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Thread: If THIS is Afghanistan, YOU must be a Marine?

  1. #1
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    Default If THIS is Afghanistan, YOU must be a Marine?

    This may get moved to another thread, but I'll start it here (since its likely to make for a great discussion!):

    Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq, NYT, 11 October 2007:

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

    The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.
    It seems to me to be quite a challenge to hand over, lock,stock, andbarrel, the current US Army role in Afghanistan to the Marines, whatever the supposed advantages in consolidation. The article also really doesn't discuss what is meant by the "under overall NATO command" part, and whether it would differ from current command arrangements in Afghanistan.

    Thoughts?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Light Infantry war, self contained MAGTF, unity of

    command. Some operational logic -- that's the pro side.

    The cons: Long way from the ocean. The Army is still going to have to keep many of its support elements in place; the Navy can and would pick up some but only the Army has some of the pieces. The Air Force will not be pleased -- they really don't like Marine air anyway and they'll have to fly the long haul cargo support missions.

    TBD: The Marines get to leave an unpopular war and go to one that has more support, the Army's gonna be in Iraq no matter what so they may not care all that much -- or they may. The NATO relationship and NATO input, if Canada goes in 2009, who picks up the slack? Marines? I don't have access to the intel but based on what I see, I think we'll be in combat in Afghanistan longer than we are likely to be so engaged in Iraq...

    Interesting to see where that idea goes. My suspicion is that the answer will be parochial political, based on Stars and not operationally relevant...

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default just a comment

    It is funny how this came up, a few months ago the Commandant was pulling all Marines out of Afghanistan, it has been a juggling act. At one point the 3rd Marines out of HI where the single provider of Marines to Afghanistan (not including advisors). That changed and the Corps dropped the Afghan mission to focus entirely on rotations to Iraq. Now the pendulum is swinging back. On the surface it looks like a great idea. The MAGTF reinforced by SOC elements and USAF StratLift and some CAS, would be a useful tool. I like it but then I'm biased. I bet the Marines at the Mountain Warare Training Center are all for this. Just would hate to be the Logos and Manpower folks having to make it happen.

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    Council Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    Just would hate to be the Logos and Manpower folks having to make it happen.
    Amen to that.

    It's an interesting little paradigm shift, although it is a melon-scratcher when you think about them being MARINES and Afghanistan being a land-locked country. But hey: "In every clime and place," right?

    It shouldn't be too hard for the USAF and Marine Air to mesh, right? My brother is a USMC JTAC with 2d ANGLICO and he's frequently worked with Air Force and Marine Corps CAS simultaneously. Despite a few procedural differences, I think, he hasn't had any problems with AF pilots. And DoD is still stressing "joint operations," right? I'm biased, too, but I have to admit that I like the idea of the Marines being the dominant player in A-stan. The question that leaves us with, though, is how does this affect the mission of Army units back in Iraq, at least in terms of density and distribution of forces? (Then again, will that even matter if Congress begins phased withdrawals in 2008?)

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    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default I support the idea

    I fall in lock step behind the Commandant on this one. It seems like a sensible move, despite the difficulties. I respond to this and another issue in this post below:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2007/...s-afghanistan/

    This one is a little bit atypical for me -- somewhat rowdy. But I just cannot fathom why anyone would seriously contemplate spraying all of the poppy crops in Afghanistan, and then claim to be waging a counterinsurgency. My God. Has the State Department lost their collective minds?

    War on drugs (definition): something for someone else to worry about for another time and another place for another reason than a counterinsurgency / counterterrorism campaign. Marines are warriors - not DEA agents.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default They can't. Wouldn't if they could.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    ...
    . . .
    ... (Then again, will that even matter if Congress begins phased withdrawals in 2008?)
    Not their job and they aren't totally stupid, just mostly. All that noise is about the 2008 elections, has little to do with Iraq.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Marines' Afghanistan plan sparks debate - Washington Post, 12 Oct.

