Category Archives: marines

Harvest Hawk Herc

We’ve mentioned the Marine Corps program to “bolt on” a ground attack capability to some of its fleet of KC-130J Hercules. And lo and behold, here’s some video of one doing a live fire exercise.

My eyes are getting pretty old. Can one of you sharp eyed spotters identify the chase plane? I think it’s a T-6 Texan II, but I’m just not sure.

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General Carl E. Mundy, Jr, 30th Marine Commandant, Dead at 78

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Very sad news that General Carl Mundy, the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, passed away on Wednesday in Alexandria, VA.   General Mundy’s career was long and distinguished, beginning with his enlistment in the Marine Reserves in 1953, where he would rise to be a Sergeant Squad Leader.

Commissioned out of Auburn University, General Mundy served two tours in Vietnam, one as OpsO and XO of 3/26, and the other with III Marine Amphibious Force.  Following his service in Southeast Asia, General Mundy commanded the Second Marines, and then 2nd Marine Division, and eventually II MEF at Camp Lejeune, NC.

General Mundy served as the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps from July 1991 to June 1995.  General Mundy was also a plain-spoken man.  And as such, has always been a hero of mine.  He had the backbone to stand up to the Diversity Tyrants, and to try and do what was best for the Corps rather than his career.  The infamous “60 Minutes” hack job that was as dishonest as the Westmoreland piece and the George W. Bush service record fabrication portrayed Mundy’s remarks as being something other than what they were.  General Mundy had criticized the racial quota approach to recruitment of Marine Officers, rightly pointing out that simply taking in men and women based on skin color, without regard to intelligence and aptitude, did them and the Corps a disservice.  He correctly observed that those accessed with below-average intelligence and aptitude were at a severe disadvantage and did not do as well with marksmanship, land navigation, and other skills.  Mundy apologized for any offense that the edited remarks may have caused, but never backed off from his premise, which infuriated the Diversity advocates.

Later, General Mundy ordered the eventual elimination of recruiting quotas for married Marines, again rightly pointing out that first-term non-rate Marines with wives and children had a much higher proportion of problems because of low pay and long hours, and the effects were deleterious to readiness and morale.  Mundy was ordered to rescind that guidance, but again remained unwilling to revise his views.

I had the privilege to serve with General Mundy’s son Carl E. “Sam” Mundy III, at Parris Island.  He was a superb Officer who rightly admired and emulated his Dad.  Carl E. Mundy III is now a Brigadier General, I believe.    General Mundy’s legacy to the Marine Corps remains with us almost twenty years later.  He was a warrior who believed in the warrior ethos.  And was unwilling to compromise those beliefs for political expediency.

But for other senior Officers in all the services to take a lesson from General Mundy.

Farewell, General.  30th Commandant, departing.  Marines from every age who guard Heaven’s streets will present arms.

 

 

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Filed under history, infantry, marines, Politics, SIR!, Uncategorized, veterans, war

U-T San Diego: Ramadi Remembered

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Ramadi remembered

Iraq battle began 10 years ago on April 6, exacting heavy Marine toll

“The Battle of Ramadi was pivotal for coalition operations in the province,” the 1st Marine Division announced. Marines and soldiers killed an estimated 250 rebels from April 6 to April 10, and “the fighting shattered the insurgent offensive.”

U-T San Diego has the story.

One hell of a price was paid by the Marines and Soldiers in that battle and in the subsequent months. Paul Kennedy’s 2nd Bn 4th Marines, the “Magnificent Bastards” were magnificent once again. 1st Bn 16th Infantry was, too. As was every other unit that contributed to the fight and to holding the line until the Awakening turned the tables a couple years later.  The bravery, skill, and determination daily displayed in Ramadi and in Fallujah that April of 2004 is difficult to put into words.

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It was the honor of a lifetime to serve under LtGen Conway, CG I MEF, and MajGen Mattis, CG 1st MarDiv.  The Division ADC was John Kelly, and the Chief of Staff was Joe Dunford.  The MEF SgtMaj was the incomparable Carlton Kent.  Marines could never ask to be led by better.  And, of course the friendships forged in such a place will last the rest of our days.

O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Semper Fidelis, Marines.

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Filed under army, history, iraq, marines, navy, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Seeking, and Finding, at Parris Island

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This week, following my last stint ever of reserve duty at Quantico, I decided to make one final trip to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.  I wanted to revisit what was a meaningful place for me one last time before my retirement on 1 June.   The nine-hour drive was smooth enough, but still… nine hours.  I arrived about 1730 in the evening and drove around town for a bit while I still had some light.

The surrounding communities of Beaufort and Port Royal had grown appreciably since I was here last, in May of 1992, when I relinquished command of India Company, Third Recruit Training Battalion.  On that same day, I also graduated my final Recruit Company and executed PCS orders.   Driving around I noticed there are many more restaurants now, and shopping centers, recreational activities… all the things that one would come to expect from a mid-sized and modern community.   There were far more amenities than existed twenty-odd years ago.   It was, as many have experienced visiting old duty stations, a bittersweet walk back in time… seeing places where I once lived, old haunts…. scenes not taken in for more than twenty years.  My objective, however, was not to drive and walk around the community.  I came to see the Recruit Depot at Parris Island, the place where I’d spent so many thousands of hours, in a job that was both challenging and immensely rewarding.  I also wanted to have a look at what changed, what hadn’t, and to do some reflecting on my time there, and my time since.   So… fairly early this morning, I climbed into a set of Charlies and headed aboard.

What awaited me was entirely and thoroughly unexpected.  In fact, it was quite a jolt, one which set me on my heels.  The first place I wanted to see after crossing the causeway was Third Recruit Training Battalion.  It was there that I served as a Series Commander and commanded India Company.  As I approached the Battalion area, I immediately noticed something was amiss.  No recruits anywhere.  No anybody.    I drove past the old barracks, triple-decker squad bays… I passed the Battalion HQ.  NOTHING.  So, I pulled my car in and got out.  To my absolute shock and inexpressible sadness, the entire of the Battalion Area was abandoned… derelict.

