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Thread: Marine's going rogue?

  1. #1
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    Default Marine's going rogue?

    From the Washington Post:

    The Marine approach -- creative, aggressive and, at times, unorthodox -- has won many admirers within the military. The Marine emphasis on patrolling by foot and interacting with the population, which has helped to turn former insurgent strongholds along the Helmand River valley into reasonably stable communities with thriving bazaars and functioning schools, is hailed as a model of how U.S. forces should implement counterinsurgency strategy.

    But the Marines' methods, and their insistence that they be given a degree of autonomy not afforded to U.S. Army units, also have riled many up the chain of command in Kabul and Washington, prompting some to refer to their area of operations in the south as "Marineistan." They regard the expansion in Delaram and beyond as contrary to the population-centric approach embraced by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and they are seeking to impose more control over the Marines.

    The U.S. ambassador in Kabul, Karl W. Eikenberry, recently noted that the international security force in Afghanistan feels as if it comprises 42 nations instead of 41 because the Marines act so independently from other U.S. forces.

    "We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the U.S. Marine Corps," said a senior Obama administration official involved in Afghanistan policy.
    I personally haven't seen or heard of this before, but then I'm not really in a position to know. Thoughts?

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    Default Going Rogue

    Entropy:

    Mike (jmm) picked it up on the Battle of Marjah thread.

    Steve

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    Default Joint v. Autonomous, Unified v. devolved

    Unfortunately for them the spirit of our time is "Joint" not "autonomy" and that is how this conflict will deport itself. Similarly, many Tactical/Opnl level ldrs feel that they should have more autonomy in missions due to possessing more direct combat experience than their strategic level superiors. I feel that would never actually happen due mostly to human nature.

    Significantly, although somewhat unrelated, I fear the dissolution of the Marine Corps is more likely now than ever (vis-a-vis US Administration possible desire to re-consolidate DOD as a single command with a civilian counter department they've called "Civilian defense force" with mandatory service for all, equal funding & weapons etc.) Correct me if I'm wrong; this proposal is tabled pending overturn of a Clinton EO, which can be over-turned by any President at any time.

    I totally disagree with such an idea but I see the UK basically doing the same thing in eliminating the regimental histories of so many great units.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What the UK did is different

    Bullmoose Bailey stated at the end of the above post:
    I see the UK basically doing the same thing in eliminating the regimental histories of so many great units.
    I have little knowledge of US military organisation and potential reform, but to cite the reforms undertaken here in the UK as part of changes in the USA is odd. Yes many army regiments have disappeared over the years, often dictated by finances, but not always. Often attempts have been made to keep regimental history alive, through cadre units who are often reservist (TA).

    'Joint' working has been around for a very long time, but as the recent series of top service leaders speeches showed each took a single service stance.
    davidbfpo

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    Default

    Here is what a poster going by the screen name of "M Shannon" posted in a comment at my blog...
    In Helmand the only metric that counts is that the USMC wants its own province. Helmand is vital because the Marines are there. Since they are the best fighting force in the world they would not have been assigned to Helmand if it wasn't THE critical province. The facts that is has about 3% of the Afghan population, poppies are exaggerated as a source of Taliban funding and the Pakistani border is by far a more important insurgent "supply line" to Kandahar are irrelevant. The metrics will be massaged to arrive at a conclusion that corresponds with what the USMC wants to do- which is to have its own two star command outside of RC-South, eject the Brits and use the province to illustrate just how superior it is to the US Army. The size of the Marine force will be determined by what's good for the Corps and not based on forces needed to defeat the Taliban. Please don't think I'm picking on the USMC. Every other organization in Afghanistan is doing the same thing but without the skill or determination of the Marines.
    Emphasis is added by me.

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    Interesting comment on your blog, Schmedlap. It seems to me though, that Helmand was considered very important long before the Marines arrived - a fact that would seem to cut the legs out from under the commenter's theory.

    PS: No RSS feed at your blog?
    Last edited by Entropy; 04-01-2010 at 01:11 AM.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    PS: No RSS feed at your blog?
    Not yet. I created the blog entirely from scratch. Missing features, such as an RSS feed, expose the gaping holes in my coding abilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    From the Washington Post:



    I personally haven't seen or heard of this before, but then I'm not really in a position to know. Thoughts?
    Bottom line in my opinion is whether their operations in Hemand are successful.

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default a tad skeptical

    I have to admit... I've looked at this with a rather jaundiced eye... as a retired Army officer I take some exception with the USMC approach/insistence on being a world unto themselves... I think service-oriented perspectives have their place, but this simply stinks of another USMC ploy (nicest turn of phrase I could conjure) to carve out a limited objective, declare victory unto itself (even if Helmond becomes a restive paradise). If the rest of the country goes to hell who gives a rat's a$$...

