Category Archives: marines

Is the Marine Corps persecuting her for being a Christian?

Making the rounds yesterday was the news that the Marines slapped a court martial upon a young Marine simply for posting a biblical verse at her workstation.

A Marine thought she was just doing what others she worked with did; she decorated her work station. In her case, Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling printed out some quotes that gave her encouragement and taped them to her computer.

But while others were allowed to keep their decorations, Sterling was ordered by a supervisor to take hers down. Why? She had posted Christian scripture verses, including a slightly altered one from Isaiah 54:17, reports The Christian Post:

How about no. First, Sterling has already been court martialed. And convicted. And had her appeal denied. What Sterling is currently doing is attempting another appeal, again using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a basis to overturn her conviction. Good luck with that. I get why The Liberty Institute would join this appeal- it’s what they do. And ordinarily I’m on board with their goals. But this is an extremely weak case, and a not at all sympathetic client.

Sterling was most certainly not court martialed for posting biblical verses. She was court martialed for a variety of charges, essentially for disobeying lawful orders. From that IJR article linked above Mike Berry of The Liberty Institute:

“Restricting a Marine’s free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional. If a service member has a right to display a secular poster, put an atheist bumper sticker on their car or get a Star of David tattoo, then Lance Corporal Sterling has the right to display a small Bible verse on her computer monitor.”

But that’s just it- it is not her computer monitor. It is the United States government’s computer monitor. And like it or not, the government gets to decide what you can or cannot tape to its property. Therefore, the order to remove the verse (which, by the way, she never even told her chain of command was a religious statement) was lawful and proper. And as the appeals court noted when it comes to what is or is not a lawful order:

Military orders are presumed to be lawful and are disobeyed at the subordinate’s peril.

The appeals court does a fair analysis why Sterling has no claim under RFRA. RFRA is not a magical incantation that allows one to do whatever one wishes, neither in the civilian world, nor most certainly in the military.

Furthermore, Sterling was also charged with and convicted of multiple counts of failure to obey lawful orders in regards to changing into the proper uniform of the day, and of failing to obey lawful orders to hand out passes for a function on post.

You can read for yourself the appeals court decision here.

Reading between the lines just a little, Sterling certainly appears to me as one of those (fortunately rare) members who simply thinks the rules that apply to others don’t, or at least shouldn’t, apply to her. They say that as a leader, you spend 90% of your time on 10% of your people. And it is apparent that she was one that simply existed to suck up leadership’s valuable time, as opposed to contributing to the unit accomplishing its mission.

Good riddance.

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The Marines take the F-35B to sea for operational testing.

This isn’t the F-35B’s first trip to the boat. The first suitability testing is to work out the mechanics of simply flying on and off the ship. This round is how to operate, in terms of sortie generation, deck spotting and timing the cycles, integrating with the rest of the ship, and seeing just how the concept of operations to fight from the ship works in the real world. This is one of the final steps before actually sending a squadron or detachment on a real deployment. The lessons learned here will be used to draw the template for that upcoming deployment.

Via NOSINT

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EFSS- Marine Mortars versus Army Mortars

A couple years ago, URR had a nice post on the Marine Corps shift to the 120mm rifled mortar system known as the Expeditionary Fire Support System. Basically, it is a rifled 120mm mortar, its associated ITV prime mover, and the associated ammunition caisson and its prime mover, another ITV. General Dynamics, the prime contractor for the system, put together a nice little marketing video. Lots of shooty, even some splodey.

There’s a major, major difference between the Marine EFSS and the Army’s own 120mm smoothbore mortar systems. And it’s not really so much the  guns themselves.  It’s the organization of fire support assets.

A Marine Division has three infantry regiments, and an artillery regiment.  The Marines have elected to replace their light 105mm howitzers in the artillery regiment with the EFSS. That means the division’s artillery will lose significant range, but will also gain a much greater ability to land early via vertical envelopment using the MV-22 Osprey, and that the small size and light weight of the EFSS will allow battalions and batteries of fire support to move quickly right behind the supported infantry regiments and battalions. It is a fairly bold shift, but the Marines probably know better than I what their fire support requirements are. One other major impetus for shifting to EFSS is that space on amphibious shipping for artillery is incredibly tight. EFSS has a very small footprint, which makes finding space for it much easier. Or rather, not taking up as much space as a conventional 105mm artillery battery frees up space for other vehicles and equipment the Marines really want to bring along, but previously had no footprint for.

The Army, by contrast, doesn’t have the same shipping and footprint constraints. Further, the Marines have, historically, only operated in division or larger sized formations since World War II. The Army, by contrast, has always had (at least theoretically) the ability to field corps and field armies. And each of those formations had their own artillery to reinforce the  fires of divisional artillery.  For instance, today, each Brigade Combat Team has its own Field Artillery Battalion, to support its maneuver battalions. The division headquarters controlling the BCT might well have a Fires Brigade attached to effectively double the artillery available.  In the Marines, there simply isn’t any artillery above the division level.

In the Army, 120mm mortars belong to the infantry and combined arms* battalion commander, in the form of a mortar platoon organic to each battalion. That is, they are not an artillery weapon, but an infantry weapon, one of many supporting weapons organic to the maneuver unit.

Both the Army and the Marines have smaller mortars, 60mm and 81mm, that are infantry weapons, belonging to the rifle company or the infantry battalion, though how they are distributed differs in detail, if not in effect.