The line of squad bays that comprised Kilo and India Companies, 3rd RTBn.  So strange to see them without the bustle of activity.

The line of squad bays that comprised Kilo and India Companies, 3rd RTBn. So strange to see them without the bustle of activity.

The Third Recruit Training Battalion Command Post

The Third Recruit Training Battalion Command Post

Third RTBn Logo on the old grinder.

Third RTBn Logo on the old grinder.

Here was this place that I had thought of countless times — remembered hundreds and thousands of hours on the drill deck, the PT field, and next-door, the Close Combat area.  I expected to see recruits marching, to hear Drill Instructors correcting and yelling, to hear cadence being called and platoons sounding off.  Yet, there was not a soul around.  Just… a thunderous, deafening silence.  Here was a place where so much sweat and so much emotion had been expended by many thousands of recruits since the barracks were built in the 1950s.  Here was a place where the sharp commands of the Drill Instructors echoed off the brickwork, readying Marines for three wars.   Here was a place that was profoundly formative in so many a young life.  And now it was EMPTY.

Building 423, where India Company Office was located (the windows on the left front)

Building 423, where India Company Office was located (the windows on the left front)

The Inside of the former India Company Commander's Office.  No hand sanitizer in my day, though.

The Inside of the former India Company Commander’s Office. No hand sanitizer in my day, though.

I saw my old Series and Company Offices.  The paint was peeling and bits of debris and old equipment lay scattered about.  The “grinder” had grass and weeds growing from the cracked pavement.   The Chow Hall was overgrown, with crumbling steps and windows dislodged.   I ventured around, feeling a deep sadness that here, where I expected to find continuity, I instead encountered a very stark and sad reminder of the passage of time.   I wandered into the abandoned squad bays, ignoring the signs warning me to keep out.  When I stood there, it was if I could still hear the voices of hundreds of Drill Instructors and thousands of recruits, barking commands and sounding off in the rhythm that is unmistakably Marine Boot Camp.  My mind’s eye pictured images I saw a thousand times… of recruits executing the manual of arms in front of their racks, or mountain-climbing on the quarterdeck for some boneheaded infraction.   But they were only in my imagination, my memory.  Outside, the sand “motivation pits” where recruits once did incentive PT in the South Carolina heat, were now overgrown with grass and weeds, edged by rotting logs.

The squad bay.   The black lines closest to the windows were where the legs of the bunk racks were to be carefully aligned.  The lines toward the center were where recruit heels would be.  That was being "on-line" before the internet!

The squad bay. The black lines closest to the windows were where the legs of the bunk-style racks were to be carefully aligned. The lines toward the center were where recruit heels would be. That was being “on-line” before the internet!

Yellow footprints outside the DI hut.  The one closest is where the recruit stood when he was called to report.  The one in front of the hatch was where he stood to knock and report, and the third set was where he stood if he was told to stand by.

Yellow footprints outside the DI hut. The one closest is where the recruit stood when he was called to report. The one in front of the hatch was where he stood to knock and report, and the third set was where he stood if he was told to stand by.

In a place such as this, where so many young lives had so many defining moments, there remains an aura of those raw emotions that is almost palpable.  Those powerful emotions of fear and anger, excitement and resolve, mixed with the rightful pride of accomplishment, seems to float in the damp air still, nearly two years after the last recruit series called these squad bays home.

Around the side of the last squad bays, I met with yet another unpleasant surprise.  The Close Combat area, which had been immediately adjacent to Third Battalion, was also gone.  The pugil stick pits, which I helped build…gone.  Our “thunderdome” area and the shed where the Close Combat Instructors fought thousands of rounds had been replaced by base housing and a fire station.  The Confidence Course was gone also.  An empty field stood in its place.

The wash racks between squad bays.  Recruits would use these wash racks to scrub dirty uniforms and 782 gear, boots, etc.

The wash racks between squad bays. Recruits would use these wash racks to scrub dirty uniforms and 782 gear, boots, etc.

The place in which I stepped into a gopher hole up to my right thigh, resulting in a crushed vertebrae.  One step I regret.

The place on the 3rd RTBn PT field where I stepped into a gopher hole up to my right thigh, resulting in a crushed vertebrae. One step I regret.

As I stood remembering and taking pictures, I had to ask myself… Why such a powerful reaction? Why was I seemingly close to tears?   My emotions were all my own, all personal.  I expected to come back and find the place eminently recognizable, something  which would perhaps make me consider that 22 years was not quite so long ago.   But it is so long ago, especially when the recruits  are just 18 or 19 years old, and some of the Drill Instructors themselves only in their mid-twenties.

I eventually got back in my car and drove around the base some more.  A good deal of the infrastructure was new, including a massive Instructional Training building.  That beat the decrepit and cramped building I had occupied for the purpose (I was the OIC of Close Combat and Academics in between having a Series and Commanding India Company).    No wooden squad bays remained, which is kind of too bad.  The last of them was at the Rifle Range, replaced by brick structures about ten years ago.

The more I drove and walked around, the more I noticed that the tenor of the place had not changed very much at all.  Parris Island is still a place that provides the mental and physical challenges to those who want to be Marines.   The Drill Instructors still have the lean, hard, tired, uncompromising countenance.  The recruits still snap to, pushed by their DIs, until they respond quickly and willingly; until they become basically-trained Marines.   So, with further consideration, I realized that I did indeed find the continuity I was looking for.

The new location of India Company, 3rd RTBn

The new location of India Company, 3rd RTBn

I also eventually found the “new” Third Battalion.  A brand-new row of triple-deck squad bays, grinder, Command Post, wash racks, and a new PT field had been built about 1,500 yards from the old Battalion Area.  They were behind the rows of Spanish Moss-bedecked trees in the area that was once the island’s working farm.  There were new “motivation pits” and the ubiquitous pull-up bars.  I actually had a chance to see the “new” India Company area, and was pleased to meet the Officers and some of the Drill Instructors who are building today’s Marines.  It was a good conversation.  The hours are still incredibly long, the Drill Instructors still thoroughly professional and dedicated, and the pride of playing a part in the making of Marines is still very much in evidence.  Semper Fidelis, Marines!  And thanks for taking the time to talk to an old man who stood where you stand now (more or less) a quarter century ago.