    I never thought I'd say this, but I think the USMC is starting to rival the USAF as working the hardest (institutionally) to be their own self-licking ice cream cone...

    This is not a conclusion that gives me pleasure or for the sake of my own pride in having served in the big green machine
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    I have to admit... I've looked at this with a rather jaundiced eye... as a retired Army officer I take some exception with the USMC approach/insistence on being a world unto themselves... I think service-oriented perspectives have their place, but this simply stinks of another USMC ploy (nicest turn of phrase I could conjure) to carve out a limited objective, declare victory unto itself (even if Helmond becomes a restive paradise). If the rest of the country goes to hell who gives a rat's a$$...

    I never thought I'd say this, but I think the USMC is starting to rival the USAF as working the hardest (institutionally) to be their own self-licking ice cream cone...

    This is not a conclusion that gives me pleasure or for the sake of my own pride in having served in the big green machine
    So give the whole Helmand to the Marines. Tell them to sort it out using their methods then lets see what happens. The only bad news out of this that I see is the reports that "because British forces in the area were unable to contain the intensifying insurgency". Is this true?

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    What are we doing exactly (besides what whining ISAF staff say) that makes us rogue again?

    We are pretty routinely going to want to operate in places under our operational and tactical concept, not someone else's. I see that as being exceptionally practical.

  12. #12
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Don't know where to start...

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    What are we doing exactly (besides what whining ISAF staff say) that makes us rogue again?

    We are pretty routinely going to want to operate in places under our operational and tactical concept, not someone else's. I see that as being exceptionally practical.
    From a USMC perspective I suppose it is 'practical'...
    Stress the log system to build their megabase a day's travel from anywhere... overwhelm a geographic area with 1% of the population...
    freakin caveat's to make their employment by the operational commander akin to some of the worse restrictions of contributing nations...
    An operational approach that is 180 degrees out from the concept of distributed operations that the USMC is currently championing in the joint community...
    That rhetorical question is a joke right???
    Whining ISAF staff??? when the Combatant Commander has to involve himself so that the forces deployed are actually available for the supported 4-star commander???

    Exceptionally Practical -- nope -- exceptionally service parochial
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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    Not a rhetorical question at all. I'm simply trying to elicit the problems that might be observed, actually occurring, or about to occur. Staff who go to the media tend to be whiners, that's all, especially if they don't get their way.

    And note, I'm talking about staff, not the combatant commander or the 4-star. If there are links to actual statements made by any command official, in an official capacity, please share.

    I'll give you the Leatherneck bit, but I don't know the history behind it, nor the reason why it is still used. I do not, however, think that any Marine planner really looked at the choices and said, "Hey, can we pretty please have that piece of dirt?"

    And to the reference about the 1% of the population, well I suppose we have to decide if that 1% is where the insurgency dwells right not. We are prone to enjoy operating in cities though, and can do well there if someone wants us to give it a go.

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default In Re: JCustis

    Really not itching for a blue on blue scuffle
    Tried to weed out those aspects of the article that could be construed as opinion/whining by staff officers...

    Did however accept on face value the following....

    Population within the geographic area of the USMC AO;

    Proximity/size of major infrastructure project from existing Log Hubs;

    relative position of AO to the "accepted" rat lines and hot spots; and

    the explicit description that CENTCOM CDR had to work behind the scenes to make the USMC elements available to the 4-star commander in theater...

    With those in mind... yes I find this employment to be odd... I find the "reported" insistence of the USMC elements regarding log and air support to be fundamentally a step backwards... and if the caveat's are correct as reported - I find that approach service - parochial

    Difference of opinion/interpretation... OK... but I don't think the absence of a public statement by McC or Petraeus as an indication that they are pleased as punch with how this has evolved...
    Hacksaw
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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    And I'm not looking for a scuffle either, but let's face it, if we are laying blame on parochialism at the foot of the Corps based on a single article, then that isn't a good approach to look at an issue.

    I find the "reported" insistence of the USMC elements regarding log and air support to be fundamentally a step backwards... and if the caveat's are correct as reported - I find that approach service - parochial
    Frankly, the reason why we detest cherry-picking so much is that we tend to be worlds apart in mindset, operating concept, and focus, than our Army brethren, joint or not. It isn't a slight against the Army, it is a simple fact that we do things vastly differently at times, and thus seeing infantry battalions working under a separate command that is NOT Marine is not palatable at all.

    There has been precedence where USMC battalions have worked for a BCT or two, but that BCT worked for a MEF, and so the command relationship was not so vastly different when you sat back and looked at things.

    I agree that nothing good can come from debating the USMC-USA head-butting realities, but I just felt strongly that there are typically reasons rooted in history, previous command relationship scuffles, and yes, that always sore thumb of CAS apportionment/allocation, for our parochialism.

