on Marines and thus the house could be deemed “hostile.”

According to the rules of engagement, Wuterich and his Marines were justified in using any amount of firepower in assaulting a “hostile” structure without identifying whether the people inside were combatants, Kallop said.

Kallop’s testimony came at the court-martial of Wuterich on charges of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty in the killing of 24 Iraqis by Marines on Nov. 19, 2005, in the Euphrates River community of Haditha. Among the Iraqis killed were three women and seven children.

While Kallop, who was a platoon commander, was called as a prosecution witness, his testimony appears to support the defense contention that Wuterich followed both his orders and training in assaulting two houses after the explosion that killed Marine Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and injured two other Marines.

The jury comprises four officers and four senior enlisted personnel, all with combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, as well as experience in “clearing” houses.

A Marine lawyer, testifying after Kallop, gave a different interpretation of the rules of engagement. Maj. Kathryn Navin, who had lectured Marines before they deployed, said a house cannot be declared hostile unless the people inside are known to have “hostile intent” or have committed “hostile acts.”

But Kallop said that in training at Camp Pendleton and March Reserve Air Base, and at briefings delivered in Iraq, Marines were not told they needed to identify individual targets as threatening when assaulting a “hostile” structure.

He said that he ordered “Clear south” and Wuterich responded, “Roger that, Sir.” He did not tell Wuterich that the house was “hostile,” Kallop said.

But Wuterich, in gathering his squad for the assault, told one of the Marines that the house was hostile and that the Marines should shoot first and ask questions later, according to testimony from former Marine Stephen Tatum.

No insurgents or weapons were found in two houses “cleared” by Marines. Dozens of Jordanian passports and stacks of American hundred-dollar bills were found in another house, however, indicating the neighborhood may have been used by insurgents as a staging point for attacks, Marine intelligence officers testified at preliminary hearings.

Kallop testified that after the explosion that ripped apart a Humvee, Marines were under attack by “a few bursts of small-arms fire.” He said he ordered a Marine to fire a grenade at the house after seeing a “turkey-peeker,” military jargon for a military-age male sneaking a look at Marines in a suspicious manner.

Kallop said he expected Wuterich to lead the Marines in his squad “to conduct movement to contact and kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”

Responding to a question from defense attorney Haytham Faraj, Kallop said Marines are not required to risk their lives by stopping to identify individual targets while assaulting a hostile structure.

This whole legal conversation is dancing on the head of a pin, with wrangling over wording, the specificity of orders in the middle of heated battle, and second thinking that could work to make their future more hazardous if they allowed it to become self-doubt.

We have covered this before, but it pays to revisit this now that Wuterich is finally at trial.  When my son entered the Marine Corps in January of 2006, he completed boot camp at Parris Island and School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, having been trained in both by recent veterans of Operation al Fajr.

When he entered the infantry as a fleet Marine, he was trained by men who were veterans of al Fajr or other similar combat.  It is impossible to overstate the influence and affect that al Fajr had on the Marine Corps infantry at that time, from culture to core beliefs about battle tactics, to necessary equipment, and finally to training.

Clearing tactics were taught to boot Marines by veterans of al Fajr, and the tactics taught were those employed in Fallujah in 2004.  So when my son deployed to Fallujah in April of 2007, he employed the same tactics and culture taught to him by veterans of combat from 2004 in Iraq.

When he and other Lance Corporals attempted to teach those same tactics and apply that same culture to their own boot Marines in 2008, they usually got into significant trouble with senior NCOs and officers.  The Marine Corps infantry culture and tactics had changed to the point that the veterans of Iraq found no home for what they knew, and most or all of them left the Marines.

If this was true of my son, who joined late in 2005, this was true in the superlative of Marines who were deployed in 2005.  Again, it is impossible to overestimate the affect of al Fajr on the Marines at that time.

The Haditha Marines were charged on the watch of General Mattis.  While Mattis has a storied history of his own in Iraq and elsewhere, I do now and have always held against him that he knew all of this and still allowed the prosecution to go ahead.  The careers of many fine Marines were ruined over this.

It is now time to put this whole ugly affair behind us.  No, not any ugliness associated with what the Marines did on that day.  The Marines didn’t wait to identify inhabitants.  In room clearing operations after Operation al Fajr, room inhabitants perished.  That’s what the Marines were taught to do.

I am talking about the ugliness of the self-hatred on display in these despicable, perverse and obscene show trials.  It’s time to free the last Haditha Marine.

Concerning Marines Urinating On Dead Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

Most of the DoD establishment is outraged over the recently divulged incident of Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters.  Much of it is faux outrage, but these Marines won’t be very happy with the outcome of the inquiry.  Ever the one to point out the different standards for different people because of different political needs, I’ll mention that there is no way – no way – to square the burial of Bin Laden at sea with Islamic law (not that it really matters to me whether we followed Islamic laws concerning his burial; we could have treated him like they did Mussolini as far as I’m concerned — either way, he’s in hell.).  Additionally, the public display of Zarqawi’s bloodied and bloated body caused an outrage among Muslims across the world.  It’s okay to desecrate the dead as long as the DoD sanctions it.  It’s not okay to do it if you’re a Marine under fire in the Helmand Province.  Come back to me when you get some consistency.  Until then, I think I’ll turn my attention to other, more important things.

Speaking of Marines under fire, we should mention some recent heroics.

The secretary of the Navy next week will present the Navy Cross to the family of a Marine from Camp Pendleton killed while saving the life of other Marines in Afghanistan, officials announced Tuesday.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to present the medal Jan. 17 to the family of Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan in a ceremony at Camp Pendleton. The Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor for combat bravery by Marines or sailors.

Hogan, 20, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was killed Aug. 26, 2009, by a buried explosive device after pushing a Marine to safety and yelling warnings to other Marines. Hogan was on a walking patrol in Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold.

According to the Navy Cross citation, Hogan spotted a trigger wire for a buried bomb and hurled himself into the body of the nearest Marine to push him away from the imminent blast.

Hogan then “turned in the direction of the Improvised Explosive Device and placed himself in the road so that he could effectively yell verbal warnings to the rest of his squad-mates. This desperate effort to warn the rest of the patrol bought the remaining Marines valuable seconds to begin moving away,” the citation reads.

And some recent heartbreak.

A Wilmington Marine has been seriously injured in Afghanistan.

According to a report from the Wilmington News Journal, Cpl. Josh Sams, 27, was on routine patrol Wednesday when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He was taken to a hospital in Afghanistan where both legs were amputated above the knee.

Sams’ mother, Barbara Regan, told the Journal that Sams was serving his third and final deployment and scheduled to come home for good on Feb. 7.

Sams is currently at a hospital in Germany also suffering from a broken pelvis and arm. He is in stable condition and will hopefully return stateside by Tuesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

He serves with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, H&S Company, Scout Sniper Platoon.

Sams is married to his wife, Lindsey, who lives in Jacksonville, N.C., where Sams is stationed.

Sams’ younger brother, Logan, died in an ATV accident in 2008.

Our men are still at war people.  Take a deep breath and recalibrate your perspective.


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