H/T to DB for EDIT

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A US-Japan Littoral Combat Ship Design?

The Diplomat has the story.  The possibility is certainly intriguing.  One can assume rather confidently that Japanese naval engineers are somewhat less enamored of “revolutionary”, “transformational”, and “game-changing” as we seem to be here at NAVSEA.  Japanese ship designs, particularly in smaller units, have always been excellent.  Fast, sturdy, powerful units for their size.

…analysts contend that the trimaran would likely be a lighter variant of the U.S. Navy’s 3,000-tonne littoral combat ship (LCS), a platform designed primarily for missions in shallow coastal waters.

According to reports in Japanese media, the high-speed J-LCS would give the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) the ability to quickly intervene during incursions by Chinese vessels near the Senkaku/Diaoyu islets and other contested areas of the East China Sea. Chinese analysts speculate that the J-LCS could be intended as a counter to the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) Type 056 corvettes and Type 022 fast-attack boats, two types of vessels that could be deployed to the region should relations continue to deteriorate. Furthermore, early reports indicate that the slightly enlarged hull of the 1,000-tonne-plus vessels could accommodate SH-60K anti-submarine helicopters and MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) helicopters.

If Chinese analysts are correct, and I hope they are, it is possible we will see a smaller, better-armed, more lethal, less fragile, and significantly less expensive warship which will be suitable for combat in the littorals.  Our lack of “low-end” capability to handle missions ill-suited for AEGIS cruisers and destroyers, such as mixing it up with ASCM-armed frigates and fast-attack craft, is nothing short of alarming.  It would be of benefit to the US Navy to scrutinize the results of such a design, which at first blush sounds much closer to the “Streetfighter” concept than either current LCS design, and that of the Cyclone-class Patrol Cutters.

It sure as hell would be an improvement over current designs.  Especially if the “joint” US-Japanese LCS actually shipped the weapons systems and capabilities required and didn’t stake success on as-yet undeveloped “modules” whose feasibility has come increasingly into question.

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Ten Years Ago Today

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We flew in to Habbaniyah on a C-130 out of Kuwait, and the pilot juked on the way in, just in case.   Once on the deck, we were dispatched into an Army-Marine Corps convoy headed to Ramadi.  On the way out the gate of the laager, a VBIED detonated next to one of the lead security vehicles, killing two soldiers.  It would be an interesting eight months in Iraq.   The First Marine Division, led by MajGen James N. Mattis, whose ADC was John Kelly and Chief of Staff Colonel Joe Dunford, was one hell of a team (that included the Army’s excellent 1-16th Infantry).

The 1st Marine Division (not including Army casualties) suffered 118 killed and more than 1,400 wounded in those eight months in places like Fallujah and Ramadi, Haditah, and a lot of other dusty villages and towns nobody could find on a map except the men who fought there.   A high price was paid to hold the line in Anbar, to hold elections, and cultivate conditions for the Awakening.   For the Marines and soldiers who did so, recent events with AQ flying flags in Anbar’s cities and towns are particularly maddening.  It was clear that the “cut and run” philosophy of the White House was an exceedingly poor one, and subsequent events show that the so-called “zero option” is as descriptive of the President’s credibility as force levels in Iraq.  And we are set, with the same litany of excuses, to do it again in Afghanistan.

I wondered then what all this would be like, ten years on, should I be fortunate enough to survive.  Some things remain very vivid, the sights and smells, and the faces of comrades.  Others I am sure I would have to be reminded of.  And a few memories, thankfully few, are seared into the memory for the rest of my time on this earth.

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Going Hollow: The Hagel Preview of the FY2015 Defense Budget

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Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke Chair at CSIS, provides a very cogent summary of the weakness of our Defense Department leadership and its inability or unwillingness to discuss the 2015 DoD budget meaningfully.

At the simplest level of budgetary planning, the Secretary’s budget statements ignore the fact that the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Department’s failure to manage the real-world crises in personnel, modernization, and readiness costs will have as negative an overall budget impact over time as Sequestration will. Ignoring the Department’s long history of undercosting its budget, its cost overruns, and the resulting cuts in forces, modernization, and readiness means one more year of failing to cope with reality.  Presenting an unaffordable plan is as bad as failing to budget enough money.

Cordesman gets to the real meat of our failure of strategic (dare I say “national strategic”?) thinking, as well.

He talks about cuts in personnel, equipment, and force strength in case-specific terms, but does not address readiness and does not address any plan or provide any serious details as to what the United States is seeking in in terms of changes in its alliances and partnerships,  and its specific goals in force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness.

He holds nothing back in his contempt for the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), either.

Worse, we are going to leave these issues to be addressed in the future by another mindless waste of time like the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). All the past QDRs have been set so far in the future to be practical or relevant. Each successive QDR has proved to be one more colostomy bag after another of half-digested concepts and vague strategic priorities filled with noise and futility and signifying nothing.

Cordesman saves his best for last, however.

Like all of his recent predecessors, Secretary Hagel has failed dismally to show the U.S. has any real plans for the future and to provide any meaningful sense of direction and real justification for defense spending. The best that can be said of his speech on the FY2015 defense budget is that U.S. strategy and forces will go hollow in a kinder and gentler manner than simply enforcing sequestration.

We do need to avoid cutting our forces, military capabilities, and defense spending to the levels called for in sequestration. But this is no substitute for the total lack of any clear goals for the future, for showing that the Department of Defense has serious plans to shape a viable mix of alliances and partnerships, force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness over the coming Future Year Defense Plan.

I don’t always agree with Cordesman’s assertions, but he is just about always a thoughtful if provocative commenter on Defense and National Security issues, and his analysis of SECDEF Hagel’s remarks are spot-on.  We are headed for a hollow force, despite its smaller size, as many of us have feared all along.  This, despite all the promises and admonitions of this Administration and our Pentagon leadership.  Go have a read.

