UPDATED 12 September 2009

Disband the Egotistical USMC that Refuses to Admit it Needs Armor on the High Explosives Dominated Non-Linear Battlefields of Today

Major Franz Gayl was one of the few--perhaps the only--fellow marine officer with a conscience willing to loyally speak out against marine corps problems and offer solutions internally in professional journals like Marine Corps Gazette whose ego wasn't in hock to the bureaucracy and peer groupthink. Its no surprise today he is leading the effort to expose USMC resistance to change to fully protect its men and women from land mines in mine resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) v-hull shaped trucks. His mistake was being naive about who populates the marine corps and its culture as expressed when he as a Captain told me in 1989 that "we must first make the existing marine corps work, then we can reform it". Applying his advice as a young officer, I back then blew-the-whistle on the vulnerability of our existing unarmored, wheeled Humvee trucks--that the majority of the Corps moves around in--and offered solutions in the November 1989 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings magazine but my warnings were ignored and I was vilified for daring not to worship the sacred cow marine corps.


The thousands of Soldiers and marines who since then have died in these and other wheeled trucks are not convenient "heroes" to excuse away the immoral, incompetent bureaucracies but tragic victims who demand our ground forces be reformed as they should have been all along--to be at the very least, fully cross-country mobile and protected in armored M113 Gavin tracked tanks/armored personnel carriers but light enough to not only swim but fly by helicopters over sea and land mines. The lesson from Korea and Vietnam was to have everyone in a tracked APC--a lesson we still refuse to learn with disastrous consequences in Iraq/Afghanistan you can see by simply turning on CNN. These tracks--lighter than MRAP trucks--but equally protective with multiple armor layering-- have been repeatedly offered to the USMC over the years but constantly rejected. If this wasn't bad enough the gyrenes want a JEEP WITH NO ARMOR protection to roll out the back of their flying deathtrap V-22s!


You can't make something that is fundamentally corrupt work, and the USMC at its core is composed of weak egos wanting to participate in a mythology of blind obedience, foot-riflemen storming ashore in small boats chasing down bandits and afterwards telling tall tales in fancy French uniforms and song (marine hymn is a French prostitute melody) to woo the ladies as if we were still in the turn-of-the-20th century where high explosives (HE) hadn't yet dominated warfare. The USMC is based on the lie of individual rifleman god-hood which is the sin of PRIDE which the real God warns us "goes before destruction". A fellow NCO in the marine reserves who was a psychology major at my university I was attending at the time to earn my officer's commission concluded: "the marine corps' problem is it thinks it shit doesn't stink". After all these years, no better or fewer words expresses the basic truth of the marine corps sickness better except the word NARCISSISM.

Supplying armored vehicles to all marines would be admitting the marine rifleman myth was a lie so it was no surprise that as soon as the land mine threat in Iraq lessened by bribing rebels not to attack us, the USMC would reduce its purchase of v-hull shaped MRAP trucks so as to keep its foot-slogging riflemen ego racket going. Never mind that armored vehicles have doors, ramps and hatches for anyone to jump out and fight on foot all they want to--after first getting them to the contested scene intact. The USMC does not want to properly mechanize to be able to maneuver on today's non-linear battlefield where high explosive weaponry dominates from RPGs to land mines to guided missiles--because "turning a wrench" to keep a motor vehicle running requires HUMILITY and THINKING that ruins the dumb grunt riflemen "From Here to Eternity" lifestyle of sports attire PT, lawn and building care punctuated by running around in the woods with a rifle and a rucksack. To try to get around the need for vehicular mobility without culturally paying for it--instead of employing very simple vehicles like M113 Gavins with single-piece band tracks--the Corps buys handfuls of oversized helicopters and bloated amphibious tractors so they can pack in the maximum foot riflemen to get to land and only have to pay for it with a few crewmen.


Never mind, that these create huge targets for enemy gunners and limits where they can land. This cheapskate mentality is taught early on in the USMC; at boot camp we were ordered to tape over 8 out of 10 sinks and 4 out of 6 toilets and not use them so we'd have less to clean. All 100 of us would shave and relieve ourselves from the few available outlets and when the unrealistic outward appearances tyrant Drill Instructor came to inspect we'd rip the tape off the unused sinks/stalls and present an immaculate--but false--outward appearance. Its no different in how the USMC uses all its assets. Once ashore, the hundreds of wheeled trucks that waste space in our Navy's amphibious ships will be brought in so everyone in the Jessica Lynch-style "support" underclass can ride if its in the desert and its too hot to walk the 300+ miles from Kuwait to Baghdad. The problem is the USMC almost didn't make it; it was 6 days late while the mostly tracked U.S. Army 3rd Infantry (Mechanized) punched through Iraqi resistance and waited in West Baghdad for the marines--who were repeatedly ambushed and stopped in their trucks--to show up.


Saddam and his subordinates were able to escape thanks to USMC weak truck-bound structure and start the rebellion against us that has resulted so far in 4, 000+ dead and 60, 000+ wounded with the American individual tragedies rising each day.