    A bid by the Marine Corps to take responsibility for the primary U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is generating a heated debate inside and outside the Pentagon, with some senior officers arguing that the Marines are ideally suited for the Afghan war while others contend that the move would undermine the counterinsurgency strategy there.

    Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, has raised the idea of the Marines shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan in meetings with the military's Joint Staff and the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. "It's just started to be discussed at senior levels," said Col. David Lapan, a Marine spokesman.

    Gates yesterday played down the discussion, saying he has not yet seen any proposals. "It's . . . extremely preliminary thinking on the part of, perhaps, some staff people in the Marine Corps," Gates said during a trip to London. "I don't think at this point it has any stature ..."
    Sean Naylor has the most comprehensive Army response, which is not positive:

    Generals in the Army and on the Joint Staff reacted with surprise at a Marine Corps move to assume the Army’s combat role in Afghanistan and expressed doubt that the Corps could handle the mission without substantial support from the larger ground service.

    The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 11 that the Marine Corps has floated the idea of removing its estimated 25,000 troops in Iraq and taking over the mission in Afghanistan, where there are no significant Marine forces at present.

    “This is not going to go down well with the Army,” said a general on the Joint Staff, adding that the issue “is going to be more contentious and sensitive than many people outside of the inside team realize.”

    The Joint Staff officer was one of several generals who spoke only on the condition of anonymity and said the Marine initiative to supplant the Army in Afghanistan runs counter to the U.S. military’s increasingly joint approach to warfare.

    “We’re seeking joint solutions to most of the challenges we face today, to include Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “A single service approach? Holy smokes. Why would we ever go back to that way of war fighting, particularly when it doesn’t give you any advantage over your enemy and in fact complicates life tremendously in terms of sorting out how you’re going to support all of this?”

    ...

    Last edited by tequila; 10-12-2007 at 09:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    Amen to that.


    It shouldn't be too hard for the USAF and Marine Air to mesh, right?
    How would the proposed change increase the requirment for USAF and Marine Air to "mesh"?

    I'll agree that the move does smack of 'anti-jointness'.

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    Council Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanleywinthrop View Post
    How would the proposed change increase the requirment for USAF and Marine Air to "mesh"?

    I'll agree that the move does smack of 'anti-jointness'.
    At the moment, the USAF controls the skies over A'stan. If the Corps moves in, we'll have Harriers and Hornets flying alongside Vipers and Eagles, and on the ground we'll have JTACs from both the AF and Marine Corps trying to coordinate CAS simultaneously in support of Marine and NATO ground forces. There are procedural and behavioral differences between the two branches (as my brother could well tell you, were he not incommunicado... in fact, as a Marine aviator you can certainly attest to the same differences) that affect how they interact and conduct these missions. Fortunately, they've been working on this for a couple of years now, so it shouldn't be too hard.

    I don't believe that this is in any way "anti-jointness." The Army's footprint in Afghanistan will be greatly reduced, but it won't be eliminated entirely. The Marine Corps will still need much of the Army's infrastructure that is already in place in A'stan (SF, psyops, CA), ergo the entire US Army apparatus will not depart (least of all SF). At the same time, the Air Force will stay and help conduct CAS in support of Marine ground forces, not to mention provide stratolift capabilities for the Marine Corps to-and-from the theatre. How is that anti-joint?
    Last edited by Wildcat; 10-12-2007 at 04:21 PM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The interesting thing will be the CentCom

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    At the moment, the USAF controls the skies over A'stan. If the Corps moves in, we'll have Harriers and Hornets flying alongside Vipers and Eagles, and on the ground we'll have JTACs from both the AF and Marine Corps trying to coordinate CAS simultaneously in support of Marine and NATO ground forces. There are procedural and behavioral differences between the two branches (as my brother could well tell you, were he not incommunicado... in fact, as a Marine aviator you can certainly attest to the same differences) that affect how they interact and conduct these missions. Fortunately, they've been working on this for a couple of years now, so it shouldn't be too hard.