 

 

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Seduced By Success; An Army Leadership Untrained for True War?

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Our friend at Op-For, the urbane and erudite sophisticate LTCOL P (supplying some cogent comments of his own), points us to a superb article in AFJ by Daniel L. Davis outlining the very real possibility that our immense advantages over our foes in the last two-plus decades has left many of our middle and senior leadership untested and overconfident in our warfighting capabilities.

Imagine one of today’s division commanders finding himself at the line of departure against a capable enemy with combined-arms formation. He spent his time as a lieutenant in Bosnia conducting “presence patrols” and other peacekeeping activities. He may have commanded a company in a peacetime, garrison environment. Then he commanded a battalion in the early years of Afghanistan when little of tactical movement took place. He commanded a brigade in the later stages of Iraq, sending units on patrols, night raids, and cordon-and-search operations; and training Iraq policemen or soldiers.

Not once in his career did an enemy formation threaten his flank. He never, even in training, hunkered in a dugout while enemy artillery destroyed one-quarter of his combat vehicles, and emerged to execute a hasty defense against the enemy assault force pouring over the hill.

Spot-on.  Such sentiment applies to ALL SERVICES.  Even in the midst of some pretty interesting days in Ramadi and Fallujah, I never bought into the idea that was being bandied about so casually that “there is no more complex decision-making paradigm for a combat leader than counterinsurgency operations”.   It was utter nonsense.  The decisions to be made, as the author points out, above the troops-in-contact level, were seldom risking success or failure either in their urgency or content.  We had in Iraq and in AFG the ability to largely intervene with air or ground fires as we desired, to engage and disengage almost at will, against an enemy that could never have the capability of truly seizing tactical initiative.  Defeat, from a standpoint of force survival, was never a possibility.  To borrow Belloc’s observations of Omdurman, “Whatever happens, we have got, close air support, and they have not”.

Having a brigade of BMP-laden infantry rolling up behind the fires of a Divisional Artillery Group, supported by MI-24s and SU-25s, which stand a very real chance of defeating (and destroying) not just your unit but all the adjacent ones, is infinitely more challenging than even our rather intense fights (April and November 2004) for Fallujah.  The speed and tactical acumen of the decision makers will be the difference between holding or breaking, winning and losing, living or dying.   The author points out some significant shortcomings in our current training paradigm, and brings us back to some fundamentals of how we train (or used to, at any rate) decision-makers to operate in the fog and uncertainty of combat.  Training and exercises, designed to stress and challenge:

At some of the Combat Maneuver Training Centers, Army forces do some good training. Some of the products and suggestions from Army Training and Doctrine Command are good on paper. For example, we often tout the “world class” opposing force that fights against U.S. formations, and features a thinking and free-fighting enemy. But I have seen many of these engagements, both in the field and in simulation, where the many good words are belied by the exercise. For example, in 2008 I took part in a simulation exercise in which the opposing forces were claimed to be representative of real world forces, yet the battalion-level forces were commanded by an inexperienced captain, and the computer constraints limited the enemy’s ability to engage.

Many may remember the famed “Millennium Challenge 2002” held just before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Retired Marine general Paul Van Riper, appointed to serve as opposing force commander, quit because the exercise was rigged. ”We were directed…to move air defenses so that the army and marine units could successfully land,” he said. ”We were simply directed to turn [air defense systems] off or move them… So it was scripted to be whatever the control group wanted it to be.” For the U.S. Army to be successful in battle against competent opponents, changes are necessary.

Field training exercises can be designed to replicate capable conventional forces that have the ability to inflict defeats on U.S. elements. Such training should require leaders at all levels to face simulated life and death situations, where traditional solutions don’t work, in much more trying environments than is currently the case. They should periodically be stressed to levels well above what we have actually faced in the past several decades. Scenarios, for example, at company and battalion level where a superior enemy force inflicts a mortal blow on some elements, requiring leaders and soldiers to improvise with whatever is at hand, in the presence of hardship and emotional stress.Simulation training for commanders and staffs up to Corps level should combine computer and physical exercises that subject the leaders to situations where the enemy does the unexpected, where key leaders or capabilities are suddenly lost (owing to enemy fire or efforts), yet they still have to function; where they face the unexpected loss of key communications equipment, yet still be forced to continue the operation.

Such exercises should not all be done in nicely compartmentalized training segments with tidy start and end times, and “reset” to prepare for the next sequence. Instead, some exercises should be held where there is a beginning time “in the box” and no pre-set start or end times until the end of a rotation two weeks or more later. In short, the training rotation should replicate the physical and emotional stress of actual combat operations in which there is no “pause” to rest and think about what happened.

I couldn’t agree more.  However, in a budget-crunch environment where significant funding is going toward advancing political and social agendas even within DoD, I am not at all sanguine about such training occurring.  Worse, rather than having leaders champion the need for it and constantly fight for training dollars, I fear that such a requirement will be dismissed as less than necessary, since we already have “the most professional, the best educated, the most capable force this country has ever sent into battle.”  While our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are indeed superb, and honed at the small unit level, our senior leadership is much less so.  What’s worse is that leaders who have no experience in battlefield command against a near-peer force have begun to assert that technological innovation makes such training superfluous.  That the nature of war has changed, and we are now in an era of “real-time strategy” and “global awareness”.   To steal a line from The Departed, there is deception, and there is self-deception.

Anyway, the Armed Forces Journal article is a thought-provoking read.

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Duffel Blog: Gen. Amos Nervously Awaiting Results Of Career Board

Those guys nail it yet again.  Is it an indicator that Jim Mattis finds the Duffel Blog hysterical but Jim Amos hates it?

Career Designation, according to Marine Corps, is “a force-shaping tool” that ensures Marines retain the best company-grade officers by firing half of them. The program was established in 2011, making this Amos’ first Career Designation, having recently hit the requisite post-MOS waiting period. Amos graduated at the bottom of his class in Commandant’s School in 2010.

