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02 April 2020


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IMO the return to greater integration with the US Navy and an emphasis on support of littoral operations can only be a good thing for the USMC. The US presently has four big ground forces; the US Army, the USMC, the ARNG and SOF. That is way too many.


As a former Marine, I agree that pulling back from competing with the Army is long overdue. However this sounds to me very much like the time I spent as FO with D 1/5 working out of An Hoa, southeast of Danang in 1969. Our battalion's companies were always operating dispersed - with one exception for a couple of days that was a battalion operation, but with all three companies moving independently to the target area. My company's operations typically involved mostly platoon operations during the day and spending the night in a company position with OPs and KT's outside the lines. At the company level we had all the artillery support we needed and a zoomie to manage air support. Platoon commanders were capable of calling in artillery fires and 81 mortars during the few times we were near enough to the battalion HQ.

So this looks to me mostly like coming back home, but with dramatically enabled capabilities provided by modern technology.

Peter VE

Now if we could just bring the Navy back to basic seamanship first, I would feel more confident about my daughter (a Marine) being assigned to shipboard duty.


Tripoli is a rats nest once again. But my recommendation is to stay the hell away from there.

I recall as a young boy in a Saturday triple feature matinee seeing 'Tripoli'. Only ten cents, they made their money selling popcorn, jujubes, and malted milk balls. Of course Hollywood had to put their own spin on it and I'm sure it had no reflection on reality. Looking it up I see it was filmed at Palm Springs and also starred John Payne as O'Bannon and Maureen O'Hara (who stole my eight year old heart}. There is a free version on youtube:



Peter VE,

The navy officer corps seems to be rallying around the carrier commander who put publicity first in his 'conern' for his sailors and they busily trying to see that the carrier group commander and CIC Pacific Fleet don't get canned for letting that ship visit Vietnam in March. Why there hell was that scheduled? Meanwhile the fleet is busy doing sailor protection in NYC becuase we sure wouldn't want to treat actual patients on a hospital ship or risk sailors getting infected. Why are they their, PR?
Perhaps firing the CNO and having Cuomo, De Basio and the Deputy CNO at today's Covid briefing to explain the ability of EMS first responders to do basic triage to determine if they could take patients to the USNS Comfort before going to a hospital might be useful. I think the other flag officers might get the message.

scott s.

Haven't seen anything yet about Marines being assigned to shipboard duty and it did seem to me that they had become allergic to seawater. They talk about adding an anti-ship capability which would be a new dimension in command and control. They also seem to be greatly reducing their air arm which is surprising to me.

Meanwhile CO of the TR got canned after sending out his email blast. I thought his letter/memo was a bit odd, considering there is an embarked Carrier Strike Group commander and staff (CSG NINE). Ship COs do have a certain latitude, but not that much. The implication in the letter was no one in the chain of command gave a "hoot" about the crew. I found his recommendation to put every one ashore kind of unworkable. Sure you could put the air wing and other cargo ashore (do the folks on Guam really want that?) but ships company, not so much. Certainly no vacation for the Reactor Officer nor Chief Engineer.



IMO the USMC will continue to deploy aboard amphibious ships ship in units of reinforced battalions from FMF as it has long done. What will end is the ambition to be a land mass army. Perhaps sea going marines may again begin being assigned to ship's companies, maybe.


Great post, as usual.
NAVMAC 2890 "Small Wars Manual" was
published in 1940.[Your post inspired me
to dig my copy out!] One can discern the roots
of "distributed" 'independent small unit"
operations for the USMC there. As a Lt in Force Recon
in RVN I participated in "Stingray" operations
which were a later part of the legacy.Berger is a graduate
of NROTC Tulane; the URL below will lead to a quick read
about him.
Semper Fi

Eric Newhill

The army is going to have to learn how to become an expeditionary force to fill the gap that the Marines long have performed well in. It will be like training a three legged elephant to become a sleek agile cheetah. Until the army can adapt, if ever, the Marines will remain in the expanded mission as they have since WW1. I can already imagine all the DoD geeks deperately computer modeling new army TOEs, etc. Good luck.

That said, I don't think Naval infantry should be fighting on mountain tops in land locked countries.


It is time for the Marines to transition to a space based force, to hell with planetary limited island hopping let alone literal littoral steaming; asteroid hopping and space ship to spaceship boarding and capture that is the future and the future is almost here. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Ganymede ...
It is not 1805, I cannot see a use for the USMC that is not already covered adequately by the other branches of the US military. Inertia I can understand, a desire to keep something around just in case we can find a use for it, not throwing out the dead baby with the contaminated bath water, a reverence for a vaguely remembered yesterday. Other than being the guards at US embassies ( a job that could be done by USAF, USA, USN, or USCG
troops or outsourced to Blackwater of Eric Prince) what else is the USMC useful for?