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    Hacksaw,

    What's the alternative? If the Marines shouldn't be in Helmand, where should they be? I've read the same article but those who are anonymously complaining about the Marines haven't, to my knowledge, shared an alternative vision of how the Marines would be better employed. Same question with regard to organic support capabilities. Unless one can come up with a compelling argument for why they should be allocated elsewhere, what is the issue?

    Also, I can tell you as an Air Force guy who has supported the Marines in Helmand that they aren't as completely independent as some may think.

    Finally, as far as service parochialism goes, there's a lot of that all around. Obviously where one stands on this often depends on where one sits.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Agree with Entropy.

    He's been in two services and so have I -- between us we've covered all four (the poor Coast Guard gets left out again...). As a former Marine who spent a long time in the Army, I many times saw both exhibit a very parochial attitude toward the other -- and even worse attitudes toward the Navy and Air Force.

    I've also seen both cooperate very well on occasion. Until the higher Hqs get involved, then everything goes to hell. It's sort of like the SOF - Big Army battle in the Army. The guys on the ground work it out but the Staffs types do not. All services have their good and bad points, all are guilty of being selfish and trying to denigrate the others to one extent or another. As Entropy says, there's plenty of egg for all parties -- I'll add that it is really counterproductive and sheds little positive light on those who play that game.

    After watching the action for a great many years, I'm pretty well convinced that it is absolutely normal for 19 year old to be extremely tribal; 25 year olds usually leaven it a bit and 35 year olds tend to operate on logic and pretty well eliminate it for practical efforts.

    Unfortunately, the US Federal budget is NOT a practical effort...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    It's sort of like the SOF - Big Army battle in the Army. The guys on the ground work it out but the Staffs types do not.
    I can personally vouch for that. My Company coordinated often with an ODA in our AO on my second deployment. They always emphasized that, "our [higher] doesn't know we're talking to you" and they asked that, in return, we wouldn't share the information with our BN HQ. The arrangement struck me as bizarre, but I came to understand the dynamic on my third deployment, which was with a JSOTF.

    The JSOTF staff was paranoid about sharing intelligence with CF and having them "steal our targets" or "burn our sources" or similar SNAFUs. I do think that some of these concerns were justified because the difference in sophistication was extraordinary and it seemed easy to envision someone misusing a source or some intel. The manner in which SF develops sources is several orders of magnitude more sophisticated than what I saw in the CF world. Their intel collection, in general, was so well funded, equipped, manned, and executed as to make any CF S-2 shop, imo, a joke.

    My impression was that some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement could have been worked out, but the staff over-estimated the incompetence of CF units whom they shared "battlespace" with. On my earlier deployment, the ODA kept sharing intelligence with us because it was a mutually beneficial relationship. If we lower-ranking folks with less "professional education" could figure it out, why can't two staffs full of higher ranking Officers and NCOs who are supposedly more educated and experienced figure it out?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    There has been precedence where USMC battalions have worked for a BCT or two, but that BCT worked for a MEF, and so the command relationship was not so vastly different when you sat back and looked at things.
    My BDE (before BCTs) had three different USMC infantry battalions work for it-and we didn't work for a MEF.

    There were definitely growing pains, but things generally worked out, I think.

    Joint education helped immensely (one USMC S3 was an ICCC graduate- his battalion did the best of the three from my seat). So did flexibility on the part of both headquarters (or all involved HQs).

    I understand the USMC desire to work under their own OPCON. In this situation, however, I think that the USMC contigent in A-stan should definitely be OPCON to ISAF (or IJC), not to MARCENT. I'm not sure why its even a question, since we have 2 joint HQs responsible for A-stan, why would we insert a service component into that theater.

    That said, to me, this whole article sounds blown out of proportion. A command relationship was tried. There were evidently issues, and it was changed by the COCOM. Why is this a big deal?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Unhappy Change? We don' need no steenkin' change...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    The JSOTF staff was paranoid about sharing intelligence...The manner in which SF develops sources is several orders of magnitude more sophisticated than what I saw in the CF world.
    Been there seen that and very much agree. Hopefully the AWG will continue to migrate that expertise. That may or may not happen but it is a problem and the CF has on occasion totally blown some effective SOF efforts In fairness, SOF has undercut the CF on occasion as well. Both sides are guilty and many thing contribute.
    ...If we lower-ranking folks with less "professional education" could figure it out, why can't two staffs full of higher ranking Officers and NCOs who are supposedly more educated and experienced figure it out?
    Because our training and our PME are poor; we are conditioned not to trust people; we are too often excessively branch / community / tribe loyal; and the young guys have not yet developed the stifled, stilted and excessively conservative, risk avoiding "I don't know you..." view of the longer serving...

    At least that was the prob in Korea and in Viet Nam and post VN in my observation as a DAC for almost 20 years. I very strongly doubt it's changed for the better...

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