Brilliant, I tell you.  Brilliant.

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Making Marines- “…and a Few Good Men” (1973)

Another great vid.  Narrated by Gunnery Sergeant Moore/Sgt Joe Friday himself (actually a USAAF Veteran in WWII).   Worth a cup of coffee and twenty-five otherwise productive minutes.  Though it is filmed at MCRD San Diego, things hadn’t changed very much between 1973 and when I first went to MCRD Parris Island in 1982, or went back as a Series Commander in 1989.  I doubt they have changed all that much since I rotated to Camp Lejeune in 1992, either.   Note that nearly every Drill Instructor and Officer is wearing a Combat Action Ribbon, and the Regimental CO at Graduation is a World War II, Korea, and Vietnam Veteran.

Some pretty good close-order drill.  And it has some excellent M-14 pron.

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Best Marine Corps Recruiting Commercial Ever

Almost thirty years old now, but still my favorite.  And we have had some damned good ones.

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Filed under marines, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Overheard at the Auto Parts Store

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One thing I can say about the Upper Valley.  There is more than a bit of “local color” here.  There is a distinctive and drolly humorous demeanor to some of the folks up here, even if they lack the full complement of teeth.   Think Red Green, with a Vermont accent.  While I was buying some windshield wipers today, and shooting the breeze with a former Marine at the counter, a heavy-set older fella strolled up to the counter next to me.   The other guy behind the counter walks over to help him, and the following conversation took place:

“Can I help ya?”

“Yessir, I come by to pick up a tranny core you said was in.”

“Oh yeah, I seen the note that said Dave Perry was gonna come fetch it.  It’s out in the bay.”

“Well, then, that one ain’t mine.”

“No?”

“Nope.  See, I ain’t Dave Perry.”

“Are ya sure?”

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War Department Film: Landings On New Britain

UPDATE:  Okay fine.  Brad posted it already back in June.  Watch it again, anyway.

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As per SOP, I watched the really good movie that XBRAD posted earlier, and in looking at zenoswarbirdvideos.com, found this one.

My Father was an 18-year old Machinist Apprentice who made both landings shown in the film, Arawe on 15 December 1943, and Cape Gloucester on 26 December.    His LCT 172 was a 105 foot craft somewhat larger than an LCM-8.  (You see LCT 174 at some point in the video.)  Part of his responsibilities was to go in ahead of the assault and mark water depth on the landing beaches, then paddle back out to the LCT and make the landings themselves.

At Arawe, his LCT went to pick up the survivors of the Army cavalry company that attempted to go in by rubber boat (described at 28:30).  It was shot full of holes in the process.  And LCT 172 was close to destroyer Brownson (DD-518) at Gloucester when she was hit by Japanese aircraft and sunk.  (49:50 in the film.)

Anyway, on a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon, grab a cuppa and have a watch.  The film is pretty gritty, and hardly paints a romantic picture of the war in the South Pacific.

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Locklear: US Pacific Dominance “Diminishing”? You don’t say, Admiral!

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Commander of US Pacific Command Admiral Sam Locklear seems to not have much of a knack for strategic thought.  Last March it was Locklear whom, in the face of a sabre-rattling North Korea and an intransigent and increasingly hostile China, defined his biggest strategic threat to be……  climate change. 

Recently, at the Surface Navy Association, Locklear again puts a round in the wood with his convoluted and childishly naïve assessment of The People’s Republic of China, after finally having the long-overdue epiphany that China actually represents a threat to US interests in the Pacific and elsewhere.

“China is going to rise, we all know that,” Adm. Locklear said, as reported by Defense News, which included several quotes from his speech at the annual Surface Navy Association meeting.

“[But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

Not that Locklear is alone in his Pollyanna take on the PRC.  More than a few times, in wargames, and in discussions of events in the Pacific, I have heard senior officers discuss “co-opting” China as a “partner” to help “find a solution” to the problem, when the problem was very intentionally created by China and Chinese actions, because a change in status quo was in China’s best interests.   But Locklear has PACOM.   The People’s Republic of China is in his AOR.    Locklear’s bizarre assertions have gotten notice, finally.

“The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security?” said Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods.

“But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself.”

A couple of news flashes for Sam Locklear.  China is not in a position to rise.  They ARE rising, and have been for some years.  The epiphany you had about China ending US dominance?   A little late.  By almost a decade.  China has been an unabashed supporter of DPRK bellicosity and intransigence, and has materially aided them in both weapons development and network exploitation capabilities.  They have undermined and eroded the Iran sanctions.  China has been long involved in penetration of US networks and theft of national and industrial secrets, as well as many tens of billions of dollars of intellectual property.  China has also made her intentions brutally clear on several occasions, in myriad ways.   Unfortunately, political being that he is, Sam Locklear is deaf to the sounds of a regional adversary playing power politics when his civilian masters deny that power politics even exist (except domestically, to get elected).
China as a force to be reckoned with has been something past Administrations have had to deal with, for sure.  Not all of them (Loral?) have done so prudently.  The continued shrinking of the US Navy under George W. Bush prevented a major US maritime presence in the Western Pacific while two wars unfolded in the Middle East.   But what has happened since January 2009 has been an emboldened China seeing a reluctant and amateurish Unites States foreign policy that lacks resolve and is determined to cut the very capabilities which would be most useful in deterring Chinese expansion in WESTPAC at the expense of our allies.   China smells blood (and opportunity), has greatly accelerated its efforts to establish complete regional hegemony, and has met with next to no opposition from the United States.   The US acquiescence to the Chinese ADIZ is a case in point.  Which is why you see Japan, and the Republic of Korea, India, and even the Philippines scrambling to build sufficient naval and military power to oppose China .  Those nations, all of the US allies, see a vacillating and irresolute America befuddled by the rules at the grown-up table.  American response to China’s increased aggression has been decidedly muted, while China’s proclamations of sovereignty over vast areas of the Pacific, and its military and diplomatic measures to cement that sovereignty have gone largely unchallenged.   The US, it is perceived, lacks the will to stand up to China.  Few indicators make that as clear as appointing someone like Sam Locklear to command PACOM.   Patrick Cronan at CNAS verbalizes it well.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, recently told The Washington Times that the U.S. is facing “a long game” when it comes to China.