The Army has always done most of the expeditionary work. The army has also done most of the fighting in US history. Revolutionary War, Mexican War, War of 1812, Civil War, WW1, WW2, etc. The Army has also done more and far bigger landings than the marines. Overlord? No marines there. Lingayan Gulf 1944, etc? The US has a US Space Force. If there is a viable mission for USMC, they are wise to take it.


Nightsticker -

Did you by chance overlap with Jack Holly in Force Recon? I got to know him pretty well spending a month on Hill 200 before he left 1st Recon Battalion.


I do not remember the name.
Of course it was a long time ago..

English Outsider

TTG - I'll be sorry to see the end of the Harriers. Sentimental reasons. Apart from the bombing run they were the only aircraft that could be used in the Falklands. But I think they were due to go anyway.


About that Navy Captain, he blackmailed the chain of command. My ship is more important than the fleet. It worked this time and he paid this time. Fortunately, the Nany might have nipped this in the bud by removing him immediately. Had they not the rot would have infected the rest of the ships captains and the blackmail would know no end.
So he "looked out for his men", and to hell with the rest of the fleet.

The Twisted Genius

English Outsider,

I also liked the Harriers. My experience with them was with Nr. 1 Squadron at RAF Wittering rather than with our Marines. My good friend, frat brother and best man was doing an exchange tour with the RAF while I was at RAF Sculthorpe during a Flintlock exercise. I visited my old friend at Wittering and got up close to a Harrier. I was amazed at the simplicity of the flight controls that allowed it to hover. I met the squadron commander who admired my kit. I remember his words. "Glad to meet you. Larry [my friend] says you'd like to up in the T-bird. [2 seat Harrier trainer] You look about my size. You can borrow my G-suit." I did get that ride and it was a hoot. We navigated by paper maps and compass. No avionics. There were souvenirs of the Falklands throughout the base and in the main hanger. An RAF Regiment officer showed me how they integrated a number of captured AA guns into the base defense. I read a lot of the squadrons battle reports and noticed almost every flight mission was changed enroute. The fog of war.

A word on the kit. This was the new Gortex jacket and polypropylene under jacket we were developing in 10th Group for our Army. Our group commander, Colonel Dick Potter sent our entire shipment of this new experimental gear to the Brits for the Falkland War. Some of his SAS friends told him that "kit" saved a lot of lives in the Falklands.


@The Colonel:
It would be wise for the Marines to accept any duties offered to them. My question is, Is it wise to offer them anything?
To keep them around out of sentiment seems foolish and wasteful ( neither of which ever stopped a government agency from living long past its use by date ). When was the last time the Marines boarded and captured an enemy vessel, when was the last beach stormed and a beachhead established, against opposition, for others to follow on and hold ground? The USMC today is about as relevant as the US Revenue Cutter Service was by 1914.



IMO there is a mission for USMC as a naval landing force for small operations in a littoral campaign. I had forgotten that the marines captured the beaches at Normandy, Southern France and Sicily so that the Army could come ashore in comfort and hold the ground USMC had captured. (irony)



Given the email security and command decisons of Captain Couragous of the USS Roosevelt we might want a new rotation of marine detachments across the fleet so we do get a ginned up Spithead mutiny. Do you think they actually had Covid19 test kits while cities like NYC, Detroit, New Orleans and mutliple states don't have them and that if true telegraphing that to everyone was a good idea?

Lord Curzon

There's a lot of overlap here with the way the Royal Marines are taking the Future Commando Force, which should see completion by the end of 2023.



What is a littoral zone campaign? It is not brown water/riverine, the last of those was the Mekong and it was fought with Monitors and tiny gunboats. It certainly isn't blue water and grand battles ala Leyte Gulf or Jutland. I tried to find a definition of littoral that made sense militarily, the best I could find is: That part of the shore between the Spring High Tide highest level and the spring low tide lowest level. In less flowery words, comfortable beaches.
So the USMC is just the ticket for invading Madagascar or Socotra but not staying too long.
As an aside, it appears the USN does not have a use/repurpose for the two Littoral Combat ships that it built early this century, the USN now want upgraded frigates for more high intensity combat.



A brigade of US 9th Division was mounted on transports for the Riverine Force. OK Call it a maritime campaign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_Riverine_Force


Fascinating stuff for a civilian like me.



BTW, Kerry's little Swift boats were not part of the Riverine Force.


@ The Colonel.
and all others interested in Riverine/Brown water warfare
Available as .pdf file.

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