The USMC doesn't get it that HE weaponry dominates the battlefield and the rifleman gunslinger is not enough--and its been this way sadly for years. Rather than disperse into submarines and heavily armored battleships as the WW2 kamikaze representing the guided missile and the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests showed was necessary, the USMC perpetuated its WW2 style frontal beach assault racket by claiming helicopters would somehow protect the thousands of marines packed like sardines in vulnerable surface ships. During the Cuban missile crisis Russian submarines with nuclear torpedoes were ready to incinerate thousands of sailors and marines clustered together off-shore--and they didn't even know it until years later after the Cold War thaw. The USMC does not even do beach assaults well, the most successful at this were the British who on D-Day brought ashore General Percy Hobart's "Funnies" specially modified armored tracked tanks with devices to defeat enemy obstacles and strong points. In the American beaches adjacent to the British and Canadian, the typical American riflemen-as-god beach assault met disaster at Omaha beach that nearly ruined the entire invasion had courageous Navy destroyer captains not risked their own destruction by closing in to nearly point blank range to suppress German gunners. Did the USMC in the Pacific fighting the less technologically capable Japanese learn from the British success and Army mistakes on Omaha beach against a high-technology enemy? No, they continued with replacement parts for their Iwo Jima racket. Sure, there were some bright spots like the Ontos tankette with 6 x 106mm recoilless rifles that could accompany walking infantry in closed, vegetated terrain and give fire support that Army General James Gavin advocated; but as soon as the Vietnam war was over for marines who we were first to pull out due to excessively high casualties--the Ontos was retired and not replaced with a more automotively capable reduced size version of the M113 the Army uses. The USMC MRAP fizzle is the Ontos all over again. As soon as the Iraq occupation fades, their MRAPs will be cornered off somewhere like masking tape on toilet stalls in basic training--and junked when no one is looking because of the USMC that doesn't want to armor mechanize itself. The marines boast they do not need tanks and APCs but when they went ashore in Lebanon they needed some protection--so they all congregated into a steel and concrete building--that a suicide driver then in a truck full of explosives was easily able to drive past marines with rifles and blew the entire battalion headquarters up in 1983.


Our enemies around the world now know land mines can hurt Americans foolish enough to give them easy truck targets on roads to blow up--the problem is not going away--despite the typical USMC head-in-the-sands-of-Iwo-Jima drill.

You may react that we should simply not send in the USMC into large nation-state wars and let the more adult mentality, better-equipped U.S. Army fight large wars, but send in marines to do the "small wars"--the sub-national conflicts that rage all over the world that act as breeding grounds for terrorists who can attack the American homeland. However, with the marine ego comes an uber snobbery that if you think its looks down on other Americans in the other services consider how it treats "ragheads" and "gooks"--zippos were being taken to Vietnamese huts in 1965 as reported by CBS reporter Morley Safer long before the Army My Lai incident, and we only need to look at Haditha to see marine hotheads hurt by their own wheeled truck incompetence wanting "pay back" against the civilian populace which is not only immoral--it creates more rebels as the height of counter-insurgency military incompetence. When the marines clamored to have a kill/capture "special operations" unit of their own, it was granted to them and it was promptly kicked out of Afghanistan after it committed atrocities against civilians there.

The inescapable conclusion is that the USMC is an un-American, European-style army for itself and post-Cold War bureaucracy whose reason to exist is for its own ego/budget that is subsequently immoral and incompetent for both nation-state war amphibious and inland operations as well as sub-national conflicts. With a culture of excessive hubris its incapable of reforming itself and retaliates against those within the ranks who try to do so out of naive but genuine loyalty. Congress should abolish the sacred cow USMC and assign the few amphibious warfare taskings that the nation really needs to the U.S. Army--which has the world's largest landing craft force anyway so we can have a seamless integration of Airborne Warfare with Amphibious Warfare studied and practiced by more objective and adaptive men.



A young military professional writes:

"I've studied war, as a profession, since childhood. My favorite book is Rommel's Attacks. My two main papers written in college concerned the IDF in '67 and the British in Malaya. I've read every book on COIN that I can find. Weapons/vehicles are an obsession of mine. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in hopes of finding an environment conducive to all that, but found VERY quickly that unless I worshipped Christ as I shot people, unarmed or not, and had a 'I'm better than you, even though my equipment is substandard' attitude, I wasn't going to fit in. As it currently stands, I'll probably end up in the Guard, either as a heli pilot or MP officer, though your sites have given me pause to whether I should reexamine my old desire to be an infantry/mech/armored officer. Now that my background's out of the way, compliments to you, Sir.

I've found your websites to be a breath of fresh thinking and intelligence in a close-minded and traditionalist community. Your writings on the basic combat load and a restructuring of basic training mirrored my own ideas VERBATIM. It's a telling sign when 75% of the Marine Corps only does 1 term before getting out, their watchword being 'Semper Fuckus'. I myself was in a platoon that resembled the videos of Russian conscripts that float around on youtube, no exaggeration. It was to make us 'hard'. Now, as they say, the enemy won't mind hitting you. But the DI's aren't looked on as the enemy. You can't have the same person who takes care of you, takes you to chow, and puts you in your rack at night be the person who hits you. It feels like an abusive father to the recruits, who can't help but look fondly upon the DI, even as he beats them. The white/black hat idea was the exact same idea I formulated when I came home thinking about my experiences.

Keep up the great writings, Sir! You've proved to be an inspiration for my continued studies, despite our minor disagreements on details."