Developments such as Beijing’s air defense zone may be “small tactical gambits,” Mr. Cronin said. But if the U.S. does not “respond and we don’t remain strong, then China will unilaterally redefine the region in a way that we do not recognize.”

President Obama’s promise that Defense cuts will not compromise US presence in the Pacific is being seen by both allies and enemies as largely disingenuous (and false) rhetoric more suited for the campaign trail than in diplomatic policy discussions.  The US position vis á vis China has been deteriorating for some time, and we are in danger of the bottom positively falling out.  Our Pacific allies sense that their ability to choose between Washington and Beijing may be nearing an end.   Sam Locklear seems to just be getting it.  Like the old woman who peeks out the front door of her house while the upstairs is engulfed in flames to ask the fireman rushing in, “Is there a problem?”

So when Admiral Locklear says “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question”, the first response that comes to mind would be that of my Senior Drill Instructor.  “NO SH*T, Sherlock!  What was your first clue?”   But this isn’t Marine OCS, and Locklear isn’t working a squad tactical problem.    Unfortunately, clueless as he is, he is a symptom of the disease, which permeates Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.  I do hope the illness is not fatal.

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Pentagon Shocked By Wave Of ‘Knockout Game’ Attacks

From the Duffel Blog, via our friends at Op-For.

Admit it, you have fantasized about just such a game if you have spent any time at all with senior Officers or Staff NCOs who talk to you as if you would starve for your own imbecility were it not for their wisdom and constant micromanagement.   I mean, after 28 years commissioned service, my list is probably a page and a half long at this point.

According to Pentagon chief historian Dr. Erin Mahan, speaking from behind a locked door, knockout attacks can be traced back to the late nineties, when Marine generals Charles Krulak and Anthony Zinni used to greet each other by punching each other as hard as they could in the face.

Good satire has more than a whiff of reality.

 

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Jerry Coleman, Yankees Second Baseman and Marine Pilot in Two Wars, Dies at 89

d9d4972a6229670bc98cdba1532a43fcJerry Coleman Posing

Jerry Coleman was one of the best fielding second basemen in major league history.  He was a part of the legendary Yankees dynasty of the late 40s and 1950s.  He was a major league manager, and a Hall of Fame broadcaster.   But he was also something more, much more.  The “Colonel” (he retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1964 as a Lieutenant Colonel) was a combat pilot in World War II and again in Korea.

Completing the V-5 Program, Coleman flew SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers with VMSB-341 from the Solomons in 1944 and then in the Philippines until July of 1945.  He flew 57 missions in all.   After the war he resumed his baseball career, and made the Yankees roster in 1948.  Called up again for Korea, Coleman transitioned to F4U-4 Corsairs, and flew 63 missions of ground support with the famous “Death Rattlers” of VMF-323.  He also served as a forward air controller before returning stateside in 1953.

53310826Coleman retired as a player with the Yankees in 1957.  He is the only major leaguer to see combat in two wars, flying a total of 120 missions between World War II and Korea.   He was always known as an intelligent, kind, and thoughtful gentleman, a figure truly beloved in New York and his native San Diego.  Not something you find very often in the profession of sport.

Jerry Coleman was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and thirteen Air Medals for his wartime service.  Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman, USMCR (Ret.) was a true hero.   Semper Fidelis, Colonel.   Baseball, and our country, is poorer for your loss.

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From Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig:

Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball.  He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime – as an All-Star during the great Yankees’ dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres.  But above all, Jerry’s decorated service to our country in both World War II and Korea made him an integral part of the Greatest Generation.  He was a true friend whose counsel I valued greatly.

Major League Baseball began its support of Welcome Back Veterans to honor the vibrant legacy of heroes like Jerry Coleman.  Our entire sport mourns the loss of this fine gentleman, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans of the Padres and the Yankees, and his many admirers in Baseball and beyond.

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The Company Landing Team

The USMC has been mulling this around for a while.  Here is an article from the Marine Gazette from Vince Goulding in 2009.   Note that the CoLT concept includes a platoon of M777 155mm howitzers, and a very robust ISR capability.   And lots of comms for calling in supporting fires should it come to that.

CoLT pg 1

CoLT pg 2

CoLT pg 3

The pages are JPEGs, so you can click on them to make them a bit easier to read.   I think we will be working with this concept for Expeditionary Warrior coming up in February.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom would have turned 85 today.  She was the first baby born in the city of Pittsburgh, PA, in 1929, and would proudly recount how her mother beat some woman in labor down the hall by a few minutes to claim the honor.   And she was, like my Dad, a remarkable person in many ways for her generation.  Unlike the vast majority of women her age, she was college-educated, graduating with a Spanish Literature degree from Seton Hill College in 1950.  She valued education and learning all her life.  Mom was a driving force (and a hard-working partner) in encouraging my Dad to go back to school and get his HS diploma and, more importantly, and engineering degree, while a father of a new family and while holding down a full-time job.

Mom was a librarian and a teacher, instilling in me a love of books that has lasted these fifty years.   She was pretty sensitive to the nightmare scenario of a son having his mother for a teacher in Junior High, and other than making me call her “Mrs. S_______” like the rest of her students, she was extremely good about it.   She was a stickler for proper grammar and word usage, and (not surprisingly) language fascinated her.   I would, however, give into the temptation to torture her from time to time, well into adulthood.  At least once when I would come home on leave I would announce, “I am gonna go…..  lay down.”   Invariably, no matter where she was in the house, or what she was doing, she would yell with some consternation, “It’s LIE!!!”   Dad would just shake his head.

She was not at ALL pleased when, at 16, I began to talk about joining the Marines (as my brother had), and absolutely hated that I did so.  But, she always let me know she was proud of me.