    I don't believe that this is in any way "anti-jointness." The Army's footprint in Afghanistan will be greatly reduced, but it won't be eliminated entirely. The Marine Corps will still need much of the Army's infrastructure that is already in place in A'stan (SF, psyops, CA), ergo the entire US Army apparatus will not depart (least of all SF). At the same time, the Air Force will stay and help conduct CAS in support of Marine ground forces, not to mention provide stratolift capabilities for the Marine Corps to-and-from the theatre. How is that anti-joint?
    position on the issue...

    It's 'anti-joint' because the senior US Commmand and the bulk of the combat troops and thus any 'Win' tags will be USMC while the support and scut work goes to the Army and the AF. The Navy will, other than the Chaplains and the Medical side, pretty much get a pass on support of the land campaigns. In Iraq, there will be few to no USMC units and the Navy will plead they're busy supporting the Marines in Afghanistan.

    Add to that the fact that if things go bad in the 'Stan, there's always NATO to blame and in Iraq there's only ones self to blame.

    I'll be surprised if it flies -- though, of course the CJCS and the CentCom Commander might like it.

    Not all that well thought out, IMO. Not least on the issue if what happens is, as I suspect, that there is a significant drawdown of US forces in Iraq next year and a concomitant plus-up in Afghanistan...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    At the moment, the USAF controls the skies over A'stan. If the Corps moves in, we'll have Harriers and Hornets flying alongside Vipers and Eagles, and on the ground we'll have JTACs from both the AF and Marine Corps trying to coordinate CAS simultaneously in support of Marine and NATO ground forces. There are procedural and behavioral differences between the two branches (as my brother could well tell you, were he not incommunicado... in fact, as a Marine aviator you can certainly attest to the same differences) that affect how they interact and conduct these missions. Fortunately, they've been working on this for a couple of years now, so it shouldn't be too hard.
    As a point of fact, the USAF controls the skies over Iraq too (except below a certain coordinating altitude in MEF airspace) , yet USMC air and USAF have no issues with cooperation. In fact (from personal experience) Harriers and Hornets have been flying alongside Eagles and Vipers on a daily basis for the last 3 years in Iraq. The USMC ANGLICO teams are almost tailor made to 'farm' out to NATO units in Afghanistan to allow them to coordinate with U.S. Air. In case you haven't heard there is a joint CAS procedures handbook on the streets which is supposed to eliminate terminology differences amongst the services. Of course this doesn't mean that everyone has read it or follows it 100%, but my experience is that it's use has become nearly universal in the USAF and the USMC.

    I don't see the integration of Air Assets in Afghanistan as being a barrier to this plan, but as previously stated, I do have issues with it based on other concerns. I personally feel that the USMC should stay in Iraq, because as has been pointed out, no one technique will work in all places times and circumstances, and having two seperate services in the same theater can lead to more creativity and innovation in the COIN fight because of different training, background, experience, etc.
    Last edited by stanleywinthrop; 10-12-2007 at 06:37 PM.

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    Council Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanleywinthrop View Post
    As a point of fact, the USAF controls the skies over Iraq too (except below a certain coordinating altitude in MEF airspace) , yet USMC air and USAF have no issues with cooperation. In fact (from personal experience) Harriers and Hornets have been flying alongside Eagles and Vipers on a daily basis for the last 3 years in Iraq. The USMC ANGLICO teams are almost tailor made to 'farm' out to NATO units in Afghanistan to allow them to coordinate with U.S. Air. In case you haven't heard there is a joint CAS procedures handbook on the streets which is supposed to eliminate terminology differences amongst the services. Of course this doesn't mean that everyone has read it or follows it 100%, but my experience is that it's use has become nearly universal in the USAF and the USMC.

    I don't see the integration of Air Assets in Afghanistan as being a barrier to this plan, but as previously stated, I do have issues with it based on other concerns.
    Well, I won't claim to be an expert on the subject, sir. That's your field. I have about a month of OCS under my belt, and that hardly qualifies me to talk with any authority on CAS procedures. I just go off what I know from my brother's experience as an officer with 2d ANGLICO. The rest of it is just idle speculation. I'll humbly defer to him and you on this subject.

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