 

*Combined Arms Battalions are the maneuver battalions of Armored Brigade Combat Teams, and consist of a battalion with two tank companies, and two Bradley mechanized infantry companies.

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“Bandini!”

Those who know, know.  Part III.

Oh, and it’s NEVER Black Flag out there.  When I say never, I mean ALWAYS.  ‘Cept when it’s freezing-ass cold.

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Squad Integrity, and the ACV

So, in our post about the Marines catching some flack for choosing a wheeled amphibious combat vehicle, jjak had a decent question:

So how will a 10-man vehicle hold a 13 man squad? Based on this http://xbradtc.com/2015/01/13/the-rifle-squad/ discussion the 13-man squad is superior. Any idea if the Marines will choose to cut down the squad size or split into multiple vehicles while waiting for the gen 2 vehicle with more seats? If they ever come.

Once the gen 2 vehicles arrive what happens to the 10 seat version? I’d make them engineering vehicles or mortar carriers or some other specialist vehicle, but maybe someone has a line on the official plan.

The answer is, as always, the Marines are weird.

Actually, not so much weird, as they do mechanized/mounted operations a little differently than the Army does, and because of that, the lack of squad integrity in the vehicle is not quite an insurmountable challenge. It’s not ideal, no, but it’s not the end of the world.

As we’ve mentioned, the Marine rifle squad is 13 men, a Squad Leader, and three four man fire teams.  A Marine Rifle platoon consists of a four man headquarters, and three rifle squads. That’s 43 men. Obviously, that means four ACVs, with a capacity of 10 each is insufficient lift for one platoon. Of course, units are almost always understrength, so there’s a good chance everyone present for duty would find a seat.

Except, each Marine Rifle Company, in addition to its headquarters and three rifle platoons, also has a weapons platoon, with 60mm mortar teams, SMAW assault weapon teams, and six medium machine gun teams. The weapons platoon is not normally deployed as a single tactical unit. Rather, its teams, particularly the SMAW and machine gun teams, are attached to the rifle platoons to augment their firepower. Add in the Navy Corpsman that routinely accompanies a platoon, any other attachments such as Forward Observers or Scout Snipers, and pretty soon, you’ve got 50 or more men that need to travel with the platoon.

One major difference between Army mounted infantry, and Marine mounted infantry is that in the Army, the vehicles are organic to the unit, all the way down to the platoon level. That is, every mech or Stryker infantry platoon owns its four vehicles.

But in the Marines, the infantry platoon doesn’t own any vehicles. The Amphibious Assault Vehicles (and presumably the ACVs in the future) belong to the division, and are shared out as needed to support various units.

Further, the size of Marine amphibious vehicles has never been keyed to any particular tactical unit. Instead, space restrictions on amphibious assault shipping argued instead for larger vehicles carrying as many Marines as reasonably possible.

Because of this, the Marines are far less concerned with squad integrity when mounted. Provided unit integrity can be maintained at the platoon, or at least the company level, they’ll improvise, adapt, and overcome.

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Suribachi

Four days after the bloody struggle to come ashore on Iwo Jima’s fire-swept black volcanic sand beaches, a patrol from 28th Marines was ordered to the top of the sullen volcanic lump that dominated the six square miles of sulphur and rock.  The seven-man patrol under the Executive Officer of Easy Company, 28th Marines raised a small flag.  The flag, difficult to see from the beach, was replaced by a larger one retrieved from one of the LSTs offshore supporting the landing.  Five Marines and one Navy Corpsman labored under fire to plant the larger colors into the rocky ground. The raising of the second, larger flag was captured by Joe Rosenthal, and became the most iconic and reproduced image in the history of photography.

Iwo

Many commonly believe that the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi signaled the end of the fight for Iwo Jima.  In reality, twenty-two more days of relentless and ferocious savagery lay ahead.  It was not until 26 March 1945 that Iwo Jima was declared secured.  Of the six men who raised the flag on Suribachi, three, Sgt Mike Strank, Cpl Harlan Block, and PFC Franklin Sousley, would die on the island, along with more than 6,800 others, mostly Marines.  A fourth flag raiser, Second Class Hospital Corpsman John Bradley, was among the more than 19,000 wounded.   The man who took the motion picture footage from the same vantage as Rosenthal, Marine Combat Cameraman Bill Genaust, was later killed in one of Suribachi’s hundreds of caves.

Bradley received a Navy Cross for his actions in combat on 21 February, and Strank a Bronze Star.  Bill Genaust also received a Bronze Star.

The above movie is the approximately 20 minute production called “To the Shores of Iwo Jima”.  Well worth the time, as it is a grim and unvarnished look at the titanic struggle for Iwo.  Seldom have the words of a senior officer been so accurate, or heartfelt, as when Admiral Chester Nimitz described the fight for the island.

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

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Iwo Jima- Seventy Years Ago

I’ll leave it to URR to write the history of one of the most vicious battles of the war, a battle that still serves as a touchstone to the Marines today. He has several weeks to address it. That tiny island you see in the photo below would take six weeks to secure.

Uncommon valor was a common virtue- Nimitz

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/18420_10155221110905174_4152943349475106039_n.jpg?oh=4831cef9988f1ad6a6d31087769bf4a2&oe=55863B34&__gda__=1435950255_b712cffb1336fde18212a237a8321ff7

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