Mom had a formidable intellect, and was a devotee of CSPAN from its inception.  She loved to stay intellectually active, and maintained informed and cogent opinions on the topics of the day.   She also had a delightful sense of humor, and a sense of the absurd, and she could make me laugh harder than any other person I ever met.   When I was home on Christmas break one morning in 1984, we were watching the news and a local newscaster announced that fast-food mogul Ray Kroc was “McDead”, we were in hysterics.   Dad, coming out to go to work, wondered what the hell was wrong with us.

I miss you, Mom.  Happy birthday.

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FJ-2 Fury

Around 1944, the Navy started to get interesting in a jet powered, carrier capable fighter. The advent of jets in the European theater, coupled with the diminishing  returns of increased horsepower of piston engines meant sooner or later then Navy would have to operate jet powered fighters simply to keep up.

North American Aviation (NAA), with little experience working on Navy products, put forward a proposal for what was essentially a jet powered P-51 Mustang. The Wings and empennage were very similar to its piston engined predecessor.

Designated the FJ-1 (Fighter, first type built by NAA, first model) and name Fury, it first flew in September of 1946. It was not a resounding success, and only 31 were built.

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FJ-1 Fury

But while the FJ-1 wasn’t terribly successful as a carrier borne aircraft, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it structurally, and most of the basic design concept was quite sound.

So when the Air Force started to look for replacements for its first generation F-80 and F-84 jets, NAA took their experience with the FJ, and melded it with German World War II research in swept wings to provide higher speeds. The result was the legendary F-86 Sabre. Beyond the swept wing, the F-86 was pretty much an entirely new design, though the basic layout was similar, and the FJ experience also provided a great deal of experience in designing a jet fighter.

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F-86 Sabre.

The success of the F-86 prompted the Navy to take another stab at an NAA product, this time a virtual clone of the F-86 modified for carrier operations.

In spite of being a completely new design, this second attempt was still designated in the FJ series, being the FJ-2 Fury (being a completely new design, it more properly should have been designated the F2J-1).

This new Fury first flew 62 years ago today, on December 27, 1951. Low speed handling around the carrier was still less than wholly satisfactory. Additionally, production of the FJ-2 competed with the Air Force’s need for F-86s. Eventually, 200 FJ-2s would be built, with most serving with Marine Corps land based squadrons.

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FJ-2 Fury. It’s similarity to the Air Force F-86 is obvious in this pose.

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FJ-1 (Left), FJ-2 (Right)

The re-engined FJ-3 was externally very similar, but replaced the FJ-2’s J47 engine with the more powerful J65.  While the FJ-3 was still not a particularly good carrier aircraft, it was a significant improvement over the FJ-2, and eventually over 500 would be built, operated by both Navy and Marine fighter squadrons.

FJ-3s would eventually be equipped with the AIM-9/GAR-8 Sidewinder missile, and a fixed air-to-air refueling probe, in both cases, among the first Navy aircraft to be so equipped.

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FJ-3 Fury equipped with Sidewinder missiles.

Even as the FJ-2/3 series was in testing, the Navy sought a further improved variant. With a completely redesigned wing, and a new internal arrangement that shared only the basic configuration, this final Navy version, the FJ-4 Fury, was really a new plane, and more properly should have been designated the F3J. Even so, the FJ-4 Fury clearly shared some of the DNA of its predecessors.

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FJ-4 armed with 2.75” rocket pods. Note the refueling probe on the port wing.

The FJ-4B would introduce a new, critical capability to Navy carriers. Mated with the new, second generation of “small” tactical nuclear weapons, the FJ-4B introduced an ability for the Navy to perform nuclear strikes that didn’t require huge bombers such as the AJ Savage or the A3D Skywarrior.

The FJ-3 and FJ-4 would serve into the 1960s, though mostly replaced in frontline service by F-8 Crusaders and A-4 Skyhawks. After the 1962 Tri-Service designation system was adopted, the FJ series became the F-1.

The introduction of the FJ-2 with its swept wing and near transonic speeds meant Naval Aviators would have to learn some new concepts about flying, particularly about critical Mach numbers. And so the Navy helpfully produced a video for the fledgling Fury flyer.

Incidentally, given the shennanigans with the FJ designation, you should know there was yet another FJ fighter. Back in 1944, there was interest in a “navalized” carrier capable version of the P-51.  A Mustang was modified and carrier trials were conducted but it was not adopted for production or use. The modified Mustang was designated the FJ-1 Seahorse, and so the FJ-1 Fury really should have been the F2J.  The Seahorse is a story for another day.

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Rarely-seen Photographs from the Korean War

These were published in the Denver Post back in 2010, but are worth a look.   Many are incredibly poignant, and show the misery and hardship of what war was like in Korea, and what it would be like today.   It is important to note the conditions, the terrain, and the utter exhaustion of the men in many of the photographs, especially as we decide to debate the physical demands of combat arms.

Unforgotten War

Korean War

Korean War

Korean War

There are more than a hundred of them.  Worth a cup of coffee and half an hour to look at all of them.

H/T

Miss Robin

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A Must-See Film; The Duffel Blog Reviews “A Day Without A First Sergeant”

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Sounds like an Instant Classic. 

The rest of the film then explores the catastrophic consequences of life without the entire 8999 MOS. Most of the film is seen from the perspective of Lance Corporal Karl Powers, an 0351 Assaultman who is left in charge after all the corporals and sergeants disappear to chase down a group of UA Marines who can’t be sent to the brig because no one knows how to do the paperwork.

The movie ends in a post-apocalyptic orgy of burning barracks, alcohol abuse, and Grand Theft Auto, commonly-known in the Marine Corps as a “96.”

I am sure you can find it on DVD and Blu-Ray, so the Lance Coconuts on restriction can watch it when they finish cleaning the shitters for the fifth time.

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Seventy Years Ago; 20 November 1943, US Marines Land at Tarawa

Originally posted 20 November 2009:

The buildings in the “regimental area” of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina are modest, post-war brick buildings that, to the visitor’s eye, look more or less alike. Yet, each of the Marine Regiments of the Second Marine Division has its own storied history and battle honors. As Captain J. W. Thomason wrote in his Great War masterpiece Fix Bayonets, these histories represent

“…traditions of things endured and things accomplished, such as Regiments hand down forever.”

There are symbols of these honors for one to see, if you know where to look. On a thousand trips past those symbols, there is one that never failed to make me pause and reflect. On the headquarters building for the 2d Marine Regiment hangs their unit crest. The crest contains only three words. They are in English and not Latin, and they are not a catch phrase nor a bold proclamation of a warrior philosophy. They are simple and stark. Across the top of the unit crest is the word “TARAWA”. And at the bottom, the grim admonition, “KEEP MOVING”.

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It was 66 years ago on this date that the Second Marine Division began the assault on Betio Island, in the Tarawa Atoll. The island, roughly two thirds of the size of my college’s small campus, was the most heavily fortified beach in the world. Of the Second MarDiv, the 2nd Marine Regiment landed two battalions abreast on beaches Red 1 and Red 2. The assault began what was described as “seventy-six stark and bitter hours” of the most brutal combat of the Pacific War. More than 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed, nearly 2,300 wounded, along with nearly 5,000 Japanese dead, in the maelstrom of heat, sand, fire, and smoke that was Betio.

Assault on Betio's Northern beaches

Assault on Betio’s Northern beaches

Marine Dead on Beach Red 1

Marine Dead on Beach Red 1

I will not detail the fighting for Betio here, as there are many other sources for that information. Nor will I debate whether the terrible price paid for Betio was too high. What cannot be debated is the extraordinary heroism of the Marines and Sailors who fought to secure the 1.1 square miles of baking sand and wrest it from the grasp of an entrenched, fortified, and determined enemy. The fighting was described as “utmost savagery”, and casualties among Marine officers and NCOs were extremely high. As one Marine stated, initiative and courage were absolute necessities. Corporals commanded platoons, and Staff Sergeants, companies.

Marines assault over coconut log wall on Beach Red 2

Marines assault over coconut log wall on Beach Red 2

The book by the late Robert Sherrod, “Tarawa, The Story of a Battle”, is a magnificent read. Another is Eric Hammel’s “76 Hours”. Also “Utmost Savagery”, by Joe Alexander, who additionally produced the WWII commemorative “Across the Reef”, an excellent compilation of primary source material. For video, The History Channel produced a 50th anniversary documentary on the battle, titled “Death Tide at Tarawa”, in November 1993. I also highly recommend finding and watching this superb production. It is narrated by Edward Hermann, and interviews many of the battle’s veterans, including Robert Sherrod, MajGen Mike Ryan, and others, who provide chilling and inspiring commentary of the fighting and of the terrible carnage of those three days.

 Master Sgt. James M. Fawcett, left and Capt. Kyle Corcoran salute Fawcett's father's ashes on Red Beach 1. MSgt Fawcett's father landed on Red 1 on 20 Nov 1943.

Master Sgt. James M. Fawcett, left and Capt. Kyle Corcoran salute Fawcett’s father’s ashes on Red Beach 1. MSgt Fawcett’s father landed on Red 1 on 20 Nov 1943.

Tarawa remains a proud and grim chapter in the battle histories of the units of the Second Marine Division. Each outfit, the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 10th Marines, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Tracks, and miscellaneous support units, fought superbly against frightful odds and a fearsome enemy. It is on the Unit Crest of the 2nd Marines, whose battalions paid the highest price for Betio, that the most poignant of those histories is remembered. Three simple words: “TARAWA; KEEP MOVING”.

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Back when the History Channel used to broadcast history, the documentary “Death Tide at Tarawa” was aired on the 50th anniversary of the battle.    http://shop.history.com/death-tide-at-tarawa-dvd/detail.php?p=68869   It is definitely worth the money.

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For URR

because I haven’t gotten a hug in a while.
row row

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Acta Non Verba

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We take care of our veterans.  We take care of your families.  Not just by saluting you on one day, once a year, but by fighting for you and your families every day of every year.

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The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

 

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“In this, I think, is glory”

From Captain John W. Thomason’s masterpiece Fix Bayonets.

Happy Birthday Marines.  Semper Fidelis.

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I got to thinking that, despite how much I like the little recruiting blurb, the original passage in Thomason’s book is even better.  It should raise goose bumps on ANY Marine who has ever worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor:

And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders and a bone-deep sunburn, and a tolerant scorn of nearly everything on earth. Their speech was flavored with navy words, and words culled from all the folk who live on the seas and the ports where our war-ships go. In easy hours their talk ran from the Tartar Wall beyond Peking to the Southern Islands down under Manila; from Portsmouth Navy Yard-New Hampshire and very cold-to obscure bush-whackings in the West Indies, where Cacao chiefs whimsically sanguinary, barefoot generals, with names like Charlemagne and Christophe, waged war according to the precepts of the French Revolution and the Cult of the Snake.

They drank the eau de vie of Haute-Marne, and reminisced on sake, and vino, and Bacardi Rum-strange drinks in strange cantinas at the far ends of the earth; and they spoke fondly of Milwaukee beer. Rifles were high and holy things to them, and they knew five-inch broadside guns. They talked patronizingly of the war, and were concerned about rations. They were the Leathernecks, the Old Timers; collected from ship’s guards and shore stations all over the earth to form the 4th Brigade of Marines, the two rifle regiments detached from the Department of the Navy by order of the President for service with the American Expeditionary Forces. They were the old breed of American regular, regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point to the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.

Was lucky enough to sit at a table at last night’s Birthday Ball with Mac Owens and his lovely date, and a comrade from his days in 1st Bn 4th Marines and the Northern I Corps area of Vietnam.   Both he and his Marine buddy had been Company Commanders with Karl Marlantes in 1/4, and both enthusiastically recommended Marlantes’ book Matterhorn.   So that just moved to the top of the considerable pile making its way to the nightstand.

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